About the Rose & Crown – a brief history
The heritage-listed Rose & Crown is the oldest hotel in the state and the third oldest licensed hotel in Australia. In 1839, when the colony of Western Australia was little more than a decade old, Thomas Jecks opened a general store in Guildford. Soon after, in 1841, he extended the scope of that business to include a licensed inn. The main building – known as the Rose & Crown Inn – is Georgian in style. It was built from local, hand-made bricks laid in a Flemish bond, while the steeply pitched roof, constructed from indigenous and English hardwoods, was formerly covered in timber shingles. The most recent restoration of the Rose & Crown by Mark and Tracy Weber, owners since 2004, showcases many of the original details.
Opened in 1841 as a licensed hotel, the main two-storey Rose & Crown building sits on approximately 2.5 acres of land in tree-lined Swan Street, Guildford. The hotel is basically symmetrical in plan, with a corridor running through the middle on the ground and first floors. The one original ground-floor room that remains virtually intact is the 1841 Dining Room; the other was divided into a foyer area and private dining room. On the first floor (originally the manager's residence), four Heritage Suites line either side of the central corridor. Fully renovated, with a classical theme, they incorporate modern facilities such as spa baths and plasma TVs.
There are extensive cellars below the hotel. In one, a well was sunk through the floor. Originally, a tunnel from the main cellar to the shores of the nearby Swan River facilitated the movement of stores from barges into the building, and to this day stories relating to the tunnel abound. Magnificent beams – measuring a sizeable 20 cm by 5 cm and believed to be of English redwood – support part of the hotel floor, as well as a section of the restaurant. Herringbone-strutted, they are held in position with hand-made nails that resemble old-fashioned horseshoe nails. Mystery surrounds an inscription dated 1837 on one of these cellar beams.
1860s – courthouse and public meetings
In 1863, court hearings, presided over by a travelling judge, were held at the Rose & Crown, as were public meetings. The Inn is reported to have charged the sum of five shillings per meeting.
A single-storey addition to the Rose & Crown, built in 1890 and comprising the east wing of the hotel building, originally encompassed a bar, restaurant and lodgings for weary travellers. Much later, in the 1970s, when motel accommodation was added and the hotel renovated, this east wing was transformed into a restaurant and ballroom used primarily for weddings. Today, following the most recent renovations, this area, aptly named the Posh Convict, contains a stylish restaurant and wine bar that attract locals and visitors alike.
Built in about 1880, the Stables – located directly behind the hotel and characterised by Dutch gable ends facing south and a small turret in the centre at the back – also have an intriguing history, having served as accommodation for both camels and single men. Now splendidly restored, the Stables provide an opportunity to experience a stay-over steeped in history (although, sadly, the camels have long since departed).
1970s – motel and Hall Museum
During the 1970s, a 28-room motel and a museum were constructed on the east side and to the rear of the hotel. Since 2005, that motel has undergone a major facelift and redecoration and is now rated as 3.5 star accommodation by the RAC.
The Hall Museum once housed WA’s finest private antique and bric-a-brac collections. Then, in the late 1990s, it enjoyed a stint as a boutique brewery, well-known for its amazing ginger ale and Bullant Beer. Currently, this area of the Rose & Crown is also being redeveloped and, when completed, will add considerably to the property's existing venue options.
A ghostly past
It has been said that the spirits of convicts and former publicans roam the corridors and cellar of the main Rose & Crown building, and media programmes such as Postcards that featured the hotel have tried to shed more light on the history of those ghosts. The ABC television channel even went as far as sending in a 'ghost whisperer', who encountered a number of spirits there. Skeptics, however, take a more pragmatic view of the often strange events that form part of the Rose & Crown's rich history.
2010 and beyond
Mark and Tracy Weber, your hosts at the Rose & Crown, invite you to enjoy their establishment and its many amenities as they continue their discreet restoration programme, aimed at creating wonderful new public areas for patrons. Whether you visit with family and friends or business colleagues, you won't be disappointed. Become a regular and you can bear witness to the ongoing resurrection of one of Australia’s great iconic pubs.