Darlinghurst’s Beauchamp Hotel was named after ‘outed’ and exiled gay Governor

beauchamp hotel paddington nsw TG 1
William Lygon, 7th Earl of Beauchamp. Picture: Supplied

THE Beauchamp Hotel, at the corner of South Dowling and Oxford Streets Darlinghurst was once one of Sydney’s favourite gay pubs, and is still a favourite with the LGBT community.

Ironically the pub was named after an Englishman, William Lygon, 7th Earl of Beauchamp, who later in life was ‘outed’ as a homosexual and was forced into exile.

The Beauchamp Hotel was built in 1867 as the Ice Hotel – not after the drug, but the frozen ballast imported from the Great Lakes of North America, and carried in ships with sawdust, as insulation, at the time.

In 1900 the Ice Hotel was renamed the Beauchamp Hotel after 26-year-old Lygon, who was the Governor of NSW at the time. He was an unpopular Governor, described as “a progressive” who enjoyed the company of writers and artists, including Henry Lawson and Vitor Daley.

After a short stint as Governor from 1899 to 1900, Lygon returned to England, where he married and had seven children before being “outed” as a homosexual (a criminal offence at the time) to the King and Queen by his Tory brother-in-law, the Duke of Westminster.

There was no public scandal, with Lord Beauchamp quietly resigning his offices and slipping into exile. He lived the remainder of his life in Italy, Germany and France before his death from cancer at the age of 66 at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York.

Beauchamp Hotel Paddington NSW Aug 1930
Beauchamp Hotel, Darlinghurst, August 1930. Picture: Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University.

The irony of it all, a hotel named after a closeted homosexual man in 1900, would 80 years later become one of Sydney’s most popular gay pubs.

The Beauchamp Hotel was completely renovated 2004 and now boasts an airy main bar, with lounges and sofas, while retaining plenty of old world charm.

Beauchamp Hotel Paddington NSW 1949 ANU
Beauchamp Hotel, Darlinghurst, 1948. Picture: Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University.

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Categories: NSW hotels, Sydney hotels

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1 reply

  1. My gt gt uncle Sir Matthew Harris was Mayor of Sydney during Beauchamp’s term as governor. They became good friends and spent evenings together talking about collecting memorabilia. Lord Beauchamp knighted Sir Matthew at a private ceremony in 1899 at Government House which was followed by a private lunch with Harris and his wife and daughter and Beauchamp’s lovely sister Lady Mary Lygon. The governor’s invitation to my gt gt uncle is preserved in the Mitchell Library. John Harris.

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