A historic pub interior of national importance
Listed Status: II22 High Holborn
This is one of the great inter-war pubs and draws nostalgically on the traditions of Tudor Merrie England. It was rebuilt in 1923–4 (designer possibly Ernest R. Barrow) to replace a shop owned by Henekey & Co., a famous London wine merchant. The tall, narrow façade, no doubt fossilising the plan of an ancient plot, has elegant Tudor detail. The right-hand corridor leads past the fairly conventional front bar to the key area, a great long, open-roofed baronial hall at the rear. On the right this has a series of drinking booths, which are unique in an English pub of this date (but found in Northern Ireland and, in modern times, imitated at pubs in the Wetherspoon chain). Behind the servery are great vats, said to have been in use until the Second World War for holding spirits and fortified wines. The iron columns supporting the gallery are no doubt Victorian. The triangular stove is believed to have come from Gray’s Inn and to date from about 1815: its flue goes down before going up to exit the building. The brick cellars (open Tue–Fri evenings) are a survival from the previous building. Other fine examples of the Tudor/baronial theme can be found at the Black Horse, Birmingham), and the mighty King & Queen, Brighton.
A truly remarkable pub. It was rebuilt in 1923-4 (possibly to designs by Ernest R. Barrow) and is a self-conscious, romantic evocation of an Olde England. Part of the nostalgic mythology of the world of drinking is the idea of good cheer and company in the medieval great hall or Tudor inn - such is what we have recreated here. Outside in the four-storey frontage we have Tudor detailing in the windows. The entrance is on the right and leads first to a panelled room of the type common in inter-war pubs and which evokes ideas of the late-sixteenth or early seventeenth centuries. The bar counter is a modern addition.
But what really counts is the long bar at the back which seeks to rediscover the atmosphere of the great English timber halls. This amazing room is unlike any other in a British pub. The roof is high-pitched and open, and at either end, at first floor level, are glazed-in upper rooms from which you might imagine the lord of the manor might keep an eye on the proceedings below. In fact the room at the far end is, less romantically, part of the manager's flat!
On the right-hand side is a resplendent three-bay arcade with clerestory windows above. Beyond is an aisle is filled with seven small carrels which serve as drinking booths (there are three more at the rear left); such features are to say the least rare in traditional English pubs (but similar to the compartments which are prominent in historic Northern Irish pubs). On the left-hand side the dominant feature is a formidable array of casks, some of enormous side and evidently of some antiquity (as are the cast-iron columns supporting the shelving). A high-level walkway stretches the length of the room. Splendid triangular stove with a flue escaping under the floor.
The direct connection to the front room is a modern addition - this room has painted roundels of famous figures from history and did have a modern bar counter until it was removed in 2010. The brick cellars from the previous building form the Cellar Bar, but this is only open when food is served so is closed in the afternoons and after 9pm. The special character of this pub is reflected in its being grade II listed. Closed Sunday.