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The façade of the Cock and Hoop Tavern: A crime against architecture

The history of a lost Spitalfields pub, which was largely demolished apart from its façade.

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The old façade of the Cock A Hoop tavern in Spitalfields

When developers buy old buildings, there is often fear of what will become of them. Depending on what protections have been put in place by local councils, some can be changed beyond all recognition or even demolished. However, some buildings can be mostly destroyed with only the façade remaining. Sometimes this can be done with great sensitivity and the modern building can complement the older. However, there are some pretty horrendous examples of ‘façadism’, one of which I’m going to look at in this post.

Gun St facade © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

The windows of the façade don’t line up with the modern windows of Lilian Knowles House

Spitalfields is one of my favourite areas of London – I love the architecture, the history and the atmosphere. Admittedly there has been a lot of development in the past 10 years especially, both good and bad. However, when wandering around the back streets of the area, I often sigh when passing by this shocking example of façadism.

On the corner of Gun Street and Artillery Lane stands what remains of the Cock A Hoop tavern. Today, only the 19th century façade remains, with the modern Lilian Knowles House student housing behind. What is so bizarre, is the windows of Lilian Knowles House don’t even line up with the façade’s windows so residents would have limited lighting and views of brick walls… a very strange design decision.

The Cock A Hoop tavern was established by 1788 at No.1 Gun Street when it was being run by victualler Richard Borstman. By 1805, it was run by Thomas Lloyd, with Joseph Hammond following five years later. I’m presuming (although please comment if I’m wrong!), that name referred to an earlier building on the site and the current façade we see today is the second building. The pub belonged to Meux’s Brewery, owned by brewer Henry Meux (1770-1841) and subsequently his son, MP Sir Henry Meux (1817-1883). Although the brewery no longer exists, its name became infamous due to the London Beer Flood of 1814. At the time, the company was named Meux And Company and its brewery was based on Tottenham Court Road – around the current site of the Dominion Theatre. Surrounding the brewery was the incredibly impoverished slums of St Giles. On 17 October, one of huge vats ruptured, spilling 323,000 imperial gallons of beer onto the surrounding streets. The beer flooded basement homes and destroyed several buildings, resulting in the deaths of eight people, half of which were children. Meux and Co were taken to court, but amazingly managed to escape prosecution, with the judge and jury claiming the spill was an ‘Act of God’. The brewery was later demolished in 1922, with the Dominion Theatre going up on the site in 1928-29. Read the rest of this entry

The Stonhouse review: Hearty British fare in this cosy gastropub

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Pub fare: Sirloin steak and chips at The Stonhouse

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Apple Pie cocktail

Clapham covers a huge area, and within that area, a huge wealth of eating choices. However, for those looking for a more laid-back culinary experience, or a seamless fusion from eating to drinking, a gastropub is always a good option. While a lot of Clapham‘s restaurants stand on busy thoroughfares such as the High Street or Northcote Road, The Stonhouse stands on a quiet side street off the High Street, just a few minutes walk from Clapham Common tube station. The Stonhouse includes a variety of tabled seating areas, long bar and an all-weather pub garden. I had booked a table for two for a Saturday night through TopTable, but you can also book direct through their website.

The pub is light, contemporary and bright, featuring a mix of leather and wooden seating. We were given a table by the windows with comfortable leather armchairs – which I’m sure prompted us to stay in the pub drinking longer than we anticipated. Given it was a cold November night, the pub was warm and cosy immediately upon entering. The clientele was a mix of young professionals in their 20s and 30s, mostly groups of friends, giving the venue a relaxed vibe.

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Fish pie and seasonal greens

As I arrived earlier than my friend, I ordered a cocktail from the extensive and original menu to enjoy while I waited for her. I started with the Apple Pie – Zumbrowka vodka, fresh muddled apple, fresh lemon juice, soda and cinnamon sprinkles to garnish. The drink was refreshing with subtle flavours, meaning it was a good accompaniment to a meal.

As we were both opting for a hearty mains, we decided against having a starter as well. I ordered a Halibut, Salmon & Prawn pie, which was served with a mashed potato topping with a side order of seasonal greens. The pie was a perfect size for me – was filling, hearty and tasty – but didn’t leave me feeling heavy afterwards. The side vegetables were incredibly fresh and rich in flavour, but got cold on the side plate incredibly quickly. My friend ordered Sirloin Steak and Chips, nicely presented on a chopping board with a side salad. It was an impressive 10z slab and my friend said it was rich and delicious.

Overall, we had a leisurely, relaxed dinner. The service was friendly and fast. There was no pressure to leave after we finished so we stayed on and enjoyed some more cocktails. It was a comfortable place to spend the evening with both good food and a place to drink. I could easily see The Stonhouse becoming a regular spot for me.

  • 165 Stonhouse Street, Clapham, SW4 6BJ.  Tel: 020 7819 9312. Nearest station: Clapham Common. For more information, visit the Stonhouse website.

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The Bridge House review: Seasonal pub grub in theatrical surroundings

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Delicioso! Gnocchi with wild mushrooms, roasted squash, spinach and cannellini beans

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Lots of light: The airy pub features ample seating in the space

Little Venice is one of the most picturesque suburbs of London so it’s easy to see why people are drawn to it. However, amongst the canal boats and seven-figure properties, is a pub with rather more to offer than your usual drinking hole.

The Bridge House is located on the south side of the Regent’s Canal on the corner of Westbourne Terrace Road and Delamere Terrace. The white stuccoed exterior of the building fits nicely in the row of Georgian terraces. With such great views of Little Venice nearby, the pub has suitably large windows and high ceilings, letting in lots of light. With the Canal Cafe Theatre located upstairs, the theatrical theme infiltrates to the pub below with chandeliers, benches and red velvet dotted throughout. For those who want a bit of comfort, there are plush leather sofas and fireplaces to roar with warmth in the winter.

A group of friends and I who all happened to have a day off at the same time ended up at the Bridge House on a Monday afternoon. After working up an appetite with a long walk along the canal, we were pretty hungry and thirsty. While the pub was understandably quiet when we arrived around 3pm, once office hours finished, the pub quickly filled up. Of course, when the theatre is open, the pub is likely to be incredibly busy.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

The airy interior features dramatic chandeliers, reed velvet and varnished wood

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

The entrance on Westbourne Terrace Road gives the customer the option for culture or food and booze

The pub offers 11 speciality beers and four real ales, although I’m more of a cider girl myself so ordered a bottle of Thatcher’s – quite apt given it was the week of ex-PM Margaret Thatcher’s funeral – which was a medium, dry cider. There is also an extensive spirits collection, as you would expect, so I opted for vodka and lemonade after my post-lunch tipples.

Although rather late for lunch, my friends and I ordered one anyway from the all-day menu. Two of us opted for the Gnocchi with wild mushrooms, roasted squash, spinach and cannellini beans. The food arrived swiftly and the service was friendly and prompt. The dish was really tasty. The gnocchi was perfectly cooked, with the spinach giving the carb-heavy dish a lighter feel. I ate the lot incredibly quickly due to a combination of hunger and enjoying it so much.

The setting of the pub could not be beaten, with the adjoining theatre upstairs giving your night out the potential option of a bit of culture – ticket sales permitting of course. The 60 seat theatre hosts cabaret, stand-up comedy and one man (or woman) shows. The range of drinks was as you’d expect in a pub, with a wide menu catering to various diets and food allergies. I highly recommend The Bridge House for day or evening. I can’t wait for the summer to try out their garden.

To read other Metro Girl restaurant and bar reviews, click here.

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The Bridge House is a stone’s throw from the Regent’s Canal in the heart of Little Venice

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