HISTORIC PUB CRAWL – The Grenadier – aka The Most Haunted Pub in London

THE GRENADIER

BELGRAVIA / KNIGHTSBRIDGE

18 Wilton Row, London

LOUISA CORNELL

 

 

The building that houses The Grenadier was originally built in 1720. It served as the officers’ mess for the senior infantry regiment of his His Majesty’s Army, the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards. The building was, in fact, located in the courtyard of their barracks. This particular regiment played an important role in the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo. And after they defeated the emperor’s French Imperial Guard they felt the need to adapt the Imperial Guard’s bearskins as their regimental trademark and they changed their name to the Grenadier Guards. Apparently when one whoops the derrieres of Napoleon’s elite one can do that.

It is understandable then that when the building was repurposed as a tavern called The Guardsman in 1818 that many of its customers were members of the regiment still housed in the nearby barracks. In honor of their success at Waterloo it wasn’t long before the tavern changed its name to The Grenadier. Because of its rather out of the way location, the Duke of Wellington and even King George IV are said to have stopped by for a pint or two.

 

 

The upper rooms of the tavern were used by the more urbane customers. The common soldiers used the cellar as their personal haven to drink and wile away the hours playing cards. It is said on a September evening in 1818 a young Grenadier guard named Cedric was caught cheating at cards. His fellow card players punished him with a beating so brutal he died, right there in the cellar of The Grenadier.

And apparently, Cedric never left. Whilst his presence is felt in various ways throughout the year, for some reason the month of September still gets Cedric stirred up. During September a solemn, silent spectre is said to be seen moving slowly across the low-ceilinged rooms. Objects have been known to disappear or to be moved during the night. Unseen hands rattle tables and chairs. Footsteps have been heard in empty rooms. Low moans can sometimes be heard from the cellar when there is no one down there. At times rooms in the pub become icy cold and can remain so for hours, days, or even an entire month at the time.

A Chief Superintendent from New Scotland Yard was having a drink at The Grenadier one evening when he noticed puffs of smoke swirling around him. He reached out to try and detect the source of the smoke and snatched his hand back in pain. He’d been burned by a cigarette. The thing was, there was no one there.

Another even more recent event involved a barman who went down into the cellar to fetch some cigars for the bar. Cigarette breaks were hard to come by, especially when The Grenadier was busy. He stopped for a moment to have a cigarette. The landlord’s cat appeared in the cellar, an unusual event in and of itself as the cat wasn’t ever allowed out of the owner’s flat over the pub. Suddenly the cellar turned icy cold. The barman’s crystal ashtray flew across the room into the wall. The cat bowed up and sank his teeth and claws into the barman’s ankle. Needless to say the barman shook off the cat and shot up the stairs out of the cellar and back into the pub.

The Grenadier is still hard to find if you don’t know exactly where it is. The building is surrounded by lovely cottages and one must weave in and out of various cobblestone lanes and narrow private side streets to reach the beautiful Georgian building beneath the shade of a magnificent tree. The distinct red and blue accents against the whitewashed walls gives the pub a distinct pop.

 

The Grenadier is the typical old pub with random objects on the walls and sturdy wooden furniture. The Boot Room is where the general public imbibes as it has more of the common touch. Which includes a ceiling papered with pound notes. Why? To pay Cedric’s gambling debts, of course. If one doesn’t want to incur his wrath or have him light up a cigarette next to one it is best to do one’s part.

 

 

 

 

The Wellington room is a bit more elegant with ornate mirrors and leather Chesterfield seating. Which creates an atmosphere that has been called spooky. Be forewarned.

 

 

 

 

 

For a more personal visit to the most haunted pub in London, check out this post by our very own Kristine Hughes-Patrone and her travel companions!

http://numberonelondon.net/2015/07/the-wellington-tour-dinner-at-the-grenadier/

HISTORIC PUB CRAWL – The Lamb and Flag

THE LAMB AND FLAG                                                           

COVENT GARDEN

33 Rose Street, London

LOUISA CORNELL

 

 

The name of this pub is derived from the Bible verse John 1:29, where John the Baptist sees Jesus and exclaims, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” The flag is the flag of St. George. The symbolism was long associated with the Knights Templar and the Fleet Street entrance to the Middle Temple of the Bar has a sculpture of the Lamb and Flag on its keystone with the date 1684.

