London’s vibrant history can be seen, felt, and tasted in its multitude of traditional pubs, where the city’s rich tapestry comes alive. Journey through the archaic streets, and you’ll find timeless establishments that have been the watering holes of sailors, smugglers, literary giants, and even royalty – all contributing to the classic British experience. This informative guide lists the best of the best, transporting you to a bygone era as you immerse yourself in the heart and soul of historic London.
- Discover the literary connections and royal patronage of The Dove in Hammersmith – a truly historic pub with a charming riverside location.
- Step into a world of Bohemian culture at The French House in Soho, renowned for its ties to the Free French during World War II and a half-pint beer-drinking tradition.
- Uncover the pugilistic past of The Lamb & Flag in Covent Garden, a legendary establishment in London’s historic pub scene.
- Immerse yourself in the enchanting atmosphere of The Mayflower, a gem of Rotherhithe with transatlantic ties stretching back to the famed ship’s departure for the Americas.
- Experience tales of smugglers and seafarers at The Prospect of Whitby in Wapping, where the River Thames whispers stories of a bygone era.
The Enduring Charm of The Dove
Stepping into The Dove in Hammersmith is like entering a time capsule into old London, with its rich history dating back to when Charles II and Nell Gwynn frequented the pub. This atmospheric riverside establishment boasts literary connections to illustrious authors such as Graham Greene, Ernest Hemingway, and Dylan Thomas, thanks in part to its proximity to William Morris’s home.
Today, The Dove remains an architectural and cultural gem among the Traditional Pubs in London and embodies the essence of Historic Pubs in the city. With its historic handbill, exposed ceiling beams, and a roaring fire, visitors are transported back in time and experience the unique ambience of this classic venue.
- Notable Patrons: Charles II, Nell Gwynn, Graham Greene, Ernest Hemingway, and Dylan Thomas
- Location: Hammersmith, London
- Key Features: Historic handbill, exposed ceiling beams, roaring fire
|Links to royalty and literary figures
|Exposed beams and cosy fireplaces
|Timeless and inviting
In the bustling modern city, it’s easy to overlook the charm and depth of London’s Historic Pubs, but establishments like The Dove offer a unique opportunity to engage with the city’s rich cultural heritage while enjoying a refreshing drink surrounded by centuries of history. With the enduring allure of The Dove Pub History, visitors to this iconic pub can savour a true taste of the past.
Uncovering The Bohemian Past of The French House
The French House, fondly referred to as ‘The French’ by its patrons, has been a pillar of London’s Bohemian Community for decades. With its storied past and an impressive clientele including literary luminaries such as Dylan Thomas, Sylvia Plath, and Lucian Freud, The French House is synonymous with the city’s rich Bohemian Culture.
World War II Connections and Literary Haunts
During World War II, The French House played a vital role in history by providing a meeting place for Charles De Gaulle and the Free French. This connection to World War II London imbues the pub with a deep historical significance that continues to fascinate visitors today. Furthermore, its role as a hub for literary gatherings and rendezvous only adds to its cultural cache in the realm of Literary Pubs.
|Poet and Writer
|Poet, Novelist, and Short Story Writer
|Charles De Gaulle
|French General and Politician
Très Continental: Experiencing Half Pints in Soho
Besides its fascinating history, The French House is also a beloved Soho institution, famed for its unique serving of beer in half-pint measures. This distinct practice is a nod to the pub’s continental flair and offers a refreshing contrast to traditional British Pub culture. When combined with the art-adorned walls and genuinely Bohemian atmosphere, stepping into The French House is akin to stepping into another era, one that reflects its captivating past through its very ambiance.
The Lamb & Flag: A Covent Garden Legend with a Pugilistic Past
Nestled in the backstreets of Covent Garden, The Lamb & Flag boasts a rich history with connections to the world of pugilism, literary figures, and a lively atmosphere that encapsulates the Classic British Experience. This historic pub, dating back to the 17th century, once hosted bare-knuckle prize fights and even saw poet John Dryden brutally attacked in 1679.
