Original Relics Of Medieval London

The history of London goes back to 43 AD when this city was first founded by Roman settlers and orginally christened Londinium. Yet when one visits London today, one could argue that the year zero of this city begins with the renowned architect Sir Christopher Wren who was responsible for rebuilding the city after most of it was devastated by the Great Fire Of 1666.

Today very little of old medieval London exists. Yet it is there! Mostly in the form of the few churches which survived the Great Fire and of course the mighty Tower Of London and Tower Bridge. One of the principle reasons why most of London was destroyed by the Fire was due to the fact that the majority of the city’s houses and buildings were made out of wood. The fact that the Tower of London was made of good old hard stone speaks volumes about how its bacon was saved.

To experience a decent slice of medieval London, I personally like to head to EC1 and the Cloth Court/Cloth Fair area of narrow medieval alleyways and of course the magnificent St Bartholomew’s church. Nearby you have the legendary Smithfields Market and a little further up is the Barbican. By the jungle of Brutalist architecture one can find St Giles church and surviving relics of the original London Wall. For a definitive and comprehensive history of this city, the Museum of London is right round the corner. Currently there is an excellent exhibition on there commemorating the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of 1666. It is a very thorough exhibition with lots of information and even some original artifacts from that time. The exhibition is on display until April 2017.

Below I am featuring some photographs from my wonderings exploring another side to this city and unearthing some of these original relics of London, which were unaffected by the Great Fire…

 

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A portion of the original London Wall in the Barbican area

 

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St Giles-without-Cripplegate church

 

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The Staple Inn: This enourmous medieval building was built in 1585 and narrowally escaped the Great Fire by only a few metres

 

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St Etheldredas Church: this church was built in the latter half of the 13th century. It is one of the oldest Roman Catholic churches in England.

 

 

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For me, this area close to Smithfields market is a fabulous slice of medieval London around the junction of Cloth Court alley and Cloth Fair. Notice the entrance to the iconic St Bartholomew’s church in the background

 

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41 Cloth Fair: This is the oldest house in the City Of London orginally constructed between 1597-1614

 

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St Bartholomew Gatehouse: this was constructed in 1595

 

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Priory Church of St Bartholomew-the-great: close up

 

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St Bartholomew-the-great church: this magnificent church was first founded in 1123 by Rahere (a prebendary of St Paul’s Cathedral). It is adjacent to St Bartholomew’s hospital which was also founded by Rahere in that same year and is one of the oldest hospitals in the U.K.

 

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St Bartholomew-the-less church

 

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This shop built in 1567 was featured in Charles Dickens’ ‘The Old Curiosity Shop’

 

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The Seven Stars pub: This unique and charming pub first opened its doors in 1602. It is one of London’s few remaining independent pub and remains little change since it’s early days

 

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The Olde Wine Shades: first opened its doors in 1663

 

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This handsome medieval building on Fleet Street called Prince Henry’s Room survived the Fire. It was a former tavern where the London diarist Samuel Pepys liked to hang out

 

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St Katherine Cree Church

 

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St Andrew Undershaft Church: this church was originally constructed in 1532. It survived the Great Fire of 1666 an drew World War Two, but was unfortunately damaged in an IRA attack in 1992

 

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St Helen’s Bishopsgate Church: this gem of a church was built in the 12th century. It has the distinction of being the largest surviving church in the City of London. This was also William Shakespeare’s church during his time in the city.

 

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St Olave Hart Street Church: this church was constructed built in 1450. This church was saved by the Great Fire by Sir William Penn (who’s son also named William, founded the state of Pennsylvania) who instructed that the houses surrounding the church be destroyed to make a firebreak and thus save the church

 

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The Tower of London and Tower Bridge in the background. The Tower of London castle was built in 1078.

 

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All Hallows-by-the-Tower Church: Although the current facade of the church goes back to 1658, it is on the site of a church’s going back to 675. Samuel Pepys watched the city burn during the Great Fire from the church’s tower.

