Grand Memories
The Grand is a magnificent suite hotel on The Leas in Folkestone
"indisputably the finest marine promenade in the world"

 

Grand Memories

2012

If you love Christmas you’ll love The Grand, and this year we aim to help you love the festive season even more as we give you a chance to win Christmas Lunch for four people at our exclusive Christmas Day gala lunch, the crown jewel of Folkestone’s Christmas season.

In 2010 and 2011 The Grand and the Folkestone Herald newspaper put together the “Grand Memories” competition, where members of the public kindly shared with us their memories and experiences at The Grand. With entries as far afield as New Zealand proudly displayed on our website and the winning couple enjoying our festive fayre it seemed ridiculous to not bring back “Grand Memories” for another year. With a table already reserved for the winners we take great pleasure in sharing these memories with you, our guests and friends.

2012 Winner

2012 Winner

Folkestone Herald 31 January 2013
Grand Memories 2012 Winning Entry

 

Grand Memories 2010

And the Winner 2010 is....

Grand Memories

Herald 4th November 2010

Mr. Robert Richardson, MIH

 

“We felt we were stepping back in time, to a long lost era”

 

My husband and I had made a decision to move from the Midlands to the coast.   We were not sure which coastline we preferred.   We arrived at Folkestone on a Friday morning to explore the area and came across the Leas and then the Grand Hotel.  

 

We entered the beautiful entrance of the hotel and heard the music from the piano; we felt we were stepping back in time, to a long lost era. 
We took a drink and the delightful waitress who served us who explained that we could later take a tour of the hotel and hear all about its history and then have a cream tea.  

After our lovely full afternoon in the hotel and meeting the very nice local people who were also enjoying the tour and  sharing with us their memories that various photographs studded around the hotel evoked,  we all went to Palm Court which we now know as the Monkey House  and enjoyed our beautiful cream tea and my husband and I  shared our news that we had decided to make this area our home.  

By Mrs Stephenson Hythe, Kent

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The Grand has stood proud, atop of The Leas in Folkestone for well over a century. Every parent, grand-parent or child in the area can remember a visit within our walls and now, for the first time, and spanning nearly Seventy Years, we have a few of our guests “Grand Memories” for your enjoyment.

 

 

Sharing memories of one of Folkestone’s longest-running businesses could win the author an “amazing experience.

 

Robert Richardson, General Manager of The Grand is offering a three-course Christmas Dinner for four, to the winner of his Grand Memories competition.

 

Entrants are asked to write a short account, in poetry or prose, of their memories of the venue. Judges will decide which deserves the prize.

 

Mr. Richardson said: “It would be really nice to have people’s stories of their experiences here over the years. The Grand has been around for more than a century and so many people in Folkestone must have been here during that time. I’d love to hear what the place was like and it would be wonderful to share those memories with others”

 

Mr. Richardson was inspired to start the competition when he interviewed a job applicant who had had his wedding at The Grand. Mr. Richardson said “He’d not been back here since he ended up working here, which I thought was really lovely”

 

Words: Folkestone Herald Newspaper

 

“Christmas Dinner at The Grand is a truly amazing experience, and I hope to help the winner of this competition create a new Grand Memory”

 

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Below are a few of our favorites, taken from many aspects of Kent, and even one from New Zealand aswell-

Dear Robert Richardson,

 

“I always felt special to be in The Grand”

 

My memories start with my two great, great Aunts who lived in Hythe. They were living in the house with the old M.P Deeds in a lovely old house in Seabrook Road Hythe.

 

They were Housekeepers and Nannies to their son Bill who became the next M.P for Hythe. Barbara Deeds became Lady Fitswalter, she lived at Saltwood Castle. My two aunts names where Agnes and Ethel Sinden, they had a brother called Fred and they were related to Donald Sinden the actor. Ethel died in 1966 whilst Ethel lived on to the age of 104 and lived in a nursing home in Staplehurst.

 

One Sunday every month my parents would take my brother and myself to the Deed’s house where we would sit in the garden under a lovely old weeping willow tree and have tea. My aunts always made a lovely, big sponge cake.

 

After Tea Barbara would take on the Military Canal on a boat which was fun. On another Sunday my aunts would come to Ashford for tea with us. The next occasion we would come to Hythe again and this time we were spoiled and treated to High Tea in the Grand Hotel, we would sit on a table by the big shiny glass windows and look out across the sea. We would have scone with jam and cream, then a fancy cake and last of all an ice cream. I always felt special to be in The Grand with my parents and my great, great aunts.

