A HISTORIC Dorchester hotel is set for a fresh lease of life after being taken over by new owners.

It was announced last month that the Kings Arms was closing its doors, after going into receivership in January.

The closure will only be temporary though as the hotel has become the latest addition to the portfolio of Somerset firm The Draco Pub Company.

The Kings Arms dates back nearly 300 years and will be comprehensively refurbished by Draco, if it receives planning permission, before reopening in early 2017.

Draco says it specialises in breathing new life into historic coaching inns and establishing pubs as a key part of the local community.

It is also committed to serving locally sourced food and drink with its award-winning kitchens overseen by executive chef Tom Blake, formerly head chef at River Cottage, who has built up a network of West Country farmers and suppliers for to produce his menus.

Managing director of Draco MD Rob Greacan said the company was delighted to be charged with restoring a “much loved local landmark” to its former glory.

He said: “We are honoured to be the new custodians of The Kings Arms Hotel.

“It is a very special place, an iconic and much loved local landmark and we’re delighted at the prospect of refurbishing such a historical hem to the first rate standard that it deserves.”

Draco has transformed three other coaching inns into award-winning pubs since 2011 – The Swan and The White Hart in Somerset and most recently Timbrell’s Yard in Bradford-on-Avon, which opened in March this year after following a £1.5million refurbishment.

The Kings Arms building was is thought to be more than 280 years old, having been named in Thomas Hardy’s novel The Mayor of Casterbridge.

The hotel, which was managed and run independently but was previously a member of the Best Western hotel group, went into receivership in January with Begbies Traynor appointed as receivers.

Convivial Management Solutions were chosen to operate the hotel on Begbies Traynor’s behalf and it has now been purchased by The Draco Pub Company.

Dorchester old boys’ association the Old Hardyeans had been due to have its Christmas lunch at the Kings Arms on December 17 and its annual reunion dinner there next March.
Secretary Michel Hooper-Immins said the Christmas lunch would now be held at the Colliton Club and the reunion dinner on March 19 will be at the sixth form centre at the Thomas Hardye School.

He added: “The Old Hardyeans enjoyed the quiet ambiance of the Kings Arms Hotel, an ideal venue for our lunches and dinners, with good food.

“It was at the Kings Arms that that the inaugural dinner of the Old Grammarians, predecessor of the Old Hardyeans, took place in 1905.”