 

Text and photographs by Nicholas Peart

4th December 2016

(All rights reserved)

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Touring The Oldest Pubs Of London

Following on from my tour of the pubs of Glasgow back in October, I thought I’d share with you all my experiences of touring some of the oldest pubs of London. Some of these pubs go back to the times of medieval London before the Great Fire Of London of 1666. The history of London is fascinating in itself and some of these old pubs or taverns project a strong energy and spirit of what London must have been like all those years ago.

 

Ye Olde Mitre

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This notorious pub, hidden down Ely Court in the Farringdon area, was first established in 1546. The bottom floor of the pub by the bar is full of hanging old beer mugs from the ceiling and historic photographs and pictures. The pub or tavern was originally built for the servants of the Palace of the Bishops of Ely from Cambridgeshire. The pub and palace were later destroyed in 1772. The pub in its current structure dates back to that year.

 

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Inside Ye Olde Mitre

I prefer to come here for a pint during the afternoon when it is quieter and there are less punters. My favourite part of the pub is upstairs where there are many old pictures of historical figures like Mary Queen of Scots. When I was there with my sister back in August, we were the only people there. During the evening, especially on a Friday night, the pub becomes uncomfortably overcrowded and loud. The pub is currently owned by Fullers brewery and does a decent selection of beers and ales. When I was there I had an Oakham Green Devil IPA ale. A sterling choice but at 6% this stuff can make you weak in the knees quicker than you think.

 

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St Etheldreda’s Church

If you have some free time, try to visit the atmospheric St Etheldreda’s Church which is the oldest Catholic Church in England built in 1291.

 

 


Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese

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Number two of the Ye Oldes, this legendary pub, located on Fleet Street, was first established one year after the Great Fire Of London in 1667. What immediately strikes me about this pub is its heavy, wooden Old London austerity, rawness and darkness. You could have a thousand suns beaming down on this pub and inside it would still be darker than the blackest of hearses. This is not a place to go to for natural vitamin D therapy but if you want to experience the ghosts and grime of a time long gone, this is a great find.

 

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Many literary figures including Mark Twain, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, P.G Woodhouse and Dr. Samuel Johnson are all said to have been locals of this pub. Charles Dickens was also a regular of this pub and the atmospheric and ‘gloomy old London’ energy of the pub must have provided him with an abundance of inspiration for his writing.

 

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Downstairs at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese

Here this pub is at times a curious mix of one timer global smartphone-glued tourists and hardcore spit and polish long timer locals who’ve been drinking at this pub longer than I’ve been on this planet. My favourite part of the pub to sit is either in the small room where the bar is by the main back entrance or downstairs below the ground floor. It’s in these areas where I feel the spirit of the pub the most.

 

 

The Seven Stars

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The Seven Stars is a special pub in London. Not only is it one of London’s oldest boozers first established in 1602, it also has the rare distinction of having survived the Great Fire of 1666. Fortunately none of the owners throughout the pub’s history have been shortsighted enough to redesign the pub in any shape or form and so it remains exactly as it was when it first opened its doors in the early 17th Century. Furthermore, it is one of the very few remaining independent old pubs in London.

 

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Inside the Seven Stars

Since the pub survived the Great Fire and owing to the fact that it has hardly changed since its original beginnings, it offers a veritable taste of a typical medieval London tavern. A part of me would probably die if this place was ever turned into, god help me, a ‘gastropub’. What’s more, this pub has a decent selection of ales. When I was there with my sister, I had a pint of the dark Roadside Adnam ale which was very good.

 

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Yours Truly at the Seven Stars with a pint of Adnam ale

It is located by the Royal Courts of Justice and London School of Economics meaning that it is often frequented by LSE students and barristers who take their clients here for a celebratory drink.

