'I know of a good 'ouse where we can have a red-hot chop and a glass of good wine'
– Charles Dickens on Jack Straw's Castle
At 130 meters above sea level, Jack Straw's Castle is the highest pub in London. Its name comes from either Jack Straw, the leader of the Peasant’s Revolt of 1381, or means simply 'a countryman'.
The earliest record of Jack Straw's Castle is as a coaching inn in 1713. It was used by people travelling from London to water their horses at nearby Whitestone Pond. By the middle of the nineteenth century, it was well-known and very popular. Charles Dickens, Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Washington Irving and Max Beerbohm are known to have visited or stayed at Jack Straw’s Castle, and Marie Lloyd is known to have stayed there for many months during 1913. The Second World War began just a few years after this painting was made and the building, by now used as a pub, was badly bombed during the Blitz. It was rebuilt by the architect Raymond Erith with dramatic white weatherboard facing.
Jack Straw’s Castle has fine views over Hampstead Heath and the rest of London. The building is now used as a gym.