London Pubs No.2 – Williamson’s Tavern


Despite the legends about this being London’s oldest excise licence and watering hole since soon after the Great Fire of London, the reality is most of the actual structure dates from the 1930’s. But it was built from the ruins of the Great Fire. Tucked in a courtyard (Groveland Ct) off an alley from Bow Lane, it’s basically two inter-linked bars. The smaller, simply furnished front bar boasts probably the most uncomfortable benches ever designed. Oh and there’s ghosts. At least one long serving barmaid flatly refuses to do evening shifts after one experience too many. And it’s said that police dog patrols have the devil’s own job to persuade their canine chums to venture anywhere near the place.
It’s constructed over Roman ruins that survive some five metres down. And it was once the official residence of the Mayor of London. William and Mary liked the place so much that they provided it with the iron gates outside. A gentleman called Robert Williamson turned it into a proper public house in 1739. The bar is also supposed to contain an ancient stone that marks the dead centre of the old City. The barmaid told me to look under the rug, and there it was – not very impressive, but nice to know it’s there all the same

4 comments on “London Pubs No.2 – Williamson’s Tavern”

  1. Gareth says:

    I’m not sure at this point if I should be concerned that I’ve drunk many a time in both pubs you mention. I suppose if you get to the end of the list, and that still stands true, then I’ll have cause for concern.

  2. Helen Martin says:

    No, Gareth, it will mean that you have the good taste and historical knowledge to share in the sociology of your city. Perhaps Bryant’s favourite, psychogeography, would be a better word.

  3. admin says:

    But did you see the stone? And what the hell is it?

  4. Gareth says:

    Mr Fowler, nope I must admit I’ve never seen the stone, but have had many conversations in there regarding Ghosts.

    Helen, I like your way of thinking.

    Another haunt (sorry) of mine that’s B&M linked is The Viaduct, which has a fascinating history, and an amazing ceiling.

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