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Ann Sotheran’s West End Champions

January 19, 2022
by the gentle author

The Champion

Perhaps more than anywhere else in London, Oxford St is where the grief of the world can descend upon me without warning  – especially when I make the foolish mistake of going to the West End to buy a pillowcase. In such circumstances, there is fortunately a nearby refuge where I can seek respite from the urban clamour. It is The Champion in Well St – just minutes walk from the nightmarish agglomeration of chain stores – where Ann Sotheran‘s magnificent stained glass windows cast a spell of benign quietude.

The Champion has been there on the corner of Wells St and Eastcastle St since before 1869 and you would be forgiven for assuming that the glorious array of stained glass dates from this era, but you would be mistaken because it was designed and installed in 1989. The husband and wife publicans who live upstairs informed me that this imaginative notion was the inspiration of a member of the Samuel Smith family of brewers who own the pub and commissioned the glass from Ann Sotheran to endow it with distinction.

Thirty years later these gaudy portraits of Victorian worthies offer a generous welcome to the weary shopper, proving that there is still mileage in the traditional pub when it is as cherished and as handsome as The Champion.

Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) gained professional status for nurses and raised hospital standards in the Crimea

Bob Fitzsimmons (1862-1917) The only Englishman to have won three world titles at different weights

Young Tom Morris (1851-1875) won four consecutive Open Championships, first at the age of seventeen

Capt Bertie Dwyer (1872-1967) ‘Flying Bertie Dwyer was one of the early Cresta riders, a President of the St Moritz Tobogganing Club and winner of several trophies

W G Grace (1848-1915) A legendary figure whose all round ability and enthusiasm dominated cricket for over thirty years

Edward Whymper (1840-1911) became a traveller and mountaineer, the first man to climb the Matterhorn and Chimborazo in the Andes

Capt Matthew Webb (1848-1883) was the first to swim the English Channel (thirty-four miles in twenty-one hours) He died swimming below Niagara Falls

David Livingstone (1813-1873) Originally sent to Africa as a missionary, he mapped and explored vast areas of the continent

William Renishaw (1861-1904) Winner of seven singles and seven doubles cups, he with his brother, made Lawn Tennis into a sport

Fred Archer (1857-1886) Possibly the greatest jockey ever, being Champion Jockey for thirteen consecutive years, with twenty-one classic victories

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Margaret Rope’s East End Saints

8 Responses leave one →
  1. Saba permalink
    January 19, 2022

    I don’t even drink but would love to visit this happy place.

  2. Ursula permalink
    January 19, 2022

    Thank you for your Daily Gems… each one of them practically worth waking up for!!

  3. January 19, 2022

    You are so right about Oxford Street, but this pub looks amazing, and definitely worth seeking out, even though I tend to avoid pubs …

  4. Fiona Scott permalink
    January 19, 2022

    Thank you for introducing me to this pub. I usually escape oxford street by walking through to Marylebone Lane to Paul Rothe and son cafe for a mug of tea and some marmite ( or mackerel) Toast. You can admire the shelves lined with pots of jam , pickles and preserves while you recover.

  5. January 19, 2022

    With this entry in mind I will be drinking my peaceful pint of GUINNESS in my pub today….

    Love & Peace

  6. Marcia Howard permalink
    January 19, 2022

    The windows are amazing. I’m not a drinker either, but once knew the area well, so not sure how I ever missed this.

  7. Cherub permalink
    January 20, 2022

    What a beautiful pub. I would love to sit by those windows with a good book and a half of Guinness.

  8. Chris Connor permalink
    January 20, 2022

    A lovely looking establishment. Sam Smiths too. Is that a Ghastly Facade attached to it?

    There used to be another pub a little further to the north and west of Oxford Street. The Dover Castle in Weymouth Mews was another haven of calm from Oxford Street.

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