When Captain Roger Angmering built himself a house in the year 1782 on the island off
Leathercombe Bay, it was thought the height of eccentricity on his part. A man of good
family such as he was should have had a decorous mansion set in wide meadows with,
perhaps, a running stream and good pasture.
But Captain Roger Angmering had only one great love, the sea. So he built his house—a
sturdy house too, as it needed to be, on the little windswept gull
cut off from land at each high tide.
He did not marry, the sea was his first and last spouse, and at his death the house and
island went to a distant cousin. That cousin and his descendants thought little of the
bequest. Their own acres dwindled, and their heirs grew steadily poorer.
In 1922 when the great cult of the Seaside for Holidays was finally established and the
coast of Devon and Cornwall was no longer thought too hot in the summer, Arthur
Angmering found his vast inconvenient late Georgian house unsaleable, but he got a good
price for the odd bit of property acquired by the seafaring Captain Roger.
The sturdy house was added to and embellished. A concrete causeway was laid down
from the mainland to the island. ‘Walks’ and ‘Nooks’ were cut and devised all round the
island. There were two tennis courts, sun
terraces leading down to a little bay embellished
with rafts and diving boards. The Jolly Roger Hotel, Smugglers’ Island, Leathercombe Bay,
came triumphantly into being. And from June till September (with a short season at
Easter) the Jolly Roger Hotel was usually packed to the attics. It was enlarged and
improved in 1934 by the addition of a cocktail bar, a bigger dining
room and some extra
bathrooms. The prices went up.
People said: ‘Ever been to Leathercombe Bay? Awfully jolly hotel there, on a sort of island.
Very comfortable and no trippers or charabancs. Good cooking and all that. You ought to
And people did go.
There was one very important person (in his own estimation at least) staying at the Jolly
Roger. Hercule Poirot, resplendent in a white duck suit, with a panama hat tilted over his
eyes, his moustaches magnificently befurled, lay back in an improved type of deck
and surveyed the bathing beach. A series of terraces led down to it from the hotel. On the
beach itself were floats, lilos, rubber and canvas boats, balls and rubber toys. There was a
long springboard and three rafts at varying distances from the shore.
Of the bathers, some were in the sea, some were lying stretched out in the sun, and some
were anointing themselves carefully with oil.