Tag Archives: History

Pirates, Plundering & Pints at the Captain Kidd 

Close to what was once Execution Dock, along the Thames from the City of London, stands a public house dedicated to one the most famous and fearsome pirates of his time, Captain William Kidd, a man who many say suffered an almighty miscarriage of justice.

In 1702, Kidd, a seafaring Scotsman who later settled in Boston, was charged with murder and five counts of piracy and was hanged in chains by the River Thames. His body was then left hanging in the sun and the surf for three tides (days and nights) so that the tidal river could completely submerge his cadaver. Then, as a gruesome warning to other would be pirates and plunderers, Kidd’s rotting corpse was left on display further along the Thames for the next 3 years.

Captain Kidd, pirate, pub, Wapping, London, Execution Dock, hangman's noose
Captain Kidd was hanged at nearby Execution Dock

In Kidd’s defence, his murder charge involved a shipmate who was hit over the head with a metal bucket. And those charges of piracy? Well, Kidd set sail as a legitimate trader and keeper of the peace in the Atlantic and Caribbean with orders from politicians, landed gentry and royalty to hunt pirates. It was agreed that Kidd would not be paid for his efforts but could keep the profits of his plundering.

Let’s just say that his background recruitment checks were a little lax and perhaps his crew were not all saintly seafarers. What’s a Kidd to do eh?

Mutiny, betrayal and skulduggery ensued before Kidd was sent to London to stand trial. Despite requests for clemency from the man many believe originally gave Kidd his orders, King William III (aka William of Orange), his pleas fell on deaf ears and Kidd was sentenced to death and was duly hanged at Execution Dock in front of a crowd of Londoners baying for buccaneer blood.

Today, a Sam Smith’s pub stands in his honour close to the point by the Thames where he met his maker at Execution Dock. There are low ceilings, small cosy booths and bountiful food options available at very reasonable prices.

The Captain Kidd will gladly sell you a pint of their own India Pale Ale for far less than a fiver. As pub prices in London go, that’s hardly piracy and the views from the beer terrace across the river make it a treasure well worth hanging around for.

Captain Kidd, 108 Wapping High St, St Katharine’s & Wapping, London E1W 2NE

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The Prospect of Whitby: Welcome to London’s Oldest Riverside Pub 

Founded in 1520 during the time of King Henry VIII, the Prospect of Whitby lays claim to be London’s oldest riverside pub.

Although the original building burnt down in the 18th century, pints were being poured on the site of Wapping’s Prospect of Whitby 146 years before the Great Fire of London. 

Prospect of Whitby, London, oldest pub, River Thames
View of the pub from the River Thames

Where once smugglers and fishermen brought ashore their bounty, today the Prospect of Whitby’s riverside setting makes it a popular destination for today’s bankers and high financiers from across the water at Canary Wharf

The Thameside pub was originally known as the Pelican and later the Devil’s Tavern, owing to it’s salubrious history of close to 500 years of patronage by smugglers, thieves, politicians and pirates. The Prospect of Whitby is reckoned to have been named after a ship of the same name that regularly docked beside the pub. 

In whatever guise, the Prospect of Whitby has survived the reigns of several Kings and Queens of England including each of your King Jameses, all your King Georges and Charleses and both of your Queen Elizabeths. 

From the Great Fire and the Black Death to the Napoleonic wars and the 2 World Wars and one World Cup of the 20th Century, many years of murder, death and macabre misadventures have characterised this unique establishment. 

The pub is believed to have played host to Captain Kidd who met his end at nearby Execution Dock. Hanged for murder and piracy, his body was left hanging in chains for the next 3 years as a decomposing warning to anyone entering London’s Docklands. Indeed the infamous “Hanging” Judge Jeffreys, known for his eagerness to match fellons with their maker, regularly enjoyed the view across to Rotherhithe prior to his capture by the mob and death at the Tower of London.

Captain Kidd, Execution Dock, London, Prospect of Whitby, hanging
Captain Kidd met his end at nearby Execution Dock

Public executions were once a popular pass time akin to a spectator sport in London, and Wapping’s Execution Dock was up there with the Tyburn Tree as one of the city’s great venues for a gallows. Aside from providing refreshment for the public at hangings, the Prospect of Whitby also played host to bloody bare-knuckle boxing bouts.

Prospect of Whitby, oldest pub, London, gallows, noose
Have I got noose for you?

Today, the pub’s long pewter bar serves pale ale hopped by ingredients unimaginable to guests of yore like Dickens, Pepys and many of the ghosts that may or may not shiver the Prospect’s timbers. Legend has it that the more pints a punter purchases, the more likely a spectre is to reveal himself to the merry imbiber. 

Beers from local Woolwich craft brewers Hop Stuff are served to tourists and locals next to impressive views of the Thames from the pub’s several beer terraces and function rooms. 

Hop Stuff, craft beer, IPA, India Pale Ale, Renegade, Prospect of Whitby, London, brewery
Hop Stuff’s Renegade IPA

The Prospect of Whitby in Wapping is a monument to London’s gruesome history as a great tidal dock and a great place for a pint by the riverside.

The Prospect of Whitby, 57 Wapping Wall, St Katharine’s & Wapping, London, E1W 3SH

Forever England: Remembering Evelyn Lintott

On a foreign field one hundred years ago, Evelyn Lintott heard the whistle blow and gallantly answered his country’s call for the final time.

On the 1st of July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, England international footballer Lintott led the West Yorkshire Regiment’s 15th Battalion, a so-called Footballers’ Battalion known as the Leeds Pals over the top and into the cauldron of war.

Evelyn Henry Lintott would be one of 19,241 British servicemen to be killed on that day. He was just 33 years of age.

Continue reading Forever England: Remembering Evelyn Lintott