Narrow Street, London
by Ben Johnson
Well and truly off the beaten track, Narrow Street is a hidden gem located deep within the East End of London. Its inclusion in our “Secret London” series derives from the fact that Narrow Street includes some of the few remaining and best preserved early Georgian Terraces in London. These buildings are notable because, unlike their later Georgian counterparts, had windows that were not set back from brick frontage. The intricacy of the stonework also tends to be far simpler, with fewer decorative features such as iron railings and stone carvings.
Standing at the end of this early Georgian terrace is a long, narrow pub called The Grapes. Built in 1720, this little pub has survived the industrial revolution, centuries of redevelopment and even The Blitz! Its major claim to fame however is that it was once a favourite drinking hole of Charles Dickens, with the author going as far as to immortalise it as “The Six Jolly Fellowship Porters pub” in his 1685 book Our Mutual Friend, saying:
[It was] a tavern of dropsical appearance…settled down into a state of hale infirmity. In its whole constitution it had not a straight floor, and hardly a straight line; but it had outlasted – and clearly would yet outlast – many a better trimmed building.”
Dickens was quite right as the pub still stands to this day, although luckily its clientele has changed somewhat from the unsavoury watermen and pirates that once frequented it! Today the pub is a relaxed yet quirky affair, and we hear that the small restaurant on the second floor is worth a visit as it overlooks the River Thames, as well as having a reputation for fresh fish and fine seafood.