Turner's Old Star

Turner's Old Star

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Say 'Wapping pubs' and most people would think of the riverside. After all, Wapping contains a string of pearls in the Town of Ramsgate, Captain Kidd and Prospect of Whitby. But stray a little inland, lose the tourists, and the pearls turn to gems in some weird, confused alchemy of metaphors.

Turner's Old Star isn't going to win any awards for its range of artisan craft ales or innovative dining concepts. This is an unreformed backstreet boozer of a type increasingly rare this close to the centre.

It also has plenty of history. The pub bears two commemorations. The most obvious is by that famous plaque-awarding body The London Dungeon. It remembers Lydia Rogers, found guilty of witch-like practices on this spot in 1658.

The second concerns the painter JMW Turner. Britain's greatest artist inherited cottages here and converted them into a pub, to be overseen by his mistress Sophia Booth. Turner must have spattered the canvas here on many occasions. If the story is true... a local historian in our drinking circle reckons the address was a few doors down.

With or without its legends, Turner's Old Star is a smashing pub, built around a traditional wooden bar with glass panels above head height. The place is packed with an appreciative local community crowd, but very welcoming of first-timers. The ale choice is small, but well kept. Quizzes, karaoke and community events keep the place buzzing. Plus — always good to see — there's a pool table in the corner.

With thanks to author Roger Williams, a great London chronicler, who sadly died a year after introducing us to this pub. That's him in the top image.

Address: Turner's Old Star 14 Watts Street, London E1W 2QG

Phone: 020 3726 5371


Monday: noon-11.30pm

Tuesday: noon-11.30pm

Wednesday: noon-11.30pm

Thursday: noon-11.30pm

Friday: noon-11.30pm

Saturday: noon-late

Sunday: noon-evening

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