Nowadays, The Lamb & Flag has shed its rough reputation, transforming into a convivial and welcoming establishment that represents the rich tapestry of London’s historic pub culture. A visit to this legendary pub offers a glimpse into the past, revealing fascinating stories and hidden corners while enjoying a pint or a meal.
Highlights of The Lamb & Flag experience include:
- A glimpse into London’s pugilistic past and its bare-knuckle prize fights.
- Authentic architectural details from the 17th century, such as dark wood panelling and low-beamed ceilings.
- A literary connection to John Dryden, the first Poet Laureate of England.
- Centrally located in the buzzing area of Covent Garden, allowing easy access to theatre performances and shopping.
In the heart of bustling Covent Garden, this iconic establishment presents a historic pub experience for locals and tourists alike. A true testament to London’s vibrant pub culture, The Lamb & Flag bewitches visitors with its storied past while offering a warm, convivial atmosphere that is difficult to resist.
Sail Away to History at The Mayflower
The Mayflower, an enchanting tavern in Rotherhithe, holds historical significance as the launch point of the famed ship setting sail to the Americas. With an atmosphere that evokes the essence of the seafaring past, this enchanting pub transports patrons back in time to immerse themselves in its transatlantic legacy.
Rotherhithe’s Gem with Transatlantic Ties
As a pub of unique historic interest, The Mayflower boasts period features such as old oak beams and an unusual licence to sell American stamps dating back to the 1800s. Its ties to the eponymous ship’s voyage are not merely symbolic; the site itself played a significant role in this fascinating chapter of history.
While visiting The Mayflower, one cannot help but feel the palpable sense of history that pervades every inch of this atmospheric venue. Stepping inside, one is immediately struck by the wealth of maritime memorabilia adorning the walls, echoing the tavern’s proud connection to its storied past.
|Old Oak Beams
|Authentic structural elements lending a historic ambience
|American Stamp Licence
|A rare relic of the pub’s transatlantic history
|Artifacts and decorations evoking the seafaring past
In addition to its historical allure, The Mayflower offers a warm and inviting atmosphere, making it a popular destination for those looking to enjoy a pint or a hearty meal amidst the evocative surroundings. With its blend of history and hospitality, it is easy to see why The Mayflower remains one of London’s most cherished historic pubs.
- Historic setting with transatlantic ties
- Period features such as old oak beams
- Rare American stamp licence
- Atmospheric maritime memorabilia
- Warm and welcoming ambience
In conclusion, The Mayflower Pub is a gem among historic pubs in Rotherhithe, where visitors can embrace the captivating legacy of transatlantic history. Its charming atmosphere, authentic period details, and rich maritime connections make it a must-visit destination for anyone seeking an unforgettable pub experience in London.
The Prospect of Whitby: From Smugglers to Peaceful Retreats
Once home to smugglers and unruly seafarers, The Prospect of Whitby in Wapping embraces its swashbuckling history, complete with aged flagstone floors and a replica gallows outside, alluding to ‘Hanging’ Judge Jeffreys’ patronage. Transitioning from tumultuous to tranquil, this pub now offers a peaceful spot to enjoy London’s heritage while admiring the River Thames.
Established in 1520, The Prospect of Whitby is one of the oldest historic pubs in London, boasting an intriguing pirate history intertwined with its rich maritime legacy. Once known as a favorite haunt of pirates, smugglers, and other nefarious characters, today, the pub attracts visitors seeking to immerse themselves in the authentic charm of traditional pubs in London.
A visit to The Prospect of Whitby transports patrons back in time with numerous historical features and artefacts adorning the walls, including:
- Flagstone floors and wooden beams
- Replica noose and gallows outside
- A pewter-topped bar counter
- An 18th-century skittles alley
Renowned for its picturesque views of the River Thames, The Prospect of Whitby provides a prime location to enjoy a leisurely drink or a meal while soaking in the historical atmosphere. The pub’s diverse clientele ranges from tourists and locals alike, providing a unique experience and creating a lively, convivial atmosphere.
|Aged, rustic flooring paying tribute to the pub’s long history
|Replica gallows and noose
|A nod to the pub’s association with ‘Hanging’ Judge Jeffreys and the darker aspects of its past
|A reminder of the pub’s rich maritime history and its place in London’s social scene
|18th-century skittles alley
|An engaging trip down memory lane, showcasing traditional pastimes and games
As one of the city’s most iconic and storied pubs, The Prospect of Whitby provides a compelling insight into London’s intriguing past. Today, it continues to inspire patrons to uncover its vivid history, while enabling them to relish the captivating ambiance of a truly remarkable traditional pub in London.
