traveling and meeting other cultures: ideas, destinations, reviews and tips
The Old Bank of England - Pub in London
Lightbox (12) Tags: england europe food london pubs traditional-cuisine uk united-kingdom Posted: Feb. 10, 2010 by Serge
View on Fleet Street (London, UK). In the background you can see facade of The Royal Courts of Justice. That' where Fleet St. ends and The Strand begins. The Old Bank of England is in the building before the Courts.
The Royal Courts of Justice (commonly called the Law Courts) on The Strand, London occupies a neo-medieval (Victorian Gothic) style grey stone building. It was opened by Queen Victoria in December 1882. Courts within the building are generally open to the public.
The Old Bank of England pub in London, UK. It is a relatively new pub (opened in 1995) in a building formerly occupied by Law Courts Branch of the Bank of England.
The Old Bank of England, entrance to the pub. The grandeur of doors inherited from the former bank is clearly seen.
The Old Bank of England - iron cast is used in decorating the pub. Together with dark wood and brass fixtures it creates an environment typical for traditional pubs in London.
The Old Bank of England
194 Fleet Street, Temple, City of London, London EC4A 2LT
The Old Bank of England, although it looks from inside like a traditional London pub, in reality is almost a newcomer - it was opened in 1995. However, this traditional feel and look is not accidental. It is located in a building where The Bank of England had been trading for 87 years, until 1975. When the bank branch closed its doors, after a series of deal, almost 20 years later, the lease was acquired in 1994 by London brewers, Fuller, Smith and Turner Plc. which had big plans for the prime location of the building. Indeed, after a major refurbishment effort, the premises were restored to their former glory. What used to be the Law Courts' branch of The Bank of England is now The Old Bank of England pub, quite popular among Londoners and tourist alike.
As with many other things in London, there are some gruesome stories associated with the place and its past. According to what we heard from the people who run the pub, the current location of the building lies between the site of a barbershop owned by Sweeney Todd, and the pie shop owned by Mrs. Lovett, his mistress. Both names are known now because of "The Demon Barber of Fleet Street," a 2007 film (with Johnny Depp) about an English barber who used to murder his customers with a razor and, with the help of his accomplice to turn their remains into meat pies. Thus, those victims were butchered before being cooked and sold in pies somewhere in the tunnels and vaults below the present building.
By the way, as the former bank branch, the building still contains in its basement the original vaults used to store bullion and even some of the crown Jewels during the First World War. Some of these vaults were transformed into cellars and kitchens; however, the main vault is intact (obviously, no bullion).
The current owner did a very good job in restoring the interior - solid and sturdy, just what you'd expect of a bank. Fuller's Brewery spent a fortune decorating the pub for which it commissioned new murals. Large columns, high ornate plaster ceiling, three large brass chandeliers, gold and black curtains framing the huge windows help achieve the overall opulent and rich feel and look.
The focal point of the pub is its central bar structure that is so tall that it almost reaches the ceiling (a ladder is needed to reach the top shelf). The bar and shelves are full of regular pub paraphernalia - the whole thing is very impressive and attractive. I cannot but mention a gallery with limited seating. If you want a nice spot with a good view on everything in the pub, that will be your place.
As I already mentioned, the pub is very popular and at times it's very difficult to get a seat especially at lunchtimes and early evenings. It offers the usual Fullers range of beers plus wine and cider. The pub makes a serious effort to offer good food (mostly in line with traditional British cuisine). In my explorations, the food offered is a bit better than in many other pubs I've been in London. There is also a restaurant area; as in many other places, the food is offered from 12pm to 9pm which really does not matter much since the pub is opened 11am - 11pm (closed on weekends).
Prices are moderate. For example, Golden Pride 500 is £3.95 (all prices are 2009); tea - £1.75. Most dishes are below £10 (for example, Bacon Cheese Burger is £9.50, Grilled Hake - £9.55); soup of the day - £4.25, appetizers are £4 - £5.
I want to finish this brief review by saying that if you want to experience a decent pub in London and typical British cookery in a comfortable place, perhaps The Old Bank of England is the place to go.
The bar area of the Old Bank of England pub.
The Old Bank of England looks like a traditional London pub due to the rich and meticulously restored interior (with new murals) of the former Law Courts Branch of the Bank of England.
The Old Bank of England pub - a table on the pub' gallery, a vantage point to observe the decor and guests.
The Old Bank of England pub - view from its gallery to the entrance.
The Old Bank of England pub - view from its gallery to the dining area.
The Old Bank of England pub - view from gallery to bar area.
The Old Bank of England pub has a restored interior with new murals.