In 1839, Thomas Jecks had acquired Lot 42 from John Cooper who had received the land in 1830. The land consisted of 2.5 acres in Guildford, part of the newly formed Swan River Colony. Cooper exchanged the land for a goat. Jecks, who had arrived in the newly formed Swan River colony aboard the Gilmore in 1829, originally built a general store on the site. With the Swan River Colony a little more than a decade old Jecks’ store, by the 1840s stocked and supplied the colonists with a wide variety of goods. These included food products like pork, cheese, sugar, tea, coffee, such things as gauze handkerchiefs, silks, cashmere through to bolts and building goods.
In 1841 Jecks decided to expand the store to include a licensed hotel. The building was in a Georgian style, constructed from local hand made bricks laid in a Flemish bond. This type of bricklaying is an arrangement of bricks where each course has alternate bricks with their short sides and long sides facing outwards, with each alternate course being offset. The building has a steeply pitched roof, that was constructed of indigenous and English hardwoods. The roof was covered in wood shingles.
Jecks continued to expand the hotel but on January 24th 1856 a large beam fell killing him. Forty two year old Jecks left behind his wife, Elizabeth and thirteen children. The hotel continued to run and by the 1860s the establishment was renting rooms for five shillings per meeting to travelling judges and groups wanting to hold public meetings. Stables with Dutch gables were built behind the hotel in the 1880s. In the 1890s a single story addition was built which made up the east wing of the hotel and originally comprised of a bar, restaurant and lodgings for travellers.
In the 1970s the hotel had twenty eight motel rooms added and a museum which housed one of the best exhibitions of Western Australian antiques. In the 1990s the hotel was known for its boutique brewery which produced Bullant Beer and ginger ale. Renovations continued and now the hotel has been mostly restored to its former glory.
Underneath the hotel is a large cellar which is thought to have been connected to the Swan River, just 400m away, by a series of tunnels. There is much conjecture about the need and use of such a tunnel. Some believe that the tunnel was used to run contraband in the newly formed colony. A deep well in the cellar led to suggestions that the proprietors may have been distilling illegal alcohol and using the tunnels to run it. Whatever the reasons for the supposed tunnel and deep cellar it’s an interesting part of the building.
Being one of the oldest hotels in Australia and the oldest in Western Australia it should be no surprise that there have been reports of paranormal phenomena at the hotel. There is supposedly a ghost by the name of Charlie who was a bullock driver that murdered his wife in the hotel when he caught he cheating. Staff and patrons of the hotel have reported seeing figures in the cellar that have appeared to be wearing old fashioned clothes and then strangely disappear.
The Rose and Crown is a fascinating place to spend some time and just contemplate the early settlement of Western Australia.