An establishment serving drinks has resided on these premises since 1430, though it has changed hands many times and has been reconfigured on several occasions. Novelist Charles Dickens, who happened to live close by, placed a couple of his stories here. The character David Copperfield is said to have stopped in, order a sample of the strong elixir while inquiring for a lost acquaintance. In the story of “Barnaby Rudge” the rioters were said to have hid in the cellars.
During the 1920s, the joint underwent a substantial renovation emulating the Tudor style that was fashionable at the time, but retained a number of components of the older structure. The most notable feature is the bar itself, Henekey’s Long Bar, which is named after one of the proprietors. It’s so notable, in fact; that in 1951 the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas is said to have penned an ode to its distinctiveness. Henekey’s sold the pub in the early ’80s, and is currently operated by the Samuel Smith Old Brewery.
Keep an eye out for the row of private wooden booths that line the room opposite the bar, which almost resemble confession boxes. These enclosed snugs allowed lawyers a bit of extra privacy for confidential conversations their clients.
The main room is configured like a great hall with its vaulted church- like ceilings, with handsome 1,000-gallon oak barrels dominating the walls. Situated in one corner of the room is a massive iron stove that dates to either the Regency-era or Georgian period.
Not to be missed, if it is open, is the cellar, which contains its own bar. Above this entrance are the Latin words: ‘IN VINO VERITAS’ or “in wine there is truth.” It is here that one will find another secret beer garden.
There is another fine detail that is worth mentioning that pertains to the copper signage at the front of the building. This has to do with a law, that is applicable even today, which dates back to the building’s medieval origins. Establishments that serve ale must hang a sign above their entrances so that inspectors might be able to verify the quality of the beer.
Know Before You Go
The pub is open from noon to 11 p.m., Monday through to Saturday. Reservations for groups of four or more are advised.