The Prospect of Whitby is London's oldest riverside inn, originally known as the 'Devil's Tavern', in 1777 it was renamed after the collier from Whitby in Yorkshire which regularly moored alongside.This old tavern has changed little since the Days of Samuel Pepys and Charles Dickens who, amongst others, often dropped in for a drink or two, once a notorious smugglers den the old pub tavern retains its Victorian atmosphere and must not be missed ..... |
Excerpts below are taken from the booklet
"Prospect of Whitby - History along London's River",
and reproduced with thanks to:
'THE PROSPECT OF WHITBY'
A national monument
Originally built in 1520, during the reign of King Henry Vlll th, this timber framed country house surrounded by gardens and fringed with marshland, became a tavern, an ideal meeting place for river thieves and smugglers.
It became locally known as the 'Devil's tavern', in those days the Thames was a wider and wilder river, and Wapping Wall formed the only barrier
to flooding, which was then a potential threat along the River.
From the 16th Century, shipping in and out of London increased as trade
with the rest of the World grew. Ships from abroad had to berth mid-stream
and were dependent upon flat-bottomed lighters piloted by lightermen to
transport the goods from ship to shore.
This encouraged pilfering and other nefarious activities, and the location of the 'Devil's tavern' was an ideal meeting place for the thieves and smugglers to hatch many a plan and deal, they were the life-blood of Wapping's shady economy, and not many were left untouched by it.
In 1777 the landlord renamed the tavern 'Prospect of Whitby' after a collier called 'The Prospect', a square rigged vessel with three masts, weighing 373 tons, built and registered in Whitby, North Yorkshire, regularly moored outside the tavern it became a local landmark, the tavern often being referred to as 'the one by the 'Prospect of Whitby'.
Samuel Pepys, a frequent visitor to the 'Prospect of Whitby', wrote in his diary, 1660-1669, about disturbances caused by sailors in the Wapping area, many Royal Navy men lived there during the reign of King Charles 2nd.
Samuel Johnson, 18th Century English lexicographer, critic and conversationalist, recommended to his listeners that they explore Wapping to see 'such modes of life as few could imagine'.
Henry Mayhew, an early 19th Century social observer captured the nature of the area when he wrote:
"The open streets themselves have all more or less a maritime character. Every other shop is either stocked with gear for either ship or for the sailor. The windows of one house are filled with quadrants and bright brass segments, chronometers, and huge mariners compasses, with their cards trembling with the motion of the cabs and wagons passing in the street. Then comes the sailors cheap shoe market, rejoicing in the sign of 'Jack tar and his Mother'...then comes sailmakers, their windows stowed with ropes and lines smelling with tar. All the grocers are provision-merchants, and exhibit in their windows the cases of meat and biscuits; and every article is warranted to keep in any climate. The people alone would tell you that you were in the maritime district of London. Now you meet a satin-waistcoated mate, or a black sailor with his large fur cap, or else a Custom-House officer in his brass-buttoned jacket"
'PROSPECT OF WHITBY'
Telephone 020 7481 1095