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Pubs Of Wonderful London

November 14, 2020
by the gentle author

In these grey cold days, I get a powerful urge to seek refuge in a cosy corner of an old snug and settle down for the rest of the day. Since all the pubs are shut, I must take consolation in this selection of attractive options from the popular magazine Wonderful London edited by St John Adcock and produced by The Fleetway House in the nineteen-twenties.

The Old Axe in Three Nuns Court off Aldermanbury. It was once much larger and folk journeying to Chester, Liverpool and the North used to gather here for the stage coach.


The Doves, Upper Mall, Chiswick.

The Crown & Sceptre, Greenwich – once a popular resort for boating parties from London, of merry silk-clad gallants and lovely ladies who in the summer evenings came down the river between fields of fragrant hay and wide desolate marshes to breathe the country air at Greenwich.

At the Flask, Highgate, labourers from the surrounding farms still drink the good ale, as their forerunners did a century ago.

Elephant & Castle – The public house was once a coaching inn but it is so enlarged as to become unrecognisable.

The Running Footman, off Berkeley Sq, is named after that servant whose duty it was to run before the crawling old family coach, help it out of ruts, warn toll-keepers and clear the way generally. He wore a livery and carried a cane. The last to employ a running footman is said to have been ‘Old Q,’ the Duke of Queensberry who died in 1810.

The Grenadier in Wilton Mews, where coachmen drink no more but, at any moment – it would seem – an ostler with a striped waistcoat and straw in mouth might kick open the door and walk out the place.

The Spaniards in Hampstead dates from the seventeenth century and here the Gordon Rioters gathered in the seventeen-eighties, crying “No Popery!”

The Bull’s Head at Strand on the Green is an old tavern probably built in the sixteenth century. There is a tradition that Oliver Cromwell, while campaigning in the neighbourhood,  held a council of war here.

Old Dr Butler’s Head, established in Mason’s Avenue in 1616. The great Dr Butler invented a special beer and established a number of taverns for selling it, but this is the last to bear his name.

The grill room of the Cock, overlooking Fleet St near Chancery Lane. It opened in 1888 with fittings from the original tavern on the site of the branch of the Bank of England opposite. Pepys wrote on April 23rd 1668, “To the Cock Alehouse and drank and ate a lobster and sang…”

The Two Brewers at Perry Hill between Catford Bridge and Lower Sydenham – an old hedge tavern built three hundred years ago, the sign shows two brewer’s men sitting under a tree.

The Old Bell Tavern in St Bride’s Churchyard, put up while Wren was rebuilding St Bride’s which he completed in 1680. There is a fine staircase of unpolished oak.

Coach & Horses, Notting Hill Gate. This was once a well-known old coaching inn, but it still carries on the tradition with the motor coaches.

The Anchor at Bankside. With its shuttered window and projecting upper storey, it enhances its riverside setting with a sense of history.

The George on Borough High St – one of the oldest roads in Britain, for there was a bridge hereabouts when Roman Legionaries and merchants with long lines of pack mules took the Great High Road to Dover.

The Mitre Tavern, between Hatton Garden and Ely Place. It bears a stone mitre carved on the front with the date 1546. Ely Place still has its own Watchman who closes the gates a ten o’clock and cries the hours through the night.

The George & Vulture is in a court off Cornhill that is celebrated as the place where coffee was first introduced to Britain in 1652 by a Turkish merchant, who returned from Smyrna with a Ragusan boy who made coffee for him every morning.

The Bird in Hand, in Conduit between Long Acre and Floral St, formerly a street of coach-makers but now of motorcar salesmen.

The Old Watling is the oldest house in the ward of Cordwainer, standing as it did when rebuilt after the Fire, in 1673.

The Ship Inn at Greenwich got its reputation from courtiers on their way to and from Greenwich Palace and in 1634 some of the Lancashire Witches were confined her, but now it is famous for its Whitebait dinners.

The Olde Cheshire Cheese – the Pudding Season here starts in October.

The Cellar Bar at the Olde Cheshire Cheese

The Chop Room at the Olde Cheshire  Cheese

The Cellar Cat guards the vintage at the Old Cheshire Cheese. Almost under Fleet St is a well, now unused, but pure and always full from some unknown source. To raise the iron trap door which keeps the secret and to light a match and stoop down over this profound hole and watch the small light flickering uncertainly over the black water is to leave modern London and go back to history.

Images courtesy Bishopsgate Institute

You may like to take a look at

The Pubs of Old London

The Taverns of Long Forgotten London

Antony Cairns’ East End Pubs

Antony Cairns’ Dead 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

19 Responses leave one →
  1. Sofia permalink
    November 14, 2020

    I was getting worried you were ok. I always wake up to your lovely blog but not today. Glad to have received your email. Strange I don’t know you but care for you.

  2. Pauline Taylor permalink
    November 14, 2020

    Thank you for all the photos of the Old Cheshire Cheese where James Greenwood,my relative, is known to have entertained the regulars by telling stories and singing songs. How many drinks and meals did he have there I wonder.

  3. November 14, 2020

    Today is the Birthday of the Prince of Wales. As tomorrow is MY Birthday, I would love to toast it with HIM in one of these Pubs. — A beautiful Utopia! Cheers!

    Love & Peace

  4. November 14, 2020

    Wonderful pub crawl. I especially appreciated the cellar cat, of course. Thank you.

  5. Mark. permalink
    November 14, 2020

    Luvverly jubberly! With a few coppers in me sky rocket I would happily partake of a few alcofrolck beverages in one of these most ‘andsome ‘ostolries, and no mistake guv!

