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The Gentle Author’s Next Pub Crawl

October 10, 2013
by the gentle author

What could be a nicer way to spend a lazy October afternoon than slouching around the pubs of Smithfield, Newgate, Holborn and Bloomsbury?

The Hand & Shears, Middle St, Clothfair, Smithfield

The Hand & Shears – They claim that the term ‘On The Wagon’ originated here – this pub was used for a last drink when condemned men were brought on a wagon on their way to Newgate Prison to be hanged – if the landlord asked ,“Do you want another?” the reply was “No, I’m on the wagon” as the rule was one drink only.

The Rising Sun – reputedly the haunt of body-snatchers selling cadavers to St Bart’s Hospital

The Rising Sun and St Bartholomew, Smithfield.

The Viaduct Tavern, Newgate St– the last surviving example of a Victorian Gin Palace, it is notorious for poltergeist activity apparently.

The Viaduct Tavern, Newgate

The Viaduct Tavern, Newgate

The Viaduct Tavern, Newgate

Princess Louise, High Holborn – interior of 1891 by Arthur Chitty with tiles by W. B. Simpson & Sons and glass by R. Morris & Son

Window at the Princess Louise, Holborn

Princess Louise

Princess Louise

Cittie of Yorke, High Holborn

The Lamb, Lamb’s Conduit St, Bloomsbury – built in the seventeen-twenties and named after William Lamb who erected a water conduit in the street in 1577. Charles Dickens visited, and Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath came here.

The Lamb

The Lamb

You may also like to look at

The Gentle Author’s Pub Crawl

The Pubs of Old London

13 Responses leave one →
  1. Deby (in Canada) permalink
    October 10, 2013

    I will have to leave clear a day during my coming visit to London- you have provided a perfect plan! Many thanks…

  2. October 10, 2013

    Looks like Alfred Hitchcock might be haunting the Princess Louise

  3. October 10, 2013

    The pubs are much more interesting than the soulless modern ones. Valerie

  4. October 10, 2013

    Alleged it may be, and everyone loves a bit of popular etymology especially with a little death thrown in, but ‘on the wagon’ simply abbreviates ‘on the water wagon’, and is found as such in the first use of 1889. Similar early uses refer to the ‘water-cart’. For a while abstainers could also ‘ride’ or ‘climb’ the water-wagon’. Nit picked, I must add that as regards the pix: your peerless self, as ever.

  5. David Whittaker permalink
    October 10, 2013

    Just Beautiful…would make a wonderful book..

  6. Martin G permalink
    October 10, 2013

    Ah the joy of an autumn pub crawl. Don’t forget the cell tour at the Viaduct and see the squalid conditions mainly debters had to endure.

    Black and white pubs pics are the best.

  7. Terry Basson permalink
    October 10, 2013

    We Brits owe so much to those that have preserved and kept our pubs alive – through bouts of economy crashes – WW2 bombs and not to mention the camera of ‘The Gentle Author’

  8. Elizabeth cornwell permalink
    October 10, 2013

    Modern pubs are ghastly,they have no soul.These pubs are wonderful

  9. October 10, 2013

    Trouble is, that would be back to gin & tonic, plonk… But many thanks for the marvelous patterns. Truly, Audrey

  10. Julie Gilbert permalink
    October 10, 2013

    Ah, High Holborn.. Writing from Aus brings back a few memories – and this poem from Adrian Mitchell (I think):

    When I am sad and weary
    When I think all hope is gone
    When I walk along High Holborn
    I think of you, with nothing on.


    I miss the pubs.

  11. suzy r permalink
    October 10, 2013

    Dear GA,

    I normally save all your posts up and savour them when I have a spare hour or so but it did mean that I was always behind. However, I have now entered the 21st Century and am the proud owner of a new iphone (how come no one told me how much it would revolutionise my life?) and I can read your posts on the day, wherever I may find myself…on the bus, in a queue, waiting for a train, in a cafe, blah, blah, blah.

    Next week I’ll be stuck in hospital post horrid surgery but a dose of your daily posts will be the best medicine.

    If I could write with even just a smidgen of your eloquence I would be one very happy lady.

    Thank you!


    P.S. Loved y’days post!

  12. Mike Shingleton permalink
    October 11, 2013

    I’m afraid the reference to body snatchers at the Rising Sun is a fiction and the work of a local tour guide from 20 years ago. He claimed they met in the upstairs bar – an impossibility as the present buildling only dates back to about 1880 some 70 odd years after body snatching died out.

    The trade did encompass a local hostelry – The Fortune of War in Giltspur Street which stood opposite Barts hospital and therefore the source of the cadavers. The Fortune of War was demolished in 1910.

  13. October 11, 2013

    Lovely pubs – full of lovely real ale!

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