The Story of the White Lodge Hotel Filey


The White Lodge is an iconic building easily recognised by anyone who has been to Filey and fondly remembered by those whose families have come to Filey for generations.

Throughout its history, the White Lodge Hotel has been owned and looked after by a limited number of people – from the Megginson family of East Yorkshire to Bill Houlden (famous for he’s gregarious personality) and more recently Sue Wagstaffe.  James Hodgson, a Filey boy, and his American wife, Kim, purchased the hotel in April 2015 and embarked on a programme of sympathetic refurbishments.

Before the White Lodge was a hotel it was a private home to actress, Dame Madge Kendal and allegedly, Noel Coward was a frequent guest.

“South Crescent Villa” was Built

The history of the White Lodge dates back to 1801 when the North Sea was known as the German Ocean and the lifeboat house stood at the bottom of Carr Hill. A piece of land known as ‘Little Field’ was purchased by Christopher Foster, the land was re-sold for £400 and in 1856 the ‘South Crescent Villa’ was built.

The house was inhabited for several years but later fell into ruin. It was not until the 1890’s when the actress Dame Madge Kendal purchased the house, and in a few months, and at an expense of approximately £5000, it became a “new” house in an old setting.

It was during this time that the house became known as “The Lodge” where house guests enjoyed tennis, golf on the adjacent land near St Martin’s Ravine or cycle. “The Lodge” grounds stretched down to the water edge at this time and boating, sailing and sea fishing were common pastimes for guests.


White Lodge when it was "South Crescent Villa"

White Lodge as a Private Home known as “South Crescent Villa”

There are also rumours that Tolkien wrote his first novel whilst staying in Filey – but we can’t say for sure where! The hotel (then a home) was also seconded during the Second World War for British officer’s – as the coastline was a strategic location for possible invasion.

The American Connection

There are historical accounts that a famous battle during the American War of Independence took place between Filey Bay and Flamborough Head where John Paul Jones (America’s equivalent to Lord Nelson) famously declared, as every American citizen will tell you: “I have not yet begun to fight!”.

There is a placard overlooking the bay near the hotel as you look out to sea, which explains the well-documented historic battle (The Battle of Flamborough Head).  Local divers, John Adams and his sons, believe they have in deed found the wreck of the famous battleship Bonhomme Richard.  Although they haven’t found a cannon ball marked “USS Bonhomme Richard” to prove it 100% (they unfortunately didn’t do branding in those days!).  But we think so they have and there are quite a few more who do as well!