Monday, January 22, 2024

'Ye Olde Mitre'

London The Unfinished City
Ye Olde Mitre.

London is full of narrow, winding alleyways that link various streets and roads together. Some are short passages, while others meander and twist. The majority, however, hide nothing of real interest. 

But, I had heard of one alley, near Hatton Garden, that has a historic public house nestled midway down its length. So I set about locating it. 

As this public house is located within the City of London it is only open on weekdays, so I made a point of heading to the area on a Monday morning.

Walking along Holborn I crossed Hatton Garden, which I could have taken as this has an alley leading to the pub, and turned on to Charterhouse Street. After a few more steps I turned on to Ely Place and began looking for the alley.

It didn't take long before I peered along a narrow alley which was bisected vertically with an iron bar, obviously put in place to stop cyclists taking a shortcut, and soon found myself in the small courtyard of Ye Olde Mitre. 

London The Unfinished City
A small, but cosy, courtyard.

This courtyard, although narrow, had old upturned barrels on which patrons could rest their drinks, while flower baskets hung from walls. A brass and glass lamp hung from the exterior, of the pub, which looked as though it offered plenty of illumination in the evenings.

I was pleasantly surprised, as I stepped inside, as the interior was in keeping with style of the pub's facade and, after, purchasing a drink I sat at a table and took in my surroundings.

London The Unfinished City
The bar and stairs leading to upstairs seating.

The main bar was cosy and there was an upstairs dining area and a 'snug' area. 

London The Unfinished City
Ode to the Snug.

A fireplace, set into the wall, showed lots of use, which was good to see, as radiators and heating lamps tend to dry out the air in pubs.

London The Unfinished City
Bottles everywhere.

Shelves, mounted at the top of the walls, were filled with empty beer and lager bottles, while porcelain jugs hung from the roof beams.

London The Unfinished City
Plenty of jugs.

As time ticked by the pub began to fill with office workers and the like, so I finished my drink and, after taking a few photos, made my way outside to continue my walk.

Brief History

The building, originally built in 1546 for the servants of the Bishops of Ely, is famous for having a cherry tree, around which Queen Elizabeth I was said to have once danced around with Sir Christopher Hatton. It is more likely  that the tree was used a Maypole, which was a popular thing to do at that time.

Considering that this now builtup area was once gardens with fruit trees and vineyards, in the grounds of the Bishop of Ely's Palace in, guess what, Ely Place.

Ely Palace, which was built in the 13th century, was deemed to be "a palace of such outstanding beauty that it does not belong in London". And so, unbelievably, the bishops declared Ely Palace part of Cambridgeshire.  

London The Unfinished City
A hidden gem of a pub.

The pub was built in 1773, a year after Ely Palace was demolished, with the cherry tree now supporting the front of the building. Further extensions took place in 1782. The interiors were remodelled in the early 1930s.

The pub is situated close to Smithfield, where martyrs, traitors and a certain William Wallace were executed.

As this area was declared a part of Cambridgeshire licensees of the pub had to travel to Cambridge for their licence. Cambridgeshire would continue to administer to Ye Olde Mitre’s licensing laws until the 1960s.

The Ye Olde Mitre is Grade II listed.

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