The diminutive Nell Gwynne is hiding up an alleyway just off the Strand. She’s small, pretty as a picture and dressed in red, but then Nell never did hide her charms. Nell (Eleanor) is thought to have been born in the Covent Garden area in 1650 to ‘lowly’ parents. As a young teenager she sold fruit (and oranges) at the local theatre doors. She was lured into the theatre and became one of the periods first and best known actresses. Samuel Pepys called her ‘pretty, witty Nell’, so it may not have been just her acting that persuaded King Charles II to take her as his mistress.
This pub was built on or near the site of the Bull Inn which gives the alleyway its name. It’s a busy little place, low lit and cosy, packed in early evening by local workers and theatre goers. A sign behind the bar says it’s ‘the friendliest free house in the west end’. Well, there’s only one way to find out.