The site of a pub since the 15th century, the Gray’s Inn Coffee Shop was built here in 1695. Coffee was introduced to Britain in the mid 17th century and became the fashionable drink. Many coffee shops were the offshoots of taverns (sound familiar?). They sprang up all over London and sold beer and wine too.
The Coffee Shop was set back from the road, with a garden at the front. This was built upon and after various incarnations and expansions the whole site was redeveloped in the 1920’s. What we have today is three distinct bar areas behind a ‘Tudor’ façade. The front bar is panelled, dark and comfortable. The cellar bar forms the brick foundations of a much older building. The bar to the rear is both fascinating and unique. In a great church-like hall, under a high pitched roof, a long bar counter sits below large oak vats. These are dwarfed by massive wine vats near the entrance, said to hold 1000 gallons each.
On the opposite wall is a series of small cubicles, like confessionals, where it’s easy to imagine lawyers in confidential conversation with their clients. Another unique feature is an ingenious triangular stove (c.1815) which stands in the centre of the bar. It has no visible chimney, the smoke is ducted away below the floor. Some of the fabric of the pub is older than its rebuild date and it’s thought that much of it was recycled from its predecessor. It is certainly one of London’s most extraordinary and unique pubs. Grade II Listed