We Londoners are known for liking a bit of ambience with our quaffing, so it comes as little surprise that no fewer than four of our capital’s pubs are being recognised for having interiors that are considered of major historic significance.
You’ve probably come across buildings that are ‘Grade II-listed’ – hell, if you’re a west London postcode you probably can afford to live in one – but did you know the inside is as important as the exterior? And that’s not just in memes on Instagram or in meditation class but also in architecture.
Every now and then the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport appraises existing structures, with recommendations from Historic England plus some input from CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale), and then will list, upgrade or re-list sites so that we preserve some fine examples of our heritage.
That’s how The Prince Alfred in Maida Vale has been upgraded to Grade II*. It’s probably no surprise, as the Victorian boozer was first listed in 1970 and boasts amazing carved mahogany fixtures – the bar alone looks like it might take off it’s so ornately decorated with wings and curlicues – plus rare etched glass ‘snob screens’, a nineteenth-century way to let the poshos observe the lower orders without being seen inebriating themselves in the private compartments.
The Blythe Hill Tavern in Catford is newly listed at Grade II and although not as immediately eye-catching, the popular twentieth-century pub has an unusual T-shape layout and enough wood panelling to shame Liberty.
If you despair of politics, it’s probably best to avoid The Red Lion in Westminster, as it’s perennially popular with MPs of all persuasions, and a convenient three-minute walk from Downing Street. A real shame, as the Grade II-listed, early nineteenth-century institution is awash with glittering Victorian etched glass as part of an 1870s remodelling. Finally, Dagenham’s finest, The Admiral Vernon, is newly listed at Grade II and exudes a wonderful pseud-Tude, 1930s charm.
So whatever your tipple, rest assured there’s an inn to match your fancy in the capital despite the struggle that our pubs have been facing in recent years. Who knows, your local might be next: it’s probably a mistake that mine painted over the original ’80s OMD graffiti in the loos a year or so ago.
Like your beer en plein air? Try these canal- and riverside pubs.
Find your own home a little wanting now? Fear not, The Dorchester is auctioning off loads of its furniture.