The History of Harvest House

Have you ever wondered the history behind the grand Harvest House? We certainly have! 

In the summer of 1891, the wife and family of The German Kaiser Wilhelm stayed at South Beach Mansion (the beautiful white building at the top of Bent Hill), which promoted Felixstowe as a healthy spa resort to stay and take in the fresh air and water. Reputation of Felixstowe as a seaside resort grew and so, on May 14th 1903, the Felix Hotel (later named Harvest House) was built. This iconic red building was designed by Thomas Cotman and owned by Douglas Tollamache (also the founder of the Tollamache brewery in Ipswich), grew quickly in popularity as a holiday resort. 

In October 1936 Wallis Simpson (the then Duchess of Windsor) came to stay at Beach House on the seafront in readiness to attend Ipswich court to obtain a divorce from her second husband Ernest, after receiving evidence that he had committed adultery. Owing to the delicate nature of the situation, she was advised that Ipswich would cause little publicity being a provincial town. She found Beach House not to her liking and too small for 3 people the which included her maid and cook. It is claimed that when she arrived house was not ready or perhaps not ready to her standard and that a suite at the nearby Felix Hotel would have been highly suitable. It is probable that her solicitor came down from London and the two of them stayed here for a night or two before the hearing. The floor waiter at the time states he served their meals in the suite and was surprised how much more attractive in real life Wallis was than in photographs. The waiter said that downstairs in the hotel reception, orders were given that if anyone asked, her presence was denied.

In 1985, the building became residential apartments and more recently, acquired planning permission to hold weddings as well as events such as the Felixstowe Book Festival, several plays and musical events with Hattie Bennett and most recently Christina Johnston. The town also looks forward to the Christmas concert with Christina on December 17th. All the events can be found by visiting the Harvest House facebook page.