Episode 23: London's Historic Pubs

With over 3,000 pubs in London, we have handpicked some of the most interesting places and unique facts for you to start adding these pubs on your ‘Places to Visit’ list.

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Show notes:

Hazel: Hello and welcome to our London History Podcast, where we share our love of London, its people, places, and history in 20-minute espresso shot episodes served with a dash of personality. I am Hazel Baker, London tour guide and CEO of London Guided Walks, providing private tours, treasure hunts, and live online quizzes to Londoners and visitors alike.

To accompany this podcast, we also have hundreds of London history related blog posts for you to enjoy, absolutely free.

We've also launched The Daily London, providing you with daily inspiration of things to do in London for Londoners. You can listen on iTunes, Spotify, or even add it to your Alexa flash briefings. And you can check all of that out on our website londonguidedwalks.co.uk/flash.

And don't forget too that we're also offering a September sale. You can get 20% off any private tour booked by the end of this month. You can book it for summer next year, it doesn't matter, as long as you use the promo code SUMMER2020.

What we discussed:

And now for this week's theme, London's Historic Pubs. The pub is a great British institution. And as you would expect, London has a number of watering holes that have been around for centuries.

There's no better experience than having a drink in one of the many historical pubs dotted throughout London. No matter which part of London you're staying in or what kind of drink you enjoy, there's always a great local boozer just around the corner. With over 3000 pubs in London, we at London Guided Walks have handpicked some of the most interesting places and unique facts for you to start adding these pubs onto your places to visit list. Joining me in the studio today is city of London tour guide Ian McDiarmid.

Ian McDiarmid: Yes and no.  I like beer very much.  The things I don't like about pubs are the noise. When they have background music, so this is something intrinsic to pubs. And I don't like loud fruit machines.

I like somewhere to sit and also going to the loo. I mean, if you need to go, I don't want to be having to step over puddles or holding my nose. And that is usually, you know, one of the downsides of going out, and this is not, you know, I'm not going out late at night. This, it could just be you're on a regular Saturday afternoon, you know?

Any assumptions we're going to mention today have pretty good toilets. Haven't they?

Hazel Baker: Yeah, we've tried it. Yeah. So the good thing about COVID and the bounce back is that we've been able to investigate a number of pubs that have reopened, and we have had plenty of space in which to swing by a lot, haven't we?

So this past month or so, we've really been making an effort, haven't we? To go into some pubs that you well, that you, you know, you're doing your pub tour. Hazel does a historic pub tour in the Covent Garden area. And one of the pubs she mentioned is on that tour is the Salisbury, which I went into for the first time with her so I had my own, guided tour with all the background, which was good. And it's a really good pub, isn't it? And I was about to say why I like it, but could you give us a bit of background on the Salisbury and why it's such an interesting pub?

Hazel Baker: Yeah. Well, what's nice is that you actually get to see some of the interior detail that you couldn't do before. There's several things that you get to notice with the etched glass, which you wouldn't normally, because you'd be opening the door for someone else's, you're going through, and that kind of thing, but it has the original, U shape bar. It's all great to list that. It has some wonderful, authentic, art nouveau, light fittings as well. So this is when electricity was added to the pub. And also it has a glass section in the ceiling of the pub looking up to a fantastic spiral staircase, showing what are now flats, but there used to be a room so you could stay at the Salisbury, and also have a drink downstairs.

Ian McDiarmid:  Yeah, that was amazing. It was one of the barmaids kindly pointed out to me as I was wandering around rather aimlessly and yes, it's so tall. I mean, massive. It was in fact, a hotel, isn't it?

Hazel Baker: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And it's nice that they've kept the sort of original colours as well, because of course that dark red was really popular in Victorian times cause of course you had gas lamps. So the byproducts of that and all that would have congregated on the ceiling and also all the smoking that would have gone on. Having a dark colour, even though it's colour, it's still dark. So it's just covering up a lot of the mess.

Ian McDiarmid: Yeah. And I having done my grumpy old man thing at the beginning, I start talking about things I dislike in pubs. It's very reassuring to go into a pub like that, where they've got the original fittings. I mean, cause so many of them have been, were ruined in, I guess, the 70s

Hazel Baker: Still are, as well.

Ian McDiarmid: Yeah, because they, where they've got their original fittings, obviously they don't fit in so well with the background music and fruit machines, they can't accommodate them so it's a good sign. And I guess that there's probably a grow- I don't know, but I imagine that there's a growing market now for proper pubs. Because there's an, obviously the campaign for real ale has been around for a long time, thankfully, but also that seems to have coincided recently with the craft beer movement. Authentic drinking should be in somewhere that's interesting rather than somewhere that's just, yeah, some kind of factory produced drinking space.

Hazel Baker: Yeah. Well, I bet you don't know what the most expensive pint in London is then?

Ian McDiarmid: How did public houses originate?

Ian McDiarmid: Okay. And are there any other pub signs you're particularly fond of or interested in?

Ian McDiarmid: I liked the idea of a pub that's hard to find.

Hazel Baker: Yeah. I was excited to find a new pub as well. That was fun for me.

Ian McDiarmid: Yeah. Yeah.

Hazel Baker: I know, you know this one, but I'm going to ask the listeners, what is the most popular pub name in the UK? Give you a moment to have a little ponder. And Ian, would you like to reveal?

Ian McDiarmid: Yes. And I know this only because you've told me so many times. The most common pub name is The Red Lion.

Hazel Baker: And what about The Red Lion on Whitehall? You've got a good fact about that.

Hazel Baker: So you know what you can do, you can come along on one of our Historic London Pub Tours and experience some of the best and most interesting Historical London Pubs with us!

If you enjoyed this episode, it would be really great if you were able to take a few minutes and leave an honest review and rating, that's all for now, we'll catch you next week.

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