 

 


The Cittie Of Yorke

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The Cittie Of Yorke is an outstanding old pub located in Holborn. It is a Samual Smith owned pub but is probably one of the most atmospheric pubs I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. The on site history of the pub goes back all the way to an impressive 1430 even if much of the current building is a rebuilding from the 1920s.

 

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Inside the Cittie Of Yorke

The main bar area is situated in an awesomely atmospheric hall with high wooden beam ceilings, low suspending globe like lights and a series of big wooden beer barrels above the bar. More than many other pubs I’ve frequented, it is here where I could really imagine myself in a crowded, noisy and messy old London tavern. People would be dressed in rags or in immaculate suits, coats and top hats. I could imagine the former like being straight out of a painting by the 17th century Dutch painter Adriaan van Ostade who was a great painter of the Dutch underclass who spent there time in tavern like places getting drunk and merry and disorderly; tankards clinking, loud voices singing and a multiple of instruments ringing.

 

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The legendary Welsh poet Dylan Thomas who was a great lover of pubs, wrote an impromptu ode to this pub when it was called the Henneky’s Long Bar. Aside from the main bar, there are some equally atmospheric rooms with dark wood furnishings, leather coaches, tall old windows and paintings.

 

 

The Hoop and Grapes

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The Hoop and Grapes located on Aldgate High Street was originally built in 1593 and is one of the few existing relics of medieval London to have escaped the 1666 Great Fire. This current pub dates back to 1721 and is currently owned by the Nicholson Brewery. In spite of its unique history and all the old furnishings and photographs on the wall, this is quite an ordinary commercial pedestrian pub playing standard mainstream chart music. Unlike Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, the original spirit of this place is hard to find.

 

 

The Anchor

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This pub located on the South Bank has a very impressive history. This was William Shakespeare’s local and the pub from where the great London diarist, Samual Pepys, watched the Great Fire Of London. The genesis of this pub was a tavern reported to be 800 years old and this would make this place one of the oldest pub establishments in the city even if the pub had been destroyed during the Fire and subsequently remodelled a few times since then. The Anchor was recently refurbished in 2008.

Despite the epic and awesome history of the place and even the fact that the old decor remains, albeit with a slick facelift, it is quite an ordinary commercial pub serving the usual fare of alcoholic drinks and pub grub. Still it’s location on the South Bank can’t be beat and on a pure blue summer day, this is a good place to go.

 

 


The George Inn

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Located close to Borough Market and short distance walk from the Anchor, the George Inn is a gem of a pub and unlike the Anchor has retained much of its original character and charm. The George is a former coaching Inn dating back to 1542 and the current building dates back to 1676 after the original Inn was destroyed in a fire. The pub has also had a distinguished set of people who came here to drink. Most notably William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens. The latter mentioned The George in his novel Little Dorrit.

When I came here I had a pint of the locally brewed George Inn ale which I highly recommend. This is an outstanding pub and would be my personal choice over the Anchor if you happen to be in SE1.

 

 


The Prospect Of Whitby

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The Prospect, located in Wapping, is one of the oldest pubs of London and the oldest riverside tavern of London dating back to 1520. It is also one of the best pubs I have ever had the pleasure of visiting. It was originally called The Pelican, which was later renamed The Devils Tavern and then later The Prospect of Whitby in the 18th Century. Back in those early days most of Wapping’s residents worked by the river as fishermen, sailors, and boat and sail makers. In addition to this, Wapping also had its fair share of pirates, thieves and smugglers.

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Many famous people frequented the Prospect. ‘Hanging Judge Jeffries’ was a regular here. Throughout history it has been claimed that he would tuck into his lunch on the balcony of the pub whilst watching the hangings at a place then known as the Execution Dock. It was here where the notorious pirate Captain Kidd was executed in 1701. Then there was the 17th century London diarist Samuel Pepys who was a regular here during his stint as a clerk for the Navy and later Secretary to the Admiralty.

