City pub crawl

04/06/2011 at 16:34 | Posted in Crawls, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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For October 2009, I took a crawl around the heart of the City of London. (Note that if you are tempted to visit these pubs, most are only open Monday to Friday)

We started at the Old Watling near Mansion House station, a busy pub on the delightful pedestrianised street of Bow Lane, and very close to St Paul’s Cathedral. This is a busy corner post-work pub, fairly small but with a back room to spill into if need be. The pub is so named as it lies on Watling Street – not to be confused with the old Roman road of the same name, which passed London further up the river close to Lambeth Palace.
A very short walk up Bow Lane brought us to Williamson’s Tavern, tucked down a side alley to the left. The tavern was once the residence of the Lord Mayor of London – the gates to the pub from Bow Lane bear the WM symbol of former monarchs William & Mary who used to visit. The pub has been rebuilt since though, and is deceptively large – it opens out considerably at the back.
After some good beers here, we continued to the top of Bow Lane, reaching Bow Church, home of the famous Bow Bells – birth within the sound of which made you a cockney, and whose peals allegedly made Dick Whittington turn back to London to seek his fortune.
We continue past the Guildhall, home of the City of London’s local government for over 800 years, and formerly the site of Roman London’d amphitheatre, the edge of which is designated today in the paving in the Guildhall’s forecourt.
The next stop was nearby, the Old Doctor Butler’s Head. After this, took a short walk through the Royal Exchange – now an upmarket shopping mall – and down into the alleys to the Jamaica Wine House. This was the site of London’s first coffee house in 1652, established just a few years before the Great Fire of London wiped almost the whole city out. It is now a smallish pub divided into a couple of rooms, and even later into the evening was packed full of City workers.
Another walk through the alleys and into the rear entrance of the Crosse Keys. This is a Wetherspoons, which we tend to avoid – no offence to Wetherspoons, but we like the lesser discovered places overall. But I thought this was worth marvelling at – it’s huge, the former bank having been converted into the largest pub by far that I know of, and with a stellar range of ales on tap.
Exiting out the front we crossed over to the magnificent Leadenhall Market, and the pub in the centre, the Lamb Tavern, for a final pint of the night.


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