This is the story of an alley called Bull Inn Court which is today most famous for containing a pub, which is not called the Bull Inn.
What you do have is a surprisingly large alley that offers a convenient bypass from Strand to avoid the rushing crowds, except during the pub’s own rush hour in the evening, when the court fills with people holding pints.
There used to be an inn on the site known as the Black Bull Inn until around 1680, when the north side of Strand was mostly stables and tenement flats. The Inn was demolished, and the court was constructed as the area was chopped up from old tudor estates into smaller plots of land.
Althought he court is still named after the former Bull Inn, today it’s much more famous successor is the Nell Gwynne Tavern, named after the famous mistress of King Charles II.
The pub itself dates from around 1680, although the rich red frontage, sadly is an early 19th century rebuild.
The passageway through from the Strand has an Edwardian lining, to walls and ceiling, of polychrome tilework in Art Nouveau style and arched street entrance.
At one time, the court also housed an early electricity generator, the noise from which so infuriated the proprietor of the theatre, that he sold up, to the owner of the generator plant, Stefano Gatti.
The Gatti family were to later also acquire the lease of the Nell Gwynne tavern. They later sold the entire site to Woolworths to be turned into one of their stores. Fortunately, planning officers were less impressed with the idea, and vetoed it.
Although the pub claims that the well known actor, William Terris was murdered nearby, it was actually on Maiden Lane, a bit further along the road. It’s claimed his ghost haunts Covent Garden tube station, which is even further away, and not at all related to the theatre he worked in.
If you look up at the wall of the theatre, there are some bronze cogs up there, salvaged from the original power house that was on the site.
Apart from the pub and the Adelphi Theatre, the alley is home to a number of residential flats, which are not particularly cheap to rent.
Location map and local interesting places
- 10] London Transport Museum
- 11] Benjamin Franklin House
- 12] Courtauld Institute of Art
- 13] National Portrait Gallery
- 14] Somerset House
- 15] National Gallery
- 16] Canada House Gallery
- 17] Museum of Freemasonry
- 18] British Council London