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The Ten Bells, E1

84 Commercial Street
E1 6LY

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Pub SignMan left this review about The Ten Bells

This is a compact Grade II listed pub opposite Spitalfields Market and next to the impressive Christ Church, which has stood here since Truman’s re-located the pub in the 1850’s. The pub is perhaps most famous for its connections to Jack the Ripper, as one of his victims reportedly drank here shortly before she was murdered whilst another was known to pick up clients outside the pub. As such, the Ten Bells changed its name to ‘The Jack the Ripper’ during the 1970s before reverting again in 1988 and featured in the 2001 film ‘From Hell’. The pub deserves to be famous in its own right, as it features some fantastic internal Victorian tilework including an original tile painting depicting a scene from Spitalfields Market entitled ‘Spitalfields In Ye Olden Time’. In 2010, the landlord commission a companion piece entitled ‘Spitalfields In Modern Times’, which depicts a scene outside the pub and features notable local residents such as the artists Gilbert and George. Today, the pub has a single room layout, but there is plenty of evidence of a former multiple room configuration, most notably the island servery which stands slightly off-centre in the main part of the room. There are dark floorboards and a lincrusta ceiling throughout, which combine well with the smart glazed tiled panels which can be found around the room, creating a sense of the pub’s history. High tables and stools to the right of the bar give way to a little bit of standing room, whilst banquette seating is available down the front wall and a drinking ledge with high stools squeezes in along the left-hand side. The bar has a nice dark wood counter, but the remodelling over the years has resulted in most of the bar back being chopped out, leaving a small mirrored section strung with fairy lights. A combination of loud music and an even louder post-work crowd made it almost impossible to think, never mind hold a conversation, although I did note a sign pointing to a first-floor bar, which I didn’t explore but may well have offered a bit of respite.
Truman’s are happily still represented on the bar here, with Blindside on handpull and a couple of other beers of theirs on keg. The Blindside was £4.70 a pint and in pretty good nick, although I can’t say it’s a brew I particularly favour. Youngs Ordinary was also available on cask, whilst other keg options included beers from Wychwood and Wild Wood among others. The bar staff here were very friendly, and one barman went out of his way to talk a customer through a large number of craft can options, which I thought was above the call of duty.
This is a nice old pub with an interesting history and it’s pleasing that the interior still evokes that to a degree, even if the loud modern pop music and opened out interior diminishes the effect somewhat. I enjoyed popping in here and would suggest anyone interested in interesting pub features stops by to check out the tile paintings.

On 2nd January 2020 - rating: 7
[User has posted 2408 recommendations about 2408 pubs]

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Steve of N21 left this review about The Ten Bells

It’s taken me a long time to return to this one but being in the Spitalfields area and noticing that this historic grade II listed building has certainly been spruced up externally since the last time I was here and with the addition of some branded awnings that make it sit more comfortably into the general trendifying of the area around Spitalfields, I decided to pay it a return visit.
Internally the shabby chic furniture I remember seems to have gone, being replaced by leather bar stools along the far tiled walls behind the central bar and wooden tables and chairs to the front section.
But the biggest improvement in on the beer front with now three keg tap units dispensing a good range of craft beers with offerings from Truman’s, Camden and Fourpure alongside the usual keg suspects. Then the three hand pumps on the front bar section were dispensing Thwaites Wainwright, Trumans Gunboat and Youngs Bitter and the Gunboat was a well kept pint.
Now a much better pub than my previous visit all those years ago..

Previous Review:1st February 2010
The Ten Bells Pub has been standing on this site since around 1750 and is a piece of London history in that it is probably the most famous pub in Jack the Ripper story as Annie Chapman is rumoured to have drunk in here on the morning she became a Ripper victim.
Now a one bar pub which has been given the bohemian bar treatment and filled with a load of old settees and low slung wooden tables. Fortunately it still retains some excellent victorian tile work.
As a pub, this place is very poor. Dirty, average and expensive drinks choice and slumdog toilets.
But as a bit of London history it's brilliant, and worth visiting (once) for the Victorian tiles alone.

