53 Kinnerton St, Belgravia, SW1X 8ED
Nearest Tube: Knightsbridge
I find Belgravia with its vast squares, gated gardens and towering stone residences somewhat forbidding. So what a pleasant surprise it was to come across the Nag’s Head down a quiet little mews. It was like entering an unfriendly building and running into an old friend.
EST: Early 19th century. Monarch: George IV
Just like the Guinea Grill, the Nag’s Head was once a boozer for the stable hands and footmen who worked at the posh houses nearby. It was apparently built in the early 1800s when the Georgian era was drawing to a close and the huge houses of Belgravia were springing up. The pub enjoyed a resurgence in the 1950s and 1960s when landlord Len Cole took up the reins. Something of a character, he and his wife were apparently permanently inebriated and a great source of entertainment for the rather motley clientele. Apparently Len would sometimes turn away his more well-to-do customers if he felt they might prove a soft touch for his dodgier regulars. Bearing in mind that the Great Train Robbery was being planned at the nearby Star Tavern around this time it seems clear that there were plenty of ne’er-do-wells – more than one pub-full, in fact – living in the area.
You will either love the Nag’s Head or you’ll hate it. This highly eccentric boozer has a quirky landlord who will throw you out if you use your phone in his pub, and who may also berate you for hanging your coat on the back of your chair rather than on a coat hook. But it is also a charming space crammed with a clutter of portraits, pewter mugs, bric-a-brac, military memorabilia and even some old penny-arcade amusements including a “What the butler saw“ machine. One wonders where they find the space: the Nag’s Head is said to be London’s smallest pub (though who’s measuring? Also, see The Dove). But the bar itself is certainly unusually low and miniature bar stools have therefore been provided to prevent you from towering above it when you sit.
The other stuff
The Nag’s Head is a free house that serves Adnams ales and fairly basic pub food. We had perfectly palatable sandwiches but other users have reported receiving a torrent of abuse for requesting chips. Not sure why – just another ot the landlord’s quirks perhaps.
For a complete list of pubs, go to the home page.