Tour Locations | Historical Pubs of London: A Tipply Trundle Through Liquid History
The Blackfriar Pub
From the outside the building looks like a thin wedge of cheese not dissimilar to New York's famous Flat Iron building. A rather rotund friar keeps watch on what looks like a prow of a ship, and the building itself originally dates to 1875. But it's the exquisite and often over the top architectural embellishment added in 1905 that makes it truly exceptional.
Henry Poole, one of the finest artists in the day used over 50 types of marble, mother of pearl inlay, and copper reliefs to immortalise the daily lives of the 13th century monks that used to reside on this fertile riverside land.
If the pub is open, let’s step inside for a quick peek. We recommend veering to the more spacious saloon bar on the left hand side. Above this bar the mural reads "Tomorrow shall be Friday". Friday of course being a day of fasting in the Catholic church, with the monks seen pulling plentiful fish from the river Thames.
Why not treat yourself to a nice pint of cask ale and explore the pub a little further? Don't forget to raise your glass to the poet Sir John Betjeman who saved the pub from demolition in the 1960's, perhaps proving that poets do have a role to play in modern society after all!
And do make sure you dip through the arches into "Saturday Afternoon" to enjoy one of the city's most beautiful dining rooms bedecked in Byzantine golden mosaic and whimsical tongue-in-cheek mantra such as "Finery Is Foolery...Haste Is Slow...Don't Advertise, Just Tell A Gossip".
Before you leave, try to seek out the exquisite mother of pearl butterfly, the caroling monks above the fire, and Yoda taking centre stage in the wonderful stained glass composition for reasons as yet unknown. Soak up all the detail and do come back again, for the more you look, the more you see. If you'd like a few more moments to enjoy it, feel free to put me on pause. And when you're ready to get going, let's head outside.
Once you’ve left the pub you can enjoy more mosaics above the saloon door and with your back to the pub we’re heading right over in the direction of the lovely red phone box on the corner. You can see it just past the small stone water fountain and the El Vino wine bar. Once we reach the phonebox we'll be turning right. Don't worry if there's a little silence along the way, that's perfectly natural and I'll chirp back in so you don't get lost. If the track doesn't activate you can give it a nudge manually. And please never forget, the more you drink today, the more history we'll make up...onwards!