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The Prospect of Whitby (1520 - present)

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57 Wapping Wall, London E1
Known for

Prospect of Whitby c. 1890.
View full size imageProspect of Whitby c. 1890. © NMM

This is one of the most famous pubs in London. There has been a tavern on this site since 1520.

In the 17th century it had a reputation as a meeting place for smugglers and villains, and became known as 'Devil's Tavern'.

Famous customers included:

  • Samuel Pepys (1633-1703) when he was on naval business in Wapping.
  • Judge Jefferys (1648-89) watched the executions at the nearby Execution Dock from the pub balcony.
  • Captain Kidd was executed nearby in 1701.
  • Dickens, Whistler, Turner and Gustave Dore all allegedly visited the pub.

 

Port Connection

The riverside location meant its clientele included dockers, sailors, smugglers and pressgangs.

In 18th century a fire gutted the 'Devil’s Tavern', and it was rebuilt and renamed after the 'Prospect of Whitby'. The 'Prospect of Whitby' was a three-mast collier, built in 1777, which moored regularly outside the inn and became a local landmark.

Interesting Facts

The first fuschia cutting in Britain was allegedly bought in the pub. A local market gardener purchased it from a sailor for a nog of rum. The gardener went on to successfully grow and then sell the flowers.

Upstairs there used to be a cock pit and a bare knuckle-fighting ring.

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Life Story
1520A simple tavern was built on the site
17th centuryIt had a reputation as a meeting place for smugglers and villains, and became known as 'Devil's Tavern'
1688The Glorious Revolution saw James II flee to France. Judge Jeffreys tried to follow but was caught, it is claimed, hiding in a coal cellar at the tavern dressed as a coal-heaver. He was taken to the Tower and executed.
1701Captain Kidd was executed nearby
18th centuryA fire gutted the 'Devil's Tavern'. It was rebuilt and renamed 'Prospect of Whitby', after a ship that was moored nearby.
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Find out more
Fact fileCaptain Kidd
A 17th-century pirate
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Fact fileSamuel Pepys
Diarist and Master of Trinity House
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GamesMatch historical pictures of pubs with modern day photographs
Uncover the matching pairs.
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National Maritime Museum/Royal Observatory GreenwichNew Opportunities Fund 
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