Thursday 12 July 2018

Ship Inn, Hart Street

An exuberant piece of vintage decoration between modern office blocks, the Ship Inn certainly draws attention. Its facade is elaborately embellished with maritime-themed decorations. Despite being in a bit of the City of London formerly rich with warehouses and naval connections - Hart Street, just behind Trinity Square and around the corner from the Navy Office of Pepys' time - it was not actually in sight of any ships, being a short walk away from the Thames.  Perhaps that's why it has so determinedly brought its own seascape with it.

The current building dates from 1887. It suffered bombing damage in the Second World War: planning permission for reinstatement was given in June 1949. It was listed at Grade II in 1972, in recognition of its value as an example of a decorated public house of the period. 

However, there was a pub here long before 1887. In 1791, the building was insured with the Sun Fire Office by a licensed victualler; the Ship's own website claims 'friendly service since 1802' which suggests either that they only have definite confirmation from that slightly later date, or that the previous landlord/landlady was not adept at customer service! 

Today's pub certainly looks inviting. It was restored in 2014, and is bright and cheerful (well, except for that dolphin...).

I am left with a question, though. As well as cascades of seaweed, the facade is wreathed with garlands of greenery bearing red berries. Are these purely decorative, or do they too represent some form of marine flora?