On 21st December 2018 - rating: 6
[User has posted 1699 recommendations about 1648 pubs]

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Tris C left this review about The Ten Bells

The fake shabby chic signage remains, but this pub seems to have improved a fair bit since the reviews below. Gone are the copper-topped tables, seating being stools around a wall-mounted peripheral ledge with some high, tiered tables and stools at front. This place isn't as big as you'd think from the outside and has a mix of locals, hipsters, suits and tourists on the Ripper trail. The main reason for going is the stunning fully tiled interior, the likes of which I haven't seen before. There was a TV, off, and mid-level music.
Ales: Courage Directors', Sharp's Doom Bar and Southwark Brewing Co's London Pale Ale at £2.15 a half, which is about right for the area and it was a decent drop of ale to boot.
This pub is OK, but I found it a little too cold - as in aloof - and a little impersonal. I'd come here to see the tiles again, but wouldn't really return for any other reason.

On 11th July 2016 - rating: 4
[User has posted 953 recommendations about 939 pubs]

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John Bonser left this review about The Ten Bells

Just down the road from The Golden Heart, and virtually next door to the impressive 18th century Christ Church, is The Ten Bells, another former Trumans pub.

A rather tatty looking exterior with peeling paint leads into a typically well stripped out Victorian era pub that now has a central island bar ( previously it was against the far wall ) . This has had the effect of reducing the available floor space. Furniture consists of some old style copper topped circular tables and wooden chairs with bar stools and a ledge down one side of the room. Probably reflecting the reduction in floor space, there seems to be less sofas than I remember previously – just the two at one side of the room close to a window.

Of particular note is the impressive tiling around two sides of the room, including a splendid mural – “Spitalfields in Olden Times” – showing an aristocratic looking couple in a weavers shop. This mural dates back to 1900 and earns the pub a listing in CAMRA’s book of London Heritage Pubs. Rather amusingly, and quite skilfully done in my view, is a more modern reproduction mural in similar style which shows an oddly dressed man with a cockatoo hair style about to enter the pub – “Spitalfields in Modern Times”. The walls of the stairs down to the toilets are covered in graffiti – all part of what I suppose is intended to be a shabby chic kind of appeal.

Somewhat surprisingly, there’s now 3 real ales on – Trumans Runner, Trumans Number 8 and Bombardier. The heavily tattooed barman’s raised eyebrows and tell tale initial tentative pull on the beer pump confirmed what I had strongly suspected at the outset – namely that I didn’t fit the desired customer profile, nor did they get much real ale trade. From memory the Trumans Runner was £ 3.65p and not desperately good.

I didn’t particularly like this place much at all – for one thing, even sitting there with my coat on, it felt distinctly chilly – and, if I’m in the area again, I’d probably stick to admiring the tilework through the windows from the pavement outside.

On 22nd February 2012 - rating: 4
[User has posted 560 recommendations about 560 pubs]

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Roger Button left this review about The Ten Bells

Named after the bells in the neighbouring Christ Church (although there are now only 8) the Ten Bells was established in 1743 although the current building is Victorian. A bit of a relic of the London pub scene, it is of course most notable as a haunt of Jack the Ripper (two of his victims spent the evening here before meeting their fate). The pub was actually temporarily renamed the Jack the Ripper but in 1988 was forced to revert back to the original name after a campaign that argued that the new name glamourised violence against women.

Since my last visit the place has undergone a slight transformation with the bar having been moved from against the back wall to the centre of the pub creating a walk round pub but at the same time slightly diminishing the floorspace for the drinkers. Where there is little room for any tables, ledges run along the walls with a few stools. Much of the furniture before the refurbishment were museum pieces with some elaborate leather seats looking so fragile that one dared to sit on them. The new furnishings are similarly battered to keep the pub's traditional tatty look but are at least a bit more solid. The most striking features are the magnificent tiled walls that include a wonderful tiled mural of Spitalfields Market near the doorway. The stairwell to the toilets is a mass of grafitti, peeling paint and also contains a couple of fading posters depicting the Ripper era.