 

I was very close to my aunt Ethel who was also my Godmother, she still took us to The Grand on her own after her sister past away. Neither of them ever married. My memories of The Grand and the Deeds will always be a part of my life and I am now 65 years young.

By Mrs Pamela Chessell Ashford,Kent

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Mr. Robert Richardson, MIH

 

“We felt we were stepping back in time, to a long lost era”

 

My husband and I had made a decision to move from the Midlands to the coast.   We were not sure which coastline we preferred.   We arrived at Folkestone on a Friday morning to explore the area and came across the Leas and then the Grand Hotel.  

 

We entered the beautiful entrance of the hotel and heard the music from the piano; we felt we were stepping back in time, to a long lost era. 
We took a drink and the delightful waitress who served us who explained that we could later take a tour of the hotel and hear all about its history and then have a cream tea.  

After our lovely full afternoon in the hotel and meeting the very nice local people who were also enjoying the tour and  sharing with us their memories that various photographs studded around the hotel evoked,  we all went to Palm Court which we now know as the Monkey House  and enjoyed our beautiful cream tea and my husband and I  shared our news that we had decided to make this area our home.  

By Mrs Stephenson Hythe, Kent

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Dear Mr. Richardson, MIH (General Manager, The Grand)
Please see below, my “Grand Memory”

 

“I was mesmerized, by the atmosphere, the music and the sheer enjoyment of the faces of the guests”

 

It was at the Grand on New Year’s Eve in 1952 that I set my heart on a career in Hotel Management.

 

One year earlier, Sally Harris, the daughter of my family’s great friends joined the Arthur Brough Repertory Theatre Company and every Saturday we would attend their latest play at the Leas Pavilion to see Sally in her walk-on part. Afterwards we would take supper at The Grand.

 

In 1952, Sally was engaged by the Hotel for their New Year’s Eve function so our 2 families booked a table for the evening’s festivities. Just before 12 a huge, decorated polystyrene cake was wheeled in and on the stroke of midnight as the dancers gathered around the cake for the traditional rendition of Auld Lang Syne, Sally, dressed in a sparkling sequined leotard and fishnet tights, burst forth from the cake amidst a cascade of Confetti and Balloons.

 

As a 14 year old I was mesmerized, not only by the glamorous vision of Sally, but by the atmosphere, the music and the sheer enjoyment of the faces of the guests. At that moment I decided that I wanted to make my career in Hotels.

 

The (then) General Manager of The Grand, a Swiss by the name of Keyser, interviewed me a few weeks later and promised me a 5 year apprenticeship once I had finished my “O” levels at school. My Grandfather now retired, had owned his own hotel in Cliftonville and knew Keyser well. He advised me that Keyser “would not survive at The Grand for 5 years as “he was seeking a rich widow with a cold” and sure enough, within a year, Keyser had found his widow and had retired back to Switzerland.

 

I took my Grandfather’s advice and enrolled at Thanet Technical College, at that time located in Ramsgate, for a 2-year Hotel Management course. After National Service, I commenced my practical training in London and Monte Carlo, joining Trust House Hotels in 1963 as an Assistant Manager.

 

My first position as a General Manager came in 1965 at Great Yarmouth and I retired 40 years later having managed 12 hotels ranging from 12 bedrooms to 250 in the UK and South Africa. And you know what? I have never regretted a moment………………..

 

Thank you, The Grand!

By Mr. Tim Latty Folkestone, Kent
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A Grand Memory, Mr Richardson-
“A Grand Night”
What a Grand place to be sited,
Looking right out to the sea,
with restaurants and bars inside it
where they serve a Grand cup of tea.
And the "70s" disco beneath it
was a Grand night for Wendy and me.
We danced until well passed midnight
and kissed when no one could see.
But when we got back to my car
A Grand Pumpkin was waiting for me!

By Robin Wainwright Lympne, Kent

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Dear Mr. Richardson
“The Grand Experience”
When I was a small child, 3 - 6 yrs old, I lived in Cheriton with my mother, grandmother (Nanny) and brother.

 

Times were hard, as they always were in the olden days (1949/52) and my Nanny was an expert 'ironer'.  So my mother took a suitcase every other day, by bus, to visit the 'Grand', and collected washing from elderly Lady this and Lord that.  Bought it home, where it was boiled in the copper, wash, (often starched), dried and finished with Nanny's expert ironing - with a iron from the hot stove.
(I think electricity arrived at our house about 1951).

 

Then all the beautifully clean, (starched) and iron laundry was returned to the elderly gentlefolk who resided at the Grand for a price unknown to me, but it certainly helped keep our family together.

