Coombe Lane’s Chateau restaurant forced to cancel Christmas

The Chateau restaurant on Coombe Lane has closed, with immediate effect, the latest part of Croydon’s business fabric to go under as a consequence of rising costs and the damage caused to its trade by the covid pandemic.

Christmas cancelled: The Chateau has ceased trading with immediate effect

Originally opened in 1978 as Chateau Napoleon, the opulent and somewhat grandiose venue, nestling in the wooded hillside next to Coombe Gardens, was a favourite of Rotary Club lunches, political fund-raisers and civic get-togethers of be-chained mayors from across London.

The Chateau’s demise comes after a decade of development blight has scarred Croydon town centre, thanks to Westfield failing to deliver on their regeneration promises.

And it follows the likes of the Selsdon Park Hotel and Croydon Park Hotel, both of which have closed in the past two years, three Wetherspoons pubs shutting, Waitrose on George Street closing, as well as several long-established businesses in what was once branded by the council as “the restaurant quarter” that have not survived the economic ordeal of the 2020s.

A la carte: The Chateau’s menu will no longer be available

Companies House records suggest that The Chateau’s business had been struggling for some months.

The restaurant was unable to re-open following the covid lockdowns until April 2021, having gone almost a year without the staples of its business of hosting weddings in the grand country house setting, and catering for the happy couples’ receptions afterwards, along with other events and parties in any of its five function rooms that could cater for “business meetings to grand balls” and as many as 300 guests.

Even when it did re-open, The Chateau could only provide al fresco dining at first, in order to be compliant with the covid regulations at the time.

Until last week, they were still promoting their Christmas day service, with a three-course meal on the big day for £85.

Despite the management’s best efforts to revive the business, offering three-course set menus for £26 this summer, this week the word got out that The Chateau was cancelling Christmas, as staff began the heart-rending task of ringing round customers who had booked tables or events and making refunds of their deposits.

Opulent: The Chateau’s dining rooms had the look of a by-gone age, or the set from an Agatha Christie movie

“They have called me tonight and given me a full refund of £400,” one saddened customer posted on social media. “Very lovely gentleman and I feel very sad for them.”

One former customer remembered fondly, “I had my 50th birthday party there. Very sad to hear this news, it held lovely memories for me.”

Another posted, “So much of old Croydon is disappearing, it’s so sad.

“I was very much looking forward to my Christmas party night at Chateau Napolean, but they’ve called to cancel it as they’ve ceased trading due to the economy.”

According to one source who until the closure worked with The Chateau, the plan originally had been to trade through Christmas, but to close in January due to increase charges on their lease and other soaring costs. “They’ve tried so hard to keep going,” the source said, “but sadly they just can’t.”

Other, larger venues in the area, such as The Oaks Golf Club in Carshalton, report receiving a wave of late bookings as people seek alternative venues for their festive events.

Final offer: one of the special deals available on The Chateau’s website today

The Chateau was housed in one of a series of historic large houses that are to be found in and around Lloyd Park and Addington Hills area that remains resolutely rural after a century or more of development elsewhere in Croydon.

With records indicating that there has been an estate in the area going back to 1221, The Chateau occupies Coombe Wood House, which was built in 1898 for Arthur Lloyd, the brother of newspaper publisher Frank Lloyd who gave his name to the large park when he handed the land over to the local council.

The then Croydon Corporation bought Coombe Wood House in the middle of the 20th Century for use as a convalescence and children’s home, until it was taken on in the 1970s as the restaurant, while its ornamental gardens and 14 acres of woodland were kept by the council as Coombe Wood Gardens.

Calls and emails to The Chateau today have gone unanswered.

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13 Responses to Coombe Lane’s Chateau restaurant forced to cancel Christmas

  1. CentralCroydon says:

    Such a shame, but no doubt soon to be converted into overpriced “executive” apartments.

  2. How apposite that the last gigs they offered were ‘funeral wakes’ at the bargain basement price of £10. I’m still chuckling at your ‘opulent and somewhat grandiose’ description! And another thing, who owns the land??? Please God don’t say London Borough of Croydon?

