The Historic Pubs of London

There are two things that London has in abundance: history and pubs Although there were drinking establishments in Ancient Britain, the Roman invasion led to the building of the first taverns to provide refreshment and entertainment for the weary traveler. No remaining London pubs can trace their origins back to those times. However there are a number, steeped in history, with fascinating stories of famous, and infamous, past clientele.

These pubs make a welcome change to the large chains of pubs, lacking in atmosphere and interest, which are used too frequently by both tourists and residents of London.

First of all head to Wapping

This is a part of London not on the traditional tourist trail but well worth a visit for one of the best historic pubs. Located on the side of the River Thames, Wapping has a colorful history associated with sea-faring trades such as sailors, boat-builders and mastmakers. It is also the site of Execution Dock, where notorious pirates were hanged and then covered with tar as a warning of the price that would be paid for piracy.

Wapping is now an up and coming residential area, popular with City commuters, and home to the:

Prospect of Whitby

This pub was established as the Devil's Tavern during the reign of Henry VIII and was a notorious meeting place for smugglers and villains. After a fire in the eighteenth century it was rebuilt and renamed after the Prospect of Whitby, a ship moored nearby.

The pub has a combination of spacious indoor seating areas and outside terraces. The whole place oozes history from the creaking stairs which take you up to the Pepys room (Samuel Pepys, the London diarist reportedly being a former customer along with Charles Dickens), the 400 year old original flagstone floor and the hangman's noose that stands outside. If you're going to the Prospect for food, try and find table 71, a secluded table to the right hand side of the main upstairs terrace that provides the perfect setting for a meal for two with views of the Thames.

Less than two miles away is another pub with an even darker history:-

The Ten Bells

The Ten Bells is on the corner of Commercial Street and Fournier Street, opposite Spitalfields Market, and is indelibly linked with Jack the Ripper, the unidentified serial killer who terrorized London between 1888 and 1891. The Ripper is thought to be responsible for up to 11 murders and many of his victims enjoyed their final drink at the Ten Bells. His last victim, the prostitute Mary Kelly, was known to regularly stand outside the Ten Bells to attract customers, maybe even meeting her final customer this way.

The pub has many original features including an interesting tile mural depicting 19th century life in London.

Stop here for a drink or two then enjoy the many attractions of Spitalfields Market on the other side of the road.

The final stop on this historic pub crawl is the:

George Inn

This pub is on Borough High Street in Central London, an area which was once full of coaching inns for pilgrims on their way to and from the city of Canterbury. The George Inn is now the only galleried coaching inn left in London, preserved by the National Trust to ensure its protection against the neighborhood's development.

With interlocking rooms, low oak beams and open fires, this pub offers a great insight into the past and provides a stark contrast to the surrounding modern office buildings.

In the winter drink some warming, spiced mulled wine, in the summer enjoy a pint in the large courtyard set back from the busy high street.

Make time to visit these historic pubs and you won't be disappointed. Soak up the atmosphere and imagine what London life would have been like hundreds of years ago and who might have sat in that seat before you.

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