Norwich hotel honours its history as relative of former manager is invited to open new rooms
Archant Norfolk 2018
The descendant of a Norwich hotelier experienced a “proud moment” for his family as a commemoration to his relative went on display in the establishment he once ran.
Walter Rye was manager of the Maids Head Hotel in Tombland from 1889 to 1895, and went on to become the city’s mayor from 1908 to 1909.
And it was the honour of his great-grandson Peter Rye to open the latest rooms in the hotel to be refurbished as part of a £2.5m renovation project.
The eight rooms, in the oldest part of the hotel, were reopened during English Tourism Week in an event which also saw the unveiling of a photograph of Walter Rye in his mayoral robes and chain.
Mr Rye, 66, who attended the event with wife Julie, said it was a “privilege” to be asked to open the refurbished rooms in his great-grandfather’s former hotel.
“It is proud moment for me. It feels like the recognition of Walter Rye is long overdue,” he said.
“I have always known about the connection here, so it is a very proud day for our family.”
The installation of the photograph in the lobby at the Maids Head follows the publication of a book about Walter Rye’s life, A Passion for Records by author Christopher Kitching. It was informed and proof-read by Mr Rye – who himself has written a book about his great-grandfather’s life.
Mr Rye, from Ditchingham, added: “It is nice to know that as a result of the book launch this has come about.”
Also attending the ceremony on Thursday were the Sheriff of Norwich David Walker and Lord Mayor David Fullman.
Mr Fullman said: “Given that Norwich has got so much history it is right that we celebrate it.
“I get a sense of continuity out of honouring my predecessor in this way and I think it is fantastic that the Maid Head wants to honour him.”
The Maids Head is believed to be the oldest hotel in England – there are reports of a coaching inn on the site as far back as the 12th century.
It is approaching the end of a five-year renovation, which will see its public areas, facilities and all 84 rooms refurbished.
General manager Christine Malcolm said: “With each project we have tried to look at how we can modernise it and make it more energy efficient.”
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