Ye Olde Mitre Tavern: Dancing with History
Nestled in a hidden alley amidst the bustling streets of London, the remarkable Ye Olde Mitre Tavern embodies an essential part of the capital’s history. Its legacy, spanning over five centuries, encompasses an array of fascinating stories rich with tales of monarchs, bishops, and the elusive roots of Elizabethan Era Pubs. Today, this quaint and charming pub is hailed as one of London’s Oldest Pubs, conjuring images of a bygone era within its ancient walls and transporting patrons on a journey through time.
Elizabethan Ties and Bishopric Legacy
Established in 1546 under the reign of Henry VIII, Ye Olde Mitre Tavern is intrinsically connected to the history of the Bishop of Ely. Originally built to house the servants of the Bishop, the tavern was a bustling hub of activity, providing food, drink, and rest in the heart of Holborn. It was during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I that the tavern witnessed one of its most significant moments: the legendary monarch’s impromptu dance. As the tale goes, the “Virgin Queen” danced around a cherry tree that still stands in the pub’s courtyard today, linking the establishment to the enchanting history of the Elizabethan Era Pubs.
Though the tavern has undergone multiple reconstructions over the centuries, its exterior brims with centuries-old charm. From its origination during the time of Elizabeth I to its present-day incarnation, Ye Olde Mitre Tavern remains a beloved institution among Historic Pubs in London.
- Circa 1546: Ye Olde Mitre Tavern is established and licensed to the Bishop of Ely.
- Queen Elizabeth I: The illustrious queen famously dances around a cherry tree in the courtyard.
- Present Day: Ye Olde Mitre Tavern stands as a time capsule, celebrating its heritage with pride.
Though the origins of Ye Olde Mitre Tavern may be shrouded in mystery – as is the case with many Historic Pubs – it remains an authentic representation of London’s Oldest Pubs and the spirit of the Elizabethan Era. As one crosses the threshold, they find themselves immersed in a world where imagination and history intertwine, where the present converges with the past. From its low ceilings to its stunning lattice windows, this enchanting pub continues to beckon patrons eager to escape the modern world and indulge in the romance of a forgotten age.
|Ye Olde Mitre Tavern is established and receives its license from the Bishop of Ely.
|Queen Elizabeth I dances around the courtyard’s cherry tree.
|The tavern’s historic charm and stories of the past continue to captivate visitors.
Stepping into Ye Olde Mitre Tavern is like entering a realm where history lingers in the very air one breathes. The rich tapestry of tales spun by centuries of patrons and passersby envelops the senses, as one savours a pint within this remarkable piece of living history. Today, it stands as a beacon and a testament to the timeless appeal of London’s Oldest Pubs and the cherished legacies that they continue to preserve.
Retracing London Literati at The George Inn
London’s historical pubs are often the gateways to the country’s rich literary past. The George Inn, located on Borough High Street, is no exception. This prominent landmark attracts legions of literary enthusiasts, history buffs, and connoisseurs of Shakespearean Pubs and London’s intellectual elites.
As one of the best preserved examples of a Historic Pub in London, The George Inn has an enduring connection to the London Literati. William Shakespeare was a reputed patron, and his influence can be felt throughout the establishment. From its timber-framed galleries to its charming courtyard, The George Inn is steeped in theatrical history and takes visitors on a gratifying journey through the London of Shakespeare’s time.
|Founding of The George Inn
|Established in the London Borough of Southwark during the reign of King Henry VIII
|Origins of “The Canterbury Tales” – Chaucer’s pilgrims were known to have gathered at the Tabard, another inn in close proximity to The George Inn
|Late 1500s – Early 1600s
|Shakespeare reputedly visited and frequented the inn, establishing its connection to the London Literati
|Surviving the Great Fire of London
|The inn remained largely unaffected by the devastating historical event
Today, The George Inn continues to celebrate its rich heritage, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in the ambiance of bygone days. Its cosy interiors, along with fine ales and wholesome food, ensure a memorable experience for anyone who ventures inside its alluring confines. It is an enduring testament to London’s vibrant Historic Pubs culture, fostered through centuries of dedicated patronage.
