Crocker's Folly

Greater London North West - St John's Wood

A historic pub interior of national importance

Listed Status: II*

24 Aberdeen Place
St John's Wood
NW8 8JR

Tel: (020) 7289 9898

Email: reservations@crockersfolly.com

Website http://www.crockersfolly.com/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/CrockersFolly

Lunchtime Meals: Yes

Evening Meals: Yes

Nearby Station: London Marylebone

Station Distance: 950m

Public Transport: Near Railway Station (Marylebone) and Bus Stop

Bus: Yes

View on: Whatpub

This pub-cum-hotel, designed by architect C.H. Worley, went up in 1898–9 at the height of the great London pub-building boom and was one of the most opulent around. It had a restaurant on the second floor and a concert room on the first. The large left-hand room was a billiard room while the right-hand space was originally divided into five compartments including a ladies’ bar. The space in between was called the saloon and has a marble counter, a remarkable marble fireplace, and richly treated ceiling. Until 1987 it was known as the Crown Hotel (the name appears on a clock in the servery), but took its present title thanks to a wondrous myth. The story went that the entrepreneur responsible, Frank Crocker, thought the Great Central Railway, then making its way into London, would end up by his new venture. In fact, it terminated a mile away at Marylebone. Ruin, disaster, despair, and he threw himself to his death from an upper window. In reality the destination had been approved back in 1893 and Frank actually died a natural death in 1904 at the tender age of 41: his estate wqas worth £4108 12s. 9d. so he wasfar from impoverished. He is buried in Kensal Green Center. The building reopened in 2014 after ten years’ closure and is now more of a restaurant than a traditional pub.

Crocker's was a show-case Victorian pub of 3 storeys and attic, built in 1898-9 of red and plum brick. It has an elaborate, eclectic style to the designs (Oct. 1897) of architect C.H. Worley of Welbeck Street for the entrepreneur Frank Crocker. No expense was spared to fit it out and it served also as a hotel and restaurant, conveniently placed near Lord's cricket ground.

The front entrance leads into a spectacular 'grand saloon', as it was known (now the 'Marble Room'), which is set up for dining. Here the highlights are a splendid marble counter rounded at both ends, the bar back is of two large bays with the right hand one having an arch for staff to access the public bar, a superb large marble fireplace with paired columns and hood, marble walls and an elaborate plasterwork ceiling.

On the left through double doors is a large room (now 'Lord's Dining Room'), also used as a restaurant but, when the pub opened, this was a billiard room, accommodating two full-size tables: there was a platform for thirty people to watch the play. There is a not quite as ornate marble fireplace with a decoratively carved mantelpiece; the marble counter is a later insertion. Another elaborate plasterwork ceiling is another tour de force. When the hotel opened the restaurant was on the second floor and there was a concert room on the first floor.

On the right is the 1898 Bar, which it is thought had originally five separate compartments, all screened off from one another; but there is only two exterior doors leading into the room. One of these was reserved for ladies only. The original mahogany bar fittings remain. The bar back faces three directions with the left hand side having three mirrored bays and no loss of lower shelving to fridges but some replacement shelving above. Then there is a door with decorative multi-glazed panels which presumably led to the manager’s office (now a kitchen) and above the door is a clock with the wording ‘The Crown Hotel’. From its opening until 1987 the pub was known as the Crown Hotel. On the return there is just the mirrored bar back screen as the bar counter here has been cut back. All along the top of the back fitting are multi-paned mirrors. There is a deep freize all around the room with the detail picked out in gold. The pub was featured in the 1960s film ‘Georgy Girl’.

The name change arose because of a wondrously exaggerated story that Frank Crocker built this grand establishment to serve the Great Central Railway's new terminus. In fact this ended up at Marylebone over half a mile away. The story goes continues that Crocker went bust and then killed himself by jumping out of an upstairs window. In fact, Marylebone was a-building at the same time as the Crown and Frank died of natural causes at the tender age of 41 in 1904, a much-liked and respected member of the community. The website “pubhistory.com” quotes details supplied by a Moyna Wilson who states that in around 1924 the pub was run by Ethel Durden, Charles Durden, Bernard Barker and Clarence Barker as a family concern. Charles Durden later killed himself by jumping from the window on the corner, where the grand piano was (as opposed to a book by Richard Tames', which says that Crocker did this - this is wrong, it was my uncle).

Following ten years' closure Crocker's reopened in 2014 after restoration as a high-quality restaurant and bar – please note if you want to view the Marble Room and Lord's Dining Room you are recommended to visit between 12 and 5 Monday to Friday.

Read More