By Angela Green, Content Executive, H&C News: Historic England Protection given to 11 remarkable pubs.
Historic England, the public body that helps people care for, enjoy and celebrate England’s spectacular historic environment has given Protection status to 11 really remarkable pubs across England.
Whitelock’s Ale House in Leeds, one of a small number of Victorian ‘luncheon bars’ has been upgraded from Grade II to the second highest grade, Grade II* by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on the advice of Historic England.
Described by Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman as ‘the very heart of Leeds’, Whitelock’s became a favourite watering hole for celebrities including actor Peter O’Toole, star of epic 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia and Prima Ballerina Assoluta Dame Margaret Evelyn (Margot Fonteyn).
Whitelock’s is one of the best examples of a late-19th century luncheon bar.
It retains its 1895 interior decorative scheme and a wealth of high-quality features, including fixed-bench seating, brass barley-twist columns, stained-glass windows, an abundance of mirrors and a rare ceramic-tiled bar counter.
The pub’s long narrow yard also reflects its original medieval plan. In 1897 when electric lighting was installed there was a futuristic revolving searchlight at the entrance to draw customers in. It soon gained the reputation amongst the arts world of being the social and cultural hub of Leeds
A second pub, Prince Alfred in Maida Vale, London has also been upgraded to Grade II*. This pub, with its lavish fittings and exceptionally well-preserved bar compartments, dates from the height of the pub boom in the 1890s and gives a clear sense of the way pubs would have looked and functioned.
Five small compartments, each with its own entrance, radiate from an elaborate peninsula servery. The drinking compartments are divided by ornate screens, all of them with a low service door to allow ‘pot boys’ to duck through to collect the glasses.
The original set of ‘snob screens’ to the Ladies Bar was designed to give privacy to women ordering at the bar here. The screens are an extraordinarily rare survival with only around eight authentic sets known to remain in pubs across England.
A pair of cast-iron lamp standards at the front of The Prince Alfred have also been newly listed at Grade II. Lamp standard adjacent to the south entrance of the Prince Albert and Lamp standard to the south-west of the Prince Alfred.
Erected around 1898, they are a very rare example of lamps installed to draw in passing custom at a time when lighting was not common place on residential London streets. Only a very small number of these lamp standards are known to survive.
These two Grade II* listed pubs are among the top 5.8% of protected historic buildings in England and are in the company of the Old Bailey Court of Justice in London.
There are also two new listings in London.
Blythe Hill Tavern (Grade II) with its unusual T-shaped layout was designed to create a serving counter in each of the three rooms. The inter-war fittings survive throughout, including curved counters, freestanding benches, imitation wood panelling, and two fireplaces – one with a decorated metal hood and another with a grey-blue tiled surround featuring a sailing ship.
The second pub to be newly listed (Grade II) is the inter-war estate pub, Admiral Vernon in Dagenham.
Built to serve the Becontree Estate, one of the largest and most ambitious council estates of the period, its interior is much as it was when its first customers walked through its doors in the 1930s. It has kept important elements of its original plan, fittings and character, built in the popular ‘Brewers’ Tudor style with characteristic timber-framing and brick chimney stacks and an almost completely intact interior, including a games room, private bar, saloon bar and publican’s offices behind the counter.
Another seven pubs around the country have had new information added to their list descriptions which highlights their historic interiors. They are:
EAST OF ENGLAND
The King’s Head (Low House), Gorams Mill Lane, Laxfield IP13 8DW (Grade II) – This village pub dates to the 16th century and was extended in the 18th century. The front doorway leads into the main bar, which is dominated by high freestanding bench seats, the backs of which define a corridor around the room. This is a rare, historic arrangement paralleled at the North Star, Steventon in Oxfordshire (see below). The servery, which is also the ‘cellar’ has no counter, with beer served directly from casks. It is one of just seven pubs in England which still retains this unusual arrangement.
LONDON AND THE SOUTH EAST
The Red Lion, 2 Duke of York Street, London, SW1Y 6JP (Grade II) -This is one of London’s most remarkable pubs and a fine example of a Victorian gin palace-style. It was built in 1821 but its frontage was reworked in 1871 by architect W H Rawlings. There are three doorways at the front of the pub, which is a sign that it was subdivided internally with separate spaces round the central servery. There is a glass panel from a doorway marked ‘private bar’, which gives access to a glittering room at the back lined with etched and diamond-cut mirrors. It is a showcase of the finest late Victorian pub-fitting.
The Harrow Inn, Steep, Petersfield GU32 2DA (Grade II) – This roadside inn dates to around the 18th century or possibly earlier. It’s well-located at the meeting of six roads, including two known routes for cattle drovers headed for Alton or the Farnham Corn Market, which in the middle of the 18th century was one the largest in the south of England. Phases of the building’s history can be read through its timber frame, smokehood, inglenook and beams. It retains many historical features including informal bar hatches, rather than bar fronts.
The North Star Inn, 2 Stocks Lane, Steventon, Oxfordshire OX13 6SG (Grade II) – The North Star Inn dates to the late-16th or 17th centuries and may have originally been a house before converting to a pub. The main bar contains freestanding bench seats with arms and a high back that are normally found in country kitchens. They form a rectangle focusing on the warmth of the fireplace. There is no bar counter, a rarity in itself – service is instead via a stable door from the ground-floor cellar and from a hatch to the garden. A second room is served from a hatch to the cellar.
The Victoria, Victoria Hotel, St Johns Street, Great Harwood, Blackburn BB6 7EP (Grade II) – A fine Edwardian pub of 1905 with an intact northern ‘lobby plan’ arrangement. The lobby, drinking corridor and staircase all have full-height Art Nouveau tiling with flower motifs. Five rooms lead off the lobby, mostly with original fittings. Four are named in the door glass – the Commercial Room, Parlour, Public Kitchen and the Bar Parlour.
The Black Horse, 166 Friargate, Preston, Lancashire PR1 2EJ (Grade II) – An impressive pub from the boom years of Victorian urban pub building. It was rebuilt in 1898 to the designs of local architect J A Seward for Kay’s Atlas Brewery of Manchester. The Orchard Street entrance leads into a remarkable public bar, with mosaic flooring and a semi-circular ceramic counter.
Bridge Inn, Bridge Hill, Topsham, EX3 0QQ (Grade II) – This former malthouse with kiln has been run by the same family since 1897 and still retains many of its historic features. The entrance leads to a panelled corridor, on the left of which is the tap room. There are freestanding bench seats, a large stone fireplace, a salt cupboard and a hatch to a parlour through which drinks are fetched from the ground-floor cellar. The parlour area is a private space where customers may be invited to sit – only a handful of pubs are thought to have similar rooms where customers may sit behind a working serving area.
The list of pubs was put forward by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) Pub Heritage Group, as part of an on-going collaboration between Historic England and CAMRA to protect historic pubs and their interiors.
Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive, Historic England said: “At a time when many historic pubs in England are susceptible to change or at risk of closure, we are pleased to celebrate pubs that have kept their remarkable interiors. These rare interiors help tell the fascinating story of pubs over the centuries and how they reflected society. From celebrity haunt Whitelock’s Ale House in Leeds to the Prince Alfred in London with its ‘snob screens’, they all fully deserve the protection given by listing.”