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Rose At The Golden Heart

November 22, 2017
by the gentle author


When Sandra Esqulant, celebrated landlady of The Golden Heart in Commercial St, saw this photo taken by Contributinf Photographer Phil Maxwell of Rose sitting in her barroom twenty years ago she told me the story of an unforgettable character who became one of her most loved regulars.

“I loved Rose. I don’t know what happened to her, she’s got to be dead now hasn’t she?

What happened was – you know how you fall in love with some people? – this woman appeared in the pub one day and I fell in love with her. I just liked her.

She asked for a rum & lemonade, and she never had to pay for a drink in my pub.

I used to have to warn everyone when Rose was coming in because she used to pick up everyone’s cigarettes and put them in her bag.

I used to dance with her.

You might think she was dumb, but she was the most astute person I ever met. She didn’t like my husband while I was there, but when I wasn’t there it was a different story!

My husband liked her a lot.

You know I lost my husband.

When she stopped coming, I went round to the Sally Army in Old Montague St, where she lived, but they told me they didn’t know what happened to her, so I went to the Police Station and they were going to search the morgue. I kept going back to the Sally Army and this Irish woman said to me, ‘Are you looking for Rose? She moved to Commercial Rd.’ So I went round to the Commercial Rd shelter and there was Rose. She was very sad because the Sally Army had put her out after forty years. So I used to send a cab to pick her up and take her back from my pub.

The Sally Army, they should have known how fond I was of her and told me where she had gone.

One Sunday, when I was on my own, she collected all the glasses and the ashtrays and the crisp packets and emptied them over the bar. I didn’t mind, Rose could do anything in my pub.

People like Rose would go into a pub and people wouldn’t serve them, but I had everyone in here – this was the dossers’ bar!

One day, Phil Maxwell asked Rose if he could put her in one of his films and she didn’t like that, but he set his camera on the table and took these pictures. And after that, he always had her picture in his exhibitions.

She must have known I was fond of her.

She did like me.

I know she liked me.

She was lovely.

She used to talk about her daughter, but I sometimes wonder if she ever had a daughter.

At Christmas, she always asked me for a Christmas box and, of course, I always gave her one.

They moved her out after forty years, what a thing to do to someone.

If Rose was here today, I’d let her smoke in my pub – I don’t care about the law.

Very special, she was.”

Photographs copyright © Phil Maxwell

See more of Phil Maxwell’s work here

Phil Maxwell’s Brick Lane

The Cat Lady of Spitalfields

Phil Maxwell’s Kids on the Street

Phil Maxwell, Photographer

Phil Maxwell & Sandra Esqulant, Photographer & Muse

Phil Maxwell’s Old Ladies

More of Phil Maxwell’s Old Ladies

Phil Maxwell’s Old Ladies in Colour

Phil Maxwell on the Tube

Phil Maxwell at the Spitalfields Market

Phil Maxwell on Wentworth St

4 Responses leave one →
  1. November 22, 2017

    A story with the human touch . Not sure how you could run a pub like that? But that was then.

  2. Ros dick permalink
    November 22, 2017

    Speaking as a Rose….what a woman!
    I’m sure if you look again that glass will be empty!
    Keep checking back

  3. November 23, 2017

    How wonderful, especially in a world like today where everyone is supposed to fit into a box to see true appreciation of individuality!

  4. Kitanz permalink
    November 24, 2017

    This is Wonderful-Rose is an Amazing Lady! Thank You for meeting Her.

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