London Pubs Named After Sort-Of-Famous People

The Sir Richard Steele gets a paint job. Image by M@.

The following list excludes the countless pubs commemorating kings, queens, lords, dukes, admirals and marquises. We’ve also left out any places with super-famous dedicatees such as the two pubs named after Charles Dickens and The Alexander Fleming. Still, the list is far from exhaustive, and we welcome additions in the comments below.

Henry Addington (Canary Wharf): Addington (1757-1844) was Prime Minister in the early 19th Century. Largely forgotten these days, he was responsible for building the Martello towers around Britain’s coast, to ward off Napoleonic invasion.

Betjeman Arms (King’s Cross): Perhaps the most famous person on the list, John Betjeman (1906-1984) was Poet Laureate and a campaigner to save historic buildings…such as St Pancras Station, where his pub and statue can be found.

Sir Michael Balcon (Ealing): Film maker Michael Balcon (1896-1977) was head honcho at Ealing Studios during its golden era, overseeing films such as Passport to Pimlico and The Lavender Hill Mob. He’s commemorated in the name of the local Wetherspoons.

Jeremy Bentham (Bloomsbury): Bentham (1748-1832) was a noted philosopher and social reformer, famous for his hub and spoke prisons and his belief that the needs of the many outweigh those of the individual. He’s also the only incumbent on this list whose body is preserved nearby — you can see his physical remains (minus the head) inside UCL’s main building.

Richmal Crompton (Bromley): Richmal Crompton Lamburn (1890-1969) was the author of the seemingly endless series of Just William books. She also taught in Bromley and died in the borough.

Thomas Cubitt (Belgravia): Cubitt (1788-1855) developed much of the posh housing stock in 19th Century London, with large estates in Bloomsbury and Belgravia, where his statue and pub can now be found.

William Webb Ellis (Twickenham): The location should give it away, even for those who don’t follow rugby. Ellis (1806-1872) was a clergyman credited with inventing the sport, when (according to tradition if not verifiable fact) he picked up and ran with a football while a pupil at Rugby School.

Alfred Herring (Palmers Green): Named after a local soldier who fought an heroic counter-attack and defence during a battle at Montagne Bridge, France in 1918. He subsequently won the Victoria Cross, and the even greater prestige of having a Wetherspoons dedicated to him.

Charles Lamb (Angel): This lovely Islington pub carries the name of the writer (1775-1834) who, with his sister Mary, penned the much celebrated Tales From Shakespeare for children. Lamb lived on nearby Colebrooke Row, and Mary was detained in a local psychiatric hospital. Their tragic story is told in Peter Ackroyd’s novel The Lambs of London.

Sir John Oldcastle (Farringdon): This unremarkable Wetherspoons pub is named for the very remarkable John Oldcastle (died 1417) who challenged religious authority, rebelled against the king, escaped from the Tower of London, was recaptured and executed, then became the character of Falstaff in three of Shakespeare’s history plays. He probably deserves to have a pub named after him, and probably a better one than this.

Montagu Pyke (Charing Cross Road): Another Wetherspoons, this time named after the eponymous cinema builder, who created this high-ceilinged space as the last of his chain of 16 picture houses.

Sir Richard Steele (Belsize Park): This much-loved pub, halfway between Belsize Park and Chalk Farm, and the local area, sometimes known as Steeles Village, are named after writer and politician Richard Steele (1672-1729), who co-founded the Spectator and lived in a famous house on the site of the pub.

John Snow (Soho): The good doctor (1813-1858) discovered that cholera is a water-borne disease, by plotting incidents on a map. Most sufferers clustered around a tainted water pump on Broadwick Street. A replica of the pump can still be seen, and Dr Snow’s practice is marked by the pub named after the teetotal physician.

Holland Tringham (Streatham): Another Wetherspoons commemorating a local notable. Tringham (1861-1908) was a Streatham artist known for his illustrations of south London, some of which hang within the pub.

Betsey Trotwood (Farringdon): The only non-existent dedicatee on our list was the great aunt and guardian of David Copperfield in the Dickens novel. We’re not entirely sure why the pub took this name in 1983…any thoughts welcome in the comments below.

