The Feathers History
The Feathers is a 17th Century country townhouse hotel, situated in the heart of the historic market town of Woodstock, home to Blenheim Palace, seat of the 11th Duke of Marlborough and the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill.
From the front of the hotel, overlooking the restaurant, you will see a statue, which, we have been told, is said to represent the Virgin Mary. This is said to have been found in the building as part of a wall, which was probably built during the English Civil War. During the war traces of Catholicism were to be destroyed and the only way to keep religious items or statues was to hide or disguise their existence by using them as building materials, i.e. part of a wall.
The front reception area and study was a Sanatorium in the late 18th century for people recovering from tuberculosis. “The Feathers House”, to the right of the archway was originally two storeys and joined to No. 10. In 1888 it was converted to red brick and a third floor was added, hence the dated plaque at the top of the building.
The Reception area of the Hotel was a Draper’s shop at the turn of the century called Alexander Bryden. The Draper’s shop was then taken over by Mr Robinson who ran this as a Butcher’s shop until early 1950. It is said that he roasted an ox in the grounds of Blenheim Palace to celebrate the Queen’s coronation. If you look from the side of the building you can still see where the shop window was!
The restaurant was once a line of cottages. If you look carefully from the outside, you can see that by every bay window there are traces of a doorway, or a door still in place. In all we believe there were four cottages.
Following the closure of the butcher’s shop and purchase of other houses the main section of the hotel was bought and converted into a hotel called The Dorchester in the 1960’s.
The then “Dorchester” was again sold to an hotelier called Gordon Campbell-Grey who refurbished the property and placed it firmly on the map as a wonderful place to stay and eat. It was his love of stuffed birds that encouraged the change of name to “The Feathers’’.