It sounds like a specialist room in a Vauxhall club involving holes in walls and a lot of trust, but this is the best name for a new pub I’ve heard in years. A hand of glory, according to medieval folklore, is the pickled appendage of a hanged man, which when grasping a lit candle made from the rendered fat of the same condemned takes on dark magical powers. Beats the Dog & Duck.
So what does this mean for an incongruously located boozer on a traffic-busy road in E8? It means: wicker animal heads on the walls, maypole ribbons on the ceiling, bone offerings, votives, hop flowers (bacchanalian symbols), dried/dead branches, wyrd icons and flagons and flagons of cider (with names like Farmer Jim). But beneath the superstition and mythology is a friendly and thoughtfully stocked pub in an area not stuffed with them. As well as the ciders, almost all beers are from Hackney (Five Points, Crate etc); food is uncommonly good for a pub too – in a model increasingly adopted across London, it’s provided by a kitchen ‘residency’, this time from Fleisch Mob, an Austro-British street food team. Here they focus on the domestic side with a meat-dominated menu which includes the likes of aged steak, chicken and mushroom pie and British charcuterie.
And this celebration of merrie Albion isn’t filled, of course, with hale draymen and rosy-cheeked milkmaids, but with their less sturdy modern counterparts, the sort of young locals who are pleased to have something like this open in their hood. It’s unlikely to provoke a flurry of morris dancing or cheese rolling in the bucolic downs of Hackney, but at least it serves a nice pint.