The Turf Hotel, 8 – 10 Chequer Street
“Ah, hello! Number 10 Chequer Street here. I used to be the most famous hotel in St Albans in the 1830s when I was known as the Turf Hotel. Mr Tommy Coleman, a famous racehorse trainer at the time, built me as a luxury hotel to entertain the rich and famous who came to St Albans for the Steeplechase and other sporting events – shooting, boxing matches, that sort of thing. In those days I had the most comfortable bedrooms in town, hot running water in the bathrooms, good food and wine and a billiard room, everything a gentleman could want to enjoy – all the pleasures that St Albans could offer.
Our final St Albans Steeplechase was held in 1839, the same year that the very first Grand National Steeplechase was held in Liverpool. A certain Captain Becher, who finished second in our race in 1830, rode in that first Grand National. He fell at the fence which today bears his name, Becher’s Brook.
Later I became the Queens Hotel – Charles Dickens was a visitor in 1852. I continued as a hotel at the centre of the St Albans social scene until the early 1980s. Say hello next time you pass. It’s quiet now that my visitors are gone…”
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