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The Gentle Author’s Wapping Pub Crawl

March 29, 2022
by the gentle author

Four-hundred-year-old stone floor at The Prospect of Whitby

Tempted by the irresistible promise of spring 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

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

14 Responses leave one →
  1. Sally Bates permalink
    March 29, 2022

    So pleased to have found this website. Fascinating

  2. Herry Lawford permalink
    March 29, 2022

    Even more fascinating than usual:-)

  3. Greg T permalink
    March 29, 2022

    I do like the serious “Management” at The Prospect

  4. James Hurley permalink
    March 29, 2022

    A fine selection of pubs.

  5. Milo permalink
    March 29, 2022

    I have fond memories of doing most of these, going in the same direction and ending up at ‘The Grapes’ one sunny sunday afternoon about ten years ago. Luckily the light railway isn’t far from the last pub so i hadn’t too far to lurch to wend my way home. Highly recommend it. (You don’t HAVE to imbibe but it’s fun to act the Dickensian wastrel once in a while)

  6. Pauline Taylor permalink
    March 29, 2022

    When my husband’s colleagues in the London office took him to The Prospect of Whitby for lunch they told him he was sitting in Princess Margaret’s chair !! I don’t think he would have been very impressed.

    And a member of my Denton family kept yet another pub on Wapping High Street, now demolished. I feel I’ve missed out by not visiting these pubs by the Thames.

  7. Kim permalink
    March 29, 2022

    Lovely Mr Pussy lookalike there!

  8. March 29, 2022

    Wonderful places to enjoy a GUINNESS …!

    Love & Peace

  9. Helen Breen permalink
    March 29, 2022

    Greetings from Boston,

    GA, great review and pics of those venerable pubs still standing near the Thames. I love the lists of monarchs gracing the sign for the Prospect of Whitby. All good stuff…

  10. March 29, 2022

    Give the cat anything he wants. I’m buying.

  11. Andy permalink
    March 29, 2022

    Special photos. My friend Tibs worked there stvP of Whitby..

  12. Marcia Howard permalink
    March 29, 2022

    Wonderful images. Thank you Gentle Author

  13. Chris permalink
    March 29, 2022

    Does Sir Ian McKellen still own/part own The Grapes? Sad to see the demise of so many of these establishments which, like many other interesting places in London, have been submerged under progress.

  14. Cherub permalink
    March 30, 2022

    I would love a half of Guinness and a conversation with that cat!

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