BACK IN 1851 when the building which became known as the Crystal Palace was first put up, it enclosed elm trees in Hyde Park – and the sparrows which nested there.
A perplexed Queen Victoria asked the Duke of Wellington what should be done about the sparrows.
“Sparrowhawks, Ma’am” was the terse reply.
And that’s how the former Holly Bush pub on the corner of Westow Street and Westow Hill has acquired its new name – coupled with the possibility that sparrowhawks are nesting not too far away.
The new owners are husband and wife team Danielle and Jamie Mason – backed by chef Robin Priestley who was previously head chef at Brinkley’s Wine Factory in Notting Hill.
Danielle and Jamie, who live in Wandsworth, originally came up to Crystal Palace because they had seen The Alma on Church Road was up for sale.
“We didn’t know Crystal Palace that well” says Danielle. “Then we did a lot of market research, going into the local pubs and restaurants and loved the villagey feel to it.
“Our friends were saying ‘You’re opening a pub in Crystal Palace?’. “I don’t think people knew a lot about Crystal Palace and their views were quite outdated. “But we’re thrilled to be here and it was definitely the right move for us.
“And all of our friends who have been here since have loved it. “We’ve changed their minds on Crystal Palace – and we’ll probably be residents ourselves soon enough.”
They prefer to call The Sparrowhawk, which has had a complete refit, a food-led pub rather than a gastro pub. The Sparrowhawk serves bar snacks which change daily but can include home-made scotch eggs, home-made sausage rolls and home made pork scratchings.
A typical menu can include cauliflower soup, deep fried goats cheese or half a pint of prawns among its starters, spiced lamb stews, chicken Kiev or home made burger as the main course and chocolate espresso tart Good Taste cheese and biscuits with onion marmalade among its puddings. And there are roast dinners on Sundays.
See the Sparrowhawk’s facebook page