London's Historic Pubs Walk, London

London's Historic Pubs Walk (Self Guided), London

If there’s any more iconic symbol for London than Big Ben or the London Eye, then it must be the traditional English pub. And London sure is full of them, dating from pre-Victorian times to just about five minutes ago.

With so much history surrounding London there is no shortage of historic pubs to choose from. Whether you fancy half-timbered, rambling watering holes or small but perfectly formed pubs in central London, you'll be spoilt for choice with the selection of historic pubs in the capital.

On this self-guided pub crawl you will find your way to some of the most prominent establishments, like Fitzroy Tavern – a popular stomping ground of many intellectuals, artists, and bohemians, such as Dylan Thomas and George Orwell; French House in Soho whose notable guests at various times included the likes of Charles de Gaulle, Francis Bacon, and Malcolm Lowry; The Salisbury – a place full of Victorian charm, well-prepared English pub fare and traditional cask ales; Lamb and Flag – the oldest public house in Covent Garden and possibly in London, used to be frequented by Charles Dickens; White Hart – the legendary haunt of 18th century highwaymen; and many more.

There's hardly any danger of getting lost whilst losing yourself indulging in this much loved British tradition once in a while, as long as you have GPSmyCity with you. Note, the standard opening times are between 11am and 11pm (10:30pm on Sundays or on public holidays).
How it works: Download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play Store to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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London's Historic Pubs Walk Map

Guide Name: London's Historic Pubs Walk
Guide Location: England » London (See other walking tours in London)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.6 Km or 3.5 Miles
Author: Svetlana
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Fitzroy Tavern
  • French House
  • The Salisbury
  • Lamb and Flag
  • White Hart
  • Museum Tavern
  • Princess Louise
  • Ye Olde Chesire Cheese
  • Ye Olde Mitre Tavern
  • The Jerusalem Tavern
Fitzroy Tavern

1) Fitzroy Tavern

An historic public house in the Fitzrovia district, the Fitzroy Tavern has an esteemed past as the place where many intellectuals, artists, and bohemians were regular guests. Among its list of well-known figures, the Fitzroy Tavern has attracted the likes of prominent literary figures such as Dylan Thomas and George Orwell. The pub even has a wall of photographs of the prominent people who have visited here.

Originally built as the Fitzroy Coffee House in 1883, this great pub is now run by the Samuel Smith Brewery, and features a great selection of ales at good prices. Wednesday nights regularly host comedy in the downstairs bar area.

Opening Hours: Monday - Saturday: 12:00 - 23:00; Sunday: 12:00 - 22:30.
French House

2) French House

Originally opened as the Wine House back in 1910, the French House is another historic public house in London that has seen its share of famous people. It is yet another place frequented by writer and drinking enthusiast Dylan Thomas. Other notable guests to this old Soho pub include Charles de Gaulle, Francis Bacon, Malcolm Lowry, and more.

Its range of drinks includes eau de vie, a French fruit brandy that comes in pear, strawberry, and plumb, beer sold in half-pints, and an extensive wine and champagne list. The French House also maintains a strict no cell phones policy, and avoids technology in general, including televisions and music, instead focusing on conversation and interaction with the friendly bar staff.

Opening Hours: Monday - Saturday: 12:00 - 22:30; Sunday: 12:00 - 22:30.
The Salisbury

3) The Salisbury

With an extensive history dating back to 1899, the Salisbury retains a charming Victorian style that gets a lot of guests pulling out their cameras. Glass etched with Art Nouveau images, stained glass, intricately carved mahogany, and exquisite upholstery greets guests as they explore its beautiful interior.

The Salisbury offers a great menu of traditional, well-prepared English pub fare, including fish and chips and Yorkshire pudding. A different roasted meat is available at a good price each day. A menu of snacks and more modern pub food like sandwiches and nachos is available as well. In addition to a wide selection of modern ales to choose from, traditional cask ales such as Courage Directors and Theakston’s are rotated throughout the month.

Opening Hours: Sunday - Thursday: 12:00 - 22:00; Friday - Saturday: 11:00 - 22:00.
Lamb and Flag

4) Lamb and Flag

The Lamb and Flag is a Georgian pub with a fascinating history. A plaque commemorates an attack on poet John Dryden, who was assaulted in the alley in 1679 by King Charles's men.

The building became a pub in 1772 and has been named the Lamb and Flag since 1833. The name itself is a traditional British pub name. The Lamb is the Lamb of God, pictured carrying a banner or flag with a cross.

The pub was once nicknamed the "Bucket of Blood" since it was the scene of constant bare-knuckle fights. This pub was a favorite of author Charles Dickens. Today, you should find a quieter and less violent scene.

The interior is just what you'd hope for from a traditional London pub: warm wood, antique brass fixtures, and lots of old photos. You can still enjoy an outstanding meal, great company, and, of course, a pint or two. It's a busy place; in nice weather, you'll often see people drinking their beer in the street outside.

Opening Hours: Monday - Saturday: 11:00 - 23:00; Sunday: 12:00 - 22:30.
White Hart

5) White Hart

The White Hart is one of a number of pubs claiming the status of London’s oldest licensed establishments. Back in the 18th century, the area surrounding the pub was a notorious slum in London, known for its brawls, drunkenness, and prostitutes. Legend has it that regular customers of The White Hart included notorious thieves, Jack Sheppard and Richard (Dick) Turpin. Turpin even came in for a drink prior to his hanging in 1739.

