London, England - Thursday 28-July-2011
Many thanks to my ex-colleague Tony Fox-Griffith for organising a fine pub crawl. This post is lifted wholesale from his notes. Thanks Tony :-)
A group of around ten of us wandered from pub to pub tasting some very fine beers in some wonderful establishments.
"Clapham Clamber" Pub #1 — at The Windsor Castle
The Windsor Castle 36 St John’s Hill, a fine but slightly down-at-heel pub that’s good enough to be on CAMRA’s Regional Inventory of Historic Pubs. Sadly, it’s due to be redeveloped and, as it’s not a listed building, it undoubtedly will be demolished soon. It is a classic example of a “Brewers’ Tudor” pub which still conveys much of its original layout and feel. Originally built in 1890, it got its current look during the 1930s. It’s got a smallish public bar with typical inter-war fittings but what makes this worth visiting is the back room which is a great attempt at creating a medieval-style hall.
Wandsworth Common, an important historic common, the remains of more extensive Commonland that earlier went by a number of names including Battersea West Heath and Wandsworth East Heath. Part of the land had been enclosed and used to build the Royal Victoria Patriotic Building, amongst others. Efforts were made to preserve what was left and eventually Earl Spencer, Lord of the Manor, agreed to transfer most of the common to the Wandsworth Common Preservation Society in 1870.
The Royal Victoria Patriotic Building was built entirely by funds raised by the public administered by Prince Albert’s Royal Patriotic Fund, its foundation stone was laid by Queen Victoria in 1857. It was intended for the ‘Education and Training of three hundred Orphan Daughters of Soldiers, Seamen and Marines who perished in the Russian War, and for those who hereafter may require like succour’.
"Clapham Clamber" Pub #2 — at La Gothique Restuarant & Bar, Wandsworth Common, London
Le Gothique is a really surprising place to find a CAMRA Good Beer Guide registered pub but it is! They also run a Beer Festival twice a year – what a great place to sample beers! At the moment, they stock Sambrook’s Wandle and two from Shepherd Neame – Jack and Spitfire. They also do food – the restaurant is really expensive but their bar menu looks good. The down side is that they only serve the bar menu until 7:30.
"Clapham Clamber" Pub #3 — at The Roundhouse
The Roundhouse 2 Wandsworth Common Northside. It has had a somewhat chequered history and undergone a number of name-changes (it was called the Freemasons until fairly recently) but has reverted to its original name following its most recent facelift. It’s a modernised place which does good food.
"Clapham Clamber" Pub #4 — at The Falcon
Our final call was the marvellous Falcon at 2 St. John’s Hill. It’s a mightily impressive pub-cum-former-hotel built in 1887 with many original features – in sufficiently unspoilt condition that it is on CAMRA’s National Inventory of Historic Interiors. They also have a tremendous range of beers – too wide to list here!
It’s a showy piece of architecture, typical of its time. What really counts is the interior. There are a number of very fine examples of Victorian stained glass (apparently, although Tony's not located it, the rear bar shows funeral carriages stopping off at ‘Death’s Door’, the nickname for the pub when its landlord happened to be a Mr Death!).
We must do this sort of thing more often!