Known as the oldest tavern in Covent Garden, the basic building for this establishment was built in 1623 during the reign of James I, although the specific association of the site with an inn or tavern is less certain. The structure has undergone a great many renovations and rebuilds, but the original timber frame remains. Over the years the rebuilds and alterations have sought to keep the original details of the building. This includes a parapet that runs the width of the top of the building. There is even a carving of the Lamb and Flag at the center or the parapet.

Parapet of the Lamb of Flag

The spot has a connection to a number of poets and writers, even before any recorded history of its use as a tavern. Poet and satirist, Samuel Butler (1613-1680) did live on Rose Street (formerly known as Red Rose Street) in the area of the narrow alley where the Lamb and Flag is now located. If there was a tavern there he is said to have been a patron. Dickens was a customer there in his youth as he worked at a boot blacking establishment nearby when he was in his teens. The playwright, Richard Sheridan frequented the tavern at this location and even fought a duel on the corner of nearby Bedford Street in 1772 over an insult printed in the Bath Chronicle.

A more documented link to the poet John Dryden (1631-1700) is associated with what was called Rose Alley where the present day entrance to the saloon bar of the Lamb and Flag is located.

Rose Alley aka Lazenby Court

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today from Rose Street to Floral Street down the side of the Lamb and Flag is a very narrow alley, Lazenby Court, so narrow that in order to pass people must turn slightly sideways. The event that took place on December 18/19, 1679 was called the Rose Alley Ambuscade. John Dryden was attacked and nearly killed by a group of masked ruffians. He was supposedly on his way home from Will’s Coffee House on the corner of Russell Street and Bow Street. Dryden wrote a great many poems and essays vilifying the elite of London and the royal court. Rumor has it the thugs were hired by John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester (author of some very naughty poetry himself) and / or the Duchess of Portsmouth, mistress of King Charles II at the time – two of Dryden’s targets. The culprits, however, were never made known, in spite of a handsome reward offered for their names.

 

“Whereas John Dreyden, Esq. was on Thursday the 18th instant, at night, barbarously assaulted and wounded in Rose-street, in Covent-Garden, by diverse men unknown: if any person shall make discovery of the said offenders to the said Mr. Dreyden, or to any Justice of the Peace, he shall not only receive fifty pounds, which is deposited in the hands of Mr. Blanchard, goldsmith, next door to Temple-Bar, for the said purpose, but if he be a principal or an accessory in the said fact, his Majesty is graciously pleased to promise him his pardon for the same.”

London Gazette, No. 1472, 29 December 1679

It was first recorded as a tavern in 1772 when it was known as the Cooper’s Arms. During this era the establishment gained its second name – The Bucket of Blood – due to the bare knuckle fights that took place in the room upstairs or in the courtyard outside the tavern on a weekly basis. This nickname continued to hold true even after it finally became the Lamb and Flag in 1833.

 

 

 

 

 

These activities made the Lamb and Flag a popular spot for the bruisers, bucks, and gentlemen of the Georgian Era. It also provided the pub with its current ghostly resident, George. But, I’ll let someone who works there tell you about George.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8V52ynVYdM

The Dryden Room – The Lamb and Flag

Interior the Lamb and Flag

The bouts of bare knuckle fighting are over at the Lamb and Flag these days. Although rumor has it one might have to put up one’s “fives” to access Sunday roast in the Dryden Room upstairs as it is a very popular spot for Sunday dinner with the locals. Just don’t take any bets with a French sailor named George. Nobody likes a gentleman who doesn’t pay his bets. And if you write poetry poking fun at the nobility it is best to stay clear of the alley next to the pub.

HISTORIC PUB CRAWL – Town of Ramsgate

TOWN OF RAMSGATE

WAPPING

62 Wapping High Street, London

LOUISA CORNELL

 

 

The first pub on this site was established during the War of the Roses (1460’s.) It was called The Hostel. The street numbers changed over the years, but the site was always home to a pub under various monikers. In 1533 it became known as The Red Cow, supposedly in honor of a barmaid with flaming red hair who worked in the establishment. At some point it was the Prince of Denmark, no idea why. In 1766 it was renamed the Ramsgate Old Town and eventually in 1811 it acquired its present name – the Town of Ramsgate.

