A historic pub interior of national importance
Listed Status: II1 Ely Court, Ely Place
Tel: (020) 7405 4751
Real Ale: Yes
Real Cider: Yes
Lunchtime Meals: Yes
Evening Meals: Yes
Nearby Station: Farringdon
Station Distance: 300m
Public Transport: Near Railway Station (Farringdon) and Bus Stop
View on: Whatpub
A fine and remarkable pub, tucked away up an alley. The building dates from the late 18th century but what we see inside is a complete scheme from the inter-war period. Either side of the central servery are two bars, each with extensive Tudor-style panelling. Leading off the rear room is a cosy little snug, known as ‘Ye Closet’. The front bar has three outside doors, suggesting it was once divided into three tiny compartments (but a single space certainly since the 1930s). The gents’ can only be accessed from outside – a very rare thing for a London pub. The upstairs room was fitted out about 1990 and is known as the Bishop’s Room which, like the name of the pub and its address, is a reminder that the bishops of Ely had their London residence here until 1772. Indeed, officially the area was treated as a part of Cambridgeshire!
Finding this vibrant, historic pub in a tiny alley between Hatton Garden and Ely Place is a test of pub-going initiative, but success will be rewarded by a range of real ales and guest beers. It is said to have been founded in 1546 to minister to the servants of the Bishop of Ely who had his London residence in the vicinity. The site and adjacent properties in Ely Place were cleared when the Crown took over the area in 1772. It was rebuilt at the end of the 18th century. The building has three storeys with glazed timber front on the ground floor. The interior is a remodelling of around 1930 with lots of panelling in the then-fashionable Tudor style. There are two rooms (both called ‘lounge bar’) either side of a central servery, a small, cosy one at the front and a slightly larger one at the back. Off the latter is an intimate little snug, now named ‘Ye Closet’.
The front bar is completely panelled to picture frame height, it has a 1930s panelled bar counter and the bar back shelves look to be of similar date, but some may have been added later. The fireplace has a 1930s brick interior and a marble exterior. Note that there were originally three doors into the room but it has been a single space since the 1930s. The corner of the front bar near the entrance is glazed in to reveal the trunk of what is said to be a cherry tree - note the plaque above stating "The Mitre Tavern - Built by Bishop Goodrich in 1546. The Cherry Tree marks the boundary between the Bishops Garden and the part leased to Sir Christopher Hatton (who was Queen Elizabeth I's courtier).
By the entrance and between the front and rear bars note the original off-sales hatch. The rear room is also completely panelled to two-thirds height with a small 1930s panelled bar counter. This small room has a fireplace of 1930s brick with a cast-iron and wood surround; there are fine carved chairs, an old settle and it is lit by a skylight. Off to the left is 'Ye Closet', a tiny snug measuring some six feet by ten feet and completely fielded panelled to two-thirds height with settle-like benches around an oblong table.
Look for the narrow staircase, the walls of which are covered by wide, horizontally-laid panels which may date back to the original late C18 construction. The upstairs ‘Bishop’s Room’ - which is open at busy times -was fitted out about 1990. The interior is small and many customers stand outside to drink using as tables the array of casks running all along the passage around the exterior of the pub. This passage has glazed tiles above the dado and it leads to the outside gents' – how rare is that in a London pub? Closed Saturday & Sunday with the exception of the weekend at the end of the Great British Beer Festival.