8 Amazing Facts about London’s Pubs and Bars

We sifted through the mire of the capital’s history to bring you 8 amazing facts about London’s pubs and bars that will change your life! Honestly.

History and pubs, London has plenty of both. From famous landlords to violent and bloody pasts, here are 8 amazing/fascinating/interesting/mildly noteworthy facts about London’s pubs and bars. Got any more? Tweet us @allinlondoncouk

Porter Beer
The Porter was invented at The Bell Brewery in our very own Shoreditch back in 1522. The idea was conceived when popular demand spiked for a dark beer, which at the time came mixed from thirds of ale, beer and two-penny (a strong pale ale). Quick on the uptake, brewer Ralph Harwood observed that serving the drink mixed from one barrel would save landlord’s time and more importantly, be hugely profitable. And so the Porter was born. Not long after, a certain Irishman named Arthur Guinness began tinkering with an extra dark version of the porter. But who knows what came of that.

Red Lion Pubs
The Red Lion is the most popular pub name in Britain, thought to be due to the frequency with which the symbol of the red lion appeared on the heraldic badges of the ruling classes in the 15th Century. Depending on where you get your information from the number of Red Lion pubs in the UK is anywhere between 600 and 800. More importantly, the number of Red Lion’s within the M25 stands at 46. Here’s one of our favourite (and oldest) Red Lion’s.

Gandalf’s Pub
You probably know that Guy Ritchie owns the Punch Bowl in Mayfair thanks to the exposure he and Madonna received from tabloid paps when they were going through their ‘matching tweed and flat cap phase’. What you might not know is that charming Limehouse pub The Grapes, is owned by none other than Gandalf the Grey. That’s right, Sir Ian Mckellan is the landlord of this Thames-side East-End boozer and as celebrity owners go, that’s pretty special.

Pubs and The Tube
There are five London Underground stations named after pubs. They are: Angel, Manor House, Royal Oak, Swiss Cottage and Elephant and Castle.

Logie Baird at Bar Italia
Back in 1926, in the building where Bar Italia in Soho stands today, John Logie Baird gave the first public demonstration of how television was going to work. Later on, Pulp came along and wrote a song about the bar.

Pop Goes the Weasel
The Eagle referred to in the nursery rhyme ‘Pop Goes the Weasel’ is none other than The Eagle pub just off Old Street Roundabout. The line ‘Pop! goes the weasel’ is a reference to the sweatshops of the textile industry that were located here in the 17th Century. The moral of the song is that while you may drink to escape the monotony of the hard, manual labour, the spinner’s weasel would always be waiting for you.

Up and Down the City Road
In and Out the Eagle
That’s the way the money goes
Pop! Goes the weasel


Blood and Bare knuckles
Better historians than us (i.e. with more than an A-Level in the subject to their name) have come up short in attempts to settle the argument of what is London’s oldest pub but most agree that the Lamb and Flag in Covent Garden is one of them. We like the fact that it is old but we really like the fact that it was nicknamed the Bucket of Blood thanks to the brutal bare-knuckle fights that it used to host.

London’s Tiniest Bar
Like London’s oldest pubs there is some dispute as to which pub has the honour of being London’s smallest. The Rake in Borough Market makes a claim – and it may well be true. However, The Dove in Hammersmith has a small bar room secreted away inside it that has a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the smallest bar room in the world. Not just London - the World!
Added on April 4, 2014

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The Latest User Reviews of 8 Amazing Facts about London’s Pubs and Bars


Tom Leeks, Tooting
Added: Apr 2014
Let's say a correction is an improvement not a criticism.
I think you have the 'Pubs & the Underground' the wrong way round. I'm not sure about Swiss Cottage or even Manor House but the Angel and Elephant & Castle are underground stations named after pubs, not the other way round.

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