Why the Town of Ramsgate, you ask? Good question, and I have a slightly nefarious answer. Sailors from Ramsgate in Kent landed their catches at the Wapping Old Stairs, next to the pub, in order to avoid the river taxes charged further up the river at the Billingsgate Fish Market. It is debated whether the pub was named to attract the fishermen or if the fishermen named the pub after their own safe harbor. Either way the harbor at Ramsgate as seen in 1850 graces the pub sign now and is etched into the mirror at the entrance to the pub today.

Now about those stairs.

Wapping Old Stair

Those stairs led up to the execution docks where prisoners of the Admiralty Courts were hanged on short ropes for their crimes. Why short ropes? Because short ropes took longer to finish the deed and patrons of the Town of Ramsgate often stood outside the pub to watch and cheer. Most of these prisoners were convicted of smuggling, mutiny or piracy. Not all pirates were hanged. If one looks today one can see the chains where pirates were locked on the stairs waiting for the rising tide to come in and drown them.

Old Wapping Stairs as the tide comes in

The stairs were depicted to great fame in the works of Rawlinson (cartoons) and Dibden (poems.)

Wapping Old Stairs – Thomas Rawlinson

Many returning sailors arranged to meet their sweethearts at the Wapping Old Stairs when they returned from the sea. This aspect of the history of the pub and the stairs is commemorated by the verse on the wall of the pub.

“Your Polly has never been faithless she swears, since last year we parted on Old Wapping Stairs”

The Town of Ramsgate shares a great deal of its history with the lives of England’s sailors. Many a drunk would wander from the safety of the pub to be pressed into service in the King’s Navy.

A press gang at work.

 

 

 

 

 

The pub’s cellars served as jail cells for convicts who were set to be deported to Australia.

Legend has it Captain Bligh and Fletcher Christian had their last drinks before setting sail on their ill-fated trip to Tahiti at the Town of Ramsgate in 1789. Likely true, as it is documented this is where Bligh and his voyage sponsor Sir Joseph Banks met at the pub to inspect the Bounty before purchasing it for the voyage.

These days the pub is only known for lively arguments on quiz night.   

 

 

 

 

 

Should you decide to explore the alleyway to the side of the pub that leads to the Wapping Old Stairs you might encounter the local ghost, a ghost the Thames Police have reported seeing to this day. Judge George Jeffreys, 1st Baron Jeffreys, (15 May 1645 – 18 April 1689) rose to prominence during the reign of James II. He became Lord Chief Justice and eventually Lord Chancellor. His loyalty to the king was without question. However, after Monmouth’s Rebellion in 1685 he was sent to the West Country to conduct the trials of those rebels who participated in the rebellion. He gained a reputation for his abuse of the attorneys of the accused, his sometimes biased application of the law and his tendency to hand out death sentences like drinks at a political rally. He became the most feared and hated judge in England.

After James II fled England and William and Mary ascended the throne, Jeffreys waited to long to follow his king to the Continent. In 1688 he disguised himself as a sailor, shaved his distinctive bushy brows, and waited at the Town of Ramsgate to catch a ship. Unfortunately, a victim of his cruelty – either an accused rebel or an attorney for same recognized the judge. He was captured by a mob at the Town of Ramsgate and narrowly missed being hanged at the top of the Wapping Stairs. He was taken to the Tower of London and died there of kidney failure in 1689.

It is said his ghost can be seen leaving the pub and trying to take the stairs down to the docks to meet the ship he missed, ever looking over his shoulder in search of the angry mob that captured him so long ago.

 

HISTORIC PUB CRAWL – The Cock Pit

THE COCKPIT                                                                                 

BLACKFRIARS

7 St. Andrew’s Hill

LOUISA CORNELL

 

 

 

The first thing one might notice about The Cockpit is the odd shape of the building. It looks rather like the prow of a ship sailing up the alleyways at the juncture of Ireland Yard and St. Andrew’s Hill.

    

There has been an inn, tavern or pub on this site since as early as 1352 when the first mention of The Oakbourn Inn is recorded. This inn was actually situated on the eastern edge of Dominican friars, or Blackfriars, monastery.

Although Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in 1530, most of the buildings of the Blackfriars Monastery were left intact. Interestingly enough, in 1613 the gatehouse to the old monastery was purchased by a young actor and playwright and several of his acting friends for the sum of 140 pounds to be used as a theatre and makeshift lodging for members of the troupe. The actor’s name? William Shakespeare.                                              

 

 

 

 

 

Whilst the Blackfriars Gatehouse was eventually torn down a number of establishments were built on the site.  In 1787 a tavern called The Cockpit was recorded as opening there. The building was completely renovated in 1842, but the name remained.

