Bloomsbury

27/01/2013 at 19:14 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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The first crawl of 2013 fell to Newty, who took us to Bloomsbury on a cold but dry night in January.

Old Red LionWe started out at the Old Red Lion, a Greene King on High Holborn about midway between Holborn and Chancery Lane station. The pub is fairly small and not surprisingly busy on a Friday after work, but there is a (fairly small) bar upstairs, and we were able to hold a table there while we assembled and supped the first pints, most of us on the Bath Ales Gem. The pub’s main claim to fame dates back to 1661, when the newly exhumed body of Oliver Cromwell was taken to the pub and held overnight before being taken down to Tyburn before being symbolically hanged.

We set out for the second pub via a corner of Gray’s Inn, one of the ancient Inns of Court, ending up at The Fulwood. Eight of us headed in and made for the bar only to find there was no ale on offer, and in a ‘zone 1 pub crawl’ first, we turned around and headed back out in search of some proper beer in the next pub!

enterpriseAnd what a lovely pub it was, the Enterprise, a new one on me and it was universally praised. It’s a pretty large pub not far from the Old Red Lion, with an attractive facade and interior decor with a somewhat arty and nautical theme with the original Victorian and the modern features working well together. The beer was good too, I went for the Ubu which was in fine form, and the Tribute and Doom Bar were both good too according to the others. Unlike the Fulwood, which was fairly quiet, the Enterprise was packed with a fairly young crowd, and we were lucky to find a perch near the bar when another group fortuitously left soon after our arrival.  Definitely one to come back to if I’m in the area again.

To a Shepherd Neame house now, in the form of the Rugby Tavern. Not surprisingly, there is a slight rugby flavour to the nick-knacks in the pub, despite the name deriving from the former landowner, the founder of Rugby School, rather than the sport. The corner pub, sitting in a very residential part of Bloomsbury on a section of pedestrianised street, feels very much like a local pub rather than a central London pub.

A couple of streets east now to a member of our favourite type of watering hole, the mews pub. “The Duke” (or more formally the Duke of York) is in Johns Mews, just behind John St and Doughty Street, beautiful Georgian streets, the latter of which was once home to Charles Dickens and still houses his museum. The Duke is slightly newer, being a rare Art Deco pub dating from 1938. It is Grade II listed and on CAMRA’s National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors and serves a decent pint of Harvey’s (among other ales). So quite how this place has remained entirely off my radar until this evening remains a mystery!

Next up was a pub on the corner of the lovely John St itself, the Lady Ottoline. This fairly small pub reopened in this guise fairly recently and has a gastropub feel, but drinkers obviously welcome as well as those dining, and they had some decent ales on offer. One of my favourite session ales was on, Trinity by Redemption – I wish more pubs sold Trinity, especially when it’s a long night, as they somehow make a low strength ale pack in more flavour than the average pint.

To Gray’s Inn Road now, and a short walk uphill to the Calthorpe Arms. This Young’s pub is more traditional in style and atmosphere than most of the pubs we’d been in so far, and having come from work in a suit I felt a bit overdressed. A bonus of this pub was the sizeable room upstairs where we got a large table despite it being Friday evening.

The LambFor a final pint we headed westwards for the familiar surroundings of the Lamb, the famous Georgian pub on Lamb’s Conduit Street. This is another Grade II listed pub, and another on the National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors. The inventory lists numerous features of interest, but among the best-known elements are its surviving “snob screens” above the bar, originally intended to provide privacy for customers who didn’t want to advertise their presence.

All in all a very good pub to top off a good evening’s crawling. Cheers!

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