After the end of World War Two during the 1950s and 1960s, Wapping like many other parts of East London was in decline. However the pub was still doing brisk business and one of the pub’s rooms upstairs was a restaurant which was popular with many celebrities of that time including Richard Burton, Kirk Douglas, Frank Sinatra, Mohammed Ali and Princess Margaret.

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One of the rooms in the pub upstairs was at one point in history used for boxing matches. Some of the earliest international matches happened between sea workers from around the world. As well as boxing matches, cock fighting matches also too place in this particular room.

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I came here with a couple of friends one summers day back in September. We spent most of our time here on the outside riverside patio of the pub enjoying our pints and the beautiful weather. When we were not outside we were exploring the interior of the pub, it’s multiple rooms with old shipping memorabilia and paintings, portraits, photographs and records of all the distinguished people who crossed paths with this mighty place.

 

 

The Mayflower

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From Wapping my friends and I take the Overground line one stop south of the river to nearby Rotherhithe. It is here that we visit the historic Mayflower pub. This pub was originally established in 1550 and then rebuilt in 1780 as the Spread Eagle and Crown before being renamed The Mayflower in 1957 after the Mayflower ship which took the Pilgrim Father’s from Rotherhithe to America in 1620.

 

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Inside the Mayflower

The pub is atheistically a very tasteful pub with lots of old shipping related pictures and artefacts on the walls and around the pub. In a way it is the perfect vintage pub and it’s cosiness and warm vibe increase its attractiveness. It is best to come here when it isn’t crowded. When we came here there was a massive entourage of people celebrating something and we couldn’t move anywhere. But when it isn’t busy this pub is a delight. The riverside terrace is also one of the best in London.

 

 

The Angel

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Also in Rotherhithe is the Angel pub. For me it is not as attractive or interesting as the Mayflower. The interior reminds me more of a tough East London boozer where the Kray brothers or one of the older EastEnders actors or Lennie McLean would call their local. Nevertheless, this Samuel Smiths pub is a good no nonsense boozer and has a long history. It was originally a 15th century tavern established by the monks of Bermondsey Priory. It is mentioned in Samuel Pepys diary as a place where he drank.

 

 

The Grapes

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This unique riverside Limehouse pub has a history going back to 1583. The current building of the pub has a history dating back to the 1720s and was originally a raw working class riverside tavern serving predominantly the dockers of the Limehouse Basin. Regarding notable figures, our faithful friend Samuel Pepys makes an appearance here. His diary mentions trips to lime kilns at the jetty right by the Grapes.

 

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Inside The Grapes

The pub also appears in the Charles Dickens book Our Mutual Friend. The back of the pub is full of Dickens related paraphanelia including a large portrait painting of him.

 

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Portrait of Charles Dickens inside The Grapes

I like this pub. The interior and decor hasn’t been messed with and as a result it retains its original character and spirit.

 

 

Spaniards Inn

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One day earlier this year I met a friend of mine in Hampstead. After a long walk in the beautiful Hampstead Health park, we visited this gem of a pub nearby. This attractive pub is one of London’s oldest pubs dating back to 1585 and is a great pub to visit full of original character and charm. There is also a large outdoor sitting area which is perfect for warm Spring and Summer days. This pub has a distinguished literary heritage. Dickens mentioned the pub in his book The Pickwick Papers and the poet Keats wrote Ode To A Nightingale here.

 

 

The Olde Wine Shades

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Although more of an ancient wine bar than a pub, this place in the City of London nevertheless merits a mention more for its history and the fact that it is, like the Seven Stars pub in Holborn, a rare example of pre 1666 medieval London. It was one of the few buildings of that year to escape the Great Fire. Historical importance aside, I was quite disappointed to discover that it is nothing more than a mediocre overpriced wine bar. I would come here for a curious peep but I would rather pick the Seven Stars or the Prospect over this place any day of the week.

