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The Iliffe History

Built in the late 1890s as a private residence, Laura Ashley Hotel The Iliffe in Coventry is a locally listed building with a simple, yet significant history.

The background of the building itself revolves around its namesake Dr Charles Webb Iliffe. Born in 1844, the son of a local Master Draper, he attended Coventry Grammar school before going on to Oxford University. Dr Iliffe held many positions during a distinguished career including Doctor, County Coroner, Poor Law Director and at one time he was a Tory MP for Coventry.

In 1897, just prior to his retirement, Dr Iliffe instructed the home to be built for himself and his wife Mary Ann Soden. The mansion was constructed in the bold Victorian style but was embellished with a Mock Tudor façade and even some Gothic Revival influences which can still be seen today within the interior. A common practice in those days was topping the roof with an iron or terracotta ‘dragon’, supposedly to protect the children of the house and bring general good fortune. The mansion was no exception and our dragon sits proudly on the front gable end to this day. In the main porch, a brick bearing the engraved initials “C W I” can be seen as a permanent reminder of the original owner.

The manor house has retained the original heavy oak and walnut panelling, hand-carved fireplaces and the impressive sweeping staircase above which hangs a full-length portrait of the young debutante Mary Ann Soden, painted circa 1860 prior to her marriage in 1869. Above the stairs in the leaded windows Dr and Mrs Iliffe’s initials can be seen along with the construction date of the house. The coats of arms for the two families are also displayed.

In 1930 the house was converted into a hotel, ‘The Chace’, under the ownership of Gertrude Williams. From 1937 it was advertised as fully licenced with 18 rooms, AA and RAC rated and with a garage for 20 cars.

Since that time the house has remained a hotel under different ownerships. In 2019 the hotel underwent an exciting transformation and extensive refurbishment to become part of Laura Ashley’s Designer Hotel portfolio. As part of the changes ‘The Chace’ has been renamed ‘The Iliffe’ to honour the original owners of this beautiful period manor house.

We are delighted that so many of the buildings original features remain intact and we are now able to complement them with timeless, stylish Laura Ashley décor, furnishings and accessories.

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