Great Pubs of London

Great Pubs of London

was shooting backstage at the Royal Ballet when my father
informed me he had written a book called the Great Pubs of London,
and I was required to take photographs for it. As a travel
photographer mainly working in Africa and at the time immersed in
the beauty of ballet, I could not immediately see the joy in
tramping around London photographing grimy drinking dens.

After many spectacular father-daughter arguments, I photographed
three of the chosen 25 pubs and – to my surprise and Dad’s credit –
he clinched a book deal.

I have lived in London for over 20 years and as a history-of-art
student have always marvelled at the architecture, but it was not
until I was explored Dad’s odyssey of pubs that I understood the
significance that these humble institutions have played in the
city’s history.

We have pubs that have stood almost in their original form for
over 400 years. Places where Shakespeare wrote and performed his
plays; where Dickens drew inspiration for his characters; where
Shelley, Turner, Byron and Blake drank. On the banks of the Thames
we have pubs from which renowned explorers set sail from to
discover the New World. It was from The Mayflower that 102 Puritan
pilgrims set sail for America to set up the first permanent colony
in New England in 1620.

Photographing these dark little corners that I have walked past
so many times was a journey through history, stepping back in time
and discovering a side to London I had taken for granted. Sir Ian
McKellen – who co-owns The Grapes in Limehouse – kindly wrote the
foreword for the book and sat for portraits. His enthusiasm for the
history of London pubs was infectious, and when he’s not filming he
can often be found joining in at his pub on quiz night.

Great pubs of London is available to order here. | @charliedailey

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