Guy’s Journey around pre-1600 London pubs Pt 2

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese

With Emoni and Milada, I checked out this famous period pub.

A pub has reputedly been on this site since 1538, and hospitality was associated with the site prior to that when it was part of a local priory. The Cellars are reckoned to be part of that Carmelite establishment. Destroyed and rebuilt due to the Great Fire of 1666, the pub is now a warren of small rooms, decked out during the nineteenth century. The pub owes a lot of its reputation to the literary figures of the day who frequented it, including Charles Dickens.  There are plenty of photographs dating form 1910, showing that little has changed in decor.

We visited late on a Saturday and, unusually for a pub in this area, it was rather busy. Owned by Sam Smiths, it has their range of reasonably priced beers, and I opted for the Mild, a rare brew these days in the City. Unfortunately, our visit was marred by a miserablist bar staff, who was extremely grudging when I asked for my beer to be topped up. The cellar bar was more brightly lit, and the bar staff more friendly. Unfortunately, it was also busy with a rowdy group of tourists, and the cellar walls and ceiling are shaped so that noise carries, and it was difficult to hear our conversation.

All in all, the visit was a let-down. While I appreciate Sam Smith’s beers, the pub itself was less impressive.

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese
145 Fleet Street
London EC4A 2BU

The Ship Tavern, Lincoln’s Inn Fields

Following the disappointment of the Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, we found this little nautical gem. A tavern has been on this site since 1549, servicing local labourers. It is notable for being a secret Catholic haunt during Henrcian and Elizabethan times, reputedly also boasting several priest holes. It is also said to be haunted by some unlucky priests who were caught and killed during one such search.

The Ship is decorated in traditional London pub style, with lots of wood-panelled nooks. There’s an upstairs dining area, though we did not eat here. The pub carries several well-tended real ales, including a bespoke ale brewed by Deuchers, which was popular with myself and Milada.

All in all, a pleasant, out of the way stop – you need to know where it is to find it – just behind Holborn tube station.

The Ship Tavern
12 Gate Street
London WC2A 3HP
www.theshiptavern.co.uk