We all know that tourists flock to Cumbria for our spectacular scenery, but perhaps less well appreciated is our rich history and heritage. And for one local hotel the historical connections are literally right on their doorstep. In fact any guests staying in Room 208 at the Allerdale Court Hotel in Market Place, Cockermouth, will find themselves party to something of a centuries-old mystery.

Taller guests will realise there's something a bit unusual when they have to lower their heads slightly when they enter the bedroom. That's because the entrance passes through a unique feature - an old stone archway stretching almost the whole width of the room. While looking very much like an inglenook fireplace, there's no chimney and the edifice seems to serve no useful purpose other than as an attractive and highly unusual feature. Not surprisingly it's also a big talking point amongst guests.

Why is it there and where did it come from? No-one knows for sure, but there's an intriguing clue. Towards one end of the arch the initials 'PF' are carved boldly into the masonry. Local historians say that the building that is now the Allerdale Court dates back to the 18th century and it was once owned by Mr Paul Fletcher, one of the Fletcher family who wielded considerable power and influence in the area at that time. So it seems likely that 'PF' was the same Paul Fletcher.

Of course Cockermouth has strong connections with another famous Fletcher - the HMS Bounty mutineer Fletcher Christian who was born at Moorland Close Farm on the outskirts of the town in 1764. His first name came from his grandmother, also one of the same Fletcher family. 
"You certainly wouldn't get anything like this if you stayed with one of the big hotel chains" says Allerdale Court's owner Kay Carlin. "Everyone knows about the mutiny on the Bounty, so the possibility of a connection with Fletcher Christian is something that fascinates many of our guests. If anyone can shed any more light on the fireplace, I'd love to hear from them!" 
Local legend even suggests that Fletcher Christian may have left Pitcairn Island and smuggled himself back into England and returned to Cockermouth. If so it's very possible that he stayed in the house which eventually became the Allerdale Court.
We'll probably never know how much truth there is in this rumour. But for anyone staying at the Allerdale Court, this intriguing conundrum just adds to the magic of their stay in this beautiful corner of England.