 

 

Text and photographs by Nicholas Peart

2nd December 2016

(All Rights Reserved)

Remembering The Great Fire Of London

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The Great Fire (image source: http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk)

 

Today marks the 350th Anniversary of the Great Fire Of London. To recognise this the Museum of London currently has on display until April 2017 an excellent temporary exhibition. As well as a wealth of information, there are also original artefacts on show like the original leather buckets and fire squirt pipes residents used to stop the fire as well as some of the possessions affected residents tried to salvage from their burning homes.

Only a year before the Fire, London was devastated by the Great Plague of 1665 which killed 100,000 people (a fifth of the city’s population). There are a few reasons why the fire had the devastating impact it had. Firstly, most of the buildings of the city of London back then were made out of timber. The city at the time also didn’t have the proper facilities to reduce the fire. There were certainly no fire brigades and sadly one of the only ways to effectively put out the fires was to tear down many of the wooden houses to prevent the fires from spreading further. It had also been a very dry and hot summer and combined with a strong wind from the east, those initial small flames began to spread to almost all of the city of London.

The fire began very early one morning on Sunday 2nd September 1666 at a bakery on Pudding Lane close to London Bridge. The mayor of London at the time, Sir Thomas Bludworth, two hours after the fire didn’t take it seriously and was reported to have said, ‘Pish! A woman might piss it out’. Later in the morning the great London diarist of the time, Samuel Pepys, told the King in Whitehall ‘that unless his majesty did command houses to be pulled down nothing could stop the fire’. By the evening the fire had already grown half a mile wide enveloping great parts of the city.

 

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A portrait of the 17th century MP Samuel Pepys who witnessed the Great Fire and wrote about it in his famous diary (image source: http://www.twitter.com)

 

Most of the residents of London were ill-equipped to deal with the fire. Most of the methods the residents used were ineffective. Water carried in heavy leather buckets and fire squirts were used to try and reduce the fire, but with little to no success. It was, however, Charles II and his brother James who established firefighting bases around the city on the morning of the next day on Monday 3rd September 1666 to tackle the fire. It seemed that Samuel Pepys was indeed right when he said that the only way to reduce the fire was to pull down many of the wooden houses. By doing this not only was the fire prevented from spreading further, it also created gaps between the rows of wooden houses which the flames couldn’t cross. The first major casualty of the day were the printers of the London Gazette which earlier in the day printed the news that ‘a sudden and lamentable fire’ is burning down London.

On Tuesday the next day, the fire has engulfed even greater parts of the city. By 6am, one of the most important streets of the city of London, Cheapside, began to burn. When night fell, gunpowder was used to blow up houses to prevent the fire from reaching the Tower Of London. Around 8pm, the fire had burnt large parts of St Paul’s Cathedral. Fortunately, as the night progressed, much of the wind began to die down and by the morning of Wednesday 5th September, most of the fire had been eradicated.

The fire had left many residents homeless. More than 13,000 houses, 87 churches and 436 acres of the city were in ruins. It had also created a great housing shortage and rents for the properties unaffected by the fire were extortionate. Whilst residents were fleeing their homes they also tried to scavenge many of their possessions. Money, musical instruments, pets and Parmesan cheese were some of the things residents tried to save. Some unscrupulous carters helping residents to save and transport their stuff made a killing with some charging residents £20 (£3000 today) to hire their carts. Samuel Pepys was one of the fortunate few who’s house was unaffected by the fire. He also protected his Parmesan cheese and wine from the fire by burying them in his garden.

 

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The architect Sir Christopher Wren who was responsible for rebuilding  the city of London (image source: http://www.britannica.com)

 

The principle person involved in rebuilding London was the great architect Sir Christopher Wren who redesigned St Paul’s Cathedral and many other churches and buildings affected by the fire. All new homes, churches and buildings were made with brick instead of wood in order to be able to withstand future fires. Few original relics (one example being the Tower of London) of London before the Great Fire remain and in many ways the year zero of the London that one sees today is the London of Christopher Wren.

