London Walking Tours    with Joanna Moncrieff

London’s secret pub tours

One of the first tours I do when I qualify as a guide will be a tour around some of the many interesting pubs in London. In fact I think it will have to be a series of tours as we obviously want a decent amount of time in each pub and we will want a bit of history/interesting facts thrown in but we don’t want to be traversing too far in the process.

Thursday night we had a practice walk around Belgravia and there, really is my first pub walk sorted. Firstly, as its history is associated with the disappearance of Lord Lucan (although I can’t vouch what the actual pub is like) we have The Plumber’s Arms in Lower Belgrave Street. It was on 7 November 1974 that Lady Lucan discovered the body of the nanny Sandra Rivett in the basement of their house at 46 Lower Belgrave Street. The nanny had been battered to death. Lady Lucan was grabbed from behind by a gloved hand and hit on the head by, she later claimed, her estranged husband. She managed to escape and ran out of the house and burst in the pub bloodstained and wet from the rain exclaiming that there had been a murder and that she believed the murderer still to be in her house along with her children. Later that night Lord Lucan told a friend that he had interrupted the murderer, slipped in a pool of blood (likely story!) and things didn’t look good for him (too right!) so had decided to flee. He hasn’t been seen since.

The middle part of the walk needs more research. However I do have 2 further fantastic pubs to be included.

Near to Hyde Park corner tube, just along from Pizza on the Park our guide took us down a very dodgy looking backstreet, where I would never have ventured by myself – Old Barrack Yard. Back in the mid 18th century this had been the entrance to a cow pasture on which a Foot Guards Barracks had been built. I wasn’t the only person in my group of fellow trainee tour guides who had never been to this part of Belgravia. As we turned the corner we arrived in a cobbled mews and at the end of this mews was a picture postcard pub, The Grenadier. It was impossible to believe that Hyde Park Corner was so close as it was completely peaceful. We didn’t have time to stop for a pint as had to be on our way but I will return.

Our final pub of the night where we did stop was the Star Tavern. It is in deepest Belgravia near to Belgrave Square in Belgrave Mews West. This is reputedly the place where the Great Train Robbery was planned. It was very busy on a Thursday night so obviously I will have to return to check it out at different times of the day and night!

After my course is finished I foresee that I might have to do a bit more exploring and sampling of the pubs in the area in order to put together a walk. I can see a full-time job of research for pub related walks all around the city. Watch this space …

One Response to London’s secret pub tours

  • I'm fascinated by pubs, too, Joanna, as are most of my family members. I'm lucky to live so near to all the historic taverns of Greenwich, but only recently found the best pub in Lewisham, tucked away in a back street. It's called the Dacre Arms.