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No-one who has visited the King Charles I will be surprised to see it in a list of London's best pubs. Hidden away at the top of Northdown Street, walk past it outside of opening hours and you can be forgiven for thinking it's a dead pub, but once open the inside couldn't be more alive. It used to be called the Craic House, aptly.
It's a tiny little place, though a bit roomier since they got rid of the bar billiards. The size helps to make for a very cosy pub, one of those places that can get hard to move in when busy (although it's never a long wait to be served by the excellent bar staff). Beware beware beware the step heading in to the toilets, particularly after a few shandies.
Decorations include stuffed animals, strange signs ('The Leu Family's Family Iron') and distressingly large and frightening wood-carved faces. There's a good selection of beers from various breweries, not so much room for wines, and no food menu — but the large sign on the wall saying 'Bring your own food or order locally and have it delivered' points to the refreshingly generous way this pub deals with peckish punters.
An odd and highly characterful pub, the type of place no-one goes to only once. And if you're lucky you may come across a meeting of the Nude Alpine Society, who take it upon themselves to climb around the pub without touching the floor, in the buff. Or so we heard, long ago. Whether they still meet here, or ever existed, remains a mystery — as do persistent rumours that the gaffer has a functioning cannon in the basement.
Such is the charm of this place, it was awarded Asset of Community Value status in 2021. Those of us who've been drinking there for years have long known its value.