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IN THE NEWS
TOUR OF THE MONTH
ON THIS DAY IN LONDON
25th May 1905 Born today: Binnie Barnes, London, actress (Adv of Marco Polo, Diamond Jim)
25th May 1878 Gilbert/Sullivans opera HMS Pinafore, premieres in London
The Spaniard's Inn
Famous for being Dick Turpin's local - the 'Spaniard's Arms'
Location: Spaniards Road, Hampstead, NW3 7JJ
Description: Also known as the Spaniard's Inn, this was also the watering hole of 18th-century highwayman Dick Turpin...now stand and deliver!
Built in 1585, it has been used as an inn for wayfarers since the 17th century, and has remained largely unchanged since then. Dick Turpin is believed to have used it as a base to plan his many robberies. Local legend has it that he stabled his equally famous horse, Black Bess, in the stables just around the corner.
Turpin's father was the landlord of the pub, so it seems likely that he spent his childhood in the inn, at the very least. Turpin's pistols used to be displayed in the inn until they were sadly stolen some years ago. You can still see a ball from one of his pistols framed above the bar.
The inn got its name from two former Spanish landlords, Francesco and Juan Porero, who fought a duel over a woman. Juan was killed and buried in the garden, and his ghost is rumored to be one of the many who haunt the inn. The ghostly figure of a man, thought to be Turpin, is often seen on the road outside. A lady in white, perhaps one of his victims, is sometimes spotted in the garden, and some drinkers in the bar report feeling an eerie hand plucking at their clothes.
The pub is also mentioned by Charles Dickens in The Pickwick Papers and Bram Stoker's Dracula. Robert Louis Stevenson, William Blake, Mary Shelley and Lord Byron supped here, as did painters Hogarth, Reynolds and Constable.
Keats was a frequent visitor, and is rumored to have written his Ode to a Nightingale' after listening to the nightingales singing in the inn's garden.
The inn even has a place in Hampstead's political history. In 1780, during the anti-Catholic Gordon riots, a crowd of rioters were on their way to destroy the nearby Kenwood House because the then owner, Lord Mansfield, was a Catholic Scot. The quick thinking landlord of the inn plied them with free drinks until a convoy of soldiers arrived.
Tagged in this Tour: Charles Dickens' London