on April 3, 2006
We wouldn’t have been aware of this charming pub had I not read about it at, you guessed it, IgoUgo! We nearly gave up finding it in spite of the excellent directions provided by pepperpot in her review, but we persevered, for which I am extremely grateful. Of all the sights we saw while in London, I believe that this one will always be one of my fondest memories.Tucked back down a skinny alley behind big office buildings and stores, this ancient tavern (restored from the original, built in 1546) is like a precious gem hidden among ordinary everyday rocks. The pedestrian alley leading to it is so narrow that, even armed with map and directions, it is easily overlooked. It is just like a doorway with an office on one side and a jewelry shop on the other. As we were passing it, I just happened to notice a small, unobtrusive sign up above marking Ely Place. Walking down this alley, after about 25m, you come out into the lovely Ely Courtyard, and the golden wood and leaded glass windows of Ye Olde Mitre almost beckon you to come inside. I was thoroughly intrigued, and nothing could have kept me from entering.The young bartender (who didn’t look old enough to be serving alcoholic beverages) kindly encouraged us to find any table that suited our fancy. He politely pointed out that nothing more than “snacky foods” was available to go with our beverages, which was fine with us, as we knew we would be having dinner in just a few hours. We soon warmed up in the close, intimate quarters. After placing our order, we bypassed the slightly crowded main room, opting to check out the upstairs. To our delight, the light, airy room up there had a dartboard, a printed history of the place, and a fascinating view from its windows. We were served our cheese toasties (topped with tomatoes and a kind of relish) and some peanuts with our pints of ale. It was such a comfortable place to sit and gab, and no one made us feel like we had to rush out of there.Ely Place leads off Charterhouse Street at Holborn Circus. But probably the best way to find it is by heading west on Greville Street from the Farringdon Tube stop, then turning left (south) on Hatton Garden. Walking on the east side of the street, keep your eyes peeled for this door in the wall. When planning our visit, we were most surprised to discover that Ye Olde Mitre Pub is actually on the Central London map on page 97 of the London Planner (C9)!The gates of Ely Place and the Mitre Tavern are closed at 10pm every night. You might want to ask about the adjacent Chapel of St. Etheldreda, which has also stood through the centuries along with the Mitre, and been restored as well.
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