Added on June, 2010
“We bin together nah for thirty years…an it don’t seem a day too much.”
When I opened the doors of Hambleton Hall on 1st July 1980, the State was a much less effective nanny than now. The breathalyzer was not introduced until 1983 and in the same year it became compulsory for drivers to wear a seatbelt. When my neighbour’s cat was stuck on the laundry roof, I sent the houseporter to the rescue. Today the cat would expire before our health and safety assessment was complete. In 1980 smoking was permitted by us and by the law throughout the hotel but we gradually restricted the areas in which we allowed guests to light up until 2007 when smoking in public places became illegal.
Other changes have been less controversial. The garden I inherited from former owner Betty Hoare was big on roses. They bloomed for a brief season only and when they became senile, not at all. Now we aim for more year round action knowing that hotel guests do not particularly like to be told “You should have been here last week!”
Nicholas Gill’s food in the early 80s was delicious and Aaron Patterson is proud to have been his apprentice. Aaron’s own style is cleaner, simpler and benefits from many more local ingredients from small producers and from our own garden and our “Lunch for Less” programme has seen lunch numbers grow over the past 15 years to exceed dinners.
Inside the house Nina Campbell’s original decorative scheme had a little more frills and chintz than we might choose now, but her design for the bar survives three refurbishments. My wife Stefa has been in charge of design for many years now and our pictures show how we have carefully evolved a style that is comfortable and traditional and appeals to 30-somethings as well as grannies.
Most of you would kill for a crack at our 1980 wine list. How about Petrus 1947 (£110) Lafite 1949 (£100) Cheval Blanc 1959 (£30) or La Romanée 1969 (£28.00)? If your preference was for the New World it simply did not exist at the time and we only listed two Spanish wines and one Italian!
Our celebration of thirty years at the top owes much to key staff, many of whom have been with us for a goodly slice of that journey, Aaron Patterson, Head chef first joined us in 1984, Graeme our Restaurant Director in the same year and Tina (reception) started in 1980 before the doors opened.
I hope we might see you for some of the special events which will mark our 30th year.