The Principal Manchester (formerly The Palace Hotel)

The venue for our 2017 conference is a beautiful Victorian era landmark in the centre of Manchester – a grade II listed building, dating back to 1890. Known for many years as The Palace Hotel, it has recently undergone a huge refurbishment and has been re-named The Principal Manchester.

The Building

The building was designed by Alfred Waterhouse, and was built for the Refuge Assurance Company as their headquarters, and therefore known as the Refuge Assurance Building. It was then further extended, including the addition of the eye-catching 217 foot tower, in 1910 by Alfred’s son Paul Waterhouse. After almost a century, the Refuge Assurance Company left the building for new headquarters in Cheshire in 1987, therefore placing the building up for sale. There were initially plans for the building to become the new home of the Halle Orchestra, but these did not materialise when sufficient funds could not be raised, so the building lay vacant for most of the next 9 years.

In 1996, at a reported cost of 7 million pounds, the building was converted to a hotel and opened as The Palace. The stunning glass dome in the entrance hallway was added, enclosing what had previously been an open-topped entrance, originally a turning space for horse and carts (hence the statue of a horse in the reception).


As with most buildings of this age and scale, there are a few ghost rumours around! Apparently there is a haunted staircase towards the back of the hotel, down which a tragic young woman fell many years ago, and also a particular bedroom in which items/possessions have been known to move around!

Sources: The_Principal_Manchester

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