I was four when my family moved from London to Manage the Rose and Crown in 1940. The Rose and Crown was then about four hundred and fifty years old. After six months there was a devastating fire which destroyed the whole of the thatched part of the hotel and part of the building which is in Church Lane. The cottage immediately opposite across Church Lane was also burnt down. The fire started during the evening and as it was war-time it was important to put it out as soon as possible it could be seen for miles. Fourteen fire engines attended.
I was in bed and I called out to my mother for a drink. She came upstairs with my drink but she shushed me and said "Listen". there was a crackling noise above the ceiling. She ran downstairs to tell my father who got a ladder and climbed up to inspect a hidden part of the thatch by the chimney. He called down to say the thatch was alight. My mother came rushing into my bedroom, grabbed me from the bed and as she reached the door the ceiling fell onto the bed in flames. A very narrow escape. No one was injured in the fire and my sister and I were cared for by people in the village until we were able to return to live in the remaining part of the Rose and Crown. The bar could still be opened and we lived in the patched up ruins for eight years until the re-building started. My father as manager was paid £5.00 per week by the People's Refreshment House Association (PRHA).
It was thouight that the fire was caused by wooden beam ends in the chimney smouldering probably for a long time before eventually bursting into flame.
I spent a very happy childhood in The Rose and Crown and I still visit it every so often to try and recapture those happy times.
Sadly, in my opinion, the old archway has been filled in to extend the public bar and a large bungalow has been built on what used to be the large vegetable and fruit garden alongside Church Lane.
We left the Rose and Crown in 1955 and returned to London.
Anthony Stayne (Tel: 01424 712976)
A memory shared byon Jan 23rd, 2008.
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