Friday, 23 August 2013

A Pub Not to be Missed

A little while ago, I got a book called London Heritage Pubs, and amongst the top "Ten Pubs not to miss" was the Black Friar.
Last week, I finally made it there. We had a delicious meal, a mixed plate of nibbles to share, and a pleasant half of Adnams Fat Sprat (which they brew to support the Marine Conservation Society).
It's a long narrow building, which was once a corner on narrow streets - all gone now. We sat in the bar, which was impressive enough, with the frieze above the bar of cheery monks going about their business - but the Saloon was a marvel of marble and brass! There were little mottos attached to the pictures, such as "Tomorrow will be Friday" under a picture of the monks catching fish for their Friday meal, and "Don't Advertise it, Tell a Gossip".
The pub was almost lost, along with so much else in the redevelopments of the 1960s, and Sir John Betjeman the poet laureate was one of the famous people who campaigned to save it.
The reason for the name Black Friar is that there was a Priory of Dominican Friars, known as the Black Friars, in the area during the middle ages. Medieval Parliaments met there on occasion, and Henry VIII held his divorce hearing against Catherine of Aragon as a guest of the friars - and later dissolved the Priory along with all the other religious houses in Britain.

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