You can work up a thirst when you DIY (do it yourself) tour a city. Especially when the temperatures are in the 80’s (26C) and the city is London, England.
We found there’s no better place than an old traditional English pub to provide a means of quenching your thirst while providing a taste of history.
|Ale taps at Audley Pub - Mayfair District|
One of our favorite public houses
– that is from where the word ‘pub’ comes -- is the Audley Pub
, a block from Grosvenor Square in the Mayflower district, on the corner of Mount and South Audley streets. It was an easy few blocks walk from our hotel. We’d been so charmed by it on a London stopover a few years ago that we headed back to it within hours of our arrival this spring.
|Interior Audley Pub - Mayfair District - London |
This traditional old watering hole was established back in 1730 as The Bricklayers Arms
. It was rebuilt in 1888 at the instruction of the Duke of Westminster and the landlord at the time was allowed to keep his lease but had to change the name to the ‘more respectable’ Audley Hotel
|Stand up and sip outside the Audley Pub - Mayfair District|
No longer a hotel, there is a cozy restaurant area on the pub’s second floor that served up some of the best pub grub we found in London during our visit a few years ago. It was closed for a private party the evening we were there this spring, so it still seems to be popular.
, like most pubs in London, is crowded in the early evenings with a mix of professionals who’ve come from their ‘dress-for-success’ offices and are still ‘talking shop’ and other more casually dressed drinkers, like us, who simply want a beverage and atmosphere.
|George, a private club, occupies part of building across the street from Audley Pub|
provided hearty servings of both beverage and atmosphere. We aren’t ale fans, but found a good selection of wine from which to choose. And once selected, we headed to the sidewalk (where smokers partake of tobacco because of recent anti-smoking laws) and others of us were there to enjoy the good weather and neighborhood surroundings.
A change we noticed from our last London visit, was that each pub had a security officer to make sure the patrons don’t block sidewalks or worse, step out into traffic.
|Audley House - Mayfair District - London|
Our sidewalk sipping was kitty-corner from the ornate entry to Audley House
, built in 1881. It has been the home of James Purdey & Sons Gun and Rifle Shop
since 1883, and back then it was considered ‘the most prestigious gun shop in the country’. The shop continues to flourish in this stately building that bears a plaque where shrapnel from a World War II air raid damaged pillars. (Windows on its east side were destroyed by an IRA bomb in 1972.)
We’d pondered its history while sipping our wine and having researched it since returning home, we plan to go in next time to see its Long Room which was used during WWII by General Dwight Eisenhower’s staff to plan battles.
British Pubs – Here today – gone tomorrow?
While British pubs are as iconic a part of London as its red phone booths and double-decker buses, there aren’t as many of them around as there used to be. In 2014 the British Beer and Pub Association
reported there were 51,900 pubs in the United Kingdom, a sharp decrease from 1982 when 67,800 pubs operated there.
|The Salisbury - theatre district - London|
Any number of reasons have contributed to the closing of more than 7,000 U.K. pubs; among them are the anti-smoking laws I mentioned above, beer prices at supermarkets, and the impact of the 2008 financial crisis. According to the Association
the British are drinking 23 percent less ale than a decade ago; their trend is toward drinking wine in ‘trendier’ bars. In London, the hot housing market had pub owners selling businesses which were converted to houses or apartments. Many of the pubs are now owned and operated by breweries.
|The Salisbury - London pub|
One pub that is still going strong is The Salisbury
at 90 St. Martin Lane, in the heart of the Theatre District. It opened in 1892 as a gin palace and in recent years has been featured in a number of films. This pub offers an app you can download for do-it-yourself ‘themed pub tours, such as a ghost tour, or a shopping tour. To download the app: www.taylor-walker.co.uk/ale-trail/trails
|The Iron Duke - Mayfair District - London|
We had another taste of history, along with a glass of wine, at The Iron Duke
, 11 Avery Row, back in the Mayfair District, as the pub’s name is for that of the “Iron Duke”, the first Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, a decorated army commander who ruled as Prime Minister in the late 1820’s.
(You’ll note here we were surrounded by the dress-for-success-after-work crowd.)
|Prince Regent Pub - Marylebone High StreetAdd caption|
And some pubs just call out because they are in an interesting neighborhood or they are housed in picturesque buildings, like the case of the Prince Regent
pub we sipped at on the Marylebone
is an affluent area, walking distance from our hotel near Hyde Park in Mayfair - for those who are able to walk several blocks. Its High Street is alive with small shops and cafes. According to Wikipedia, “Marylebone gets its name from a church dedicated to St Mary, represented now by St. Marylebone Parish Church(1817); the original church was built on the bank of a small stream or “bourne”.
|Angel in the Fields - Maryleborne - London|
As I told you in last week’s post
, we spent a few days exploring London on our own without any particular plan. Several of the pubs we visited during our stay, we’d discovered on previous stops in London and we were pleased to see they were still in existence. Even with the decrease in their overall numbers, luckily, old traditional pubs are still easy to find in London.
If you aren’t up to setting out on your own, simply “Google” London pub tours and a variety of options will appear. I did a quick search and found a 3-hour afternoon walk from $33.81US; a 4-hour west end tour from $64.91US and a Literary Pub Crawl and Tavern Tour from $24.34US.
|Ale taps - Prince Regent Pub - Maryleborne|
That’s it for this week. We thank you for your time and hope you’ll be back to see what’s ‘on tap’ next week! Until then, safe and healthy travels to you and yours ~
Linking up this week:
Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Travel Photo Thursday –
Weekend Travel Inspiration