The Gentle Author’s Wapping Pub Crawl
Four-hundred-year-old stone floor at The Prospect of Whitby
Tempted by the irresistible promise of bright January sunlight, I set out for Wapping to visit those pubs which remain in these formerly notorious riverside streets once riddled with ale houses. Yet although there are pitifully few left these days, I discovered each one has a different and intriguing story to tell.
Town of Ramsgate, 288 Wapping High St. The first alehouse was built on this site in 1460, known as The Hostel and then as The Red Cow from 1533. The pub changed its name again, to the Town of Ramsgate, in 1766 to attract trade from Kentish fishermen who unloaded their catch at Wapping Old Stairs adjoining. Judge Jeffreys was arrested here in disguise, attempting to follow the flight of James II abroad in 1688, as William III’s troops approached London.
The Turk’s Head, 1 Green Bank. Originally in Wapping High St from 1839, rebuilt on this site in 1927 and closed in the seventies, it is now a community cafe.
Captain Kidd, 108 Wapping High St. Established in 1991 in a former warehouse and named after legendary pirate, Wiiliam Kidd, hanged nearby at Execution Dock Stairs in 1701.
Turner’s Old Star, 14 Watts St. In the eighteen-thirties, Joseph Mallord William Turner set up his mistress Sophia Booth in two cottages on this site, one of which she ran as an alehouse named The Old Star. In 1987, the current establishment was renamed Turner’s Old Star in honour of the connection with the great painter. Notoriously secretive about his lovelife, Turner adopted Sophia’s surname to conceal their life together here, acquiring the nickname ‘Puggy Booth’ on account of his portly physique and height of just five feet.
The Old Rose, 128 The Highway. 1839-2007
The last pub standing on the Ratcliffe Highway
The Three Suns, 61 Garnet St. 1851 – 1986
The Prospect of Whitby, 56 Wapping Wall. Founded 1520, and formerly known as The Pelican and The Devil’s Tavern.
What does a cat have to do to get a drink around here?
Sir Hugh Willoughby sailed from The Prospect of Whitby in 1533 upon his ill-fated attempt to discover the North-East Passage to China.
The Grapes, 76 Narrow St. Founded in 1583, the current building was constructed in 1720 – it is claimed Charles Dickens danced upon the counter here as a child.
Anthony Gormley’s sculpture visible from the balcony of The Grapes
You may like to read about my previous pub crawls