Thomas Hardy hotel in Dorchester 'falling to pieces'

Kings Arms Hotel in Dorchester
Image caption Owners Stay Original say work will begin in the new year

A hotel immortalised in a Thomas Hardy novel is "deteriorating and falling to pieces", a councillor has said.

The Kings Arms in Dorchester was due to be refurbished in 2016 by owner Stay Original but work is yet to begin.

Town councillor Stella Jones said West Dorset District Council should step in to look after the building, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

Stay Original has revised its schedule several times but said work would now start in the new year.

West Dorset District Council has been asked to comment.

The hotel, which featured in Hardy's novel The Mayor of Casterbridge, closed in November 2015 after going into receivership 10 months earlier under previous owners.

Stay Original, previously known as Draco, planned to reopen it in early 2017 and initially blamed planning delays for the hold-up.

Managing director Rob Greacen said the company was now "on track" to have the building open before the end of 2019.

Image caption The weather has taken its toll on the exterior of the 300-year-old coaching inn

During a Dorchester Town Council meeting on Wednesday, Ms Jones raised concerns about the hotel in High Street East and the nearby Judge Jeffreys building which has been empty since the closure of Prezzo pizza restaurant earlier this year.

Ms Jones said: "They are deteriorating and falling to pieces. The district council has a duty to look after them and I propose we write and ask them to do it."

During its 300-year history, the Grade II* listed Kings Arms has hosted monarchs and musicians.

According to the Best Western group, to which the hotel was previously affiliated, guests have included Queen Victoria, King George IV, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.

Judge Jeffreys, in High Street West, was where notorious Lord Chief Justice George Jeffreys stayed during the Bloody Assizes trials in 1685 when he sentenced hundreds of people to death following the Monmouth Rebellion.

Image caption Judge Jeffreys has been empty since the closure of Prezzo earlier in the year

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