Lord Nelson

Greater London South East - London

A historic pub interior of national importance

Listed Status: II

386 Old Kent Road
London, Old Kent Road
SE1 5AA

Tel: (020) 7701 8510

Nearby Station: South Bermondsey

Public Transport: Near Railway Station (South Bermondsey) and Bus Stop

Bus: Yes

View on: Whatpub

This Victorian pub has seen better days but retains spectacular fittings. Pride of place goes to a large painted and gilded mirror of the eponymous admiral receiving the surrender after the Battle of Cape St Vincent in 1797 from shifty, swarthy Spanish types. There are two other vast mirrors but one is badly cracked. There is also an extraordinary timber arcade striding across the servery with two bays sitting atop the counter and a third spanning a walkway between two counters (a parallel was in the now lost Ring o’Bells, Bradford, West Yorkshire). The screen and bar-back have wonderful detail including coloured glazed panels advertising various drinks and the name of the licensee of the day, John Bastow. The serving area has an extraordinary shape, laid out to reach a whole variety of small compartments which survived until about 1968. The semi-circular saloon entrance (at the side) has a mosaic floor with the name of the pub and stained glass: the saloon too has a huge counter timber superstructure on the counter.

The Lord Nelson was once magnificent - even now it retains some of the most spectacular mirrorwork in the country. Pride of place goes to a large painted and gilded mirror of the great admiral receiving the surrender after the battle of Cape Vincent in 1797 from some shifty, swarthy Spanish types. There are two more vast mirrors behind the servery but one is cracked and the other is largely covered up. The maker was a James Carter of Gray’s Inn Road and they date from around 1888. The details include grapes, kingfishers, vases of fruit and foliage trails.

There is also what is probably a unique feature in a pub - an impressive timber arcade striding across the servery with two bays sitting on top of the counter and a third spanning a walkway between two counters. The screen and bar-back have wonderful detail including coloured panels advertising all manner of drinks - champagne, finest old brandies, liqueurs, ports and sherries - the list goes on.

The serving area has an extraordinary shape and projects out into the main bar. This is because it serviced a whole variety of small compartments, reminders of which are preserved in the door glass (perhaps of the 1950s) which notes ‘public bar’ and ‘saloon bar’. At the rear is another room entered through an archway. It too has its own outside entrance with fine Victorian decorative glass (also proclaiming ‘saloon bar’). This room also has its own counter screen, like that in the main bar, which has a fine old clock over a doorway.

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