Esoteric London

No. 639: Stoke Newington Church Street, N16

Posted in Crime and Punishment, Pubs by esotericlondon on August 9, 2012

The Lion, Stoke Newington Church Street, London, N16. Photo © Roger Dean 2012

The Million-Peopled City – John Garwood, 1853:

Great excitement has lately prevailed on my district, in consequence of the houses, Nos. 2 and 3, West-street, being open for the inspection of the curious, previous to their demolition to make way for the new street about to be made in continuation of Farringdon Street. Many thousands of individuals visited and inspected these houses during the month of August, among whom were his Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge, and several other persons of high rank and station in society. A general surprise was expressed that such places could so long have existed in the very centre of the metropolis, and within so short a distance of one of its leading public thoroughfares, and been notoriously used for the worst of purposes.
They are said to have been built in the years 1683-84, by a man named McWaullen or McWelland, chief of a tribe of Gipsies, under pretence of being a tavern called the Red Lion, but for the more direct purpose of concealing stolen property, and harbouring thieves. The dilapidated buildings behind were used as stables, where the fleetest horses were kept in constant readiness for pursuit or speedy flight. From all accounts it appears that these houses have ever been the resort of the most notorious and abandoned individuals of the metropolis. The names of their inhabitants stand conspicuous in the annals of crime, for among others are Jonathan Wild, Jack Sheppard, Jerry Abershaw, and Dick Turpin.

[ The black lion in the photograph above can be found on the exterior wall of the pub that was once called the Red Lion and has now shed all its colour affiliations and has called itself purely and simply The Lion. R.D.]