When I left you last week, we’d finished the first half of our walk around the London Monopoly Board/ Twelve Pubs of Christmas. You can find Part 1 here.
With six pubs still to go, the light might have been fading, but we weren’t. The pubs were, however, getting busier with all of London, or so it seemed, knocking off early for pre-Christmas drinks. Made of sturdy Antipodean stock, we weren’t letting that faze us…
Pub No. 7 The Moon Under Water, 28 Leicester Square
A mini Christmas village was set up here, as was a red carpet. The former was average and the latter was in preparation for the world premiere of the latest Star Wars movie that was happening that night. Given that I’ve never seen a single Star Wars movie – not even the first one – I wasn’t terribly excited about this. The little R2D2 motoring around was, however, photogenic.
To the pub.
According to the Wetherspoon’s website, “the first house on the site of this pub was occupied, in turn, by a Lord Chancellor, two princes and the famous Scottish surgeon John Hunter. ‘Hunter’s House’ was demolished in 1892 and replaced by the present building.”
As for the name, it comes from a 1946 essay by George Orwell, he of “Animal Farm” and “1984” fame. In the essay he described his ideal pub, naming it The Moon Under Water.
This perfect London pub (country pubs apparently had a different criteria) would have a number of features including:
- The architecture and fittings must be uncompromisingly Victorian.
- Games are only played in the public bar “so that in the other bars you can walk about without the worry of flying darts”.
- The pub is quiet enough to talk, with the house possessing neither a radio nor a piano.
- The barmaids know the customers by name and take an interest in everyone.
- It sells tobacco and cigarettes, aspirins and stamps, and “is obliging about letting you use the telephone”.
- “[…] there is a snack counter where you can get liver-sausage sandwiches, mussels (a speciality of the house), cheese, pickles and […] large biscuits with caraway seeds […].”
- “Upstairs, six days a week, you can get a good, solid lunch—for example, a cut off the joint, two vegetables and boiled jam roll—for about three shillings.”
- Draught stout served in a pewter pot
- Never serve a pint of beer in a handleless glass
- “[…] You go through a narrow passage leading out of the saloon, and find yourself in a fairly large garden […] Many as are the virtues of the Moon Under Water I think that the garden is its best feature, because it allows whole families to go there instead of Mum having to stay at home and mind the baby while Dad goes out alone.”
Monopoly Ref: Leicester Square
While we didn’t have a pub marked out here, we did stop for some pictures of the Christmas tree, the column and the fountain.
And, in the name of things you didn’t know that you needed to know, a little trivia about the Christmas tree. It’s been donated by the people of Norway every year since 1947 as a thank you for British assistance during WW2.
Pub No. 8 The Lord Moon of the Mall, 16-18 Whitehall, West End
The Lord Moon of the Mall… more that a tad difficult to say at this stage of the day!
Okay, nothing much to tell you about this pub other than that Wetherspoons like to use the name Moon in their pubs (see above). Another great thing about a Wetherspoons pub is that the website always has a little bit of history about the building. In the case of this one:
“This pub occupies the former banking hall of Cocks, Biddulph & Company. Established on this site in 1757, the present building was completed in 1873. The prestigious bank eventually became a branch of Barclays, trading here until 1992.”
Monopoly Ref: Whitehall
Pub No. 9 Sherlock Holmes, 10 Northumberland St, Charing Cross
This one, of late Victorian vintage, was, until 1957, called the Northumberland Arms. It was, however, renamed after the owners managed to get their hands on the replica of the study at 221b Baker Street. Naturally that required a renaming.
As for the Holmes memorabilia, that’s upstairs. We, however, didn’t see it due to the throng of people inside the bar. After pushing our way through the crowd, we decided that it was way too busy to stop.
Monopoly Ref: Northumberland Avenue
Pub No. 10 Marquess of Anglesey, 39 Bow St, Covent Garden
It’s getting darker, the photos are getting worse, as are the crowds, and H & I have by now realised that we’ve run out of fingers… what to do for pubs 11 and 12?
The Marquess is built on the site of Edward Miles’ coffee house, one of the first in London in 1663, and the site of a licensed victualler – which, I now know, means someone licensed to sell alcohol. Well, there you go.
Licensed in 1752 as the Barley Mow and the Green Man from 1755 until 1815, it was then renamed the Marquis of Anglesea after William Henry Paget (then the Earl of Uxbridge) who was elevated for his exploits at the Battle of Waterloo when as cavalry commander he lost a leg to one of the last cannon shots fired on June 18th 1815. Reputedly he was near to the Duke of Wellington and exclaimed “By God, sir, I’ve lost my leg!”, to which Wellington replied, “By God, sir, so you have!” Both men appear to have mastered the art of the understatement.
Rebuilt in 1880, it was rebuilt again in 1956 following bomb damage in WW2. Oh, and the spelling of the name was changed in 1979 – from Marquis to Marquess – for reasons I couldn’t be bothered to find out.
Monopoly Ref: Bow Street
Pub No. 11 Old Bank of England, 194 Fleet Street
How clever were we with our numbering? I held up 5 fingers and H, held up 6. Get it?
Located where the City of Westminster meets the City of London, we had high hopes that this one wouldn’t be crowded – unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. We did, however, manage to snaffle some seats.
The interiors are just beautiful – the loveliest we’ve seen today. The building itself was built in 1886 in the “grand Italianate” style – which pretty much means high, ornately decorated ceilings and a few chandeliers, also massive.
It served as the Law Court’s branch of The Bank of England from 1888 to 1975 before it was refurbished and turned into a pub in 1994. The clock above the bar is stopped for when the last transaction was exchanged.
The vaults beneath the pub once contained gold bullion and also, or so the story goes, held the crown jewels for a time as well.
Monopoly Ref: The Strand
Pub No. 12 Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, 145 Fleet Street
The rain began to fall as we left The Old Bank of England, so by the time we found this one, our final destination, it had settled in for the night.
While No. 11 was the most opulent of the pubs we visited, this one was the most atmospheric. In the gloom, it really felt as though we could have been in Dickensian London – without street lights, cars and umbrellas, of course.
Speaking of Dickens, this pub is known as one of the most literary pubs in the city, playing host over the years to Dickens, Samuel Jackson, Mark Twain and Conan Doyle…and now Joanne Tracey. Lol.
There’s been a pub on this site since 1538, although the original burnt down in the Great Fire of 1666. The vaults underneath the pub apparently pre-date the original pub.
Rather intriguingly there were also some rather “explicit” Georgian tiles that used to be around the fireplace that were discovered after a fire in 1962 and were deemed suitable only for exhibition in selective over 18s events. The theory is that they were able to be put up and taken down at short notice and may have been used to “provide an atmospheric setting for temporary late-night activities at brothels or gentlemen’s clubs.” The mind really does boggle.
Monopoly Ref: Fleet Street
We made it…
Eight hours, twelve pubs, and, according to my Fitbit, about 24000 steps, just under 20kms of walking, and 25 floors (most of which were associated with toilet runs). As for the units of alcohol consumed? No idea. We did, however, take it easy and (don’t worry Dad) didn’t have a drink at every pub and walked a lot in between.
We covered 15 squares on the Monopoly board – although the eagle-eyed among you will notice I don’t have signage of each.
Our final stop of the day was dinner at Eat Sicily in Pimlico, just next to Victoria Station.