Category Archives: Pubs

Unanswered Questions

From time to time I am asked a question which I think is worth mentioning – or sometimes where I actually don’t know the answer! Here are some such and in most cases some answers.

UNANSWERED (if anybody can offer answers then please leave a comment)

Where are the Rotherhithe Tunnel ventilation towers?

Was St Paul’s Shadwell rebuilt in its original style?

Where exactly was the News International print works?

Is Wapping station Art Nouveau?

Were there many churches in Limehouse?

Why is St Anne’s, Limehouse so big?

What is served at an Execution Breakfast?
This relates to the Magpie and Stump pub which stands on the street called Old Bailey opposite what was once the site of public executions. The landlord made a nice earning by providing guests with a first floor room where they could watch the action at the gallows whilst enjoying an Execution Breakfast.


Where are the four Rotherhithe Tunnel ventilation shafts?

From south to north:-
1. Corner of Brunel Road and Canon Beck Road in Rotherhithe
2, Octagon Court, Rotherhithe (visible from shaft 3).
3. King Edward memorial park, Shadwell (visible from shaft 2).
4. Corner of The Highway and Heckford Street, Shadwell. This is not the original building which was demolished in 1967 for a road widening scheme.

Which churches can fly the White Ensign apart from St Anne’s Limehouse?

There are 8 other churches, the only one in London is St Martin in the Fields.

How much must a vessel pay to have Tower Bridge opened?

Not a penny, it is free.

What does the Birchin in Birchin Lane mean?

The Lane of the Barbers.

From whom did JMW Turner inherit the two cottages which became the Old Star pub?

From his Uncle Joseph Marshall, his mother’s brother, who was a butcher in Brentford in West London.

Why and when is a bale of straw hung under London bridges?

An old tradition last observed at Millennium Bridge in December 2023. It is to indicate that workers are underneath the bridge and that headroom is reduced as a result. By night a white light is used instead,

Where can one buy Lord Mayor’s honey?

Some of it is sold on City Giving Day.

Is JP Morgan an American bank?

The original JP Morgan was a British Bank formed in the mid 1800s which merged with Chase National Bank in 2000 to form JP Morgan-Chase. Today, therefore, it is American.

Did Lloyds insure the Titanic?

Yes, the policy was for £1 million and was paid out within 30 days of the sinking.

What did Judge John Jeffries die from?

He died in the Tower of London from kidney disease of which he had been a chronic sufferer.

Where were the pumps feeding the Hydraulic Ring Main?

These were found at Bankside (Southwark), City Road (near Liverpool Street station), East India Dock (Blackwall), Mansell Street (City of London/Tower Hamlets), Pimlico, Rotherhithe and Wapping Wall (Shadwell).

Is the Import Dock (West India Quay) smaller than it was?

The north wall by the Museum is original but part of the south dock has been reclaimed.

Was St Anne’s Limehouse rebuilt in its original style?


How long does the Plague virus last?

It’s a bacterium rather than a virus. In dry conditions or when exposed to sunlight it lives no longer than 72 hours. In damp dark conditions survival for up to 24 days has been recorded. No long term data seems to be available though bacteria in general cannot survive more than three years without sustenance (unless frozen when they can last for millennia – 120,000 years is the current record).

Was Mozart a freemason?

Yes, initiated into a Vienna lodge at the age of 28.

Did St Anne’s Limehouse suffer bomb damage?

It suffered minor damage during both world wars but nothing structural.

How many churches are there in the City?

I didn’t know the exact number and hazarded a guess at fifty, I was not far wrong.

What are the entry requirements and fees for Christ’s Hospital school today?

Pupils must show “academic potential”. Boarding fees are £14,000 per term though bursaries and the occasional free place are offered. Day pupil fees are £7,000 to £9,000

What was the City population in 1066?

Around 15,000.

City Pubs

Live Music is great but pubs with that modern evil – piped music – are unlikely to get a mention. Sadly this pestilence destroys the atmosphere of many otherwise delightful establishments. If anybody can explain the upside of ones conversation getting drowned out by somebody else’s choice of music then I shall be curious to hear their thoughts.

Crosse Keys, 9 Gracechurch St, EC3V 0DR
8am to 11pm, Monday-Friday; 8:30am to 11pm Saturday; 9:30am to 9pm Sunday.
Spacious atmospheric Wetherspoons pub in a cavernous former banking hall.
There was a coaching inn nearby dating back to the 1500s – also called the Crosse Keys – where some of Shakespeare’s plays were performed.
It is possible that the name derived from the nearby church of St Peter Cornhill – crossed keys being the symbol of St Peter.
Bank or Monument underground.

Dirty Dick’s, Swedeland Court, 202 Bishopsgate, EC2M 4NR
11am to midnight, Monday-Saturday; noon to 11pm, Sunday
I will tolerate the mild piped music and admit this one. A quirky Young’s house with a curious history.
Liverpool Street underground or national rail.

