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Fire At The Rose And Crown

A Memory of Ashbury

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 by First Name Last Name , on Jan 23rd, 2008.

Comments & feedback

Fri Jun 24th 2016, at 10:54 pm

alderbrook2000 commented:

Hi Anthony
Lovely to read your memories of The Rose and Crown. I, like you, remember many fond times in this pub, as I also spent many of my formative years under its roof. I was six when my father took it over in 1978 and remained there til I think 1988. He purchased the freehold I believe from Bass Charringtons and later as a much busier establishment sold it back to them. Much of its trade came from the racing community in Lambourn and there were some heady times, non more so than when my father was a shareholder in a horse called Mahogany, trained by Charlie Nelson which became favourite for the 1000 Guineas. Sadly the win never happened but being in the starting line up was a great experience in itself. The buzz was huge around the staff and locals.
The pub, as I recall, was incredibly busy, off the back of my Dads reputation as a great chef which he undoubtedly was (and still is, although a long time retired).
I'm almost ashamed to say it but he was responsible for the building of the bungalow at the back of the hotel that took over that wonderful orchard. I remember being devastated at the time!
My football pitch and adventure playground taken away. Some apple trees and wasp attracting damson trees were kept.
I have 100s of memories but one of the most amusing took place on the night of the village nativity play. My father is playful chap, and in front of cameras from HTV, when asked by the village Joseph if there was room in the inn, I was informed by Dad to reply; yes; room 3 is free instead of expected, there is no room but there is a barn down the road. It made the local HTV news giving the journalist a joke to hang his angle on.
This a lovely picture, and although I have a few I don't have one with the thatched roof and your story will certainly add to its value.
Andre Klein

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