Leaving for France on the Eurostar service from St. Pancras at 7am in the morning resulted in us heading down to London on the previous evening. This left us at a loose end at the end of an afternoon - not that this is such a bad thing for, just like Samuel Johnson, I also think there is always something interesting to do or see in the capital. So, as we hadn't visited before, we headed to view the jaw-dropping exhibits forming the British Library Treasures housed in the Sir John Ritblat Gallery. In truth jaw-dropping doesn't even come close as the sight of some of the most influential books and works is heart-stopping. And it's all here to view free-of-charge! From Gutenberg's Bible of 1455 to Leonardo da Vinci's notebook, Shakespeare's First Folio to Handel's Messiah - in the composer's hand, along with popular material such as Elizabeth Barrett Browning's manuscripts and handwritten lyrics by Paul McCartney and John Lennon.
We left before it was time to turf everyone out and headed up towards The Angel to check out a branch of the Craft Beer Co. in White Lion Street. Formerly known as the Lord Wolseley, this place was re-branded as a branch of this pub company during 2012. The pub, a former beer house that opened during the mid-19th century, had once traded as the Sir Garnet Wolseley, though the soldier commemorated in the name was only knighted after his actions in the Ashanti Rebellion in 1873-4 so perhaps the boozer had an earlier moniker.
The old beer house once occupied an 18th century property that had been used as a china warehouse. The adjacent house was later absorbed into the public house, possibly when the building was altered in the early Edwardian period. The street was named after the former White Lion Inn on the corner of Islington High Street. When the junction was widened the old White Lion Inn was rebuilt and today survives as a bank and offices. There are lions in bas relief, with the date of 1898, on the first floor of the building facing White Lion Street.
We had done a little research before arriving in London and noticed that this place had an interesting selection of beer. We weren't disappointed because there is indeed an excellent range of cask, keg and bottled ales. There's pretty much something for everyone here. The beer menu is divided into House Favourites, Guest Kegs, Casks and Continental Bottles. We eschewed the latter as we have many of these back at home. Instead, we kicked off proceedings with a few of the cask ales. Both the Saltaire Pale Ale [5.0% £4.15p] and Dark Star Revelation [5.7% £4.45p] were pleasant enough but didn't quite hit the spot. There were several other cask ales on offer but we thought we'd delve into the 'House Favourites.' Five Points Railway Porter [4.8% £4.65p] was OK but a bit fizzy for a porter, perhaps a beer style not suited to craft keg? Thornbridge Tzara is a Köln-style hybrid beer in that it is fermented like an ale but matured like a lager. I wasn't sure if I liked it so that was another £4.85p experiment that went a bit wrong. For the same price however the pub was selling the brewery's Chiron American Pale Ale. At 5% ABV this has a very nice spicy character with a good hoppy citrus kick, but with a good malt balance.
And that was it for me, why keep moving around the beer menu when you are enjoying the ale in front of you. Indeed, we binned the idea of traipsing around Islington in search of other good pubs because we were enjoying the old Lord Wolseley, a pub with an agreeable atmosphere and a friendly vibe. So, we ordered some nosh to go with our American Pale Ale. A tasty Haloumi and Mushroom Burger with Chips was around a tenner if memory serves.
We enjoyed a nice relaxing couple of hours in this London boozer and would certainly return if in the Islington area. The pub company does have other branches in Clerkenwell, Covent Garden and Clapham plus a few further out and more on the way. It seems to be a winning formula in the capital at least. A bit pricey perhaps for us provincial visitors but at least they tick many of our boxes.
There isn't much left of the old interior of the Lord Wolseley. Naturally, the old supporting pillars have had to be retained and these help to identify an older layout of the interior when the public house was opened out during the Edwardian period.
A back room of the pub, the Beer Lounge, has some beer-related posters on the wall which will have you doing a little revision. Here you can see the Periodic Table of Beer alongside a diagram of the brewing process. The pub also has a Beer Flavour Wheel inspired by Mark Dredge. The Beer Lounge is available for hire for groups of 20-30 people.
"The better you dress a soldier, the more highly he will be thought of by women, and consequently by himself."
Sir Garnet Wolseley
"Mary Ann Tacchi, 34, married, of 2, Penton Grove, Clerkenwell, was charged with unlawfully wounding Jessie Kelby. Mr. Cowdell prosecuted, and Mr. W. Ricketts, jun.,
defended. The Prosecutrix said she resided at the Lord Wolseley, White Lion Street, Clerkenwell. On October 4th she was walking a few yards from her home when the Prisoner,
with whom she had previously quarrelled, attacked her in a most violent manner, knocking her down three times. On the third occasion she received from Tacchi a most violent
blow in the right eye. She was so much injured that she had to be removed to University College Hospital. It was there found that her right eye-ball was ruptured, and the
eye had to be removed. When Police Sergeant Trick took the Prisoner into custody, Tacchi said the Prosecutrix struck her first, and tore her cape. She denied striking the
Prosecutrix with any instrument. The Prisoner went into the witness-box, and on oath gave evidence bearing out this statement, adding that she only struck Mrs. Kelby once
with her fist. Mr. Cowdell : "After you were bailed out last week, did you not go into a public house nearby?" The Prisoner : "I did have a drink."
Mr. Cowdell : "Did you not tell a charwoman that you intended to knock Mrs. Kelby's other eye out?" The Prisoner : "No." The Prisoner was committed for
London Evening Standard : October 26th 1898 Page 6.