Whispers of the Past in The Legendary Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese
As one of London’s most famous historic pubs, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese has housed spirited discussions and fostered camaraderie amongst its patrons since its reconstruction following the Great Fire of 1666. This Fleet Street icon is a veritable treasure trove of London’s literary history, having welcomed esteemed authors such as Charles Dickens into its dimly lit cellars and sawdust-strewn floors.
Drink Where Dickens Drank Here
Stepping into Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese is like entering a time capsule to old-time London’s socialising spaces. This is the very pub where Charles Dickens would find respite from the bustling streets and gather inspiration for his literary masterpieces. However, Dickens wasn’t the only illustrious figure who graced this historic pub. Famous writers such as Oliver Goldsmith, Mark Twain, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle also enjoyed drinking and conversing within its storied walls.
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese has maintained its historic ambiance throughout the centuries, making it an alluring destination for both locals and visitors alike. As you sit beneath the ancient wooden beams and explore the various rooms and staircases, it’s impossible not to feel the echoes of history resonate around you.
- Sample traditional British fare – Choose from a menu offering classic pub dishes such as fish and chips, bangers and mash, and steak and ale pie, all whilst being transported to times gone by.
- Savour a selection of craft beers – From local ales to international brews, the drink offerings at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese are sure to satisfy even the most discerning palates.
- Immerse yourself in literary history – Whether you’re a fan of Charles Dickens or simply enjoy being surrounded by the aura of the past, this pub is a must-visit location for those seeking to delve into London’s rich literary heritage.
In conclusion, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese offers an enchanting glimpse into the past, where renowned authors like Charles Dickens found inspiration and solace. No trip to London would be complete without visiting this remarkable historic pub, an everlasting emblem of the great city’s timeless riches.
The Star Tavern: A High Society Hideaway
Located in the posh district of Belgravia, The Star Tavern is infamous for its connection to the 1963 Great Train Robbery planning. This high society pub, which has welcomed famous individuals like Peter O’Toole and Diana Dors, still reserves its old-world charm and ambience, offering guests a glimpse into the high-society hideaways of London’s past.
As one of the most notable Belgravia Pubs, The Star Tavern boasts a rich history that intertwines with elite society gatherings and the charm of Historic Pubs. These elements, combined with the allure of the Great Train Robbery connection, make The Star Tavern a must-visit for those captivated by London’s historical tapestry.
Dating back to the early 19th century, this luxurious public house offers a refined and sophisticated atmosphere amidst its historical surroundings. The Star Tavern’s exquisite interiors effortlessly maintain the traditional features with antique furnishings, wood paneling, and intimate lighting, providing a warm and comfortable space to enjoy classic British fare and a fine selection of beers and spirits.
- The Star Tavern’s notoriety as the planning location for the Great Train Robbery adds an element of intrigue for visitors.
- High society gatherings and its popularity among celebrities have elevated The Star Tavern to an iconic status within London’s Belgravia Pubs scene.
- An extensive menu featuring traditional British dishes and a discerning selection of beers and spirits caters to a variety of tastes and preferences.
In conclusion, The Star Tavern offers a unique opportunity for patrons to immerse themselves in the luxurious ambience of high society London, while also appreciating its deep historical roots and relevance to some of the city’s most talked-about events. This confluence of elegance and history sets The Star Tavern apart as a truly exceptional destination within London’s pub landscape.
The Haunting Tales of The Spaniards Inn
The Spaniards Inn offers more than just your usual historic pub experience. Dating back to 1585 and perched atop a hill near Hampstead Heath, this beloved inn weaves a tapestry of literary connections, haunted lore, and links to infamous characters from Britain’s past.
