Tuesday, April 19, 2016

RIP Lascelles Barrington Hoilett

Las, one of Crossfields' oldest tenants, passed away in the early hours of Monday morning. Our Rastafarian resident had lived on the ground floor of Castell House for around 40 years (or more). He's pictured above, on the far left, in Battersea Park in 1977 with some visiting football enthusiasts from Jamaica; below he was snapped more recently by local photographer Ben Graville, sitting in his favourite place by the Bird's Nest fireplace.

Las in the Bird's Nest by Ben Graville

Residents and friends were shocked by the news, as although his health was deteriorating, many had seen him in the preceding days looking well enough. Many may have been unaware that some neighbours had been trying to get him to eat properly (supplementing the care he was receiving from social services), whilst the Bird's Nest had offered him only tea the previous night, concerned that his love for rum wasn't helping.

Las was a pain in the neck for Lewisham Homes and social services – he was offered a flat in sheltered housing but could not bear to leave Crossfields. Occupying a three bedroom flat on his own, he was targeted long before the Bedroom Tax, and when threatened with eviction, was helped to stay on in the flat by other residents and friends. A wanderer at heart, he could often be heard playing his flute outdoors on the estate at the oddest of hours – as captured by photographer Michael Tudor's wonderful portrait below.

Las, playing flute outdoors, by Michael Tudor

At the time of writing, we don't know what plans Las's family have, but a tribute evening is already being planned in the Bird's Nest. Crossfields residents are thinking about planting a tree in memory – or perhaps planting out the tall exotic potted plants that have long stood outside his home (and before Lewisham Homes throw them in a skip).

Goodbye, dear Lascelles, you cantankerous, questioning, challenging, talented, spirited, universal-minded, system-defying man. We were never sure how old you were. A legend! Your spirit lives on...

In the middle – Las in Battersea Park with The Wailers

Thanks to Deptford music chronicler, producer and promoter (and ex-Crossfields resident) Colin Bodiam for the Battersea pics – and for the beautiful photos by Ben Graville and Michael Tudor.

Update 22 April: Still hoping to hear from the family about any 'arrangements'. We're also aware there's a gap here in the pics between the 70s and now so anyone who can fill in the time please get in touch! x

Update 15 May: Please see this newer post for funeral and celebration details.


  1. Las a link with 70s London in all its bright, shabby miscellany and his glorious little garden with its rescue plants & late-night watering one of Crossfield's focal points.

  2. Very sad News Announcement.
    In memory of my eldest brother Lascelles Barrington Hoilett.

    An Extra Ordinary Revelutionist, who expressed himself as an Artist of the Canvas, Unconventional Musician, who throughout his Life brought us his visions of Hope, Peace and much Joy.

    As he begings his next journey after passing on to that Higher Place, early last Monday morning the 18th April.
    R. I. P.
    Buddha Bless

  3. Hi Spencer,

    If you come back to this blog, please let us know how the family intend to celebrate Las's life. Or email us so that we can tell neighbours and friends without telling the whole world: crosswhatfields@gmail.com

    1. I don't know if you received my email Sue, but I suspect that as you are probably at 'Ground Zero' in the heart of Crossfields, you may know more than me.

      Despite my efforts of setting up a communication centre to bring our family together, to be able to share information of memories, thoughts, and ideas on what to plan and arrange, what should be a celebration of Lascelles Life.

      From what I'm hearing, you must already know.

      With all respects, you and your readers, especially all those who had contact with Lascelles Should know, that he was a man uniquely rooted in his cultural heritage as a Jamaican Rastafarian.

      Although he may spout a biblicle recitation at times, Las' would never set a foot in any Church, in this life or the next.

      Lascelles would rather stand 'Outside' and give thanks and praise the Almighty 'Jah Rastafari' while taking his Communion in Peace, with the Love that he shared throughout life. Until he felt that he could fly with the birds above this Earth to perch and rest in the highest Tree of Life and enjoy the fruits of Knowing "i Am, That".

      Then with the sound of his flute, blowing the song of his spirit, with the spontaneous rhythms like clashing cymbols by made by those shiney zinc trash cans and their lids, rolljng across the ground in the wind, on a breezy Summer day.

      Lascelles Hoilett
      In Memorial Respect,
      Buddha Bless

  4. Enjoyed his company on many an occasion in the 70s when I briefly lived on the estate and ran into him numerous times in later decades whilst visiting good friends. Never did find out how old he was. RIP Lass.

  5. Thanks very much Crossfields for this wonderful tribute to my Uncle Lascelles, 77.

    I was his main family carer in recent years and it has been lovely hearing stories and tributes re Uncle Lascelles from friends, neighbours and drinking buddies.

    The family hope to be able to share further news soon.

    1. Hi sue, it's sally. Kath and ted's daughter. My brothers Thomas, Oliver and William. We lived at 43 Holden house
      Michael peters, please contact me ASAP!
      I lived opposite Laz since the day I was born until my teenage days. He was my babysitter. I have 3 younger brothers and I can clearly remember Laz changing my two youngest brothers nappies with he's dread swinging!
      Laz influence me so much in life, he made me the person I am. He made me confident and scared of no one. He's wise words and stories are priceless.
      Laz was at ever Christmas dinner, New Years, fireworks, all of our birthdays, good times and bad. Laz told everyone I was his daughter, and my brothers were he's sons (even with blond hair and blue eyes, nobody could question him)
      I can't imagine my life without him. I'm heartbroken. I need to know where he is! I need to know where he's resting in peace!
      Laz has my photos next to his bed.
      Please contact me sally.ann83@hotmail.co.uk

      For some reason i can't make a google account! Please post this xx

  6. Hello Sue,
    I am truly appreciative of the various tributes paid to my brother, Lascelles Hoilett, posted on your blog. It touched my heart to know that he was so well thought of (Warts and all!!) and that his "Crossfield family"was always there for him. Details of his funeral are as follows:
    Friday 27th May 2016
    11:30 AM
    Honor Oak Crematorium
    Brokley way
    SE4 2LW

    Following the service at the Crematorium, all are invited to the reception at the Birds Nest pub (Lascelles local), where all his Family and friends can get together and memories can be shared whilst partaking of refreshments. I Know you spoke about a tribute on behalf of Las, and was wondering if it was possibly for you to join in with us.
    Responding to the tributes on your blog was not as swift as I would have liked. There were certain formalities to be done before any arrangements for the funeral could be made.
    On behalf of our family, thank you,

    Sonia Peters (Las's Sister)