Wetherspoons! The smell of spilled ale, steak pie, salt and pepper, and red wine stains on the carpets! I’ve always liked the historical buildings in which Wetherspoon pubs are located, so for Boxing Day LAST YEAR I decided to design a tour of London’s historical Wetherspoons! (Unfortunately I have only come around to writing out my guide NOW, and I’m in a different country, but still..)
In theory, a spoons day sounds like it would be an excellent boxing day out, but all of central London seems to shut down on Boxing Day so the pubs in the most central part of town are closed. So we had to make a visit to some of the pubs on the list on another occasion.
Secondly, London is a pretty big town so any “cross-London” journey is going to involve a significant amount of time and energy spent walking or taking public transport.
Finally, what follows is obviously going to be a day entirely centred around the endless consumption of ales and pub food, which starts off well and fine until you get to the fourth Wetherspoons of the day and will suddenly find yourself (and anyone else unfortunate enough to have done the route) having voluntarily sworn off going to any more pubs for possible for the next month…. (Or at least until the next weekend, when the wild pubbing can start all over again!)
Debbie’s Historical Wetherspoons Tour
(Central and North London)
My selections were based upon the following simple three criteria:
IS IT HUGE?
IS IT HISTORIC?
IS IT EPIC?
You’ll have noticed that several Wetherspoon pubs have got ‘moon’ in their names. These all relate back to “The Moon Under Water” – the name of a fictional pub in an article by George Orwell, published in the London Evening Standard. This fictional pub was described as the perfect pub, serving a wide range of beers, extremely decent food, and yet curiously without any music or loud entertainment. So indeed the Wetherspoon pubs have been modelled after that idea of the ideal pub – a pub without loud music you have to shout over! Indeed, Tim Martin also felt that ‘moon’ was a good link for some of the pubs to have to the fictional one. Some required reading is the Orwell’s “Moon Under Water”.
1. The Crosse Keys
9 Gracechurch St, London EC3V 0DR, UK
IS IT HUGE? – Tall ceilings. Said to have the MOST NUMBER of handpulls in any Spoons pub. 24 in total apparently.
IS IT HISTORIC? – It was first built as the Woolpack Hotel & buffet in 1899 and later
IS IT EPIC? – “Marbled columns, coffered ceilings a Victorian baroque facade and a drinking space large enough to house a whole fleet of Routemasters…”
2. Knights Templar
95 Chancery Ln, London WC2A 1DT, UK
IS IT HUGE? – A very high ceilinged bar.
IS IT HISTORIC? – The Knights Templar owned land on which Chancery Lane was built, along with this former Union Bank of London. Grade II Listed building. Its front railings are also listed! And it was in that Da Vinci Movie or something…
IS IT EPIC? – It has retained many decorative features such as the original scroll of the “union bank of London”.
3. Lord Moon of the Mall
16-18 Whitehall, Westminster, London SW1A 2DY, UK
IS IT HUGE? – Huge and tall ceilinged
IS IT HISTORIC? – Former Cocks Biddulph Bank. Latterly Martins Bank. Then Barclays, closed 1992.
IS IT EPIC? – This is Spoons home turf – perhaps could be seen as its the Central London home. There’s a massive painting of Tim Martin in here. Also the pub sign has his face on it. Apparently this is often lauded in tour books for being “too grand”. People comment that its like “withdrawing a beer” instead of investing in a pint.
This place has rather more the vibe of a tourist trap than the earlier two (Knights Templar and Crosse Keys). Teeming with gaudy signs in multiple languages warning of pickpockets and thefts, its hard to
4. Montagu Pyke
IS IT HUGE? – Huge old cinema
IS IT HISTORIC? – 1911 cinema and former Marquee Club venue
IS IT EPIC? – It feels squeezed in the middle of high street shops. From its description it was very promising, as most pubs do not have the benefit of a large interior area like this, however its current modern interior update doesn’t seem to do the historic venue justice.
5. The Coronet
“WHAT? ITS THE SAME MENU AGAIN?”
IS IT HUGE? – Huge old cinema
IS IT HISTORIC? – Former Savoy Cinema. Was renamed ABC in 1962, then Coronet in 1979; last screened a film in 1983.
IS IT EPIC? – Appears on many highlights lists of spoon pubs in London for its grandeur and interiors
6. Spouter’s Corner
IS IT HUGE? – No
IS IT HISTORIC? – Part of the Hollywood Green leisure complex, that corner of the High Road was called Spouter’s Corner in the past for its popularity for free speech, or “spouting” in a similar style to Speaker’s Corner at Hyde Park. Open air meetings were held until the 1950s and it was also an assembly point for hiring workers.
IS IT EPIC? – Honestly, I only added this one as a palette cleanser and because it was pretty close to home.
I hope it doesn’t confuse people that I’ve decided to backdate my posts even though I’m writing this in Dec 2017 – but it does make more sense since I’ve had such a huge number of posts to push out and I like to think of this as a #latergram