 

by Nicholas Peart

2nd September 2016

(all rights reserved)

 

Ten Good Places To Eat On The Cheap In London

Being a seasoned traveller myself I know how important it is to watch the coins. And in a city such as London this is especially true. Which is why I’ve decided to share with you all some decent places to eat on a shoestring in this city. Of course one can essentially pick any place that is cheap and there is no shortage of cheap chain eateries like McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, Wasabi, Eat, Subway etc where cheap meals can be acquired for a few quid. Most of the eateries listed below are small independent eateries in London which I think are good value for money offering decent food at low prices. I also try to include a few cheapies which offer an authentic experience of a London that is sadly disappearing.

 

1. Damascu Bite

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Image source: http://www.londonshopfronts.com

This small Syrian takeaway within spitting distance of Shoreditch High Street station and by Brick Lane in the East End of London does delicious and generous authentic lamb shawarmas using high quality and very tender lamb. A large ample lamb shawarma will set you back only £5.50 whilst a medium sized one about a pound less. This is a hell of a deal. Kebab eateries are ten a penny in London Town but what makes this place unique is that it actually cares about what it sells its customers. Most kebab places just use very cheap processed meat which I wouldn’t even give to my dog. This eatery aside, the best places in London to go for authentic, cheap and tasty kebabs are Edgware Road and Harringay Green Lanes.

 

2. Franco Manca

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Image source: http://www.thebelleabroad.com

This excellent pizza chain is ever expanding but unlike other chains this is a good one which does excellent, cheap and tasty pizzas using sourbread dough. This place has been a roaring success and there are now several Franco Manca restaurants scattered across the city. I usually go to the one located on Berwick Street in Soho just off Oxford Street. You will struggle to find equally delicious pizzas for less than £7 in this city.

 

3. Saravana Bhavan

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Image source: http://www.londonkestrel.com

This Indian restaurant chain serves excellent and authentic South Indian food in generous portions. I especially love the Masala Dosas which are very large and are served on big metal trays with four or five different sauce condiments. What’s more it will only set you back around £3.75. The thalis are delicious too and highly recommended. There are a few of these restaurants scattered around London though sadly there are none which are centrally located. I usually go to the one in Tooting which is located in South London. Tooting is famous for its curry houses and Asian eateries yet this place is one of the best and terrific value for money.

 

4. Fryers Delight

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Image source: http://www.seriouseats.com

More for novelty value than a place to go for regular nourishing food, but if you want to sample original London fish and chips like its 1964 in an authentic environment far away from the trappings of globalisation and the modern world, this place is a dead cert. This fish and chips restaurant located on Theobalds Road in Holborn in central London is very much a solid remaining relic of Old London and much of the loyal clientele are locals. For atmosphere this place is one of the best and the tasty battered haddock or cod and chips comes in generous portions around the £7 mark (cheaper if you take away). Other snacks like savaloys (oi oi!!) and mushy peas are also available.

 

5. Beigel Bake

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Image source: http://www.gannet39.com

Like Fryers, this supremely popular and legendary 24 hour bagel shop located on Brick Lane is an indestructible relic of Old London with prices that haven’t been adjusted for inflation since about 1979. Whenever I come here I almost always go for the salmon and cream cheese bagel for £1.60. The sweet treats are also very good. You can get a slice of apple strudel or cheese cake for slightly north of the pound mark. Ironically, the most expensive item, the salt beef bagel, is the nemesis of the offerings of this place and is truly rank beyond belief; keep clear.

 

6. La Porchetta Pollo Bar

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Image source: http://www.flickr.com

Continuing on our journey of old London eateries, the Pollo bar is a good and cheap no nonsense Italian restaurant located on Old Compton Street in the heart of Soho in central London. Like nearby Franco Manca, this is a great place to go for a cheap Italian dinner. Unlike Franco Manca, this place has history. This restaurant was a favourite of the original Pink Floyd frontman Syd Barrett during the 1960s.

