Richmond’s Fleece Hotel made the BBC’s national ten o’clock news on Monday evening to illustrate how two pubs a day have closed in England and Wales in the first half of the year.

The Fleece closed on July 30, and its prominent position in the Prime Minister’s constituency propelled it onto the national airwaves. Its appearance came less than a week after it was put on the market for £1.75m.

The Fleece deserves national prominence if only because it is a splendid building, described in the 2023 updated Pevsner guide to the architecture of the North Riding as “a Scots Baronial extravaganza of brick and terracotta with tourelles and castellated porch”.

A tourelle is a turret that projects out of a wall, and the Fleece is smothered in them – some might say it has tourelle’s syndrome.

The Fleece Hotel, Richmond

The Fleece Hotel, Richmond

It is on the site of an older Fleece, which was tucked away in Friars Wynd, near the Georgian Theatre. It was described by the Darlington & Stockton Times in 1897 as an “ancient hostel”, when its owners, brewers Robert Fenwick and Company, of Sunderland, decided to rebuild it.

Read more fascinating local history stories in our Looking Back section

It may have been damaged by fire, or the brewers may have realised that since 1887, when Victoria Road was created, the Fleece now had an aspect that looked out onto a major thoroughfare.

The brewers called in architect GG Hoskins, who had just completed for them the King’s Head Hotel in Darlington – probably the highlight of Hoskins’ career which had seen him create so many of the buildings that are now part of Darlington’s identity: the library, technical college, sixth form college and many mansions, like Elm Ridge. He built distinctive branches of Backhouses Bank in Barnard Castle and Bishop Auckland (which is now used as a Spanish art gallery), and his biggest project was the super-Gothic Middlesbrough Town Hall.

Architect GG Hoskins (1837 to 1911).

Architect GG Hoskins (1837 to 1911).

In Richmond, in one of his last buildings, he let his imagination run riot. Why a Scottish castle? Why not a Scottish castle?

Built by Thomas Stairmand and Son, of Darlington, it was ready for business in 1898.

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“It is sure to prove not only an ornament to the street architecture of the old town but a thoroughly up to date hotel,” said the D&S in 1897.

It is a great, Gothic addition to Richmond’s street scene. It was on the market in 2015 as a 21-bedroom hotel for £250,000, but underwent a major refurbishment in 2018 which probably explains why it is now listed as having 13 en suite bedrooms for its £1.75m price tag.

One final reason why the Fleece deserves national prominence: according to our archives, an eight man team from the Fleece in 1983 set a world record for the highest darts score in 24 hours: 1,721,784.

The team’s record stood until September 1985, when eight players from the Broken Hill Darts Club, in New South Wales, scored 1,722,249.

Perhaps the purchaser of the Fleece will put it back on the darts map and take the world record back from those Aussies.