Esoteric London

No. 530: Meeting House Alley, E1

Posted in Artistic London, Lettering, Pubs by esotericlondon on March 9, 2012

Turner’s Old Star, Meeting House Alley, London, E1. Photo © Roger Dean 2011

From the plaque attached to the exterior of the Turner’s Old Star:



Brought up in London, Turner was always fascinated by the Thames. Water and ships were a major source of inspiration in his work and the riverside area of London was to remain his homebase all his life.

Turner was held in high regard by his contemporaries, and was rewarded with both critical acclaim and considerable wealth. Although something of a ‘society’ figure, he was more at home among the bustle and debris of London’s Docklands.


Turner was exceptionally secretive, especially over women. From the age of twenty-five he was to keep several mistresses, who were to bear him four illegitimate children.

Although he never married, women always played an important part of Turner’s life. His vigorously sensual side was to emerge in the copious quantities of erotic drawings discovered amongst the Turner bequest on his death. These were supposedly executed during weekends of drunken debauchery amid the Dockside taverns of Wapping.


In 1833 Turner met Sophia Booth, a widowed landlady from Margate who was to become his mistress until his death in 1851.

When Turner inherited two cottages in the dockland area of Wapping, he converted them into a tavern and installed Mrs. Booth as proprietor. He named the tavern ‘The Old Star’.

To maintain secrecy during their life together, Turner adopted her surname. This, combined with his five-foot height and portly physique was to earn him the nickname ‘Puggy Booth’.


Turner’s ‘Old Star’ remains on this site to this day. In 1987 the property was extensively refurbished and as a tribute to the great British painter was renamed ‘Turner’s Old Star’.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: