Three star - A pub interior of exceptional national historic importance
Listed Status: II93 Warrington Crescent
Tel: (020) 7286 8282
Real Ale: Yes
Nearby Station: London Paddington
Station Distance: 1350m
Public Transport: Near Railway Station (Paddington)
View on: Whatpub
Boasting one of the most opulent interiors of any London pub, this is a prime example of the extremes to which pub designers went during the golden age of pub building in the late 19th century.
Currently owned by Ewe Hospitality, this substantial end-of-terrace pub was built in 1857 and underwent a magnificent refit probably in the 1890s. The grand entrance porch is embellished with glorious tiled columns and an intricate mosaic floor that announces the name of the pub. Two of the porch’s three doors are still in use. On entering the luxurious right-hand room, the eye is first attracted to the elegantly curving semi-circular bar counter and the elaborate canopy above it. This counter looks out onto a spacious room that is a feast for the eyes. The grey marble of a stately fireplace is echoed by the two marble pillars that support arches enhanced with gilt patterning. All around the walls is a dizzying series of mirrors – nearly forty of them - each separated from its neighbour by a spiralling wooden pillar. At the far end, beneath another arch, is a recessed bay containing a large window with decorative stained glass. The ceiling is decorated with highly detailed foliage patterns. The woodwork below the counter is original, curves upward elegantly and contains intricate oval emblems within lozenge-shaped surrounds. The woodwork in the bar-back is supported in two places by small marble pilasters which have a sensual bulge entirely in keeping with the excesses of the decor throughout the pub. The paintings of naked ladies on the canopy and elsewhere date only from 1965.
On the left of the bar-back is an opening to the small middle room, but originally there was no such access (as evidenced by a scene in the film Bunny Lake is Missing, made in 1965). This begs the question – just how did staff gain access to the bar of the middle room? There has certainly been some minor re-organization of the layout. For example, a door which once connected left and right rooms now leads only a to a modern corridor.
The left-hand room was once clearly divided into three, as the patterning in the ceiling shows. The woodwork below the counter and matchboard panelling on the walls is all much less elaborate than in the grander right-hand room. The simpler bar-back in here very probably dates from the 1890s re-fit. A door containing patterned glass once led to a corridor and to the right-hand room but it has been sealed up. An ugly modern banquette has been unsympathetically inserted in this room. In both rooms the upper areas of various partitions contain hundreds of small glass panels with foliage motifs.
Over the first floor landing is an impressive Victorian skylight and below it some deep, ornate cornices.
One of the most opulent London pubs, this spacious, stucco-fronted hotel was built in 1858. It was given a major update later in the century, probably in the 1890s, and the glorious tiled columns to the entrance porch and a huge mosaic floor bearing the name of the pub give some idea of the richness that lies on the other side of the doors. The tiles are from Craven Dunhill's Jackfield Works at Ironbridge.
The main room is on the right and has a grey marble-topped counter with unusual, bulgy pilasters and lozenge decoration. Grey marble also appears in the columns of a three-bay arcade which marches across the right-hand side of the room, embracing the generously scaled staircase to what is now the upstairs restaurant. Some of the windows have lively stained glass, while over the servery is a semi-circular canopy, decorated with Art Nouveau-style paintings of naked ladies. More such paintings, with the signature Colin Beswick 1965, appear on the back wall and are meant to evoke the unlikely story that has grown up that this was once a brothel.
The left-hand room was once clearly divided into three as the patterning in the ceiling shows. The lowest status part has matchboard wall panelling and an ornate, much decayed mirror advertising Bass pale ale. Other things to note are the attractive and unusual high-level chequerwork glazed screens, the skylight over the first-floor landing and the deep, decorative cornices on the first floor. Don't miss the Prince Alfred nearby.