|The Trafalgar Tavern (1837 - present)|
|5 Park Row, Greenwich, SE10|
|Trafalgar Tavern. © NMM|
The Ministerial Whitebait Dinner
A group of ministers sought to 'dine in a place of rest and of good repute'. Greenwich was chosen because of its convenience for London. They decided to dine on whitebait at the newly opened 'Trafalgar Tavern'.
These shoals of tiny fish were caught locally on the Thames. Within an hour after they were caught, they were deep fried in lard until crisp, then dressed with lemon juice and cayenne pepper. They were served with brown bread and washed down with iced champagne.
Word spread of the 'Trafalgar' and more and more politicians visited it. Until 1883, the whitebait dinner became an established annual tradition. Special barges brought ministers from Westminster to the 'Trafalgar', which was specially decorated for the occasion.
Whitebait are no longer found in the Thames. Although foreign whitebait is still served in the pub.
Charles Dickens was known to dine at Greenwich. His letters and diaries show the following meetings at the 'Trafalgar':
He also based his wedding breakfast scene from 'Our Mutual Friend' on the Hawke Room of the 'Trafalgar'.
|1837||The 'Trafalgar Tavern' opens on the site of 'The Old George Tavern'|
|1883||The last ministerial whitebait dinner – Prime Minister Gladstone’s ministers dinned together|
|mid 1880s||Whitebait suppers go out of fashion, the 'Trafalgar' goes into decline|
|1915||The 'Trafalgar Tavern' closes down|
|First World War||The building is used as a home for aged seaman|
|Between the wars||It becomes a working men’s club|
|Second World War||It is used as flats for naval officers|
|1968||Reopened as a pub having been restored to its Victorian grandeur|
|1996||Voted the 'Evening Standard' Pub of the year|