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The Old Bank of England
Location – 194 Fleet St, London EC4A 2LT
The Old Bank of England only became a pub in 1994 but is on the site of two old Taverns, the Haunch of Venison and the more famous Cock Tavern. The present building was built in the late 19th century as part of the Law Courts complex, it was the premises of Law Courts branch of the Bank of England. It traded as a branch the Bank of England until 1975 when it was taken over by a Building Society.
In the 1990s the Fuller’s Brewery took over the building and set about restoring it into one of their flagship pubs.
Although its history is interesting, this is not this pubs main selling point, the interior is stunning and provides a airy spacious space around a central wooden mahogany bar. The massive chandeliers add to the natural light through the large windows to illuminate the rich decor and ornamental ceiling.
There is a gallery where you can drink or eat overlooking the bar. There is a good selection of beers on tap and the perhaps better than average pub food available.
The pub mentions the disputed claims that it lies Sweeney Todd Barbers shop and Mrs Lovett’s Pie Shop, although this might add a bit of local colour it does not encourage you to try the pies on the menu!
Ye Old Mitre (Holborn)
Location – 1 Ely Court, Ely Place, London, EC1N 6SJ
One of the best kept secrets of London is the unusual cul-de-sac of Ely Place, on this street is the former residences of the Bishops of Ely and Queen Elizabeth the First favourite Sir Christopher Hatton.
The alley entrance to the pub
Just off Ely place is an historic pub called the Ye Old Mitre.There was a pub on this site since 1546 but was remodelled in the 1780s.
It could be argued the pub has a place in history due to the preserved tree trunk in the corner of the bar that marked it the boundary of Hatton Garden and the Diocese of Ely. Around this tree Queen Elizabeth is said to have danced with Sir Christopher Hatton. There is an argument that the Ely Place and the pub are not part of London at all but owned by the Diocese of Ely and therefore still part of Cambridgeshire. Allegedly the London Metropolitan Police have to get permission to enter Ely Place which has it own officer (Beadle) watching for wrongdoers.
Walking down the alley to the pub seems like you are walking back in time and the pub surrounded by high walls gives it a preserved in time effect, the skulls in the window add to the slightly strange atmosphere.
Once inside, the pub does not disappoint, old pictures, bottles on the walls and mugs on the ceilings and the old furniture gives the impression of a place seeping in history. The bars are small and intimate and lend themselves to conversation with the staff and fellow drinkers.
Upstairs is a small room with old furniture called the Bishop’s room acknowledging its connection with residences nearby. Real ales are on tap and bar snacks are available. Like many interesting City pubs, Ye Old Mitre is closed at weekends, however this is certainly on pub to go out of your way to discover.
Film buffs may recognise the pub by its appearance in Snatch and the Deep Blue Sea.
Location -174 Queen Victoria Street, London, EC4V 4EG
It may be in an uninspiring spot near Blackfriars Bridge but this is without doubt one of the hidden gems of a pub in London.
Built on the site of a Dominican friary, the original building from 1875 was remodelled between 1903-1925 to create an Art Nouveau masterpiece.
The various sculptors and designers went to town with the Blackfriars theme with jolly friars popping up everywhere in the pub both on the exterior and inside. Architect H Fuller-Clark and artist Henry Poole are considered the major influences on the Grade II listed pub that was saved from demolition by a campaign led by Sir John Betjeman.
It does get quite busy at lunchtimes and early evenings but it is worth spending some time to look at the numerous friezes and mosaics all around the pub. It has built a reputation for quality beers and serves mainly English food especially pies.