Tour Locations | Historical Pubs of London: A Tipply Trundle Through Liquid History
Temple Bar & The Old Bank of England
Let's stop by the first red phone box closest to the street. Yes, yes, grab a photo if you must, and then gaze upwards to the dragon on the stone plinth in the middle of the road.
The dragon protects the City of London from the City of Westminster. There used to be a hulking stone gateway here known as Temple Bar festooned with the rotting decapitated skulls of traitors hanging on pikes as a deterrent to all ye who enter!
I’ve popped a photo of the former stone archway on the app so you can have a quick glance at your phone now if you’re curious as to how it used to look here. You can also find the arch in its new location next to St. Paul's cathedral if you're heading back in that direction.
To this day the reigning King or Queen must ask permission from the Lord Mayor of London to enter the City of London. He or she will be greeted here, presented with a pearl encrusted sword and then and only then be granted safe passage. This important historic division helps to explain why the City of London, also known as the "Square Mile" has its own police force, its own mayor and runs akin to an autonomous city within a city not dissimilar to the Vatican within Rome.
Now look behind you. Did you notice the steps you just passed heading up into the Old Bank of England? There’s a pub hiding within this gargantuan granite banking building and we heartily recommend popping in to enjoy the magnificent ceiling if nothing else. The clocks were all stopped the last time a financial transaction ever took place in the building, and the vaults were deemed so secure that they hosted the Crown Jewels for their safekeeping.
Once you've had a quick look inside this pub, or perhaps even stopped for a cheeky half we'll be heading straight uphill along Bell Yard passing the second lovely red phone box.