Taverns in Town #5: The Ship, Hart Street EC3

This part of the city is a bizarre mix of the old and the new. I walked across from Monument tube, past antiquity in the form of Wren’s monument to the great fire, past the bizarrely modern ‘Walkie Talkie’ building, past the great hall’s of bygone livery companies and within view of the beautiful Victorian Fenchurch Street station.

The Ship is a beautiful old building juxtaposed with the modernity around it in the office blocks of Seething Lane and Mark Lane. While this is one of the oldest parts of the City, it is also one of the most developed.

As depicted in Taverns in Town, as it is today and a look inside

As depicted in Taverns in Town, as it is today and a look inside

In 1973  Taverns in Town reported that the building was striking in comparison with its surroundings, even then:
“The Ship is a tall narrow building placed among mainly uninteresting edifices, but because of its unusual decorative work it is almost impossible to pass it by without wondering what lies within.”

The interior of the pub, while old in style, doesn’t quite live up to the promise of the exterior, it’s small and unassuming. Although there is another room and bar upstairs, it wasn’t in use on my visit. The gents’ facilities are down an incredibly steep staircase, through a very small door. It seems that to drink in a pub that is old and noteworthy means that you have to take your life in your hands, just to relieve yourself.

The ale choice on my visit was uninspiring and the St Austell Tribute I had was poorly kept. The barman had quit, was telling the world and didn’t seem to care much, but even so the atmosphere was convivial and I could imagine this being a good after-work choice. Perhaps I was unlucky with my timing.

On further online investigation I found that The Ship used to have a great reputation, under the old landlady Kira. However, she left earlier in the year to manage the nearby Three Tuns. It seems she may have taken a loyal following with her and The Ship might be taking time to find its feet again under new management.


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