Visited: 30 July by JC & JB
This is an old pub. Seriously old. Rebuilt in 1666 after the Great Fire of London, the building is a good century older than the United States of America and only a couple of centuries younger than the Rolling Stones.
Once you find the pub – not that easy as it’s down a narrow alley – and start exploring the cavernous interior, you will be left in no doubt about its age. It’s a Samuel Smiths pub and they have wisely done everything they can to make the most of the atmosphere of the ancient building. There’s no music whatsoever, just the sounds of chatter and laughter echoing around the various rooms. There’s a complete lack of natural light (most of the pub is underground) which only adds to the atmosphere. You’ve heard of a ‘spit and sawdust’ pub – well this place literally has sawdust on the floor.
If you make it all the way down to the cellar bar (watch your head – people used to be really short) then you’ll be in a part of the building which dates back to the 13th Century when it is believed to have been the cellar of a monastery. The layout of the pub makes it quite confusing to find your way around, and you’re only allowed to order food from a certain bar which doesn’t help matters, but if anything getting lost in this place only adds to the charm.
This is a well known London pub and with good reason. Everyone who is interested in pubs should visit: there really is nothing else like it. It’s impossible not to feel the history when you’re sitting in one of the dark, cave-like rooms. And there is something extremely satisfying about sitting somewhere and drinking in a building in which people have been getting drunk for centuries.
Londoners have sat in this pub discussing and debating the Glorious Revolution, the American War of Independence, the the abolition of slavery, the discovery of electricity, the rise of the British Empire, the fall of the British Empire, the Napoleonic Wars, two world wars, not to mention all of the gossip, jokes, and bullshit that make a trip to the pub so much fun. We may not have much in common with any of those people, but it’s nice to know that we could go back to any point in this pub’s history and at least bond with the regulars over our enthusiasm for having a beer.
Do they do food? Usual pub grub on offer, and sandwiches served before 5pm.
Are they in the 21st Century? And the 20th Century, and the 19th, and the 18th, and the 17th…(but yes, they take card and there’s no minimum)
Are there dogs? Seems dog friendly, probably best to stick to the ground floor though.
I want to smoke: You need to walk down the alley slightly to a small area where you’re allowed to smoke. Don’t do it directly outside or the man who lives opposite will move you on. I would never be that grumpy if I lived opposite a pub like this.
Are there televisions: Absolutely, categorically not.