Clarendon Hotel

Situated on the corner of Worcester Street and Oxford Terrace, the Clarendon Hotel, built in 1903, was an example of Renaissance revival style architecture.

Clarendon Hotel, Christchurch. N.Z.
Clarendon Hotel, Christchurch. N.Z.. Contributor (ctb): Isabel Clemens. No known copyright

Originally a two storey wooden building, the home of William Guise Brittan, stood on the plot of land situated on the corner of Worcester Street and Oxford Street. This was sold to Rowland Davis in the 1850s. This building became Davis’ Hotel, then the Lyttelton Hotel, before being renamed the Clarendon Hotel in 1870.

By the 1880s this building was in disrepair and in 1901 the police had reported that the building although comfortable, was “a very old house; the bedrooms were small” and that it should be replaced.

Tenders for the rebuilding of the new hotel, a brick and stone building designed in the Renaissance revival style, were advertised by architect, Joseph Clarkson Maddison, in March 1902. To make room for the new building, trees on the footpath corner of both Oxford Terrace and Worcester Street were cut down.

The new Clarendon Hotel opened on 3 May 1903. The building was three storeys in height, with the upper floor having an iron balcony fire escape. There were two main entrances, the public entrance was via Worcester Street while the private entrance was off Oxford Terrace.

Clarendon Tower
Clarendon Tower. © Christchurch Star

The public entrance on Worcester Street opened into a hall. Accessible from the hall was a commercial room which fronted onto Worcester Street. Next to this, further along the hall, was a large writing room. Halfway down the hall was a private bar and an office, next to which was the stairway to the first floor. There was a dining room at the end of the hall, and a kitchen. The first floor featured 11 bedrooms, a ladies drawing room which looked out over the park, a sitting room and a landing which acted as a vestibule. The second floor featured 17 bedrooms.

In the 1920s, further extensions were made to the building along Oxford Terrace and a verandah was added to the Worcester Street entrance. In 1940s the intermediary sections of the parapet were removed due to the risk posed by earthquakes.

The hotel was famous for hosting notable guests including The Beatles, the Shah of Iran, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.

In 1981 it was suggested that the building be demolished. However, it was later decided to retain the façade of the original building while building a new, modern tower building within. The construction of the new building, Clarendon Towers, was carried out 1986-1987.

The entire complex suffered damage during the 2010-2011 earthquakes and was demolished in 2012.


From the Clarendon Hotel to the Clarendon Tower