Continuing on the pub theme, one of my favourites in the “Slightly Strange” category is the Seven Stars in Carey Street just behind the Royal Courts Of Justice.
From the outside it looks old, and that’s because parts of it are. Its thought to originally date to 1602 the penultimate year of the reign of Elizabeth I, but obviously subsequent repairs and rebuilding have changed its appearance. The novelist Charles Dickens is thought to have used the pub as a model for The Magpie & Stump featured in Pickwick Papers.
At one time it was a sailors pub, which seems odd in today’s landlocked situation, but back then the River Thames and the Fleet River were much closer than they are today. It is said to have been very popular with Dutch Mariners, due to the name back then being the “Leg and Seven Stars“. This would have been a corruption of its original name of “The League Of Seven Stars” which was a reference to the seven provinces of the Netherlands.
The name of Carey Street also has strange connection. It’s named after a second cousin of Elizabeth I, George Carey. George had a very colourful and eventful life. He was a learned scholar and involved in the Arts. He was also a soldier and picked up his knighthood in the field while helping to suppress the Northern Rebellion in 1569. He had the bad fortune to die of two rather nasty diseases, Syphilis and Mercury poisoning. If the cause don’t get you, then the cure will!
Back to the pub. Inside you’ll find all manner of stuffed animals and old Barristers wigs, along with an eclectic collection of wall art. Top this off with a ceiling festooned with dried hops and you have yourself a very interesting interior. Apparently there wasn’t a toilet in the pub until fifteen years ago. To gain access to the single cubicle you have to climb stairs that were probably modelled on the gradient of the final ascent to the top of Everest. Also the clientele are great for a spot of people watching. Mainly from the legal profession, a good time can be had “earwigging” their weighty legal conversations. Where else would you hear, “Ah Sidney, so your agin me“.
Now there are two further facts that I can’t at this moment in time substantiate due to the current Lockdown. Firstly the name of the Landlady is Roxy Beaujolais. Last time I was in there her name was above the door, but I couldn’t say categorically that she is still the current Landlady, and secondly that the pub is home to a cat called “Clement Attlee”. Nothing too strange in that. I believe that he is the current incumbent of Pub cat, predecessors being “Peabody” and “Ray Brown”. Again nothing out of the ordinary until you see him, because like his ancestors he’s usually wearing a ruff!
The area around Carey street is very old indeed and was thought to have been settled by the Vikings after their invasion in 871 AD. A London Miscellany Tours have a guided walking tour of the area called Not Avenues, But Alleyways.