Three star - A pub interior of exceptional national historic importance
Listed Status: Not listed2 Forest Hill Road
Tel: (020) 8299 9521
Real Ale: Yes
Lunchtime Meals: Yes
Evening Meals: Yes
Nearby Station: Honor Oak Park
Station Distance: 1300m
Public Transport: Near Railway Station (Honor Oak Park) and Bus Stop
View on: Whatpub
A three-room Victorian Tavern which underwent a distinctive 1930s refurbishment.
Although by no means grand, this pub impresses even from a distance because of the way that its upper floors, of typically handsome Victorian design, contrast happily with the very different ground floor. The latter has classy brickwork and delightful leaded windows, all part of a 1930s remodelling which included adding a sizable extension onto the right-hand side.
Signage that reads “Public Bar”, “Saloon Lounge” and “Lounge” is contained in what are some of the most attractive windows to be found in any London pub. Dimpled glass intermingles with small panes that are tinted various shades of mottled green. Some of the arched windows feature tiny leaded segments that suggest tear-drop earrings.
The interior has retained three rooms (although the connecting doors are gone) which surround what is effectively an island bar. All have attractive half-height wood panelling on the walls but alas only the former Public Bar (the left-hand room) has escaped the craze for gastro-grey painting.
The bar counter still occupies its original position and the black-and-white tiling at its base looks like it may be from the 1930s refit. One of the few concessions to modernity is the removal of a large panel from the bar-back which separates left and right bars, with the result that you can now see through one to the other. Two tiled fireplaces in the former Public Bar contain 1930s pictorial images of sailing vessels – might this suggest that the name of the pub originally had some connection with Herne Bay?
The 1930s refurbishment included the installation of a number of very distinctive – perhaps unique - chairs with upward-sweeping arm rests very suggestive of the art deco period. Today, most of them are still there but they have been relegated to obscure corners of the pub or placed out in ‘the Barn’, a former stables now used for functions. Look out for them – they deserve to be brought back into the limelight and made a prominent feature of this pub again.
Running beneath the Barn is the River Peck?, and a glass panel has been inserted into the floor to permit viewing of it – although I am told that no-one has actually been able to see the river for many years.
A beautifully preserved example of inter-war pub-fitting. The original building is Victorian but it was given a thorough remodelling in the 1930s and this work is cherished by the current owners who offer a good balance between drinking and dining. The window glass tells us that the front left-hand room was the public bar, while the right-hand one was the saloon lounge. The glass is a lovely survivor with clear, textured panes enlivened by others with mottled green glass. There is a third room behind the public bar: both these left-hand rooms have wall panelling and attractive, original tiled fireplaces. In recent times an opening has been made between the public and saloon/lounge so that the rooms are connected internally.
The saloon lounge, extended out from the Victorian pub, has an interesting rounded termination and a very individual red-brick fireplace which is a complete contrast to the others. The bar counters and back fittings are original but quite conventional: the latter, on the saloon lounge side, appears to have had a dumb waiter (currently occupied by wine bottles). There are attractive black and white 'mosaic' tiles around the front of the bar counter in both bars. Don’t miss the quite delightful 1930s chairs in the saloon lounge with their sides made of solid boards and their upward-sweeping arm rests.