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Christmas cheers as pub marks 200th year

PUBLISHED: 14:01 03 January 2008 | UPDATED: 14:38 07 September 2010

ONE of Hampstead's most famous pubs is celebrating 200 years of pulling pints. After two years of research, staff at the Holly Bush in Holly Mount have traced the history of the Grade II-listed pub back to 1807. Pub manager Jesus Anorve said

Marc Mullen

ONE of Hampstead's most famous pubs is celebrating 200 years of pulling pints.

After two years of research, staff at the Holly Bush in Holly Mount have traced the history of the Grade II-listed pub back to 1807.

Pub manager Jesus Anorve said: "It is not clear exactly when it opened as a pub - but it would have been in 1807 or 1808.

"It is a beautiful pub and it is amazing to work somewhere with such history."

The building started life as a stable block for a nearby house in the 17th century.

The house and the block was bought in 1796 by artist George Romney. But, after spending nearly £4,000 building a new studio and stables, he sold the buildings for £357 in 1801.

Then in May 1807, Thomas Lovelock leased the stables "for the purpose of being converted at his expense into a public house".

Mount House was turned into the Hampstead Assembly Rooms, which was home to the Hampstead Literary Society and the Conversazione Society.

And the fledgling tavern catered for events at the Assembly Rooms. They included balls and lectures hosted by notable intellects of the day such as Dickens and Constable.

Two hundred years on, the traditional boozer is still a popular hang-out for locals in Hampstead as well as celebrities such as Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher, Spice Girl Mel C and Matt Lucas and David Walliams from hit TV show Little Britain.

Mr Anorve said: "I think I am very lucky to work here. We get a lot of people who come in for the history, particularly Japanese and Americans, but we are still very much a local pub.

"Princess Beatrice came in for a drink recently. I think the celebrities like it in here because we don't treat them like celebrities and also the regulars in here leave them alone."

The research team also discovered the pub may have shrunk slightly over the years because in 1831 it held a concert by the Russian Horn Band - which had more than 50 horn blowers.

They also found the name of the pub came simply from the large number of holly bushes in the area where locals would hang out their washing.

The Brown family was linked with the pub from 1899, when it took over the lease. And in 1941 their son Bill Brown took over the pub, which he ran until he sold it in 1966.

The pub's recent history has seen people battle to preserve its character.

Mr Anorve said: "We spent this year bringing the whole place up to modern day health and safety standards but we have kept the nature of the pub.

"It is an authentic English pub and there aren't many left. It is a great winter pub - when we have the open fires lit and you can feel the history."

marc.mullen@hamhigh.co.uk

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