The Holy Tavern
The Holy Tavern is located within the grounds of one of London’s most ancient hostelries -The Clerkenwell Priory. The priory was the headquarters of the Knights Hospitallers in England. The monastic order of the Knights Hospitallers of St John of Jerusalem's beginnings goes back to the Crusades. The priory dominated Clerkenwell from its foundation until the Dissolution of the Monasteries during the reign of Henry VIII. Bloody Mary briefly refounded the Priory that her father had partly torn down when she became Queen. Mary had fond memories of the Priory as she had often resided there when she was younger and she enjoyed watching heretics she was having burnt at nearby Smithfield market. The Priory gatehouse, just down the ancient medieval alley (St John's Path running next to The Holy Tavern), has a museum with a discretely curtained display dedicated to England's most bloodthirsty monarch - Queen Mary. Just draw back the black velvet and look upon Bloody Mary. The museum traces the history of the Knights from their origins caring for sick pilgrims through the Crusades and their modern incarnation as the St John Ambulance - the international first aid charity.
The priory was founded in the 1140s during the reign of Henry II and run on Augustinian rules. It was built on five acres of land just outside the City of London that stretched from St John's Street down to the River Fleet. The Knights dressed in black cloaks emblazoned with a white cross.
The Holy Tavern logo is inspired by the Knights Hospitallers' dress code and their swords!
Golden letters, a cross / sword on a black background.
The Knights were forced from the Holy Land by the Saracens but were granted a new home in Malta by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. However, an annual rent of one falcon was to be paid to the King of Spain.
This inspired Dashiell Hammett to write -
We would love you to visit our lovely little pub in Clerkenwell.
We hope to see you soon,
Warm regards from our team: Abyan, Freya, Jack, Megan, Jessie, and Storm.
And the proud owners: Hendrik de Jong and Paul Butler.
We hope to see you soon.
The building is early Georgian with much of the original interior wooden panelling preserved. Dr Johnson might well have passed by on his way to work on his dictionary.
It was built in 1720 as one of a street of townhouses on a piece of open ground that had originally belonged to the
Around 1810 a shop front was inserted into the façade of Number 55 and the premises subsequently became a watchmakers. Clerkenwell became a centre for watchmaking during the 18th century. Over the years Number 55 has had a variety of occupants.
Book publisher Burke & Co in the 1950s. Oliver Bland architects in the 1980s. And, upstairs, a short-lived notorious brothel in the 2000s!
From January 1995 to August 1996 it was The Jerusalem Coffee House. A nod to local history. It was then leased to the newly opened St Peter’s Brewery for 25 years and was renamed the Jerusalem Tavern. This name has long been associated with the area - three other Jerusalem Taverns have operated within three hundred yards of the present pub - though the most recent of those closed around a century ago.
Brewing and taverns are long associated with the many monasteries, abbeys and nunneries that were situated in the area.
Antiquarians date the first Holy Tavern back to the founding of the Priory in the early 1100s. The Knights Hospitallers used the health imbuing water that sprang from their well in Clerkenwell.
Clerkenwell being named after the famous Clerk's Well which was a spa resort famed for its health giving qualities.
On Tuesdays, The Holy Tavern is candlelit. Yes we are - and it's cosy. Please come and have a tipple in the candlelight - just as beers, spirits and wines were enjoyed hundreds of years ago.
Lovely camp people ;-)
Monday to Friday -from midday to 11 pm.
Saturday and Sunday closed, but open at the weekends for special occasions. Ask us.