Cockpit, Blackfriars

7 St Andrew’s Hill
Blackfriars
London
EC4V 5BY
020 7248 7315

Peter Haydon, in his book The London Pub describes the Cockpit as an East End boozer in the City of London. That’s because its main clientele are not the financiers and bankers of the City but those providing the more basic but essential services, what we might now call key workers. That meant the pub has always been open on Sundays when most City of London pubs were closed. That’s largely still the case though many more pubs are now open weekends to take advantage of the increasing number of tourists.

The Cockpit is an 18th century pub that claims to be on the site of Shakespeare’s Blackfriars home, although the blue plaque commemorating this is on the building next door. The pub name comes from the sport of cockfighting, but the notion that it actually took place in the pub until it was banned in 1849 doesn’t seem to be backed up by evidence. And the claims that the gallery above the bar was for spectators of the fighting is even less likely as it was only added in the 1970s!

Like the nearby and more famous Black Friar, the pub is wedge-shaped, squeezed into the corner between St Andrew’s Hill and Ireland Yard. It is Grade II listed and was rebuilt in 1860. It still displays a Courage sign above the door, the name of the London brewery that once owned it (photo 1). Another old feature are the leaded and gilded windows which probably date from the 1950s (photo 2).

The Church of St Andrew by the Wardrobe, designed by Christopher Wren in 1695, is across the road. The odd name comes from the Royal Wardrobe of Edward III which stood nearby.

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