history and accolades
The Ship Tavern was established in 1549 & has been at the heart of Holborn's social scene for over 500 years. The original Tavern was then only half the size as it is today and constructed mostly from timber. Its main purpose was to quench the thirst of exhausted labourers who were tending to the nearby fields, now partly Lincoln's Inn Fields.
As well as being a public house, The Ship Tavern has served many purposes in its lifetime. Notably during the despotic reign of Henry VIII, Catholics would sneak into the Ship Tavern to attend mass, conducted by outlawed priests who would conduct mass from behind the bar. Lookouts would be posted around the neighbourhood, and a pre-arranged signal would warn the congregation when the king's zealous officials came in to view. The warning would, hopefully, give the priest time to escape into one of the several 'hidey-holes' (some of which still exist today) and allow the congregation time to take up their tankards and become just another group of regulars in a pub. Some priests were not so lucky and were discovered hiding in a tunnel in the cellar and were executed on the spot. Their chilling screams can still be heard to this day. The Ship has featured in many haunted publications on London.
fancy a pint â€“
A true Gem of a pub. A very nice atmosphere, and friendly staff. Hidden enough not to be reliant on tourists, and perfect location for heading home on the Tube! One of the best in London.
Beer in the evening â€“
Our favourite pub in London: frequently changing guest ales, nice atmosphere, often some decent indie music in the background, fantastic food, and the friendliest staff I have ever met.
In the midst of Holborn, a small alleyway conceals The Ship Tavern, one of the oldest and quaintest public houses in London.
Concealed between the busy Kingsway and the serene Lincolnâ€™s Inn Fields this small pub exudes charm and warmth. Antique paintings, books and trinkets adorn the mahogany walls, creating a quirky, cosy feel. There is a nautical theme throughout with oars, model ships and boats amongst the decorations and a barrel outside for the smokers to put their drinks. The space is rather small and fills up very quickly, especially during the after-work drinks rush, so itâ€™s best to arrive early to get one of the booths or tables. At colder times of the year, a warm crackling fireplace makes the upstairs restaurant (Oak Room) a very welcoming escape from the bustling air downstairs and it is a perfect place to enjoy a meal.
The feel of the Ship is very homey and the bar staff are talkative and attentive. Itâ€™s obvious that this place acts as a local to many and you can see the regulars propping up the bar, chatting to the barmaids and ordering their usual tipple. The punters range from barristers who work nearby to bankers, IT geeks, LSE students and tourists. Warm weather allows everyone to spill out onto the sidewalk and courtyard which tends to get more packed than the pub itself, to the point that tape has to be laid out to create a makeshift barrier so the jubilant â€˜shipmatesâ€™ donâ€™t get in the way of passers-by.
Although itâ€™s not a cheap eat, the food is exceptional. The menu boasts a lot of pub classics such as fish and chips (Â£10.25), sausage and mash (Â£9.95), pies and a sumptuous pork belly (Â£10.55). You can eat for less nearby but a meal here is definitely worth that little extra. A fish finger sandwich, cleverly served on a wooden board, is one of the cheaper alternatives at just over Â£6. Its served with chips which are tasty and crispy. A cheese board is available and is particularly popular with those who like to enjoy the combo of cheese and wine.
There are six ales on tap including Bombardier, Old Speckled Hen and IPA as well as two guests. Lagers offer Kronenbourg and Heineken and pints generally cost between Â£3.30 and Â£3.60.
Along with the beers, the bar is stocked with a surprising amount of spirits. Five flavours of Sambuca, a respectable collection of single malts and port are amongst the highlights. Singles are just under Â£4 and a double with a mixer costs about Â£6.50. The wine list is not too shabby with a choice of white, red and roses starting at around Â£4 for a regular glass and just under Â£14 for a bottle of house wine.
Good food, good drinks and very good company - this small pub with a big heart is a lovely place to spend some time.