Three star - A pub interior of exceptional national historic importance
Listed Status: II2 St Johns Hill
Tel: (020) 7228 2076
Real Ale: Yes
Real Cider: Yes
Lunchtime Meals: Yes
Evening Meals: Yes
Nearby Station: Clapham Junction
Station Distance: 80m
Public Transport: Near Railway Station (Clapham Junction) and Bus Stop
View on: Whatpub
Grand, impressive three-room pub built during the late Victorian pub-building boom with elaborate carved wooden bar-back, cut and etched glazing and pictorial stained glass.
A prominent landmark in the streetscape, the Falcon stands at the corner of Falcon Road and St John's Hill, its grand exterior offering a clue to the glories of the interior. Once inside, one is greeted by the lofty, carved wooden bar-back with etched glass mirrors and a magnificent bar counter which is said to be the longest in Britain.
The front room would once have been subdivided but impressive cut and etched glass screens remain, separating the small, intimate room on the left and the rear room. Note also the stained glass panel in the front entrance door depicting the eponymous falcon. Even more remarkable are the stained glass panels in the rear room showing the pub in its former (pre-1887) and current incarnations. The latter shows funeral carriages stopping off at 'Death's Door' which was the pub's nickname when the licensee was a certain Mr Death.
The splendidly panelled rear room's only flaw is the garish glass roundels hanging underneath the skylights, but the crass bar counter with a screen which interfered with the view of the bar-back has been removed.
Mightily impressive pub-cum-former-hotel of 1887 with many original features, including The counter is the longest in the country at 125 ft (the runners up are the Bowland Beer Hall, Clitheroe, Lancs (105ft: modern) and the Horse Shoe, Glasgow (104ft: late Victorian). Built as a hotel-cum-pub, it is a showy building of red brick with stone enrichments and on the ground floor are stone and granite pilasters. The interior has three distinctive sections – the main part on the right is almost U-shaped and would have been sub-divided by internal partitions as there are three entrances to it; also a tiny screened ‘private bar’ on the front left and at the rear an L-shaped area restricted to diners at certain times.. There are castiron columns with stylised Corinthian capitals painted gold.
The left-hand entrance has a large lobby with a figure ‘5’ on one of the inner doors. A passage with terrazzo floor and panelled walls including a large Old Bushmill’s whiskey mirror leads to another set of double doors with deep etched and frosted ‘Billiards’ panels beyond which is a luxuriously panelled room It has panelled walls to picture frame height with a number of decorative wood carvings and pilasters with decorative capitals. On the left hand side are two short screens with stained glass panels. It is a pity about the garish modern glass in the pair of skylights. On the rear wall is a large ornate timber fire surround with modern brick infill and a plain mirror in a good wood surround above.
A large stained glass window featuring some notable glass in three panes. The first features a painted depiction of the pub in its humble pre-1887 guise with the wording “The Falcon 1883’; the second shows funeral carriages stopping off at ‘Death’s Door’, the nickname for a former landlord, a Mr Death.with the wording ‘1801 Deaths Door’; and the third features a painted depiction of the present, grander manifestation and has the wording ‘The Falcon 1887’. On the right-hand side of the rear ‘dining area’ section is a curved panelled area with a doorway linking it to the rear part of the main bar.
In the middle is a large serving area enclosed by a curvaceous counter which is claimed as the longest in Britain (its only real rival is the Horseshoe Bar, Drury Street, Glasgow, Scotland). This serves all three rooms with virtually identical panelled counter fronts and pillasters but the bar top in the very rear area is wider than elsewhere so may be modern and part in the rear right area looks more inter-war than Victorian. The elaborate pot-shelf on the rear right of the counter is modern work.
In the centre of the servery is an enormously high bar-back with etched glass mirrors throughout including a top section held up by square pillars; fridges have replaced most of the lower bar back shelves. The stairs to the cellar also lead from within the bar back.
The private bar at the front is formed by a three-quarter height timber and glass partition wall beyond which is the terrazzo floored passageway, which has a middle row of deep etched and frosted panels of a floral design and two low partitions attached to the counter. The low partitions have five narrow bays each, the middle of which is now a doorway having originally been a barrow door with good etched and frosted panels with floral designs.
The large public bar has a vestibule entrance on St Johns Hill side with lovely stained glass panel depicting a falcon in the right hand inner door and a ‘Private Bar’ panel on the left hand door. The corner entrance has some deep etched and frosted panels with floral designs.