A brief history of Applegarth Villa
Welcome to Applegarth, a traditional Victorian Villa built for John Rigg and completed in 1891. The Rigg family could be credited with starting tourism in the area as we know it to-day as Johns’ father, Richard Rigg, helped bring the railways to Windermere in 1847. Initially the line was to continue much further into the Lake District but there was opposition to the proposal from those who were against what they saw as the destruction of the Lake District landscape. Those opposing included the poet William Wordsworth . His reactions to the technological and picturesque incursions of man on his beloved, wild landscape most famously include the following sonnet.
From rash assault? Schemes of retirement sown
In youth, and ‘mid the busy world kept pure
As when their earliest flowers of hope were blown,
Must perish; - how can they this blight endure?
And must he too the ruthless change bemoan
Who scorns a false utilitarian lure
‘Mid his paternal fields at random thrown?
Baffle the threat, bright Scene, from Orresthead
Given to the pausing traveller’s rapturous glance:
Plead for thy peace, thou beautiful romance
Of nature: and, if human hearts be dead
Speak, passing winds; ye torrents, with your strong
And constant voice, protest against the wrong.
As a result the railway went no further than Windermere and the Rigg family capitalised on this by building Riggs Hotel for the princely sum of £1,327.7s, 6.5d on the doorstep of the railway station (now known as Windermere Hotel). They also ran a successful related coaching business, including the Royal Mail contract which transported the hotel guests further into the Lake District by coach and fours. Richard Rigg was well known as the” Coaching King”.
The Rigg Family eventually built and owned five local hotels and stabled over two hundred horses in the vicinity to meet the demands of mail delivery and tourism, therefore becoming an extremely wealthy family. John Rigg continued to reside at Applegarth till his death in 1927 when the building passed to his son Richard who became one of the youngest Liberal Party politicians aged 23, but in 1904 found himself in agreement with the Conservative government so defected, resulting in him being inundated with threatening and abusive letters and being struck in the face on the doorstep of Applegarth by a “muffled assailant”! Major Richard RIgg OBE later retired to the south coast selling Applegarth which in 1934 was converted into a hotel.