History Of The Old Court House

The front of the building was originally Osbourne House, a typical wealthy merchants home, with enormous cellars to store legitimate goods brought into the harbour but also plunder from the Privateers.

The rear portion of the house is the original Court House. The oldest parts date back to 1450, one such feature is the Granite Newel Staircase, found off the Garden Restaurant. This staircase was built with a right hand thread to favour those defending the building rather than those attacking. It has a stunning entrance arch with only one large stone on either side of the centre ‘key’ stone.

The building was mainly restored in 1611 by Pierre Seale. Have you spotted the initials P.S. 1611 on the fireplace in the Garden Restaurant? The “S” is inverted here but in a later carving from 1648, found in the Granite Bar downstairs in the pub The “S” is the correct way around. Did Pierre learn how to write it the correct way round or was this completed by a son?

In the pub you will also found the original well. It is 27 feet deep. A condition in the deeds insists that the Master of Ships must always have the right to draw water with due notice “which must be kept and pure”.

The beams found in the private wine cellar are from the former Oak Ships of England. The bar in the pub has been made out of one of the tenders from the Westward Ship.

The Garden Restaurant was the Prize Court Room, presided over by judge John Nicolle (later Viconte de Jersey, 1660). Licensed Privateers, out from Jersey, plundered the ships and galleons sailing to and from the New World. This loot was stored in the cellars below and then divided in the Court Room under the President and his Admirality Judges. The Judge’s Chambers was their private robing room. You can now enjoy the Judge’s Chambers as a private dining room.

You may recognise our magnificent ship’s window which forms the front of our main restaurant, this was used during filming of Bergerac and was known as The Royal Barge.

It is not known exactly how long the building has housed a restaurant and hotel but there is evidence from at least 1969 of a restaurant being here.

In 2014 we started a major revamp, updating all of the bedrooms and modernising the bar and restaurant. A further development was done in 2020 to create our new look Garden restaurant and create our Wine Cellar which is available for private dining and events.