Tour Locations | Historical Pubs of London: A Tipply Trundle Through Liquid History
Hen & Chicken Court
Once you've crossed Fetter Lane, take around 20 more paces and keep your eyes peeled for the narrow entranceway on the right just past the bookshop, and before DC Thompson. There's a black stone slab on the floor marking Hen & Chicken Court. If you've reached the church you've gone too far....so turn around and look again! Once you’ve found the entrance you can squeeze through to the courtyard behind.
Aha! You made it! Let's pause a moment in this rather atmospheric courtyard, but there's no pub waiting for us here at 185 Fleet Street. It is however the address where the infamous Sweeney Todd had his Demon Barbers shop.
In the murky front windows customers could see jars full of pulled teeth, and as they entered a simple wooden chair would await them in the centre of the room. After closing their eyes and leaning back ready for their shave, a trapdoor would flip the victim over and down into the deep basement beneath. If they didn't break their neck on the way down, the demon barber would finish them off with his cut throat razor, chopping them into tiny pieces, adding a crack of black pepper no doubt and then passing their dead body parts through the subterranean crypt-like tunnels to Mrs Lovett's Lair where they were made into meat pies ready for human consumption.
Let's leave the courtyard the way we came in and we'll be turning right back onto Fleet Street where you'll see the church of St. Dunstans in The West next door. It was the congregation here who on a hot sunny Sunday morning detected the smell of rotting corpses seeping through the drains and eventually brought Sweeney Todd's reign of terror to an end. Let's leave this whiff of death behind us and carry on past the church...