Literary Pub Tour
We began at The Old Bank of England, located just down the street from the law courts of London. Site located between the legendary Penny Dreadful story of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet St. In the story Todd’s barber chair drops his victims down a shoot into the basement of his building, then they are carted through a tunnel that runs beneath the bank to Mrs. Lovett’s Pie Shop on the other side, where Mrs. Lovett makes mincemeat out of them. The specialty of the bank, now a public house, is traditional English pie. Which are absolutely delicious.
After dinner at the bank, we walked to Cittie of Yorke pub located near the offices of lawyers. Cittie of Yorke is a gorgeous building where lawyers meet with their clients.
Our next stop was Ye Olde Mitre, one of the oldest public houses in London, which was built by Bishop Goodrich 1546 according to the sign inside the pub. In Shakespeare’s Richard III the king requests the execution of Hastings, but first desires a feast of strawberries. Those strawberries would have come from the orchards that once grew at the site of the pub.
Cheshire Cheese is a famous tourist trap of a pub because of its connection to Dr. Samuel Johnson. The pub still has its original sign barring women from entering the main bar at the building’s entrance. Down the dangerously steep and low ceiling staircase the original brewing room has been renovated into a bar and restaurant.
Blackfriars is a recent edition to London pubs, but contains some very detailed marble and bronze sculptures and friezes. The literary connection here is a loose one. Blackfriars was the name of an indoor theater where Shakespeare’s later plays The Tempest, Winter’s Tale, and Henry VIII would have been performed. The term Blackfriar, comes from an order of friars who wore black robes.
Our last stop was The George, named for Saint George. It is a traditional coaching inn with a large yard where plays would have been performed in Elizabethan England, prior to the construction of theaters and playhouses designated for performing arts.
The George Inn-Yard in daylight.