Thicket Hotel

The first Crystal Palace FC held their end-of-season supper at the Thicket Hotel, Anerley, in February 1871.

The players finished the 1870/71 campaign that day with an inter-club match between Douglas Allport’s ‘Captain’s Ten’ and ‘Alex Morten’s Fifteen’ in Crystal Palace Park.

Thicket HotelThe score was 1-1 – even though Morten’s team had five extra players – and they kept playing until a winner was found, but called time when it began to get dark.

The players headed to the hotel that evening where they would have changed into suits and enjoyed a fine meal, with lots of wine, singing and smoking cigars.

The supper was reported in the Sportsman newspaper and read: “About 30 members and visitors sat down to an excellent repast; and what with smoke and song, wine and warbling, punch and perorations, the hours slid unobserved away and midnight arriving prematurely, the meeting was adjourned until February 27, 1872.”

The hotel opened eight years earlier in 1863 with John Lassam the hotel keeper and his name is recorded on the side of the building today.

The Thicket

In the 1871 Census, Lassam is listed as living here with his wife and two children, along with a barmaid, cook, housemaid, nursemaid, potman and lodger.

He was the landlord for over 20 years and was well known in the neighbourhood.

People would have travelled from across the country to stay here and at other hotels in the area while visiting the Crystal Palace.

Families were welcome with first-class wines, spirits, and bottled beer on offer. It had a coffee room and you could play chess and draughts. Staying overnight, there were “well-aired beds” and stables for horses.

Chops and steaks were available “at the shortest notice” with dinner daily at half-past one. The bar served Allsopp’s India Pale Ale on draught which was very popular.

The hotel was a hub of the community and various meetings and club and society dinners were hosted.

There was one for staff of the Crystal Palace turnstyle department; a dinner for railway officials; a luncheon for Anerley Cricket Club; a meeting for the Penge and Anerley Liberal Association and a meeting for local traders. Inquests and property auctions were also held at the venue.

Norwood News, October 28, 1871

Norwood NewsNorwood News, November 16, 1878

Lassam had to give evidence at the Central Criminal Court in February 1876 after two men were charged with knowingly passing on counterfeit florins. One of the men handed him the bad money at the Thicket Hotel.

In June 1880, George Bailey, 13, a coal heaver from Penge was charged with being drunk and disorderly in Anerley Road. He was ejected from the Thicket Hotel and created such a disturbance in the road that an inspector had to take him into custody.

He refused to go to the station and laid down in the road kicking and struggling. The local judge fined him 5s or in default ordered him to be imprisoned for five days.

In September that year at the Croydon Petty Sessions, Mr Lassam was summoned by Mr Lane – inspector of weights and measures – for having four pint measures which were described as “false and unjust”.

In reply to the Bench, the defendant admitted that the charge was true, but said he had made such provision that it would not occur again. He was fined 40s and 9s costs.

In 1896, Lassam was no longer the landlord and died suddenly in unfortunate circumstances, aged 63. He was taken ill while riding his tricycle, dismounted and died almost instantly on East Croydon Bridge.

An advert for the Thicket Hotel placed by the new proprietor A. Sherwood in the Norwood News, December 3, 1887

In October 1898, Mary Mason was arrested for being drunk, disorderly and using obscene language in Anerley Road. She was fighting other women near the Thicket Hotel.

A seaman was charged with attempting to murder a brewer’s labourer by shooting him in the street in August 1900. The labourer left the Thicket Hotel and saw the man attempt to strike a young woman who had also been in the hotel, so jumped between them.

The seaman pulled out a revolver and fired twice at the witness’s head which missed. He got the man to the floor and a third shot was fired that also missed before a constable arrived on the scene.

Thicket HotelThree years later in July 1903, three men were charged with stealing a horse and cart from outside the Thicket Hotel. The magistrate chairman remarked “that they had been guilty of a very foolish act,” reported the Greenwich and Deptford Observer.

In 2013, the Thicket Tavern as it was known, was converted from a pub into eight flats and fortunately the developers have not altered the exterior too much.