  3. In the 70s and 80s The Chateau Napoleon was the place to go, for lunchtime business meetings and sophisticated evenings, even for wedding receptions. A few years ago spouse and I went there again. The same furniture and decorations looked tired and neglected, and the menu was dated. The whole restaurant was stuck in its past and was not appealing. This is why it became less popular, less busy and less profitable, nothing to do with a recession – it weathered two previous recessions very successfully. It was just not well managed in recent years. Covid didn’t help, but wasn’t the cause of its problems. Now we await news of its future. How many flats will Croydon Planning allow to be built on that site, I wonder? Or will it be a new school for troubled students, necessitating closure of public access and neglect of its surroundings?

  4. derekthrower says:

    To be frank it feels like it has been closed for a long time. Some old blackboard sign with a badly written chalked offer is my abiding memory when driving past. Marketing in the digital age hasn’t been one of the restaurants strong points and even it’s website is not informing the public of it’s sad demise. Another sad relic of a bygone age when Croydon had the wealth to keep such locations in demand. Decline has such effects.

  5. Frances Marshall says:

    how do i get my money back, have spent £300 deposit for eightieth birthday , very upsetting

  6. James Seabrook says:

    We had our wedding reception at The Chateau in April 2007. A glorious day with such a beautiful park behind. Jeremy the person running it at the time was a brilliant host. He’d put his heart and soul into it to make sure you had a great time. Food was fantastic too and prices especially given the silver service. Very happy memories from that place.

    The decor has always left something to be desired and was beginning to look tired but that didn’t worry us particularly. However with expected standards for eating out so high now from an aesthetic point of view at least, perhaps I can see why it went out of fashion.

    The Chateau closing is a real shame because it’s one of the few genuine remaining artifacts of Croydon that I know about, but I guess times change. I hope Croydon Council doesn’t screw it up completely with its proposed changes but unfortunately I don’t think anybody would put it past them.

  7. Susan Pearson says:

    i had a fine sunday lunch there, once. I remember how juicy and succulent the lamb was. Makes me purr thinking about it.

  8. Martin Garside says:

    Held my mother wake here back a few years food was excellent and staff brilliant, but was looking tired then and could have done with a refresh. Wonder what it will become.

  9. Max Hawker says:

    How do I get in touch with the owner? My wife and I were the first people to get married there – back in 2007. I’d like to see if I can go inside once more and perhaps buy some souvenirs. I’m gutted that it’s gone. I’ll always remember the wonderful Jeremy too…

  10. I lived in the house for a couple of years just prior to it becoming Chateau Napoleon; my mum worked for Croydon Council at the time and they made a reciprocal arrangement. She needed a place for her and my brother to live and the council needed someone to occupy the house until a paying tenant was found. I moved there from Leicester, with my young daughter, a while after my mum and brother moved in.
    There were whole shelves of children’s clothes in a large store cupboard, left there from when it was a children’s home. I was glad of this, being a young single parent, and my daughter got good wear from some of the dungarees, dresses and trousers.
    It was an amazing time, a wonderful place to live, from my own ;’wing’ of the house to the grand oak staircase smelling of sunshine and old memories, to the dusty, empty rooms upstairs, to the slightly scary boiler room basement where we dried washing, and from where there were rumoured to be secret tunnels .. to where. I am not sure and I didn’t investigate! We had our own key into the gardens and on a snowy Christmas day, we went for a walk there, the first footprints in the snow.

    I would be truly sad if the house was hurt in any way. They might have to unglue me from the steps first! I note that the Council website says the house was ‘sold’ to them by the owner. I remember, though, my mum telling me that it was ‘left in perpetuity’ to the Council, with a covenant to not sell it, by the owner who was also the gas company head. I am a bit vague on the details, but am fairly sure this is an accurate memory. There were at one time accounts to be found online, confirming this, but they seem to have disappeared. I will keep looking. I may have it in printed form somewhere.

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  12. Lewis White says:

    If the new Mayor decides that it’s all too complicated, and he needs to step down, we will need a Superhero to sort out the mess that Croydon’s in.

    This delightful half-timber fake Elizabethan mansion in the Shirley Hills would make a fabulous UK second home for Batman.

    Plenty of garaging for the Batmobile, wardrobe space for plenty of capes and tights, plus bags of room for Robin and his mates to do sleep-overs.

    And only a 45 second blast of the jet motors needed to develop enough thrust to go all the way down the hill to the Council HQ offices !

    But… “Chateau Napoleon”? Not a good name for an undefeated Superhero’s dwelling, I think.

    “Stately Wayne Manor Junior ?
    yep, great name!

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