Friday, July 10, 2015

The Hidden Pubs of Old London Town

7 July 2015

Tuesday I spent visiting The National Archives at Kew, while Andy caught up with work.  I worked at Kew, but also met up with a friend who works there.

In the evening we decided to do another walk and chose The Hidden Pubs of Old London Town. We visited three pubs, but the first stop was in the middle temple, where we learned a bit about the history of theatre in London (as opposed to Southwark on the other side of the river, which is where all the theatres were in Shakespeare's day. 

The first pub we visited was The Edgar Wallace. It was a strange pub. Or rather, the interior decor was strange.  Along with books - mostly if not all written by Edgar Wallace - the ceiling was adorned with hundreds of beer mats and the walls with old advertising signs, many of which were for cigarettes, long since banned from being advertised.

When we left we lost about half our group who had obviously thought it was just a pub crawl, without the stops to discuss history.

Next was a visit to the (closed) Twinings Tea shop, which was an opportunity to discuss its history and the chance to see a few other things along the Strand, like the Royal Courts of Justice and the dragon marking the boundary to the City of London, before going to our second pub.

The second pub was The Old Bank of England.  This has the most impressive interiors. This late 19th century bank closed in 1975 and was converted into a pub. This is also, according to the story, the location of Sweeney Todd's barber shop and Mrs Lovett's pie shop.

More wandering about, past the statues of Gog and Magog, the headquarters of DC Thompson (publisher of Beano and now owner of findmypast), the through courts and alleys to the location of the house lived in by Samuel Johnson and a statue of Dr Boswell's cat, Hodge.

Final pub was Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese where the tour ended.  We had intended to eat there, but while the upstairs rooms looked suitably ancient, the downstairs, where food was served, just did not appeal.  We went to a Thai restaurant instead.

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