Prospect of Whitby
Words by Simon Difford on 21-Apr-2014
57 Wapping Wall, (opp. Wapping Hydraulic), London, E1W 3SH, United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)20 7481 1095
Website: View bar's website
Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30am-3pm & 5:30pm-11pm, Sat 11:30pm-11pm, Sun noon-10:30pm
Door: Open door
Style: Pub traditional
Recommended for: Alfresco, Historic interest, View, Waterside
Price guide: Value
Food: Full menu
Built around 1520, the original pub was a haunt for smugglers and thieves. Appropriately named the Devil's Tavern, Samuel Pepys was a regular, as was 'Hanging Judge' George Jeffreys, and towards the end of the 17th Century nearby Execution Dock became the gruesome setting for the public execution of criminals including the notorious Captain Kidd in 1701. A hangman's noose still dangles over the foreshore behind the pub.
The pub was rebuilt in 1777 after a fire and renamed the Prospect of Whitby, taking its new and more salubrious name from a coal carrying coaster whose moorings lay close by. The Prospect claims to be London's oldest riverside pub (as does the Mayflower on the opposite bank) and past regulars include Charles Dickens and Joseph Turner. More recent times have seen the upstairs restaurant 'Ye Pepys Room' patronised by Kirk Douglas and Princess Margaret - although the food is hardly star worthy the views are superb.
A couple of traditional ales are offered but the reason to visit the Prospect is not the quality of the ale but the chance to step back into history. Original features include a flagstone floor, 400 year old pewter counter supported by lengths of old wooden masts. However, the best spot, weather permitting, is outside, on the small riverside terrace under the old weeping willow.