If you have ever been to London, you cannot have failed to notice the numerous pubs in the centre. Alongside the trendy bars and clubs that have appeared more recently, the traditional pubs remain as wonderful examples of the history of that great city.
Here is a small selection of the many that still stand to this day.
I have been in all of these, often more than once.
The Lamb and Flag, Rose Street, WC2.
Tucked away in an alleyway close to the popular Covent Garden piazza, you will find this small pub.
It was once a haunt of Charles Dickens, and the poet John Dryden was famously badly beaten near there one night in 1679, by agents of the King, Charles II.
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, 145 Fleet Street, WC2.
The original pub here dated from 1538, and was destroyed in the Great Fire of London. The current pub was rebuilt in 1666, by Sir Christopher Wren, and was a favourite watering-hole for the workmen who were rebuilding the devastated city. It has remained largely unchanged since then.
It is mentioned in Dickens’ writing, and famous regulars are said to include Samuel Johnson, and Mark Twain.
The Ten Bells, 84 Commercial Street, E1.
This pub dates from 1851, and is best known for its association with the Jack The Ripper Murders that took place nearby.
It is often mentioned that two of the prostitutes murdered by him used to ply their trade in this pub.
The Grenadier, 18 Wilton Row, Sw1.
Tucked away in a cobbled courtyard not far from Hyde Park Corner, it was built in 1720 at the corner of the Foot Guards’ barracks.
The military association is continued, with a sentry box outside, and militaria and photographs displayed within.
It also has a very good restaurant.
The Prospect of Whitby, 57 Wapping Wall, E1.
One of many London pubs right on the banks of The Thames, this pub is named after a ship, and has stood on this spot since 1520.
It is incredibly popular, with a small riverside terrace affording great views. Easily reached by a short walk east from Tower Bridge.
The Mayflower, 117 Rotherhithe Street, SE16.
Almost opposite the previous pub, on the south bank of the Thames at Rotherhithe, this one is not so easy to find, but worth the effort.
Originally called The Shippe, dating from 1550, it changed its name after the association with the famous ship, The Mayflower. It is said that the ship tied up alongside the pub, before departing London for Plymouth, to collect the original Pilgrim Fathers. You can still see that spot where the ship tied up in 1620, by going outside onto the small decked area at the back of the pub. Many American tourists seek out this ancient pub, for obvious reasons.
And it has a very good restaurant, on the first floor.
The George Inn, 75-77 Borough High Street, SE1.
Just south of London Bridge, you will find this famous coaching inn, in a courtyard off a busy high street.
Dating from as early as 1543, the current building was erected in 1677, and is now owned and run by The National Trust.
Known as one of the ‘galleried inns’, the upper galleries were used for audiences to stand and watch plays being performed in the courtyard below, during the Elizabethan era.
This pub also has a well-known association with Dickens, who was a regular when it once had a coffee room.
The next time you are in London, and fancy a drink or a bite to eat, try to seek out a place where you can also revel in the history of that old city.