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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.
Cittie of Yorke
Location 22 High Holborn, Holborn, Camden, London WC1V 6BN
This has been the site of a pub since the 15th century, the present pub was redeveloped in the 1920s but has elements from previous incarnations. This gives the Cittie of Yorke a strange and rather surreal interior, the main bar is under a vast ceiling that feels that you are in medieval Great hall rather than a pub. The bar itself sits below large vats.
In the main bar is Victorian cubicles, which lawyers apparently held meetings with their clients. Another strange feature is a traingular 19th century stove that stands in the middle of the bar. The cellar bar is in a much older part of the Pub and is yet another feature of this Grade II listed pub.
It is safe to say that this pub is unique in London for its eclectic and rather strange interior.
For a list of London’s Top Ten Pubs go to Visiting London Guide.
Location – 208-209 High Holborn, London WC1V 7BW.
Considered one of the finest Victorian Pub interiors in London, The Princess Louise is situated in High Holborn but near to Bloomsbury. Although the outside of the pub is unremarkable, walking through the doors is like entering a Victorian world frozen in time. The first surprise is series of booths surrounding the bar, each booth is large enough for around 8 – 10 people. Each booth has wood panelling and glass partitions, whilst the larger bars have wonderfully tiled interiors.
The pub has a Grade II listing and unusually even the men’s toilets with their marble urinals are listed. The Pub is owned and run by the Samuel Smith Brewery who sell their own beer which is considerably cheaper than most other pubs in London.
The Princess Louise often features in the Top London Pubs lists for its stunning interior rather than the quality of its beer.
For a list of London’s Top Ten Pubs visit Visiting London Guide