Taverns in Town #4: The Essex Head (Edgar Wallace), Essex Street WC2

These days, this pub is better known as the Edgar Wallace, having been renamed in honour of the prolific crime writer in 1975.

It really is a proper pub. It feels like it’s dripping in history with loads of vintage advertising and beer memorabilia on the walls and a great range of ales (eight hand pumps). I drank a tip top pint of Crouch Vale Brewers Gold.

The Essex Head

A 70s watercolour, as it is today and the interesting interior

At the Essex Head, Taverns in Town informs me, Dr. Samuel Johnson formed The Essex Head Club, where his literary contemporaries would gather on several evenings a week to debate the matters of the day. This dates the pub to the 1770s or 1780s.

Like its neighbour, The Devereux, it was originally named for the Earl of Essex, Robert Devereux, a favourite of Queen Elizabeth I.

“The Essex Head is a very attractive tavern both inside and out, fitting decorously into its snug setting. During the evening, perhaps because it is smaller than its rival a few yards away, it is an altogether quieter establishment in which to pass idle minutes in conversation.”

It is position close to the Temple, monastic headquarters of the Knights Templar and the spiritual centre of the London legal profession for centuries. Along with its literary connections it simply oozes history.

The pub seems to have a decent reputation for food, although on this visit I didn’t see a menu or sample anything from it. The clientele seemed to be a mix of legal types and beer enthusiasts.

This is a pub I would recommend visiting, from an historical perspective and if you are a fan of great beer and beer history. It has certainly surpassed its previously more illustrious neighbour.


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