The Horse & Groom (Glamorgan/Grouse & Claret) [A case presented by Roger Wagner]

The Horse & Groom (Glamorgan/Grouse & Claret)

81 Cherry Orchard Road, Croydon [A case presented by Roger Wagner]

 

Butler Walsall’s Planning Application (2024) argues that this building has no community merit in terms of historic/heritage/social/cultural/economic associations. Well they would, wouldn’t they! As prospective developers of the site, they (non-Croydon residents) would prefer we saw it as just ‘a building’ which they would replace with a residential tower.

 

Planning Applications for redevelopment are not a noted source of deeply researched historic/heritage/social/cultural/economic data. So …

 

Economic

Butler Walsall bought ‘The Glamorgan’ as a going concern. They did not apply for a licence to run it as a pub, but instead plastered the building with notices they intended to demolish. Since they had not applied for planning permission that got nowhere. The SaveTheGlam Campaign secured ‘Asset of Community Value’ protection till 2023, but the legal protections are time-limited.

Historic 

This photograph was taken about 1934 – a century after its foundation –  when the pub was part of the Charrington Brewery estate. The ’Horse & Groom’ – ‘The Glamorgan’ after 2006 or ‘The Grouse & Claret’ as it has been since 1993 – harmonises well with 2-storey residential/commercial buildings to north & west of which it is part. Old Cherry Orchard Road to the south is lost – like Croydon’s Cherry Orchard – to brutalist modern tower blocks. Built before the intrusion of East Croydon Station in 1841, with a cellar which defines the footprint of the building on its corner plot to this day, this building is an authentic pre-Victorian pub. 

 

Heritage

The only pub older on this side of Croydon is The Windmill (1822-2023) which is sadly derelict and was subject to an arson attack at the end of August 2023. Arson of the top floor of a derelict pub is the all-too-common way to ensure it cannot be saved. At least our pub was spared that indignity!

 

Butler Walsall’s assessment of the historic/architectural value is poorly researched & defective. The assertion that the building is substantially ‘modified’ is made without evidence. The evidence externally of 4 separate entrances to what would have been distinct public/saloon/private/snug bars & associated garden amounts to authentic 19th century ‘improvements’ to the existing public house building in the face of a burgeoning Evangelical/Temperance Movement. Inside there is no evidence of extensive re-modelling. And the cool cellar is excellent.

 

The existing building marks the singular point where the canyon of modern tower developments beside East Croydon Station on the footprint of the lost ancient community cherry orchard, gives way to authentic 19th century East Croydon This settlement was planted on the east side of historic Croydon Common following privatisation in the Croydon Enclosure Acts 1799/1800, near the location – Cross Road – where the Cherry Orchard to the south –  along Cherry Orchard Road – gave way to developments on the former Common. Here is where East Croydon ‘begins’.

 

The pub was built where the still extant passage from Oval Road emerges onto Cherry Orchard Road. This is the remnant of the path which at the time The Horse & Groom was built, connected with the brewery yard of Addiscombe House, the Military Academy of the East India Company. At that time the private chartered Company was engaged in a – eventually successful campaign – of persuading its prospective officers in India to drink good English pale ale rather than the debilitating strong spirits they might meet in India (or Croydon Town for that matter). India Pale Ale had to be well-hopped to ensure it was drinkable after the turbulent voyage around the Cape of Good Hope (no Suez Canal in those days!) to India. IPA is now a world beer style. Apart from the Academy itself, this pub is where the cadets became acclimatised.

 

After 1834 the Company permitted graduate cadets to ride their ponies along this route towards Croydon Town, a privilege denied to junior cadets. In the neighbourhood beside the pub was a small smithy (the shell still extant) where their mounts could be serviced while the senior cadets quaffed ale and porter, served until the end of the East India Company in 1857, by Stephen Rose.

 

Stephen Rose was probably brother-in-law of ‘Mother Rose’, whose cottage on Addiscombe Road served their needs for laundry, livery, garment-care and repair, haberdashery, boot-care, leather-care and repair, nursing and home comforts. It is probable that at The Horse and Groom the cadets learned to love the bright amber India Pale Ale brewed at Addiscombe House. It was now being commercially produced to be shipped – preserved by its high hop content – to India; Company policy was to anaesthetise them as cadets against the strong spirits they would encounter in the Town and ‘out East’. India Pale Ale was seen as a more ‘noble’ beverage more aligned with their future status as civilised white commanders of the Company’s private army of Indian sepoys, which was bigger than the British Army at the time. Noted beer writer Pete Brown in Hope & Glory (2009) calls it ‘the beer that built the British Empire’.

 

Well hopped IPAs are brewed across the globe today. Defined by the source of their hops there are Pacific IPAs, New England IPAs, West Coast IPAs and all stations between. Croydon is where they began their march to world significance, in the domestic brewery of Addiscombe Military Academy and ‘The Horse & Groom’ – ‘The Glamorgan’.

 

Social//Cultural

A pub is a community hub, a place to meet and socialise with your neighbours. Churches and chapels provided community hubs when the English were all active Christians, but that bond is long-gone. Butler Walsall – and a developer like them – is betting on pubs going the same way. This pub also provided distinctive food for the residents/visitors of East Croydon (remember ‘Bunny Chow’?). And some of us remember lively musical entertainments in what was once ‘The Horse & Groom’. It was never ‘just a pub’. If it is lost it is lost forever, like the ‘Common ‘ and the ‘Cherry Orchard’.

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