Rebels, Radicals and Rough Justice: Historic Clerkenwell
Stop here for a moment. Look above the the facade of the pub. Can you see the three golden balls, just to the left of the building’s centre? That’s the traditional symbol for a pawnbroker. I’ll tell you the story in a moment. For now, turn left and walk up the street, with the station on your left.
If you have explored Westminster, you will find Clerkenwell, the area we're in now, very different. There's an almost complete absence of royalty. Prince Regent, the future King George IV, once visited The Castle pub for a night's gambling, losing a lot of money. By morning he needed to pay his debts and asked the pub landlord to loan him what was owed. The landlord agreed. The prince in return granted the landlord a license as a pawnbroker, hence the 3 golden balls. As far as I know, it's still the only pub licensed to be a pawnbroker.