 

We made a point of staying at the Grand three years ago, so I could feel and see 'The Grand Experience' my mother visited so many times.

By Brenda Allinson (nee Rutherford), Hamilton, New Zealand
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Hello Mr Richardson

 

“A fine Establishment that is part of our Purely English Heritage”

 

Grand Memories hmmm …

 

… well mine go, perhaps only slightly back to 1972 and the Seventies Disco on Saturdays, which in those heady days was travelled to in one of our cars from Faversham, and the driver ‘supposedly’ not drinking until we left at 2.00AM on the Sunday to come home. Happy times, same as the Leas Cliff Hall was also, during that, my music period. One of our friend’s fathers had a Humber Hawk, and up to seven of us squeezed into that.

 

Then a thirty three year gap, before my wife and I visited the Antiques Fair one Sunday and we passed through a nostalgic scene and sound … the Palm Court Restaurant and pianist …

 

So since then we have frequented the Carvery, on numerous occasions, stayed in one of the apartments for our Thirtieth Wedding Anniversary, and have been on the Guided Tour around the Hotel. I have also brought my 1968 Jaguar 240 for a Photo-shoot at the Hotel and if the weather is fine, will bring the car to the Old Timer Rally on 30th August this year.

 

So what do we like about the Grand? - An easy question to answer … a fine, independently run establishment that is part of our Purely English Heritage, and is almost on our door-step.

 

Long may you continue.

 

By Robin Sayewell, Faversham, Kent

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Dear Grand Memories, Dear Mr. Richardson,

“Thank you “Grand” for all the years”

Memories of the Folkestone Grand
Go back to when I was young, and
Not allowed to stay alone,
But could be called on the phone,
In a bedroom, kindly supplied.
Downstairs my parents organised
A dance, The Dairy Festival of June,
My brother and I we had such fun,
Of rooms and corridors we had the run.
As in age I grew,
My brothers 21st and my engagement too.
The Manager was now well known,
And when I knew I had a plan
Where did I go, but the Folkestone Grand.
The 15th June ’68,
A day at The Grand that was just great,
Our Wedding Day dawned bright and sunny,
But cost my parent quite a penny.
It was however quite worthwhile,
With family coming from many a mile
To celebrate our wondrous day
And sent us on our married way.
We left The Grand in some style,
But after just a little while
We returned, and via the back door and with the help of staff
We certainly had the last laugh.
Our wedding night was spent,
Up above the ongoing event!
Forty years from that date,
Came the 15th of June 2008.
Our Ruby wedding had arrived,
So where to go to celebrate?
The Folkestone Grand sprang to mind
And we were truly wined and dined.
The years between have come and gone,
With family events that came along.
Some were happy, some were sad,
But happily most were glad.
All have been “Grand” events,
All enjoyed in every sense.
So thank you “Grand” for all the years
You’ve celebrated our joys and tears.

By Alison Warnock, Folkestone, Kent

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“This one is the one I share”

 

In 1952  sitting overlooking the Leas, I bent down on one knee and asked my beloved Emma to marry me. Emma, more interested in the huge and wondrous building (The Grand) behind me said yes.
In the intervening years we moved away to Devon, but with family in the area, I would always drop back  and take tea in The Grand. This year (2010), after an absence of 4 years we came back again, one night in April, and, although not invited, gatecrashed a charity night, the wonderfully titled  ‘syn at the grand’.
I remember the manager, a young man in a very nicely pressed dinner jacket coming over and talking to Emma and me and despite the crowd still gave us a guided tour of the hotel. Beautiful burgundy walls below, bright oranges above lighting up the leas and an air of yesterday, all too forgotten these days.
Sadly Emma passed away this summer, and as we scattered her ashes on the top of the leas, the place where I had proposed, I met the young manager again, who took us all through and gave us tea.

I have many memories of The Grand, but this one is the one I share, as you wouldn’t have that anywhere else.
Grand Memories indeed.

By Jim Mortimer, South Hams, Devon

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Dear Robert Richardson, MIH – Grand Memories!

“The delights of Folkestone and particularly The Grand”

In 1946 after the ravages of war I discovered the delights of Folkestone, and particularly “The Grand”.

I first set foot in this imposing establishment- on its’ marvelous sprung ballroom floor!- in an interview with the Head Housekeeper.

My duties were flower arranging (and washing vases!) sewing and maintenance jobs, and “holding the fort” when the head housekeeper popped out to have her hair done!

