by Elise Livingston
Our pub one of the ancient pubs that still standing in London. It traces its lineage to at least 1542, when a map of Southwark first depicted it; the Tabard Inn, from where Chaucer's pilgrims left in Canterbury Tales, was a few doors south (it's gone now). The oldest part of the current structure, a galleried wood-and-brick longhouse, dates to 1677, after a horrific fire swept the district. It later functioned as an 18th-century transit hub, and its courtyard was encircled on three sides with a tavern, a hotel, stables, wagon repair bays, and warehouses.
Shakespeare knew it, and Dickens memorialized it in Little Dorrit, but the rise of a railway nearly saw it destroyed, and only one side of the former complex survives. Our customers can sip an ale in the low-ceilinged timber-and-plaster chambers, or sit in the cobbled courtyard and soak up the echoes of history.
We had reached our target and managed to raise £90,000 from fundraising within the community. The refurbishing of our pub started to take place and the bar was reinstated to its original position, as it had been moved over the years. A new decking area was also installed to the front of the pub and an old unused cellar and domestic area were updated and a new sports bar (home to the pool table and darts board) was created out of these under-utilised areas.
The future plan includes a complete kitchen refurbishment, with brand new equipment, worktops, freezers, fryers and grills which will mean that our team can employ a full-time chef. Around £40,000 has been spent on refurbishments so far, and an extra £24,000 has been generated for further improvements through profit from the pub and continued fundraising.
It will be completely gutted, brand new furniture will be bought and part of the bar is being removed. It will be chic and tasteful all the way through.
We want to appeal to people who appreciate good quality surroundings and the experience of being in a nice place rather than just dropping in for a quick drink.
We are making it into a food-led place where people can have really nice food and a nice time.
Eight bedrooms upstairs which will be renovated.
The work also extends to the outside with the beer garden being cleared out and a decking area and a brick barbeque being added to it.
There are also plans to include a roof terrace at the back of the building.
It is going to be a big project.