Article type Event
Published 4th July 2014
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Greenwich's pubs have a fascinating history embodying old London and a rich maritime heritage
The Trafalgar Tavern is located alongside the Thames, and is recognised for its plethora of distinguished guests and selection of hearty English foods. Harking back to 1837, the Trafalgar was named after the Battle in which Admiral Horatio Nelson was killed. This revived plot of land had previously been home to the Old George, an old Waterman’s inn with a haunted background. Ghosts from the Old George are said to appear at the main bar of the current pub, clothed in Georgian dress, immediately leaving through the fireplace that had previously been the site of the inn’s door.
This charming pub has played host to an extensive list of famous names, ranging from writers Charles Dickens and William Thackeray to political figures like William Gladstone. What these guests had in common was their love of the Trafalgar’s piece de resistance, its whitebait supper. Still popular today, Dickens’ son is said to have proclaimed, ‘There is no such hangover as the one that follows a whitebait supper at the Trafalgar’.
The concept of renaming a pub was not uncommon in the past, as proven through the birth of the Gipsy Moth and the Cutty Sark Tavern. Previously recognised as the Wheatsheaf, this 18th Century pub was christened the Gipsy Moth to honour the arrival of the Gypsy Moth IV, following Francis Chichester’s single-handed and successful 1967 voyage around the world.
Similarly, the grade II listed Cutty Sark Tavern had until 1954 been under the name of the Union, before making the switch following the permanent return of the famous ship. Tracing back to 1805, the newly-dubbed Cutty Sark Tavern mirrors the inside of the 18th century ship, through its low-beamed ceilings and creaky wooden floors.
With history sewn straight into the hearts of its pubs, Greenwich’s taverns and inns embody Old London and its profound Maritime history; making for a special atmosphere that can feel like you are stepping into the past.