Mystery sword discovered in the basement of Sydney’s Royal Hotel

royal hotel sydney sword 1928
The sword discovered in the basement of the former Royal Hotel, Sydney in 1928. Picture: Sydney Mail September 5 1928.
royal hotel george street sydney c1870s
The Royal Hotel, George Street, Sydney 1870s. Picture: State Library of NSW

Sword discovery in the hotel basement

WHEN the old Royal Hotel in George Street Sydney was demolished and preparation began on a replacement building in 1928, workers found an old sword in a brick pit in its basement.

The old pub was demolished to make way for the Dymock’s Book Arcade, now a landmark retail building in Sydney.

The history of the site dates back to 1807, when Sergeant John Ricketts leased the site, and who sold it three years later for £57.

In 1817 the property was sold to Solomon Levey for £400, and in 1826 Barnett Levey became the owner at a cost of £1200. He built a mill, the front portion of the building being opened as the Royal Hotel in March, 1829.

Sydney’s first regular theatre began in the hotel, opening on December 26, 1832. And it was thought the sword may have been a stage ‘prop’, or could have belonged to an officer of the 50th or the 80th Regiment, members of which helped to fight the fire which destroyed the building on St Patrick’s Day, 1840.

In September 1840 Terry Hughes bought the site for £6500, with mortgages of £8500, and in, December the following year the new hotel was opened, but was not completed for several years.

In 1910 the Government Savings Bank purchased the historic property for £60,000. In 1914 the hotel license was cancelled, and the building was used as a Soldiers’ Club during the war years. In 1922 the property was bought by Dymocks for about £150,000.

It was believed at the time of the discovery that it may have been a prop from an old theatre that was once on the site. The fate of the sword is unknown.

For a history of the Royal, and an account of the 1906 gruesome murder of a guest by 15-year-old Tommy Quinlan, the hotel’s lift operator, visit the Time Gents’ story: Royal Hotel, Sydney: Teenage lift operator stabs guest eight times

dymocks building georges street sydney google
The Dymocks Building in George Street today. The site was once home to the Royal Hotel. Photo: Google Streetview.

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Categories: NSW hotels, Sydney hotels

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1 reply

  1. Is it possible that the Royal Hotel in George street, Sydney was more commonly known as “Crampton’s Hotel”? An article published in “The Australian” 30 March 1839 (pg 4) might be interpreted as stating this, or perhaps the house adjoining the Royal Hotel was commonly known as Crampton’s Hotel.

    I’m just asking as the death inquest for my great great grandfather in September 1839 refers to him calling into Crampton’s Hotel earlier that day.

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