The visit was described in Fontane’s book, Jenseit des Tweed, first published in German in 1860. There is an English translation ‘Beyond the Tweed – a tour of Scotland in 1858’. The most recent English version (Trans. Brian Battershaw) is an edition published by Libris, London in 1998 (National Library of Scotland Shelfmark H3.200.1453).
Fontane and his companion had previously stayed in Edinburgh. They arrived in Stirling by steam boat – perhaps the novelist saw this as more Romantic than the prosaic train, which would have been much faster and more convenient! On arrival he stayed at the Royal Hotel, and the enquiry is really about the hotel. On that, we can help!
On 29 April 1836 a notice in the Stirling Journal (p. 1) announced that Archibald Campbell, formerly a waiter at Mr Cameron’s Hotel in Bridge of Allan, was now to run the Royal Hotel in Stirling, though the present building might, in fact, be a little later than this date. Campbell then had a long career at the hotel and was nicknamed ‘The Royal’. In 1841 Campbell (aged 31) and guests appear in the census return - as they will do in the later returns too!
One of Campbell’s early objectives was to benefit from tourists coming to visit the Trossachs and the southern Highlands, made so fashionable by the writings of Sir Walter Scott. The railway only arrived in Stirling in 1848 and did not run to Callander for some decades after that so Campbell seems almost to have provided what we might now call Package Holidays, collecting guests in Stirling and arranging their onward travel by coach.
This might be why Fontane and his companion stayed there. Campbell features in Wm. Drysdale’s Old Faces, Old Places etc (Second Series, 1899, p. 183-4) and there is information about the hotel in Stirling Central Library’s ‘Stirling Scrapbook’ (page 109a).
Another way of following up The Royal Hotel (and the other places where the visitors stayed) would be through the National Library of Scotland’s astonishing 694 Post Office Directories online at http://www.nls.uk/family-history/directories/post-office which we featured here some months ago.
One of those places was Johnston’s Hotel, Waterloo Place, Edinburgh. The development of Waterloo Place, as an eastward extension of Princes Street from the 1810s is discussed in ‘Regent Bridge and the opening up of Calton Hill, Edinburgh’ by Eric J Graham in Scottish Local History, Issue 81, August 2011, p. 29-35. Graham notes the concentration of hotels on Waterloo Place in its early days. Johnston’s is not mentioned so perhaps the hotel names changed, over time. For one of Graham’s excellent illustrations see http://www.ericgraham.co.uk/node/159
The visit is not featured in Robert Ritchie’s delightful booklet (also featured here some time ago) ‘A Mental Feast of Pure Delight’, an excellent collection of descriptions by visitors to Stirling. But I gather that Fontane’s journey from Edinburgh and visit to Stirling and area fill some 20 pages in Fontane’s book!
That looks like being a useful source for those interested in travel, visitors and the Stirling of the period. Does anyone want to look out the book and give us some more information? Does anyone have further information about Campbell’s Royal Hotel? Mr. Campbell himself retired in 1885 and the dinner in his honour was reported in the Stirling Journal, 11 June 1885.
I am posting images of the former Royal Hotel, familiar to local people at the corner of Barnton Street and Friars Street.
And of Archibald Campbell - the elderly gentleman in the centre - though this is not a very good image (it is from Drysdale).
And Mr Cartellieri has sent images of Fontane (looking every bit the Romantic writer) and of his friend Bernhardt Lepel. What an odd opportunity, to re-introduce people who last met 144 years ago! Mr Campbell, Herr Lepel
If we can fill this one out, we might also feature it on the ‘On this Day’ page?