Staff at Windsor's Harte and Garter Hotel learned on Friday that they had been made redundant - as the administrators formally handed control of the building's future back to the site's landlords at the Crown Estate.

About 25 people are believed to have lost their jobs, a week after administrators were called in by the company Suite Hospitality Ltd which included the Harte and Garter among its assets.

It has come as a particularly bitter blow after five members of staff had kept the hotel running during lockdown as a refuge for front line staff working with Coronavirus victims, as well as vulnerable and homeless people sent to them by the police and local authority - even being quarantined themselves for two weeks while looking after one group of people.

What happens to the Harte and Garter now depends on the Crown Estate, which is not revealing future plans at this stage.

A statement this week said only: "We have worked with the operators of the Harte and Garter Hotel in Windsor Suite Hospitality for many years and were sorry to hear that they have entered administration.”

This week Paul Roach, Windsor and Eton Town Centre manager said that the closure of the hotel was a blow for the Town Centre Partnership he runs for the Royal Borough.

The Harte and Garter had been a keen supporter of the partnership, offering its premises free for training and workshops sessions on important issues ranging from anti-terrorist precautions in the town to the 2018 royal wedding.

Many are hoping another hotel chain will step in to take over the lease of the historic hotel.

Mr Roach said: "I'm sure the Crown Estate is looking at all options.

"I hope they find a new operator as soon as possible.

"It would be a shame for such a significant building to remain empty and I hope a new operator can be found sooner rather than later."