  6. Jane Manley permalink
    November 14, 2020

    The Running Footman in Mayfair used to have the distinction of holding the longest pub name in London. Originally it was ‘I am the only running footman’. By the 1980s the pub name had been shortened to ‘The Running Footman’ but the full name was still on the pub sign. Quite sad to see last year that it is now just called ‘The Footman’. All that history just swept away.

  7. November 14, 2020

    Greetings from Boston,

    GA, thanks for the great pics of these famous old temples of London’s yesteryear.

    For those who enjoy the lore of the old coaching inns, I recommend reading SHAKESPEARE’S PUB – A Barstool History of London As Seen through the Windows of Its Oldest Pub, the George Inn by Pete Brown.

  8. Richard Pascoe permalink
    November 14, 2020

    Wot No Comments ?
    Wonderful photographs GA , i could look at these all day.
    Thank you , from a wild and windy Pembrokeshire

  9. November 14, 2020

    OK. I defy ANYONE to look at this post, and not hanker for a cocktail. Here I am at
    9:18 AM in New York State, and I am very tempted to head for the drink fixings. GA, you
    are driving us to drink.

    And we love that about you.

    Bottoms up, everyone. Make mine a Maker’s Mark Manahttan on the Rocks.
    Until there is a vaccine, I’ll rely on cocktails.

  10. November 14, 2020

    I wish I could travel back in time and have a pint in one of these pubs ….

  11. paul loften permalink
    November 14, 2020

    These old pubs have seen so many changes over the years. During my lifetime I knew the Cheshire Cheese as the hub of Fleet Street journalists. A famous face was nearly always present in the afternoon being treated to a liquid lunch by a grateful hack. Likewise, you would invariably see a well-known celeb at the Spaniards Inn. Fortunately, these two pubs are still there although Fleet Street is no longer what it once was They had such a wonderful atmosphere and buzz, especially during the summer months. When you think of how many pubs are now closing and how much excitement, character and history we are losing with every closure. Even those pubs that are not so glamourous contain a world within their walls. We need the pubs of London such much more than London needs another block of flats

  12. tankard permalink
    November 14, 2020

    …settle down I love that expression, use it a lot – or used to pre LD.
    I wish I could travel back in time and have a pint in one of these pubs ….Me Too ✔
    OK. I defy ANYONE to look at this post, and not hanker for a PINT ??
    Here I am at 9:18 the leafy suburbs of sarf west London.
    ..and I am very tempted to head for the drink fixings… too late, I have opened and poured into my favourite tankard ?
    Thank You for the pictures,

  13. Peter Holford permalink
    November 14, 2020

    I remember the Dove very well, as a customer(!), from my schooldays. A load of us from the school next door would pile in after an evening event with most of us perhaps a year or two underage! But we weren’t the Bullingdon Club and were well behaved.

    The pub is still very recognisable having hardly changed. It’s still a Fuller’s pub but the ‘Doves’ has lost its ‘s’ and is now the Dove. It also seems to have changed location because it is now in Hammersmith and not Chiswick! It’s an interesting location being almost immediately opposite William Morris’s old home (now a museum) and a short distance from the Blue Anchor which seems to be used by many film crews as a location with Hammersmith Bridge as a backdrop.

    Happy memories!

  14. Ian Silverton permalink
    November 14, 2020

    In my time of living and working in Fleet Street of old, we lunched at the Cock Inn with lawyers mostly still in their hard collars and pinstripe trousers,and dined or should say drunk with celebs and not so famous until the weekend edition when they where both, Olde Cheshire Cheese, great pubs nice landlords, Wig and Pen Club comes to mind, near Hoares Bank then that was not a pub, but the Ladies liked it better. Stay Safe London Town, but do get back to working their to save your Great Capital City from ruin. Thanks GA.

  15. Jill Wilson permalink
    November 14, 2020

    Today would have been a perfect day to retreat into a nice cosy pub – especially if there was a welcoming fire crackling in the grate. Hopefully if it won’t be too long before we can do that again.

    Do we know how many of these pubs still exist? I only know The Flask, Spaniards Inn, The George and the Cheshire Cheese. Are any of the others still operating?

  16. shelley permalink
    November 15, 2020

    superb – are any of these pubs still in their original condition please ?

  17. Jon Ramsey permalink
    November 15, 2020

    Great post. I think it was the Jamaica Wine House nearby, not the George and Vulture, that was London’s first coffee shop. Until sometime in the 1980s the Jamaica was owned E.J. Rose and Co. a small family company who owned pubs and off licences all over London, including some wonderful historical pubs as well as Simpsons Tavern (1757), which has the marvellous address of 38 1/2 Cornhill. At Simpsons, which is also right by the Jamaica and the George and Vulture, there was a tradition of guessing the cheese. Diners had to guess the height, weight and girth of a large cheese. I can’t remember what the prize was.

  18. Suzy permalink
    November 17, 2020

    Ahhh ain’t this wonderful?! It’s been just too damn long since having a foray in London. The Flask!! One of my late dad’s favourite pubs and this post just makes me hanker for a visit to The Big Shhhmoke. I think this time of year especially, pubs are are so atmospheric and a warming, genteel antidote to the darkness of wintery days. Oh may they open up again swiftly!

  19. November 17, 2020

    Fabulous looking buildings. I am passionate about architecture. However, I’ve never liked alcohol so probably wouldn’t be my first choice of venue to visit, and certainly not on my own. I am however desperate for company – and more importantly, a hug during this terrible time, especially from my little granddaughter who lives the other end of the country to me.

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