1 Queen Square, WC1
Nearest tube: Russell Square 0.3 miles
Nearest attraction: Charles Dickens Museum 0.5 miles
Tucked away down a side street off busy Southampton Row, the Queen’s Larder is a haven of peace and tranquillity overlooking leafy Queen Square.
EST: 1710 (approx) Monarch: Queen Anne
True to its name, The Queen’s Larder is built on the site of a food store kept by a Queen. The monarch in question was Queen Charlotte, wife of “mad” King George III. The jury is still out as to what was actually wrong with him. Was he manic-depressive? Was he suffering from an untreated physical condition? Were his medicines poisoning him? All these theories have been considered over the years but the truth is, he does sound pretty mad.
He would speak randomly at length until he began frothing at the mouth; he talked to trees and he howled like a dog. He also suffered from convulsions so severe that his pages had to sit on him to keep him still. That’s their story, anyway. Queen Charlotte refused to be alone with him after his first bout of madness – mainly because he would hug her very tightly and refuse to let her go.
King George’s doctor lived in Queen Square (named after a different queen – Queen Anne) and Queen Charlotte used the cellars beneath the present-day pub for storing food for her husband’s special diet.
Frustratingly, no one seems to know of what his special diet consisted. And what do you feed a person to stop them from howling like a dog and giving inappropriate bearhugs, anyway? As it happened, King George had simple tastes and would eschew the meat-heavy banquets of the day in favour of a soft-boiled egg, a salad or a Yorkshire pudding. He also had an aversion to sugar. So the chances are that his “special diet” was probably less healthy than his everyday one – and it didn’t work anyway since his madness persisted.
The Queen’s Larder’s interior is small but delightfully cosy with plenty of nooks and crannies and comfy benches upholstered in crimson. The toilets are typically tiny for an old London pub – I had to displace the ubiquitous newspaper-reading gentleman in order to access the Ladies’. Despite its position slap bang in the middle of WC1 this is very much a locals’ pub. You can even bring your dog.
The other stuff
Brewery: Free house
Open: Every day
Food: Every day
The Greene King sign on the canopy would indicate some brewery affiliation but the Queen’s Larder has its own website and menu. Besides the expected pies and sandwiches there are plenty of basic British comfort foods such as spam fritters, ploughman’s lunches and egg and chips. No doubt King George would have approved – particularly since roast beef with Yorkshire pudding is on the menu.