‘Dirty Dick’ (the man himself) is mentioned on my Bishopsgate walk.

Rising Sun, 38 Cloth Fair, Barbican, EC1A 7JQ
Noon to 11pm every day.
A Sam Smiths house and a gem of a proper traditional pub overlooking the church of St Bartholomew the Great.
Barbican underground; Farringdon Elizabeth Line and national rail.

Seven Stars, 53 Carey St, WC2A 3QS
Noon to 11pm every day Sunday closes at 10pm
Just outside the City but warrants a mention. Dates to 1602 and looks the part.
Chancery Lane underground

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, 145 Fleet St, EC4A 2BP
Noon to 11pm every day Sunday closes at 10:30pm
A rambling Sam Smiths house dating to 1667. Past patrons include Charles Dickens, Christopher Wren, Samuel Johnson and Samuel Pepys.
Chancery Lane underground

Also see Docklands Pubs

Places to Eat (City)

These are pubs and restaurants known to Pudding Lane Tours and associated Guides and which we are happy to recommend.

Nearby underground or railway stations are indicated after the address, e.g. ‘(Bank)’.

Comptoir Libanaise, Broadgate Circle EC2M 2QS  (Liverpool Street)
Bustling Lebanese restaurant (can be noisy)
Monday, Saturday: 11am-11pm
Sunday: 11am-9pm
Capacity: 40
0207 657 1973

Counting House, 50 Cornhill, EC3V 3PD (Bank)
Capacious gastropub in an old banking hall, private dining room available
Tuesday-Friday: 8am to 10pm
Monday, Saturday: 8am-9pm
Sunday: 8am-4pm
Capacity: 150
020 7283 7123

Dirty Dick’s,
202 Bishopsgate, EC2M 4NR (Liverpool Street)
Quirky pub with an interesting history, private dining room available
Monday-Saturday: 11am to 10pm
Sunday: noon-8pm
Capacity: 40
020 7283 5888

‘Dirty Dick’ (the man himself) is mentioned on my Bishopsgate walk.

Ferrari’s, 8 West Smithfield, EC1A 9JR (Barbican, Farringdon)
Traditional cafe by Smithfield Market. Also offers Malaysian dishes
7am-7pm Monday-Saturday, 8am-5pm Sunday.

George and Vulture, 3 Castle Court, EC3V 9DL (Bank)
Regular haunt of Charles Dickens whose descendants are customers today.
Monday-Tuesday: noon to 4pm
Wednesday-Friday: noon to 11pm
Closed at weekends
Capacity: 40
020 7626 9710

The George & Vulture is a stop on my City Essentials walk.

Libertine, 1a Royal Exchange, Cornhill, EC3V 3LL (Bank)
In the cellars beneath the historic Royal Exchange.
Monday-Saturday: noon to late
Sunday: noon-7pm
Capacity: 40
0203 772 6610

65 Cannon St, EC4N 5AA (Bank, Cannon Street, Mansion House)
A favourite of City Guides. Good food selection and excellent service but limited space
Monday-Friday: 12 noon to 11pm
Saturday: noon-9pm
Sunday: noon-7pm
Capacity: 18
020 7248 8928

Williamsons, 1 Groveland Court EC4M 9EH (Mansion House, St Pauls)
Sister pub to the Sugarloaf
Tuesday-Friday: 12 noon to 10pm
Capacity: 45
020 7248 5750

Whilst this list is periodically updated we cannot guarantee that everything is up to date. You should confirm details with the venue before visiting.

Neither Pudding Lane Tours nor the Black Rat blog accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury or disappointment arising from visiting any of the above venues.

Docklands Pubs

Live Music is great but pubs with that modern evil – piped music – are unlikely to get a mention. Sadly this pestilence destroys the atmosphere of many otherwise delightful establishments. If anybody can explain the upside of ones conversation getting drowned out by somebody else’s choice of music then I shall be curious to hear their thoughts.

Captain Kidd, 108 Wapping High St, E1W 2NE
Noon to 10:30 pm every day
Interior looks historic but this is a fairly modern pub (1980s) in an old warehouse overlooking the river. A Sam Smiths outlet with a fairly standard but dependable menu and decent portions. The Sunday roasts (including vegan) are very good.
Wapping Overground

Captain Kidd – the so-called pirate – features in my my Docklands North Bank walk. We go to the pub as well, of course.

The Ledger Building, West India Quay, 4 Hertsmere Rd, E14 4AL
9am to 11pm every day
Next door to the Docklands Museum. Spacious Wetherspoons pub with plenty of outdoor seating. The building dates from the early 1800s and was used to store the Dock’s ledgers. As usual, Wetherspoons have kept the original decor. Do go downstairs and visit the loos – the basement is remarkable.
West India Quay DLR, Westferry DLR

Also see City Pubs