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Taverns of Long Forgotten London

October 29, 2019
by the gentle author

Leafing through the fat volumes of Walter Thornbury’s London Old & New is the least energetic form of pub crawl I know and yet I found I was intoxicated merely by studying these tottering old taverns, lurching at strange angles like inebriated old men sat by the wayside. Published in the eighteen-seventies, these publications looked back to London and its rural outskirts in the early nineteenth century, evoking a city encircled by coaching inns where pigs roamed loose in Edgware Rd and shepherds drove sheep to market down Highgate Hill.

White Hart Tavern, Bishopsgate

Bell Tavern, Edmonton

Jack Straw’s Castle, Hampstead

Spaniards’ Hotel, Highgate

Old Crown Inn, Highgate

Gate House Tavern, Highgate

The Brill Tavern, Somers Town

The Castle Tavern, Kentish Town

Old Mother Red Cap Tavern, Camden

Queen’s Head & Artichoke, Edgware Rd

Bell Inn, Kilburn

Halfway House, Kensington

Black Lion Tavern,  Chelsea

World’s End Tavern, Chelsea

Gun Tavern, Pimlico

Rose & Crown, Kensington

Tattersall’s, Knightsbridge

Three Cranes Tavern, Upper Thames St, City of London

The Old Queen’s Head, Islington

Old Red Lion, Upon the banks of the Fleet – prior to demolition

Saracen’s Head, Snow Hill – prior to demolition

Old Tabard Tavern, Southwark – prior to demolition


White Hart Tavern, Borough

Inns of the Borough


Images courtesy Bishopsgate Institute

You may like to take a look at other engravings from London Old & New

Long Forgotten London

More Long Forgotten London

and  more pubs

Antony Cairns’ East End Pubs

Alex Pink’s East End Pubs Then & Now

The Gentle Author’s Pub Crawl

The Gentle Author’s Next Pub Crawl

The Gentle Author’s Spitalfields Pub Crawl

The Gentle Author’s Dead Pubs Crawl

The Gentle Author’s Next Dead Pubs Crawl

The Gentle Author’s Wapping Pub Crawl

The Gentle Author’s Piccadilly Pub Crawl

13 Responses leave one →
  1. October 29, 2019

    Thanks GA for this post, and for the link to your previous post on Pubs of Piccadilly. I am always searching out pictures of old Soho (being a former resident of Soho in the 90s) but I’m always amazed that while there are many old etchings of the rest of London, Soho hardly ever features. It’s strange – it is such a character-filled place now, but there seems to have been some reluctance to record it back then. If you have any links to other pictures of Soho I would be really appreciative. Perhaps not as characterful as your beloved Spitalfields, but it was a lovely home for me !

  2. October 29, 2019

    Thank you.

    I can see that the images were published in the 1870s, and that these publications looked back to drinking facilities in and near London from the early 19th century.

    Did any of these taverns survive? And were the surviving taverns left largely in their original shapes or were they rebuilt from the ground up?

  3. Steve Buckley permalink
    October 29, 2019

    excellent post, as always.

    If any reader has ANY information on a pub called the GOLDEN HARP that used to be situated on the northern side of Spitalfields Market I’d be delighted to know. There’s an old family connection. I think our much loved GOLDEN HEART was its replacement.

  4. October 29, 2019

    Really appreciate these pictures – how London has grown and changed. Thank you.

  5. Nickie Johnson permalink
    October 29, 2019

    What a wonderful peep into the past. I could weep. Thank you Gentle Author.

  6. October 29, 2019

    Super to see these interesting old pubs and Inns. It’s always a real pleasure to sit in the first room of the George in Southwark on a quiet day – if you can find one! – and just feel the atmosphere of the old place. It’s an unbelievable survivor of the age of the coaching inns when you consider what has been lost over the years to bombing, railways and general modernity.
    I think the Spaniards and Jack Straw’s Castle are the only ones still going on this list?

  7. October 29, 2019

    Greetings from Boston,

    GA, those Walter Thornbury sketches of old London taverns are delightful. Hard to think of Pimlico, Camden, Chelsea, and Islington as surrounding villages.

    For Steve (above) and those who love the charm of these old places, may I suggest reading about the George Inn in Borough Market, one that survives – SHAKESPEARE’S PUB: A Barstool History of London as Seen Through the Windows of Its Oldest Pub – The George Inn by Pete Brown.

  8. Jim McDermott permalink
    October 29, 2019

    Pigs may safely snuffle! Lovely rural views of what are now inner city areas.

  9. Jonathan D. Schor permalink
    October 29, 2019

    As most of what I know of early 19 century England is from Dickens, are these the placeless of cheap gin? While I am not a Prohibitionist, are these the dens of iniquity of literature?

  10. Claire permalink
    October 29, 2019

    Thank you GA for more fascinating engravings. I like the wooden frame propping up The Gun Tavern in Pimlico, it makes me wonder if such buildings ever collapsed suddenly whilst life went on inside, I suppose they must have done.
    Incredible that these scenes of London are from only 200 years ago.

  11. Lisa permalink
    October 30, 2019

    Are there any books that contain these pictures? I’d love to have them.

  12. Mark Byfield permalink
    October 31, 2019

    How interesting our pub history is!
    And what a shame we are losing so many.
    Fortunately we do still have lots of old historic pubs in London.
    I have been trying to track down the history of one such pub The Red Lion that was located in “ The Maze” in Southwark.
    The Maze was around were Guys Hospital is now and was a maze of streets running down to the river the home of ladies of the night, sailors and pubs.
    My Great G, G, G Grandfather shot his farther in-law in there after a brawl.
    It’s a long story but I do have the Old Bailey copy of the court case. ( his Farther in law died five hours later)
    The were quit a few Red Lions but this is one I would have loved to know the history about.
    Great blog I relish it every day.


  13. November 1, 2019

    Fascinating selection. Never seen one called he Catherine Wheel, they’ve usually been over painted so often to have become the Cat n Wheel.

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