London: beneath its metropolitan glaze and layers of history lies one of the most fascinating and mysterious cities in the world. London is littered with tales of the grand, the ghastly and the gruesome which makes it the perfect place to explore. Its grand architectural facades can only do so much to hide the dark shadows and secrets of the alleys that once bustled with life and witnessed so much history. Thanks to East End tours you can rediscover this forgotten East End with an expert guide, whose storytelling and in-depth knowledge helps you to get a real sense of the world that was.
One essential part of past London life that is still as important to us in these modern times is the great British tradition, the heart of a community, the pub. Luckily for us these transcendental watering holes have a tour all of their own which means we can get closer to the past by sharing a drink with the stars of our tales and history books, at the same old haunts they loved so much.
The White Hart is one of the first taverns in the tour, facing onto Whitechapel High Street and accessible via a side door tucked down the eerily unchanged Gunthorpe Street (previously known as George Yard). This long and narrow pub now offers an olde-worlde atmosphere and sports broadcasting to its punters but in the 1880s The White Hart was home to a very different clientele, most notably Severin Klosowski (also known as George Chapman) who was once a Jack the Ripper suspect.
The famed Ten Bells pub, frequented by two of Jack the Ripper’s victims, is opposite Spitalfields Market and is a good example of how the historic (in this case Victorian) world of London lies beneath a more modern veneer. The pub has been renovated externally over the years but the patterned tiling, colourful decoration and commemorative mural inside have been preserved to look almost precisely as they did in the Victorian era, long before the establishment became a trendy London pub with a notably lively atmosphere.
Another prominent pub of the East End is The Bell on Petticoat Lane. A 19th century building with plenty of urban folk lore surrounding it, The Bell is a popular establishment which offers food, drink and live music to those who take the time to enjoy its unique atmosphere. There are stories of a WWII bomb landing nearby and shifting the pub on its foundations as well as accounts of ghostly phenomena, so this is a good pub for any of you who enjoy a good story or a bit of a spook.
While the East End boasts many pubs it is always fun to visit and learn of the establishments on a designated and informed tour…of course you’ll have to treat yourself to a drink at each stop, it’d be rude not to.