King's Head

Greater London South West - Tooting

A historic pub interior of national importance

Listed Status: II

84 Upper Tooting Road
SW17 7PB

Tel: (020) 8767 6708




Real Ale: Yes

Lunchtime Meals: Yes

Evening Meals: Yes

Public Transport: Near Bus Stop

Bus: Yes

View on: Whatpub

Rebuilt in 1896 to designs by prolific pub architect W.M. Brutton, this is a riotous architectural extravaganza on the main road through Tooting. Internally a great deal survives so one can still get a very good sense of how a lavish late Victorian pub was laid out around a central servery and with a tiled entrance corridor on either side. Originally each outside door would each have led into a separate drinking area, those on the right being quite small with the ‘private bar’ and ‘bottles & jugs’ still being named in the etched glass. The glass also has numerous pictures of little birds, a very common theme in late 19th century pub decoration. The general style for the internal fittings is sub-Jacobean. The delicately detailed central bar-back has a lovely octagonal display feature towards the rear. Two round arches stride across either side of the servery at the front. At the back of the pub is a large, glazed screened-off room with skylights that would have served as a billiard room or restaurant.

This is one of the most exotic confections among London’s pubs and was built in 1896 by the prolific pub architect, W M Brutton. Inside one can still get a good sense of how a lavish late-Victorian pub was organised and fitted up. Down both sides are tiled corridors that led into various drinking areas – you have to visualise every external or corridor door leading into a separate room or compartment. These were all served across a large, central counter with rounded ends. In the middle of this servery is a delightful island bar-back with delicate detail and an especially attractive octagonal display feature. Also note the etched glass in the outside windows and internal screens, the timber and plaster arches straddling the servery, the filigree of its supporting brackets, and the lovely friezes of various patterns and sizes.

The original spaces would have been relatively small for the most part, especially on the right-hand side. However, at the back is a large, long room with skylights that would probably have served as a billiard room, a feature that was common in many large late-Victorian pubs. The screen between it and the rest of the pub is magnificent with etched panels decorated with swags of foliage, ribbons, etc. Note the difference in quality between the original etched glass and the modern replacements. A refurbishment took place in 2002. This was done quite sympathetically with the only major change being the creation of an opening in the screen at the front to allow movement from one side of the pub to the other.

A further refurbishment in 2015 has added more modern items such as stone-like tiling on parts of the floor and modern tiling above the Victorian bar back; fridges have replaced the lower bar back shelves. Typical of London pubs, areas can be reserved so at times you cannot visit all parts of the pub.

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