Sunday 10 April 2011

From the archives: the Black Friar

Where better to spend a Sunday than with the Black Friars? These particular monks are especially cheerful as they're to be found at one of London's most distinctive pubs.

One of London's more extraordinary pubs commemorates the Dominican priory which once stood nearby. It was a wealthy and powerful institution, closely connected to government; indeed, the Privy Council often met there and it served as a depository for state records. However, since the monastery was dissolved during the Reformation and the pub not built until 1875 and remodelled in 1905, its designers were free to indulge in a fantasy version of monastic living. Thus the Black Friar, at the northern end of Blackfriars Bridge, is an elaborate riot of monks enjoying good food and good drink. What's more, they encourage the passer-by to join in the fun:

Well, how could I resist? Inside, architect H Fuller-Clarke and artist Henry Poole have filled the space with metal reliefs, mosaics and stained glass. The style is heavily influenced by Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts.

A back room was later added, filled with mottos (none of which discourage the visitor from eating or drinking!)

And what better message for a Thursday afternoon than this:


Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

These are certainly jolly monks indeed! And, whilst we rarely visit public houses, this one is just irresistible and will, most definitely, be on our list next time we are in London.

Hels said...

Love the Art Nouveau art work :)

The elaborate riot of monks enjoying good food and good drink might not be an exaggeration. After all, if the poor buggers couldn't enjoy a good root, what better comforts were available than food and alcohol?

And there are plenty of records that
a] celebrate monasteries and priories having secret recipes for wonderful drinks (I am thinking of France and Italy here, but why not in all countries) and
b] criticise monateries and priories for not reaching the proper standards of abstinance and sobriety.