SHEPHERD MARKET TRIP
Tues December 12th 2000
This is not a route that HASSRALE has knowingly trampled before (although some of you may have inadvertently strayed into the area, purely for research purposes I expect). The Green Park trip from January 1996 visited a couple of the pubs, but otherwise it's virgin territory (surely not - Ed). Enough of this, the itinerary is based on an article in the Evening Standard's Hot Tickets supplement, but rather than rely on their descriptions our intrepid trial team decided to do their own research. The closest tube station is Green Park. On emerging on the north side of Piccadilly, walk along to the west and about three turnings on the right is Clarges Street. Almost at the top on the left is …
1. The Samuel Pepys - 29 Clarges Street [18.30]
Fullers London Pride; Bass.
Also the first port of call from the 1996 trip, this pub has been greatly refurbished since our last visit and also in various styles. Outside there are pavement-cafJ style wrought iron tables which are in stark contrast to the plush leather settees to be found inside at the rear of the large one-bar interior. In addition there are a number of conventional tables and banquettes. The floor is highly polished wood (beware) and also there is highly efficient air-conditioning (i.e. cold, hence along with the external seating a feature that may be superfluous on a December's evening). No longer any bar-billiards table, but still evidence of Mr Pepys in illustrations etc. There were very few other customers on the trial run, so the potentially huge influx of HASSRALE attendees should be easily accommodated *Continue to the end of the street, turn left into Curzon St and continue along until you encounter what appears to be an archway on the left cutting between two of the buildings. This leads to Shepherd St where down on the left is …
2. Ye Grapes (or Grapes (Ye)) - 16 Shepherd St [19.15]
Timothy Taylor Landlord; Fullers London Pride; Wadworth 6X; Marston's Pedigree; Flowers Original and IPA; Boddingtons.
The present pub was built in 1882 and originally comprised five separate bars, but although covering the same area it is now technically two bars i.e. the whole of the ground floor as one bar, with a separate upstairs bar that appeared to be open only at certain times. The interior is good old traditional dark wood panelled with a large U-shaped bar counter and various seats tucked away around the edge. The market square outside forms an overflow drinking area and is quite busy, as is the narrow alleyway along which we approached. The article in the Standard mentions that one of the original bars was referred to as the Cattle bar and used to be frequented by "ladies of the night" (and afternoon), however there is no longer any evidence of this. As expected this is a very popular pub with the tourists. *From the pub turn left onto Shepherd Market and continue round to the left where you will find …
3. The Kings Arms - 2 Shepherd Market [20.00]
Courage Directors; Theakstons Best.
Apparently one of Clifton Inns' earlier "spit and sawdust" conversions. It still has a certain olde worlde feel to it, but does not merit the Hot Tickets description of having a village pub atmosphere. The interior has huge wooden supports (no, not the bar staff), wooden beams and a massive new-style lava lamp i.e. an update of the 1970's versions. *Now cut across to the left and walk along Hertford St. A little way down on the right on the corner is …
4. The Shepherds Tavern - 50 Hertford Street [20.45]
Courage Directors and Best.
Named after Edward Shepherd, the original architect for the area in 1735 who was also responsible for the building of the tavern. Compact street-corner pub with just the one bar area. Plain glass windows and modern style furnishing. The bar counter also has a food section and indeed a number of people were dining at table in fairly cramped surroundings. Used to have a sedan chair housing a payphone according to the venerable West London beer guide, but that is over 10 years old and this feature had gone even by the time of the 1996 trip. *Now make your way back up to Curzon St, past the Curzon Cinema then up to Charles St. Along to the left at the junction with Waverton St on the left is …
5. The Red Lion - 1 Waverton Street [21.30+]
Courage Directors and Best; Theakstons Best
Not much changed since the last trip here. It has a central bar counter with a number of other drinking areas located around it. Traditional interior comprising dark wood panelled walls and old prints, also a carpet for a change. Even the glasses rail above the bar has been retained. Fairly busy on the trial run, this has a reputation for having customers dressed in penguin suits (presumably some orchestra members). Such cliP ntele would be a far cry from the customers in the 17th Century, who were street-traders from Shepherd Market, grooms from Chesterfield House and unsavoury types from the notorious local May Fair. *On the trial run we did locate another pub just off Park Lane from the West London Guide, but as is the case with out-of-date information from such old publications it no longer served real ale, so as it was getting late we decided to limit the trip to these five pubs. So that's it! Apart from buses along Park Lane, there are two tube stations i.e. Hyde Park Corner or Green Park which is a little further away. Have a safe journey.
Survey details: Edmund Featherstone, James Featherstone and John Wright on Tuesday 12 September 2000