Thanks to the Great Fire and other calamities, Central London has very few surviving Tudor buildings, and not a single extant Tudor pub. But you can still stitch together a very jolly crawl around some of the finer 'mock Tudor' venues of Zone 1.
1. Tudor Rose, 44 Blandford Street
Seen from the outside, it's hard not to use the word 'quaint' when describing the Tudor Rose. Three storeys of white and black timber shine magnificently in the early summer sun. Inside, the dark-panelled walls and tightly leaded windows provide a cosy, almost Medieval feel. We suspect this would make a fine stopping point on a cold winter night, although the choice of real ales is a little slim (Theakstons and Pride). The roads round this part of Marylebone are not so busy of a weekend, and fine sport can be made from sitting outside watching Sherlock Holmes tours go by. A restaurant upstairs serves homely food from a menu embossed with the Tudor rose.
2. Coach and Horses, Coach and Horses, 5 Bruton Street
This tiny Mayfair pub not only transports you back to days of yore with its dainty timber frontage, it does so Tardis-style thanks to an impossibly deceptive interior/exterior ratio. The C&H is what most guides would describe as a 'good old-fashioned boozer', with plenty of real ales and horse racing on the tellie (well, it was the Grand National). If downstairs is too crowded, there's a cute wedge-shaped space upstairs where you can look out on the barely discernible valley of the River Tyburn (which also flows close to the Tudor Rose). An odd selection of food (trad pub grub, plus low-fat frozen yoghurt with berries) can be enjoyed beneath a rose-decorated ceiling. There's even a proper royal connection here. The sprog who would one day become Queen Elizabeth II was born a few doors along Bruton Street.
3. The Three Greyhounds, 25 Greek Street
From the rarefied air of Marylebone and Mayfair, we move to the more Tudorified hedonism of Soho. The Three Greyhounds has the most extravagant facade yet, climbing three storeys into the Soho sky. It's a difficult place to relax - on a busy West-End nexus there's never a shortage of drinkers and the large windows are perfect for watching the varied denizens of Old Compton Street going about their business. Tune out of the buzz for a few moments and several features hark back to our period of interest. There's the off-white, off-level ceiling, for starters, and the crooked steps leading down to the toilets, which would probably fail even Tudor standards of Health and Safety. The menu tells us that the place dates from 1873, before bargepoling in a tenuous Henry VIII connection (Soho was a Tudor hunting ground). Good beer and wooden wonders raise this otherwise typical tourist-town pub to something vaguely decent.
4. The George, 213 Strand
Again, real connections to the Tudors are scant, but The George wears its mock frock of timbers with style. Facing off against the Victorian Gothic of the Royal Courts of Justice, this stretch of road is an architectural theme park. The George is one of 18,000 pubs said to be a regular haunt of Samuel Johnson, but this one holds more water (and beer) than most. The dictionary compiler's statue stands a few feet away, and his former home is just along Fleet Street. The interior is elongated and gloomy. N'er a ray of natural light troubles the bar area, but copper dazzle reflects from the best-buffed tables we've ever seen. The beer selection includes Doombar and OTT, a seriously weird fruit-liquorice concoction at 6% alcohol. Not for everyone. There are few Tudor trappings, save for the 'Bloody Mary' crisps, but paintings of assorted royalty from the Georgian era grace the back wall.
5. Hung, Drawn And Quartered, 26-27 Great Tower Street
That's pretty much how we felt by the time we reached the final stop. The HD&Q stands close to Tower Hill, scene of so many Tudor executions. It's the only pub on our crawl that lacks distinctive joinery, built instead into what looks like an 18th brick warehouse with neo-classical touches. What it does have is numerous portraits of the Tudor A-listers, including Thomas More and Henry VIII himself. Beer is by the reliably safe Fullers, who supply the usual selection of ales. A comfortable but unremarkable place to finish our crawl.
Previous alternative pub crawls
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