Three star - A pub interior of exceptional national historic importance
Listed Status: II207 Brompton Road
Tel: (020) 7589 4944
Real Ale: Yes
Lunchtime Meals: Yes
Evening Meals: Yes
Nearby Station: London Victoria
Station Distance: 1650m
Public Transport: Near Railway Station (London Victoria)
View on: Whatpub
Built 1844, there are substantial vestiges of late-Victorian refitting. Most impressive are the back-painted mirrors of 1890 on the left showing grapes on a vine above various flowers (signed by W. James of Kentish Town). Originally, screens divided the pub up into separate drinking areas and some survive. There are also five snob screens with representations of birds and grapes. This area is demarcated by a head-height baffle carved with truly gargantuan clusters of grapes. Extensive etched glass also survives. The island bar-back fitting has a delicate ceiling feature above. The panelled counter is Victorian but at the rear is possibly inter-war.
This busy pub between Harrod’s and the V&A Museum (hence usually crowded with tourists) was put up in 1844: it has three storeys and is now rather dwarfed by neighbouring 20th-century buildings. What is of interest for us here are the fairly substantial vestiges of a late-Victorian refitting. Pride of place goes to a series of back-painted mirrors. The first is in the left hand lobby and shows grapes hanging off a vine above various flowers. The mirrors continue with four on the left-hand wall showing birds and all sorts of vegetation, followed by a half size then full size plain mirrors with simple design round the edges. They are signed ‘W James of Kentish Town’ and date from 1890.
It is possible to get a sense of the way the pub was laid out a century ago. The servery is in the middle (surrounded with a black and white diamond shaped tile area of later period, as there are no marks to indicate separate rooms or divisions) and two remaining fragments of screens that would have divided the pub up into a series of separate drinking areas remain at the front, but these may have been cut back. Possibly there would have been a partition creating a corridor down the left hand side i.e. where the back painted mirrors are situated, which could have accessed the the rear bar. There is one full height screen on the left and another on the rear right - both with doorways, not doors. There is a short screen on the front right but the three-quarter height screen on the rear left is a modern addition.
Particularly notable is the row of five snob screens on the left-hand side of the servery with representations of birds and, of course, bunches of grapes. The area where they are located is demarcated by a gross head-height baffle carved with truly gargantuan clusters of grapes.
Other Heritage Pubs with snob screens are Bartons Arms, Aston, Birmingham; Prince Alfred, London W9; Lamb, London WC1; Posada, Wolverhampton , West Midlands; Starting Gate, London N22; Crown, London N1; and Crown & Greyhound, London SE21 but these have been moved.
Further historic features are the cast-iron columns with gold painted decorative capitals supporting the upstairs floors and extensive etched glass including a Bottles & Jug' window. There is a vestibule around the front right entrance.
The Victorian island bar back fitting has some modern additions on the front and at the rear and practically all the lower shelving has been lost to fridges. Note the delicate ceiling feature above the back fitting. The bar counter is a sloping one - a style more popular in the inter-war period - the panelled counter at the rear with plain brackets is possibly inter-war.