Wednesday, 13 January 2010
The Department for Culture today updated the listing description for The Old Spotted Dog in Forest Gate, East London, but the pub itself (in a part-Georgian building) has sadly now closed. In 2008 one pub closed every week on average and although many are not in Georgian buildings their names often have echoes that go back further than the architecture and their signs are often highly resonant. To lose this is to lose not only a drinking place but an evocation of local history and a thought-provoking, open-air art gallery. Fortunately we still have The Jeremy Bentham close to where his Auto-Icon (his dressed skeleton topped with a wax head) is displayed at University College London, and the Henry Holland survives next to Selfridges, as does the Grafton Arms near Fitzroy Square (FitzRoy meaning 'illegitimate son of the King' and the first Duke of Grafton being exactly that). But the Baynard Castle in the City and the Antigallican in Tooley Street, Southwark, have both gone. Part of the problem is that the breweries are behaving like the proverbial dog in the manger and applying restrictive covenants so that pubs they offload cannot be reopened as pubs by new owners. Some breweries have bowed to pressure and dropped these and other covenants have been successfully challenged. In the meantime, please do share with us photographs of pubs with Georgian connections (even if the building is later) and we'll encourage people to patronise them.