Edgar Wallace (Fleet Street): Wallace (1875-1932) was one of the most famous writers of his day, penning 175 novels and many plays. Despite this vast oeuvre, his only work that’s maintained significant popular appreciation is King Kong. A plaque on Fleet Street records his early career as a journalist for the Daily Mail.

This article is part of our Best of London Food and Drink series. Visit the page for more recommendations of where to enjoy the capital’s top food and drink, categorised by cuisine, food type and more.

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  • Dean Nicholas

    Be interesting to speculate about which famous people of our era will have their name emblazoned above a pub door in years to come… will we be sinking brews at the Boris Johnson, or doing sambuca shots at the Sebastian Coe?

    • MattFromLondonist

      Excellent question. I reckon Jeffrey Bernard deserves one.

  • Frugal City Girl

    Obligatory link to Pubology’s “Pubs named after Londoners” post:

  • Dave Hodgkinson

    What no Colonel Fawcett?

    • MattFromLondonist

      Want to tell us about him?

  • Wilko

    The wetherspoons in Hammersmith is named the William Morris after the 19th Century writer, who happened to live in Hammersmith towards the end of his life.

    Does four time PM William Gladstone count as too famous for this list? If not then one of my personal favourite pubs, The Glad in Borough, is named after him including a picture above the door.

    • MattFromLondonist

      Cheers. I excluded both Morris and Gladstone as ‘superfamous’, but good to have them noted in the comments.

  • Tim Nolan

    The late great Humphrey Lyttelton has a pub named after him on Camden High St – just on the corner of Mornington Crescent.

    • MattFromLondonist

      Aha, yes, good call. I walked past it only last night.

  • Linus

    a ) Henry Addington is more likely to be named after the first ship to enter West India Docks.

    b) Bentham isn’t “sort-of-famous”.

    • MattFromLondonist

      b) It’s subjective. He’ll be very well known to certain people and those who hang out in Bloomsbury, but the vast majority of Londoners will never have heard of him, I suspect. He’s certainly not a household name like Dickens.

  • jeremy_inc

    Myddelton Arms in Canonbury/Islington at the end of the old New River – which was “built” by Sir Hugh Myddelton

  • simon

    Merian C. Cooper really created king kong, Edgar Wallace only part-contributed to the script.

  • Peter Russell

    The more relevant fact in the Dr John Snow story is that he discovered that workers in the nearby brewery seemed to be immune to cholera. The reason being that they were given a special weak “Small Beer” (brewed with the left-overs from other beers) that they drunk in place of the infected water – the act of brewing had, of course, killed of all signs of cholera from the water.

  • jfe

    The Edmund Halley pub (Wetherspoons) in Lee Green named after the astronomer who gave his name to Halley’s Comet and is buried at the nearby St. Margaret’s Church… also the Walpole Pub in New Cross, which has recently closed and sadly will apparently be demolished, is named after Sir Robert Walpole, the first Prime Minister.

  • Whali

    There’s Turners Old Star in Wapping, named after the painter. He was a regular in the area and set his mistress up as the landlady here. Too famous for this list?

  • Knightmare

    What about “Dirty Dicks”? Must be named after someone?

    • Whali

      If you mean the place in Liverpool st, it is. There’s a whole history about a notorious old hoarder whose junk ended up ‘furnishing’ the pub.

  • David Robinson

    the Hunter S in de Beauvour Town, named for the legendary writer, is very good

  • zero

    George Canning: at least two, one in East Dulwich and another somewhere else(!)

  • Clive Yelf

    Possible the oddest named pub in this category could be the Burn Bullock Pub on Mitcham Cricket Green (oldest cricket pitch in the world) which is named after the Surrey and Mitcham cricketer. I had heard it was because of some prodigiously large hit, but that may be apocryphal. Also a newish Weatherspoons in Raynes Park called the Edward Rayne after the local landowner and the HG Wells pub in Cheam named after the (possibly too) famous author. Someone mentioned the George Canning. There used to be one in Brixton on Brixton Water Lane/Effra Road but it may have since been renamed.

  • Alejandro Gonzalez
  • Sophie

    Daniel Defoe in Stoke newington