This is a bit lovely, one of the oldest pubs in the area, perhaps dating to as early 1688, but the timber frame is no later than the mid eighteenth century. Former customers include Charles Dickens, Karl Marx and John Dryden, so there’s some considerable history here. I partly treat the money I spend at these places (which is hardly a decadent spend as I’m only buying half a pint) as an entrance fee to see these remarkable buildings. For those who are craving my riveting comments on craft beer, I’ll be visiting other locations more suited to that later today, in a desperate attempt to cater to my huge audience of about three.
Some have claimed that the pub is perhaps the oldest in London, although I’m quite sceptical about that. But, it’s heritage is undeniable, although as often with these things, the pub and its licence can move about a bit as buildings were reconstructed and developed. It’s known that there was a pub around here, and very likely this building, from 1772 and at that stage it was known as the Cooper’s Arms. The pub changed to its current name in 1833 and it was another location where boxing matches were held frequently judging from the newspaper reports. More recently, in the late twentieth century, there were theatrical performances that took place upstairs.
There was another friendly welcome at the entrance to this Good Beer Guide listed pub which all complied with track and trace. I had a quick meander around the pub and took a photo of the beer options whilst I was walking by.
I had a bit of a dilemma here and I looked very British and awkward in trying to find where to sit. There was a large group in the rear of the pub which I didn’t want to disturb, and it was a restaurant area upstairs. So I temporarily moved to the front of the pub, but didn’t want to take that table of four as that seemed greedy. But I didn’t like the high table that I had acquired for myself, so I placed my order and then faffed about a bit pondering where to go.
I then decided to go outside, before realising all of the tables were reserved, so I shuffled back inside like some confused idiot. Actually, I’m sure the member of staff thought exactly that, but she didn’t show it. I mentioned that I hadn’t realised they were reserved, but she politely explained they actually weren’t, it was just to ensure that customers got the attention of a staff member before self-seating. So, I shuffled back outside and sat in the blazing heat. I didn’t feel that I could back inside without the staff member fearing for my sanity. My phone warned me it was over-heating, my trusty Chromebook switched off three times in some sort of part panic and part strop, whilst I just melted. I pretended to passing pedestrians and customers that I was enjoying the lovely hot weather, but I feel I made a bit of a mistake here (I’ll add that I’m currently inside another pub which is very cold, so myself and my devices are recovering fast).
The beer that I ordered was Oliver’s Island from Fuller’s Brewery, which was average and unexceptional. It was well-kept and yet again at the appropriate temperature (I see little reason to say more than this for generic real ales) so I was suitably refreshing in the tropical London heat. The beer cost £2.50, but as I mentioned earlier, that’s sort of partly an admission fee to feel part of the heritage of a pub where I can sit where Charles Dickens sat. And since I kept moving about inside, I probably covered quite a few bases in that regard.
Other than I nearly combusted in the heat, this was a clean and comfortable environment. Relaxed, informal and friendly, I liked this pub and find it remarkable just how quiet Covent Garden is at the moment. It’s a pub that is worth visiting though, a little bit of London history.