Weds August 16th 2000
Strangely this is not a route that has been attempted before by HASSRALE, although there was a visit to a pub called the Feathers. Sadly this has undergone extensive refurbishment turning it into a garish, noisy place and hence excluded from our trip. Instead we start at the closest pub to Westminster tube station which apparently is now worth a visit in itself. Despite the address, the first port of call is more readily recognisable as being on Whitehall. Turn right from the station, then right into Whitehall and farther down on the right is …
1. The Red Lion - 48 Parliament Street [18.30]
Ind Coope Burton, Tetley and Benskins Best.
Famous establishment in close proximity to the Palace of Westminster (Parliament). Originally two bars which are now combined. Quite likely to be populated by MPs and their staff when Parliament is in session, but in any event there will be business types in suits intermingling with tourists. Back to the pub, this is traditional in style with dark wood interior although there is not much by way of seating. There are places to perch, generally by the shelving running around the periphery. No music, but there was a TV (no, not transvestite!) and purportedly there is a division bell to alert those MPs away from their voting duties that they should return to The House of Commons. *Go back to the traffic lights, cross over into Great George St. Either continue down the left side of this and turn left or walk along Broad Sanctuary and turn right. You will arrive at Storey's Gate, on the opposite side of which half-way along is …
2. The Westminster Arms - 9 Storeys Gate [19.00]
Greene King Abbot; Brakspears; Hog Bitter; Boddingtons.
Actually the beer range is ever changing, with no identifiable allegiance to any brewery. This is a large bare-boarded pub close to Westminster Abbey, with an upstairs dining room (Queen Anne) and a wine-bar (Storeys) in the basement/cellar area. Despite the bare floor the landlord seemed reluctant to top-up the pints, delivering a sarcastic comment about "not spilling any beer on the floor", so beware! Anyway there is a large outside drinking area with wrought iron tables and chairs, where presumably it is OK to spill beer (and worse judging by the state of the pavement). Inside it is sparsely furnished, but there are a number of stools arranged around the edge of the bar area. Very popular tourist haunt, but also has a Commons division bell so despite the multiplicity of bars in Parliament its inhabitants presumably roam over here as well. *From the pub turn right along Storey's Gate, then right into Tothill St. Cross over and a little way down on the left is …
3. The Sanctuary House - 33 Tothill Street (opposite Caxton House) [19.45]
Fullers ESB, London Pride, Chiswick and Summer Ale.
Newish (1998) Fuller's pub which presumably was formerly a bank or an office. Now a large "Ale & Pie House" with a sizeable bar area and a raised section at the back of the pub. This rear area is more favoured by those eating. Plushly furnished with impressive chandeliers. Quite a high level of background noise, sounding like a mixture of music, TV and people talking loudly - not surprising since all three were evident. Interesting monastic murals on the back walls. *Now go back across Tothill St and to the left then right is Dartmouth St. Just up here on the right on the corner of Lewisham St is …
4. The Two Chairmen - 33 Dartmouth Street [20.30]
Courage Directors and Best; Charles Wells Bombardier.
Not to be confused with a pub of the same name in Warwick House St near Trafalgar Square. They both probably owe their ancestory to being pick-up points for people travelling by sedan chair (hence the 2 chairmen). Seems familiar so I expect it has been included on a previous HASSRALE trip. Excellent one-bar pub that does not look as though the structure has been tinkered with for at least the last 20 years although it has been refurbished. Cosy and comfortably furnished with a pleasant atmosphere, sited as it is on a quiet side street with room to perch or stand outside. The interior layout is separated by low wooden partitions into a number of areas with various seats. *Go back down Dartmouth St, turn right into Tothill St then continue along past St James' tube station on the left. On the corner of Palmer St on the other side of the road is …
5. The Adam and Eve - 81 Petty France [21.15]
Wychwood beers (hopefully) but a constantly changing range.
One of the T & J Bernard chain of pubs. Apparently used to be gas-lit (1996), but not sure now. Also has a range of foreign bottled beers. The survey team were somewhat unlucky with the hand-pumped beers on the second trial, but the pub has a good reputation for stocking a varied range. Large wooden interior with the usual polished wood floor. There is a discreet alcove area at the back which is almost a separate room for half a dozen people. Supposedly handy for visitors to the Passport Office, but one is just as likely to find customers employed by the Security Services! There is also an army barracks opposite. *On emerging from here, continue left along Petty France where just past the Passport Office is …
6. The Buckingham Arms - 62 Petty France [22.00 or whenever]
Young's Special and Bitter (Ordinary as was).
One could hardly venture along here without visiting this esteemed establishment (also just in case the previous pub has run out of beer this will make up for any disappointment)! Certainly this has been included on HASSRALE trips before and it is a constant entry in both local and national beer guides. Just in case there is anyone who has not visited it (or cannot remember doing so), this is a marvellous one-bar pub with etched glass windows, huge engraved mirrors and a large seating area. There is a corridor along the left-hand side which used to also be a drinking area, but may not be open now. First licensed in 1780 as the Black Horse, then rebuilt in 1898 (possibly in anticipation of the birth of the Queen Mother), its current name dates from 1901. It is probably one of Young's best preserved hostelries. *Well that completes the trip. The easiest method of return is to retrace your steps along Petty France, past the Adam & Eve then continue on to St James underground station. Alternatively carry on to Victoria St to catch buses.
Survey details: Edmund Featherstone, James Featherstone and John Wright on Weds 5th & 19th July 2000