 

7. Wong Kei

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Image source: http://www.zomato.com

Wong Kei for a long time had the unique reputation of being the restaurant in London with the rudest staff. However since 2014 and a change of management, I read that much of this rudeness has sadly evaporated – but this can be resurrected if you try! This is still very much a cheap and authentic multiple storey Chinese diner located on Wardour street on the edge of Chinatown which serves a wide range of decent Chinese dishes with a complementary metal pot of green tea for around the £6-7 mark. When I recently came here for a meal I fortunately encountered some brusqueness. I am not very good at making decisions and as I spent a long time trying to find somewhere to sit with my own space I could see that the waiters were getting pissed off with me (a great start!!). ‘You gonnah eat here or wah?!’ snapped one of the waiters. I hit pay dirt and in surprisingly little time. I could’ve remained indecisive on where to sit and have taken it further. A seat with my own space was soon made available and I made a dash for it. One of the waiters came with a dirty plastic menu which he smacked down on my table with no emotion and like he was trying to kill a mosquito. A pot of green tea was also brought to me with a similar level of grace and etiquette.
I ordered a hearty and tasty bowl of shredded duck, with loads of sprouts and other vegetables with noodles, which (with the green tea) came to £6.90.
I think if you want to experience the apex of rudeness and brusqueness at this place, the best time to come here is after a night out around 2-4am when this place gets packed and you may only have a limited amount of time to finish your food to make way for the queues of other late night eaters.

 

8. Indian Veg

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Image source: http://cubaninlondon.blogspot.com

This is a solid Indian vegetarian buffet restaurant for under £7 a head located off Chapel Market in Islington close to Angel tube station. The decor is nothing to write home about and all the endless articles and slogans preaching the virtues of a veg diet plastered on every area of space are enough to give anyone unnecessary vertigo. Yet I also find the whole thing quite comical. I try to sit away from the massive murial-like article showing the gradual deterioration of someone on a meat diet from their 20s until their 60s. This aside, I like the food here. The buffet contains a decent selection of potato, veg and tofu carries with chick pea, pakora and onion bhaji trays and a tray of good quality rice. In addition there are a few good salad selections to prevent the whole buffet from being too much of a starch fest. Recommended

 

9. Sonargaon

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Image source: http://www.zomato.com

This is an unpretentious and underrated Bangladeshi buffet restaurant located on the quieter end of Brick Lane. Sonargaon gets unfairly bad reviews which for the most part it doesn’t deserve. Yet this is not a place to go to if you are focused on clean eating. Many of the curry dish trays are high in industrial level quantities of clarified butter and cheap refined oils. If you are sensitive to MSG, perhaps this is not the place for you. On the other hand, if you want unlimited quantities of filling South Asian fare for under eight quid this is a great place. What’s more, it has none of the tourist trappings of the plethora of other curry houses located on Brick Lane. Many of the clientele are locals and after Ramadan you could be mistaken for being in a busy restaurant in downtown Dhaka.

 

10. Fresco

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Image source: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk

I was going to list Maoz, a wonderful little Middle Eastern eatery located on Old Compton Street which serves hearty, healthy and delicious falafels with lashings of humus and mountains of fresh salads for just a few coins. Sadly it has recently closed down and has been replaced by some trendy ice tea bar. As a consequence I’ve had to look elsewhere and it gives me great pleasure to have stumbled upon this little gem of an eatery located on Westbourne Grove close to Notting Hill Gate. This is an excellent Lebanese restaurant which serves very tasty falafel wraps with delicious homemade hummus and a selection of excellent homemade salads. I ordered the Falafel Wrap Special which contains well made falafel balls, hummus and a delicious spinach and pomegranate salad. And for less than a fiver. This is an excellent deal.

 

by Nicholas Peart

29th August 2016

(All rights reserved)