From Romantic Poets to the Supernatural
Over the centuries, The Spaniards Inn has welcomed several illustrious guests from the literary world, including Romantic poets Lord Byron and John Keats. Moreover, the inn’s atmospheric and eerie setting served as inspiration and backdrop to various works of fiction, most notably in Bram Stoker’s gothic classic, “Dracula”.
Apart from its fame within the world of literature, The Spaniards Inn is also renowned for its supernatural sightings. Many visitors and long-time patrons claim that the ghost of notorious highwayman Dick Turpin still roams the halls of the inn. Turpin’s father was rumoured to be the innkeeper, and Turpin himself was said to have spent many nights at The Spaniards Inn during his life.
In addition to the haunting spectre of Turpin, several visitors report witnessing other apparitions and experiencing bizarre paranormal occurrences within this historic pub. These chilling accounts only amplify The Spaniards Inn’s allure, making it a top destination for ghost hunters and those interested in exploring the haunted side of London’s pub culture.
To summarize, The Spaniards Inn is a valued addition to London’s vast range of historic and literary pubs. With an intriguing past that spans the likes of Romantic poets and infamous criminals intertwined with tales of ghostly encounters, visitors can indulge in a pint and appreciate the pub’s Gothic atmosphere while pondering the haunted stories that await those who dare to explore its spine-chilling history.
The Ten Bells: Echoes of Jack the Ripper
Located in the heart of Spitalfields, The Ten Bells stands as an enduring symbol of Victorian London, with its dark past forever linked to the dreadful spree of the infamous serial killer, Jack the Ripper. Once the haunt for several of the Ripper’s unfortunate victims, this historic pub remains a macabre magnet for those seeking to delve into the city’s chilling history.
Step into The Ten Bells to discover an ambiance that combines both the allure of a historic pub and a Victorian-era curiosity. The faded décor, low lighting, and dimly lit corners are reminiscent of a time when gas lamps were the main source of illumination. The sombre atmosphere harks back to the days of Victorian London, when the cobblestoned streets were thick with fog and whispers of the elusive Jack the Ripper.
|Popular Pub Attraction
|Jack the Ripper Tours
|The Ten Bells is a regular stop on Jack the Ripper-themed walking tours. Guides provide historical context and recount gruesome details of the killer’s rampage as guests sip pints and absorb the atmosphere.
|Vintage Pub Décor
|The pub’s décor maintains its link to the past, featuring vintage photographs, aged timbers, ornate tiling, and a sinister smattering of Ripper memorabilia to transport visitors back to the late 1800s.
|Traditional Pub Fare
|Amid the gloomy historic setting, The Ten Bells offers a range of traditional pub dishes, providing a welcome respite from the haunting tales that pepper the establishment’s past.
Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply interested in the darker aspects of London’s past, The Ten Bells presents an opportunity to experience a different side of the city—one steeped in mystery, terror, and the chilling echoes of Jack the Ripper.
Stepping into Belgravia’s Past at The Star Tavern
Nestled in the prestigious neighbourhood of Belgravia, The Star Tavern showcases the perfect blend of Historic Pubs and the Traditional Pubs in London experience. The Star Tavern has been an integral part of Belgravia’s distinct charm for years, and its rich history is preserved in its classic architectural features and elegant atmosphere.
As you sip on a classic pint, revel in the fascinating stories that echo within the walls of this traditional pub. From high society gatherings to notorious criminals plotting the infamous Great Train Robbery, The Star Tavern encapsulates the variety and intrigue that defines London’s past. The establishment continues to draw an elite crowd, allowing patrons to immerse themselves in a refined ambiance reminiscent of the past’s high society hideaways.
So, take a step back in time, and indulge in the best of the Belgravia Pubs scene. Let the tales of days gone by envelop you as you relax at The Star Tavern and enjoy a quintessential Classic British pub experience. Raise a glass to London’s storied heritage and embrace the timeless allure that has made The Star Tavern a beloved institution in the heart of Belgravia.