As the name declares, the tavern was once one of the major venues for the “sport” of cockfighting in London. Two roosters, bred and cared for as athletes, were thrown into the ring together, sometimes with knives or spurs attached to their feet, and their natural aggression towards each other was allowed to play out while crowds of gentlemen bet and bayed for blood. The match was deemed over and a victor declared once one rooster was either dead or maimed to the point he could not carry on the fight.

19th century cockfighting

When one enters the pub today one is actually walking into the combat ring. Look up towards the eighteen foot ceilings and the original balustrades of the balcony denote where the spectators stood to observe the cockfights.

Interior The Cockpit
Balcony of The Cockpit

 

Fortunately, cockfighting was made illegal and banned in England and Wales in 1849. At some point the tavern was refurbished and renamed either The Three Kings of The Three Castles. Research sources diverge on this subject. It went through another refurbishment in 1865 and sometime between then and 1984 retained the name The Cockpit once more.

The decor of the present pub pays homage to the pub’s heritage with 19th century prints of fighting cocks and even a stuffed rooster to greet visitors at the door.

     

 

 

 

 

 

As with all tales of gambling and blood sports, it is rumored The Cockpit is visited from time to time by the ghost of a lady who is seen wringing her hands over her lack of money because of her husband’s gambling debts. The story is she made the mistake of following him to The Cockpit to prevent him from placing yet another bet. Unfortunately the man was in serious need of anger management. He supposedly beat her to death in the cellar of the pub or in the alley just outside the cellar doors and went back to the cockfight as if nothing had happened. On dark and quiet nights one is said to be able to hear their final confrontation and to catch the poor lady bemoaning her fate.

The Wellington Connection: Shoes, Rather Than Boots

The French, the Prince of Wales, gunfire, political upheaval . . . really, you’d have thought the Duke of Wellington had enough on his plate, but more often than not it was left to His Grace to attend to a hundred myriad details each week regarding the military, politics, his social and his family life. Everyone turned to the Duke of Wellington for assistance and perhaps this was at least in part because he was so good at seeing to the details of a thing, as evidenced in the thread of dispatches below that deal with shoes for both human and horse. As we read, it becomes evident that Wellington had a knack for looking at a problem from every angle and for finding it’s most expedient solution. He always offered explanation and gave the whys and wherefores behind his requests in order to stress the practicalities surrounding them. Unfortunately, not everyone at the war office was as efficient, or as concerned about the day to day running of a vast army who traveled both on their stomachs and their feet.

The Dispatches of Field Marshal the Duke of Wellington:

To the Earl of Liverpool. Cartaxo, 7th Dec. 1810.

I enclose a return of the number of men and horses required to complete the regiments of British cavalry in this country. As the appointments of the heavy cavalry are so much more weighty than those of the light dragoons, and the larger horses of the former are with difficulty kept in condition, it would have been desirable to have a larger proportion of the light dragoons, or hussars, with this army; but as the officers, the men, and their horses, are now accustomed to the food they receive, and to the climate, I do not recommend that the regiments should be changed, or that any additional regiments should be sent out, excepting possibly the remaining 2 squadrons of the 3d hussars, K.G.L., of which 2 squadrons are already at Cadiz.

Your Lordship will observe that nearly 1000 horses are wanting to complete the several regiments to the number of men they now have, and 1460 to complete to their several establishments. I would recommend that no horses should be sent for service to this country which will not be 6 years old in May; and that mares should be sent in preference to horses, as it has been found that they bear the work better than the horses.

I also beg leave to recommend that about 50 or 60 horses or mares of a superior description should be  purchased, at the price of £40 or £50 each, as a remount for the officers of the cavalry, who cannot find horses in the Peninsula at present fit for this service, and would pay this price for these horses.
As great difficulty has been experienced in making shoes and shoe nails for the horses of the cavalry by their farriers, particularly after the cavalry have been actively employed for any length of time, and many horses have been consequently lost, I recommend that 4000 sets of horse shoes, and a double proportion of horse shoe nails, should be sent to the Commissary Gen. for the use of the cavalry, of the same description with those provided for the horses of the Royal artillery. The regiments to which these shoes would be issued would of course pay for them.

