Williamson's Tavern, St. Paul's
Whatever the hocus-pocus about this being London's oldest excise licence and a watering hole since shortly after the Great Fire of London the reality is most of the actual structure dates from the 1930's. But it's kept the magic. The location is superb - tucked in a courtyard off an alley from Bow Lane through the magnificent wrought iron gates presented by William III after he'd enjoyed what must have been a particularly fine pint. It's basically two inter-linked bars. The smaller, simply furnished front bar boasts probably the most uncomfortable benches ever designed, the fairly substantial back bar includes a range of hard and soft seating and a separate dining area with decent food from snacks to full meals. Charming staff dispense great beers from a fine range including, on this visit, Deuchars IPA, Spitfire, and Adnam's Broadside. It can get busy - and nowhere round here is safe from the braying yahoo-in-a suit brigade - but seats and a quiet (ish) corner can usually be found if required. Oh and did we mention the ghosts? Hocus-pocus you sneer. But at least one long serving barmaid flatly refuses to do evening shifts after one experience too many. And it's said that police dog patrols have the devil's own job to persuade their canine chums to venture anywhere near the place.
1 Groveland Court, St. Paul's, London, EC4M 9EH
020 7248 6280
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How to find the Williamson's Tavern pub
Groveland Court is a little alleyway off Bow Lane (itself not much more than an alley) about half way along. Bow Church is sign posted from all three stations and Bow Lane is the alley down the side of it.