Step back in time
We aren’t sure when the Royal Oak was actually built but we do know it was constructed on the site of the farm and we also know it was rebuilt between 1740 and 1780, this was around the time slate was discovered in the valley. Back then farming was quite a lucrative business, especially the sheep’s wool trade, enabling farmers to build larger more luxurious accommodation. The building named Rosthwaite House but was known as the Miners Arms and was mainly used as a local drinking hole for the miners who worked in slate mine.
Historical documents show the property changing hands several times whilst trading as the Miners Arms, the earliest record in 1823 shows Mary Coates as the licensee who passed it onto John Simpson. In 1832, his wife Sarah, the licensee decided to go more upmarket, rebrand and changed the name to the Royal Oak Inn to encourage visitors to explore the beauty of the valley. With 8 letting rooms she wanted to create a comfortable and salubrious place to stay. An extract from the Westmorland Gazette in 1832 tells of Sarah Simpson hosting a ladies tea party for 14 ladies from Keswick which sends a different message to the customers than a pub that conjures up an image of a watering hole for rowdy, dirty, thirsty miners. The hotel stayed with the Simpson family for around 50 years.
Other interesting historical documents record the property being used as an auction house and hosting dinner after the fox hunt. The Royal Oak even held sports days including running races, wrestling and leaping competitions. Better still in 1812 William Wordsworth shared his bed for the night with a Scottish pedlar.
The hotel has changed hands around eight times since 1862 but did you know the building in the courtyard on the lefthand side was only built in 1999 when the previous owners, the Dowie family constructed a 4 bedroomed building, sympathetically in keeping with the other buildings. They built it on the site of the old pig hull and you would never know it was just over 20 years old.