Chapters revisited in memoirs of former hotel resident

Chapters Hotel and Restaurant in Stokesley has inspired one former resident to write her memoirs for the benefit of her three American-daughters and seven grandchildren.

Veronica Hagin 76 pictured a Yorkshire-expatriate who now lives in Northern California returned to the hotel in 1991 – a place which was her home from 1944 until 1952. Witnessing for her self the transformation of the former ‘Golden Lion Hotel’ into the modern day ‘Chapters Hotel and Restaurant’ Veronica felt inspired to write her life story.
Veronica said: “Even though I left England to emigrate to Canada in 1956 I am primarily a ‘Yorkshire girl’. When I returned to visit Stokesley in 1991, I found a great many changes had occurred. Places change and people move on which is why I felt compelled to write my story.”

In the post-war years, The Golden Lion Hotel was owned and managed by Veronica’s parents, Ernest and Violet Thornton, pictured below. Her story paints an image of life in a hotel following the end of the Second World War – from VE day celebrations on the town green through to continued food rationing.

Veronica fondly remembers the food her mother used to serve to guests in the Hotel’s restaurant: “The serving of game was not restricted by food rationing, which remained in place until 1952. Throughout those years, the Hotel’s reputation grew as rabbit and pigeon pies became regular items on the menu alongside jugged hare.”

Since Veronica left the hotel, Chapters has changed hands many times before finally being acquired by Steven Bell in 2005. Steven carried out a major refurbishment to the Hotel and Restaurant, modernising many of the hotel’s rooms and introducing gourmet cuisine to Stokesley. His efforts were rewarded last year when the restaurant won two awards – “Restaurant of the Year” by the Flavours of Hambleton Awards 2007 and “Restaurant of the Year for Special Occasions” at the North Yorkshire Moors and Coast Awards 2007.

Speaking of Veronica’s book, Steven said: “Veronica’s story evokes images of a busy and bustling hotel during a relatively recent period in the hotel’s long history. I enjoyed reading her book and I would be delighted to extend a warm invitation to Veronica and her daughters to stay at Chapter’s as my personal guests when they next visit England.”

Steven is now appealing to other former owners of the hotel from throughout the last 100 years to come forward to complete a historical timeline for the hotel. The timeline will be published on the hotel’s website – Anyone with information to contribute, should contact Rachel Power on 01642 711888

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