Londerground: Stuff you May Not Know About in the English Capital Part 2

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Londerground #2: Pubs

Century upon century, the good old London boozer has been the respite of choice for the thirsty Londoner; a place to plot against kings and queens, to escape the smog and bemoan the Blitz.

Come the 21st century though, and the dawn of the chain pub seems hell-bent on destroying any vestige of character. All is not lost however, as our pub crawl reveals…


Londerground Pubs: Three Kings
Three Kings – Image via Wikipedia

Three Kings, Clerkenwell

Nothing to do with the Story of the Nativity, nor the 1999 Gulf War movie, this Three Kings refers to Messrs. Presley, Kong and, er, VIII. In true British style, the walls are plastered with all manner of tat, including ancient maps of the area and a fiberglass rhinoceros head. Though it’s a joint for all and sundry, musos will find the Three Kings especially appealing with its kitsch 1970s jukebox, and devilishly difficult Monday night quiz.

Prospect of Whitby, Wapping

Supping beer and salty crisps on a misty eve at the Prospect of Whitby, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d drifted out to sea. This distinctly nautical pub feels like the inside of a galleon, and has the grey River Thames as its backdoor neighbor. Drinkers here once included Kirk Douglas, Paul Newman and Princess Margaret. Look out for the ominous hangman’s noose swinging away by the waterside.


Londerground Pubs: Ship and Shovell
Ship and Shovell – Image via Wikipedia

Ship & Shovell, Charing Cross

The only pub in London to be on both sides of the same street, the Ship & Shovell is a two-for-the-price-of-one affair, with a Victorian drinking lounge facing a Hobbit sized collection of snugs and alcoves. Both sides are linked by a cellar which runs underneath the street, although if you want to take a look, you’ll have to be extra nice to the bar staff.


Coach and Horses, Soho

Though it resembles countless other corner-of-the-street offerings in London, the Coach and Horses is home to a rich comedic heritage, and may just be the funniest pub in the capital. Frequented by staff of nearby satire rag Private Eye, and with its walls covered in cartoons, the Coach and Horses was also an integral setting in the comedy play Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell. Erstwhile landlord Norman Balon was once deemed the rudest one the capital had to offer.


Londerground: The Rake in Southwark

The Rake in Southwark - Image via Wikipedia

The Rake, Southwark

Mythically claimed to be the smallest pub in London, the owners of the Rake persist it isn’t even a pub, let alone the smallest! Still this ‘specialty beer bar’ as it likes to labeled itself, is a genius escape capsule from the nearby Borough Market, where booze fanatics can (if they get there early enough) pull up a stool and choose from a menu of around 130 beers. Imagine the lock-ins here.


The Blackfriar, Blackfriars

Anyone who admires the strange and beautiful Benedictine interiors of the Blackfriar has the poet John Betjeman to thank. It was he who saved this precious wedge of Art Nouveau from demolition a few decades back. Come for the real ales and good food, stay for the unique sculptures, mosaics and reliefs of tipsy monks.

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