International bestselling author and Britain’s Got Talent judge David Walliams paid a visit to Cornwall’s Fowey Hall Hotel at the weekend to officially open its impressive library.

Thought to be the largest children’s library in any hotel in the UK, it is home to more than 800 books appealing to children of all ages as well as a selection of great reads for adults.  It also houses a collection of vintage photography and prints that tell the story of the hotel and its literary links.

A small group of local children joined David Walliams for the official opening along with Simon Maguire, MD of Luxury Family Hotels, and Kate Longman of Fowey’s independent bookshop Shrew Books (formerly Bookends of Fowey) who works with Fowey Hall to curate the selection of books so that they appeal to guests of all ages when they stay at the luxury family hotel.

David Walliams said:  “In a world of deadlines and constant interruptions, many families are juggling work, personal commitments and their lives are currently restricted due to the pandemic.  A library, however big or small, can often be the perfect place to retreat and enjoy a book without distraction. 

“It’s a real pleasure to visit Fowey Hall and open its wonderful library.  I’m honoured to declare it open for literary indulgence!”

Simon Maguire, Managing Director, Luxury Family Hotels, added: “One of the most relaxing things about getting away, whether it’s to the beach or a long weekend out of town, is that you get the chance to pick up a book.  As part of our major refurbishment, we wanted Fowey Hall to offer a luxury stay with relaxation guaranteed and our library has been carefully designed to do just that, enabling our guests – whatever their age – to while away the hours, sink into the sofas and comfy chairs with a good book.”

The pretty sailing town of Fowey on the south Cornish coast has provided inspiration and a home to many authors including Daphne du Maurier and  Kenneth Grahame, author of The Wind in the Willows.

Grahame first came to Fowey in 1899, staying at the Fowey Hotel while convalescing from pneumonia. Here he became friends with Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch (Q), who introduced him to life in Fowey, he also married Elspeth Thompson in St Fimbarrus Church in Fowey in the same year. Although the marriage was a somewhat unhappy one, Grahame often sought refuge in Fowey spending much time with Q and on the river. It was during these visits that he wrote to Alastair, his only son (affectionally known as Mouse) with his tales of the riverbank.  These letters and other bedtime stories were to make up The Wind in the Willows.

To celebrate the official opening of the library, instead of a normal ribbon cutting ceremony, Fowey Hall Hotel commissioned Penzance-based award-winning cake makers Peboryon – stars of Channel 4’s Extreme Cake Makers – to create an innovative hand-painted pop-up book cake fit for the occasion.  With the famous Fowey Hall in the background, the seasonally inspired blackberry and apple cake features Ratty and Mole playing on the river, with Mr Toad reading David Walliams latest novel, The World’s Worst Parents.