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IN THE NEWS
TOUR OF THE MONTH
ON THIS DAY IN LONDON
The French House
Dylan Thomas accidentally left Under Milkwood manuscript here
Location: 49 Dean Street, Soho, W1D
Description: The French House has been there a while but its historical significance only evolved in the 20th century when, as the name may suggest, it became patronized by a lot of French customers. That these customers were mainly the exiled French government (it was the 1940's) and the higher echelons of the French Resistance it may be apparent why it was to become so important. In later years it has become a literary haunt and is the place where a drunken Dylan Thomas accidentally left the manuscript for Under Milkwood.
This pub is regarded as one of London's friendliest pubs. During World War II, it was the London rendezvous of the French Free Forces. General Charles de Gaulle wrote his historic declaration of defiance of the Nazis in the room above the bar.
Other former regulars here in this most soho-ish pub in Soho, include Francis Bacon, and Lucian Freud.
This was previously called the Yorkminster, and run for much of the 20th century by the French family, the Berlemonts.
When Victor Berlemont took over the pub in 1910 he was the only foreign landlord in Britain and used to eject troublesome customers by announcing: I'm afraid one of us will have to leave and it's not going to be me. One day a vicar walked in and announced to the surprised bar staff, I'm from the York Minster, to which the barman replied, No, you're in the Yorkminster.
The vicar then explained that he had been sent by the Dean of the Minster in York who had mistakenly received the pub's wine. We were so pleased until we looked at the address label and realised that the postman saw the 'Dean' bit but not the 'Street' bit, said the vicar.