Aug 22 16

Ship Tavern, Gate Street, Holborn, WC2

Jack Cutforth

Visited: 13 August by JC & JB


Well-hidden down a narrow alley very close to Holborn station, this pub was first established back in 1549, when Catholics were being murdered because a few years earlier Henry VIII had wanted to shag Anne Boleyn. That’s the same Anne Boleyn he later executed because she was too opinionated and intelligent. Henry VIII was basically a Twitter Egg profile with a crown.

I mention the Catholics because this pub used to host secretive Catholic services and shelter priests, some of whom were killed there. The pub’s website claims it is haunted by these priests but Boozehound didn’t notice any ghostly apparitions other than his own pallid countenance staring back at him in the bathroom mirror. Not haunted, perhaps, but certainly haunting.

The pub itself is a fairly narrow room, decked out in plenty of mahogany and certainly playing up to the ‘ye olde pub’ vibe, which is definitely a positive. Outside the hand-painted sign describes a “purveyor of quaffable ales” and honestly how could you not love a pub which makes such a promise? On a hot August day they had the air conditioning turned up to 11, which may not be the most important thing to note in a review but certainly felt like an important and welcome feature at the time.

There’s an alright selection of lagers and more of a focus on ales, with six to choose from, and it’s reasonably priced for the area. When we were there, late Saturday afternoon, it had a decent atmosphere without being too busy – perhaps it’s too well hidden.

Old pubs are always a treat, especially when they’ve embraced it, as the Ship Tavern have. It’s also nice when you find a pub so close to a central London tube station which doesn’t feel like it’s just filled with tourists and one-off visitors.

Well worth a visit – combine it with the other old pubs in the area for a historical pub crawl.

Beer: 4
Price: 3
Service: 4
Atmosphere: 3

Do they do food? Yep, standard pub grub.
Are they in the 21st Century? 50p surcharge for card transactions, annoyingly.
Are there dogs? Definitely dog friendly.
I want to smoke: You’ll have to stand in the alley outside.