So soon after the war The Grand was struggling to regain status and many well known personalities visited. I recall the visits of Ernie Bevin (Foreign Minister in the Labour Government of the time), Robert Newton, Gracie Fields (who whistled to call a valet), Elsie & Doris Waters, Jack Warner- “Evening All!” and I even shared a lift with Charles Cochran and some of his “Young Ladies”!

The official entrance to the hotel in those days was on the west side of the building and uniformed staff manned the large reception area. A three piece group of musicians played in the Palm Court, led by “Arthur”. The exclusive restaurant had a quiet elegance and only specific staff were allowed within its portals. Guests were of course greeted by the head waiter, a formidable gentleman I recall!

Furniture and upholstery were regularly checked and re-furbished in a large room in the basement near the lift-shaft. A gardener was responsible for the lawns and vegetable gardens and a linen room maintained the sheets and bedding to a very high standard. I even learnt to use a circular needle to repair sheets and valences!

 

Grand Memories!

 

By Irene H. Woodham, Cheriton, Folkestone, Kent.
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“Your Hotel is Lovely”            “I Love The Grand!”

Grand MemoriesGrand Memories

By Scarlet & Yazmin (Their first “Grand Memory”)
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Dear Grand Memories!

The Grand has held a special place in our hearts

The year 1959, I had finished my 2 years National Service with the R.E.M.E and had returned to the Folkestone Motor Co. where I had been apprenticed and was training to be a Service Manager.

 

This involved 2 years experience in Sales, so I had joined the staff of another company in the group; County Motors, Dover.  It was here that I met my future wife Pamela, when she applied for the post of Sales Manager’s secretary. She was successful but on the day that she started work there I was transferred back to Folkestone.

 

As Christmas approached I heard that Pam was in need of a lift to the County Motors Walmer social dance and I readily agreed. We spent the evening together and I took her home.  At this time my father was a police Inspector at Folkestone and the forthcoming Annual Police Ball was due to take place at The Grand on New Years Eve; a dinner jacket and evening dress occasion.  Dad had suggested that I might like to come along so I invited Pam to be my partner.  She accepted and on New Years Eve 1959/60 I collected her from her home in Dover, meeting her parents for the first time.

 

We sat at the top table with the Deputy Chief Constable and Senior Officers of J Division, pretty daunting for a first date. It finished with hot soup taken sitting on the main staircase, while waiting for “Carriages at 1a.m.” Two years later we were married.

 

In the intervening years The Grand has held a special place in our hearts; whether breakfasting, lunching, admiring art displays, or laying back studying the ceiling during blood donor sessions.

 

For several years we have returned to The Grand with a large group of friends to celebrate the New Year, and this year we toasted the 50th Anniversary of our first date and attach photos.  The cutting from the Folkestone Herald, below, is of our first date is rather tatty but still has happy memories for us.  (We are the younger couple 2nd left).

By  Tony and Pamela Mead, Seabrook, Hythe, Kent

Grand memories

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Dear Mr Richardson,

 
“It was a marvellous place to work at that time of my life”
 
I was 19 when I came to work at the Grand in May 1969, I was front of house staff - receptionist/general assistant and met everyone who came through the front doors, staff and guests alike.  It was a marvellous place to work at that time of my life, I met interesting people, worked long hours when I had to and had lots of freedom on my time off, and the sun always seemed to shine ! I remember Ken Ames, the famous Kent wicket keeper who rented a suite of rooms upstairs every month, I particularly remember the Dutch Olympic Swimming Team who broke the record of the Cross Channel Relay race of that year.  I remember going with them in early September to Shakespeare Bay, helping to grease them up for the cold water, and then going in the fishing boat they had hired from Folkestone Harbour to cross the Channel in the swirling mists of the morning.   They had an incredibly fast swimmer, nicknamed the Flying Dutchman who would always get back into the water when one of the others was   too exhausted and was the reason they broke the record.  When we arrived at Cap Gris Nez at midday, we all jumped into the water and swam ashore to have a picnic of herrings, sloe gin and black bread and lots of French wine!  That evening we sat till 2am drinking more sloe gin and then they left and the hotel was very quiet!!
  
I remember a young Roger de Haan, maybe 23 or 24, with the then Manager of the Grand, coming regularly to lunch.  When the rumour circulated that there might be coach loads of OAPS from the North for long weekends, there was much shock and horror amongst the staff and those who considered leaving, definitely did!!  Little did they know that SAGA was in its infancy !!!
 
By PATSY PLENDER (nee WARD)
Folkestone, Kent