Today the White Hart is a charming public house with a friendly and inviting atmosphere. Guests to the White Hart are treated to a laid-back, sociable vibe with an assortment of pub games and a good mix of music. Its menu consists of a wide selection of traditional and modern pub fare, from fish and chips, to burgers, nachos, cheese platters, and much more. The White Hart is equipped with a full-stocked bar offering plenty of beers on draught and in bottles, a selection of ciders, as well as a long list of fine spirits and liqueurs. Music generally includes popular hits from the 60s through the present, as well as some house and dance tunes.

Opening Hours: Monday - Thursday: 13:00 - 23:00; Friday and Saturday: 12:00 - 00:00.
Museum Tavern

6) Museum Tavern

Located in Bloomsbury, the Museum Tavern became known by its current name upon the opening of the British Museum across the street in the 1760s, though the establishment was known as the Dog & Duck in its earlier history. Much of what guests will see today is the result of a major overhaul done on the property in 1855. Many interior Victorian details remain, including carved wood fittings, etched glass windows, and more.

Esteemed guest of historical significance to have enjoyed some time here include Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, Karl Marx, and J.B. Priestly. Offering a good selection of traditional cask ales, as well as an assortment of fine spirits and a menu of well-prepared pub fare, the Museum Tavern is a great place to hit after a day at the nearby museum.

Opening Hours: Monday - Thursday: 11:00 - 23:30 PM; Friday and Saturday: 11:00 - 00:00; Sunday: 12:00 - 22:30.
Princess Louise

7) Princess Louise

Located in the heart of the city in Holborn, Princess Louise got its beginning way back in 1872, gaining much of its present look with the addition of the 1891 Victorian interior. Partly owned by the Samuel Smith Brewery since the 90s, this great pub features a range of the brewery’s fine ales.

Wood panels, beautiful etched glass panels, and quaint bar lamps make for a classy, antiquated feel in a warm and inviting atmosphere. Gilt mirrors line the walls, and decorative tiles cover the floors, even the bathrooms are something to behold with their old world charm. Princess Louise also offers a menu of traditional pub fare in addition to all its great beers.

Opening Hours: Monday - Friday: 11:00 - 23:00; Saturday: 12:00 - 23:00; Sunday: 12:00 - 18:45.
Ye Olde Chesire Cheese

8) Ye Olde Chesire Cheese

Arguably one of London's most iconic public houses, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese has been around since the days of Pepys and Wren. It has earned renown for its literary associations, having counted luminaries such as Samuel Johnson, G.K. Chesterton, Mark Twain, George Orwell, and Charles Dickens among its regular patrons at various points in history. Established in 1538, it stands as one of London's oldest pubs, rebuilt shortly after the Great Fire of 1666. Some sections of its lower cellars predate even these ancient origins.

The edifice once served as a monastery, resulting in a labyrinthine network of chambers, cellars, and tunnels beneath its surface. Above ground, the pub offers a wood-paneled dining room and a cozy bar, typically strewn with sawdust on the floor. Located on Fleet Street, a historic hub for Britain's major newspapers, 'the Cheese' has long been a favored retreat for weary journalists seeking sustenance.

Dickens had been known to frequent this place, and it is alluded to in his work "A Tale of Two Cities": following Charles Darnay's acquittal on charges of high treason, Sydney Carton invites him to dine, "drawing his arm through his own". Carton leads him to Fleet Street "up a covered way, into a tavern … where Charles Darnay was soon recruiting his strength with a good plain dinner and good wine".

Currently under the ownership of Sam Smith's Old Brewery, this pub provides an unmissable opportunity to immerse oneself in the historic watering-hole ambiance of London's past, following in the footsteps of literary giants (as well as many less celebrated imbibers). The ambiance is alluringly dim yet unexpectedly welcoming.

Operation Hours:
Mon-Sat: 12–11pm; Sun: 12–10:30pm
Ye Olde Mitre Tavern

9) Ye Olde Mitre Tavern

With a history dating back to 1547 where this location served as a pub for servants of the Palace of the Bishops of Ely, which were both subsequently destroyed in 1772. Ye Olde Mitre Tavern was built with the stone mitre from the palace gatehouse, making this little tavern still technically part of the historic Cambridgeshire and not London.

The bar has three rooms as well as a courtyard out front which is enclosed and features standing tables. A host of traditional cask ales are available at Ye Olde Mitre Tavern, like George Gale Seafarers, Fuller’s Honeydew, and more. Traditional pub fare such as scotch eggs and pork pies is also on the menu at this great little historic pub.

Opening Hours: Monday - Friday: 12:00 - 22:00; Saturday: 12:00 - 22:00.
The Jerusalem Tavern

10) The Jerusalem Tavern

Although located inside an old building dating back to the 18th century, with the shop front added in 1810, the Jerusalem Tavern has remained a thriving little pub ever since. Guests to this establishment should be aware that it does get quite busy for lunch rushes and on the weekends in particular.

Its tasty assortment of pub fare is served during the daytime only, and includes delicious home-cooked dishes at great prices. Attracting an assortment of young professionals, the Jerusalem Tavern offers the full assortment of ales from St. Peter’s Brewery in Suffolk. The green-painted woodwork throughout the space is accompanied by a fireplace in a warm and cozy interior great for socializing with other patrons.

Opening Hours: Monday - Friday: 11:00 - 23:00.

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