‘The Devereux is the legal tavern to surpass all others’, says Taverns in Town, ‘a City tavern par excellence…The greatest satisfaction is to be derived from observing the unsanctimonious countenances of members of the judiciary during their moments of respite in The Devereux’.
I looked up from the book and took a look around me. The flashing quiz and fruit machines, the gaudy Taylor Walker advertising and less than authentic looking chalkboards made it difficult for me to imagine when this place was in the upper echelons of London drinking establishment. When you step into a pub you look for a certain vibe, but here it was lacking.
I was somewhat saved by the fact the Taylor Walker’s beer festival was on, which at least saved me from having to drink some generic offering. I chose the Longman Copper Hop from my adopted home county of West Sussex. It was kept well and I perused the food menu, looking for any evidence that it could match the description in Taverns in Town of a ‘high reputation for chops and beefsteaks, served in civilized surroundings’. Not so much.
The Devereux does have an interesting history. During the 18th Century and right up until 1843, this was one of London’s foremost coffee houses – The Grecian – a favourite haunt of both Oliver Goldsmith and Sir Richard Steele, founder of Tatler. It became The Devereux in the mid-19th Century, named after Robert Devereux, the 1st Earl of Essex, who was a friend and confident of Queen Elizabeth I. The pub now stands on land the was once occupied by Devereux’s London residence and a stone bust high on its façade commemorates him.
Other than Taylor Walker’s website claiming a haunting, which seems most likely to be an attempt to attract tourists, my Google search didn’t give me much more on this pub, which by London’s current standards is in a position of mid-table mediocrity. Inoffensive, but I don’t feel I’d be compelled to return given other, better options nearby.