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Greater London East - Limehouse

One star - A pub interior of special national historic interest

Listed Status: II

76 Narrow Street
E14 8BP

Tel: (020) 7987 4396

Email: info@thegrapes.co.uk

Website https://thegrapes.co.uk/

Real Ale: Yes

Lunchtime Meals: Yes

Evening Meals: Yes

Nearby Station: Limehouse

Station Distance: 600m

Public Transport: Near Railway Station (Limehouse) and Bus Stop

Bus: Yes

View on: Whatpub

London’s docklands once teemed with Victorian and older pubs but not anymore. This Grade 2 listed establishment is a rare survivor.

This small pub reeks of age inside but in fact has undergone various alterations over the years. Nevertheless it still contains many features of interest and character in its two ground floor rooms. There is fixed bench seating – bare wood and simple - and matchboard panelling in both rooms, possibly from an inter-war re-fit. An elaborate brick fireplace in the rear room may also date from the 1930s. There are two entrances at the font, the left-hand one being no longer in use, and in fact the bench seating now obstructs it. Research by staff in here suggests that the dis-used door once led into a corridor (now opened out) which only went as far as the bar counter and not to any rear room, It was used by ladies, since they were not allowed in the rest of the pub. They would buy their drinks at the bar then take them outside to drink. The front windows with their patterned glass look old but are all replacements from the 1980s or later.  In the rear room a narrow staircase leads to a first floor room which probably was once living quarters for the landlord. It contains a dis-used Victorian fireplace, wood panelling to dado-rail height and fine views over the Thames.

Probably built between 1787 and 1797, when it was known as the Bunch of Grapes, the present façade of this four- storey building is 19th century. The existence of two front doors would indicate a passageway previously existed for access to the rear room.

The front room is now accessed from the right hand door but is more likely to have been from the left hand door? It has a bare wood floor with full height old tongue and groove panelling on the left and bare benches attached which look old; also similar bare bench seating around the small bay window. The seating goes across the left hand door which suggests some re-arranging of the interior in recent years. There is a dado of oldish (possibly dating back to inter-war years?) panelling down the right hand wall and panelled ceiling painted a deep pink. The servery is situated in the middle of this narrow pub and consists of a counter that might be inter-war (the pot shelf is modern) and three sections of back fitting. The left hand part has shelves held up by pillars with a mirrored back which all look old. The middle section has a series of small mirrored panels with a few shelves and this looks genuinely old. The right hand section of shelves attached to tongue and groove panelling is much more modern. Currently owned by Sir Ian McKellen and two others, his staff from the Lord of the Rings trilogy is affixed to the bar back.

A narrow passage alongside the staircase to the first floor leads to a small rear room. The counter front of tongue and grove panelling looks old but the top looks modern as does the door for staff. There is old dado panelling on the left hand wall with a bare bench attached and a 1930s (or 1950s?) brick fireplace but the dado panelling beyond is modern. There is a small balcony overhanging the River Thames and a restaurant room on the first floor overlooking the river (not inspected).

The Grapes is one of several laying claim to being the model for Dickens ‘Jolly Fellowship Porters’ in his book ‘Our Mutual Friend’. The politician David Owen lived next door from which ‘The Limehouse Declaration’, the manifesto of the Social Democratic Party, was issued in January 1981.

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