The Spaniard's Inn pub in Hampstead may have derived its name from the fact that Spain's ambassador to the court of James I supposedly had a house on the site, or, perhaps more likely, from the Spanish licensee who was registered at the pub in 1721.
The pub was very popular in the early eighteenth century, with its pleasure gardens, Bowling Green and summer houses. It was rumoured that Dick Turpin, the notorious highwayman, enjoyed drinking there, and it was believed by some that after he died, his ghost haunted the building.
During the Gordon Riots of 1780, the pub’s landlord, Giles Thomas, stopped the rioters on their way to burn Kenwood, the home of the Earl of Mansfield, by offering them free drinks. He successfully kept them at the pub until the military arrived and arrested them.
In the nineteenth century, Spaniard’s Inn was a favourite haunt of Charles Dickens, who mentions it in The Pickwick Papers. He describes a group who travelled for two hours out of London by stagecoach in order to have ‘tea and bread and butter’ in the pub’s beautiful garden.
The current building dates from the early eighteenth century and part of the garden and the stables have since been converted into a large car park.