Three star - A pub interior of exceptional national historic importance
Listed Status: II8 Dorset Street
Tel: (020) 7487 4773
Real Ale: Yes
Lunchtime Meals: Yes
Evening Meals: Yes
Nearby Station: London Marylebone
Station Distance: 600m
Public Transport: Near Railway Station (Marylebone) and Bus Stop
View on: Whatpub
A late 18th century pub containing two remarkable drinking booths.
A four-storey building of 1791 which houses an unique interior feature of extraordinary interest. There are two small drinking booths on the left-hand side of the bar, both surrounded by five-foot-high wooden screens and suggestive of heightened box-pews in a church. Each can comfortably hold only two or three people - although four or five might just be able to squeeze in. They are an extreme example of how the Victorians loved cosy drinking spaces. It is claimed the boxes were once used for pawn-broking although this is questionable.
The drinking booths form a narrow corridor between them and the wall, and over this are four curving metal stays attaching the booths to the left-hand wall panelling. This corridor leads to a small rear room served by its own counter, a continuation of the main counter at the front. This rear room has old half-height panelling on all walls. A pot shelf here is modern but done in a style that sits happily with the rest of the pub. A door from here is still in situ and leads into a small corridor off which is a doorway (door now gone) that connects back to the front bar. Attached to the bar counter in two places are brass plaques which, unusually, list the names and prices of some drinks. Although now very worn, they are just about legible: “Pale Brandy, Old Jamaica Rum, Old Tom... Prices 2/6, 13/-” and so on.
There are three sets of double doors at the front of the pub, evidence that what today is a deliciously small pub was even further sub-divided. The remnants of a small vestibule around the central doors contain etched, patterned glass whose raised surfaces suggest it has some age to it.
A tall four-storey building of 1791 which houses an interior of extraordinary interest. What is now unique is the survival of a couple of small drinking boxes attached to the counter on the left hand side held in place with a couple of cast-iron stays screwed to the wall. They are a perfect illustration of how, at the end of the nineteenth-century, pubs, especially in London, were divided up into tiny spaces for different groups and classes of people. It is claimed that these boxes here were used for pawnbroking but whether there is any justification for this seems rather questionable. This was probably a late-20th-century explanation for features which can become otherwise inexplicable with the changes in pub layout and drinking traditions.
Beyond the boxes is a small room with old dado panelling and old bar counter but the pot shelf is modern. On the counter top is a very interesting feature - worn brass plates screwed to the counter and which display the prices of liquor - evidently old with rum at 15 shillings (75p) a gallon! There is another on the counter alongside the snugs. The side walls are completely panelled and the bar counter and bar back fittings are Victorian - it is a pity that most of the lower shelves have been replaced by a couple of fridges. Note on the bar-back a tap marked 'Old Tom', an extremely popular gin, which once drew gin from an overhead barrel. The pot shelf is modern but in style with the rest of the interior. The existence of three entrances in the shop front are clear evidence that there were other internal subdivisions which have now gone.