A year after Wellington had done with horse shoes, it appears he turned his pen to the matter of shoes for his troops –

Selections from the Dispatches and General Orders of Field Marshall the Duke of Wellington –

To the Earl of Liverpool. Celorico, 31st March, 1811.

The demand for shoes increases to such a degree that it is desirable that 150,000 pairs should be sent to the Tagus as soon as it may be practicable. It is very desirable that the shoes sent to the army should be of the best quality for wear, and should be made of the largest size.

 

The destruction of this necessary article to a soldier is very much increased by the bad quality of the shoes sent out, and by their being in general too small: and as the operations of the army have now been removed to a distance from Lisbon, the inconvenience and difficulty of supplying their consumption are much increased; at the same time, that, as the soldiers pay for the shoes they receive, it is but just towards them that they should be of the best quality for their purpose, and should fit them.’

And yet another missive on the same subject:

A Memoir of Field-Marshal, the Duke of Wellington: with Interspersed Notices … By John Marius Wilson

“We are sadly in want of shoes, and the carts upon the road from Lisbon to Coimbra have been so ill used that I fear we cannot depend upon the communication; and if we could, I believe we should receive them sooner by sea. It will require 40 carts to bring up 20,000 pairs of shoes, which we want; and I shall be very much obliged to you if you will ask the Admiral to allow one of his ships of war to take them on board, and bring them as soon as possible to the mouth of the Mondego.”

And on arriving at Coimbra with the army, and finding there only 6,000 pairs of shoes, the Duke of Wellington felt obliged to issue general orders for economizing the distribution of them, and to write to Lord Castlereagh begging that a further supply of 30,000 pairs might speedily be sent to Lisbon, and that, at the same time, large supplies might be sent of biscuit, oats, and hay.

Supplementary Despatches and Memoranda of Field Marshal Arthur, Duke of Wellington, Freneda, 30th Nov., 1812 –

1. The Commander of the Forces has directed that those non-commissioned officers and soldiers of the infantry and artillery who were present at the siege of Burgos, and those who were present with their regiments in Spain between the 15th and 19th November, as well Portuguese as English, shall receive a pair of shoes gratis from the Commissary.

2. The officers commanding regiments will accordingly make requisitions for these shoes.

3. Many soldiers are probably already provided with the required quantity of shoes. The officers commanding regiments will make a list of the names of these soldiers, and will have this list lodged with the Paymaster-General, in satisfaction of the demand of the Commissary-General for as many pairs of shoes last delivered to the regiment as there will be names in the list.

4. The soldiers whose names will be in these lists are not to be charged for a pair of shoes each man last received by them from the Commissary, in their accounts with the Captain of their company.

5. Of course the requisitions for shoes under this order are not to include the names of those who will be included in the lists adverted to in Nos. 3 and 4.

6. The shoes which will be required under these orders will be delivered between this time and the 1st February next.

 

 

And next it appears that the Duke had at some point been sent the wrong kind of shoes, adding to his level of frustration:

 

To Earl Bathurst, Lesaca, 23rd August, 1813.

My Dear Lord,
——–  has sent me several pairs of his shoes, which I have endeavored to prevail upon him to desist from sending me, in terms not to mortify him. They are, in fact, of no use whatever. Those who travel on foot in this country do not wear shoes of that description. The Basques and Navarrois, and even some of the Castillians, wear sandals. The shoes worn by the common people, who do wear shoes, are made of brown leather. A man who should have on his feet, or in his possession, a pair of such shoes would be suspected immediately. They are, besides, too small for any common man. They are really quite useless, and it is better that no more should be sent.

Later in life, the Duke turned his great attention to detail upon the health and welfare of his friends and family. In the case of Miss Angela Burdett-Coutts, matters again turned to shoes. In Lady Unknown: The Life of Angela Byrdett-Coutts author Edna Healey tells us that Wellington wrote to Angela:

`Don’t forget you are to leave a pair of your shoes for me that I may have some galoshes made for you. I am in earnest with this; you like walking and appear not to mind much in which state of streets you go out in . . . all that I care about is that you must be kept dry when you go out into the wet streets.’

A pair of the Duke’s own gutta-percha galoshes are preserved at Stratfield-Saye. And in order to round out our piece on Wellington and shoes, here’s a link to an ad in a 1944 issue of Life Magazine featuring the Duke of Wellington.