One major improvement is the beers with 3 ales now available, Bombardier and two of the newly resurrected Truman ales (Runner and Three Threads). This was previously a Truman Pub when the old brewery was still around and some of the old signage is still visible. Beer quality was very good (a definite improvement on my last trip) although the £3.65 a pint price tag is a bit hard to stomach.

Despite being 5 minute walk from the City financial district, the pub attracts a varied mix of customers sourced from the nearby market areas, local workers and residents with surprisingly few “suits”. The music was a little intrusive and at times resulted in a shout to be heard competition between various tables.

There is certainly much to admire in the Ten Bells and the place could probably tell a few good tales but you need to like pubs that a bit rough around the edges to appreciate it, as well as have a bulging wallet.

On 26th May 2011 - rating: 8
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Just a quick pint, then I'm off left this review about The Ten Bells

Small corner pub with an island bar and not much seating. In addition to the famous tiled walls (including a large picture of the old Spitalfields Market across the road, and a reproduction of another scene) there are some other unusual features - such as upper part of the main windows. The old door and steps leading down to the toilets show signs of age, but most of the decor and furniture is much newer (albeit in a sometimes distressed sort of way). Three handpumps, but the two with the revived Trumans clips were unfortunately reversed leaving just the Bombardier (good enough, but badly overpriced at £3.65). Efficient bar staff. Main downside was the shouting which seemed to the favoured form of communication.

On 26th February 2011 - rating: 6
[User has posted 6000 recommendations about 6000 pubs]

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mary chapman left this review about The Ten Bells

Spent a couple of hours in the Ten Bells on 22/08/10. First time we'd ever been in there and we're glad we did. It wasn't to crowded when we got in there so were able to get served straight away and had pick of seats. Ok so the furniture was a bit disjointed but the ripped sofa was comfy. The Victorian tile work is outstanding and adds something to the interior. I do think they should put on more real ales as the old style pumps would enhance the bar. I won't comment on the toilets suffice to say they have to be seen to be believed. I hope any changes to the pub are kept to a minimum. Olde worlde pubs like this are getting fewer and fewer. Lets hope this one stays. The best bit about the visit was watching the expressions on the peoples faces as they looked into the pub (especially the women).Expressions ranged from "Surprised, but ok we'll go in" to "OH MY GOD, over my dead body!!!!". Absolutely priceless!!!!!!!!!!!!

On 23rd August 2010 - rating: 7
[User has posted 1 recommendations about 1 pubs]

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Clive Thompson left this review about The Ten Bells

A famous stopping off point for the Jack the Ripper tours as it is rumoured that some of his victims used the pub before the gory events of 1888. It was actually called The Jack the Ripper in the 1970’s and 80’s until someone with a little more taste returned it to its old name. It looks a bit beaten up now but there is some magnificent tiling including a mural depicting a scene of a Weavers shop in old Spitalfields. There were a worrying number of CCTV cameras, at least five that we counted, which may well reflect its current target market and clientele. The only ale available was Bombardier but not wishing to trust that I went for a bottle of Anchor Steam Beer. Visit to view the tiling and take in the history but it’s not one to stay at for too long.

On 6th March 2010 - rating: 4
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Manky Badger left this review about The Ten Bells

Thoroughly awful hole full of students drinking lager.

I’ll be generous and give the place 3/10

On 25th February 2010 - rating: 3
[User has posted 155 recommendations about 154 pubs]

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Rex Rattus left this review about The Ten Bells

They only had Bombardier on handpump during my visit, but it was OK. The pub sports large windows that let in a lot of light on a sunny day, but which only tends to emphasize how tatty and uncared for the interior seems. Seeing past that, however, we are lucky to see some original Victorian tilework that has survived to the present day, including a large panel showing an 18th century street scene. I doubt whether the extravagant interior decoration was in place when JTR carved his place in London’s history in the summer and autumn of 1888. In any case, neither JTR nor his victims would have appreciated the potential longevity of the pub’s decorations! It’s certainly worth dropping in to have a look at the interior but, unless you have a fascination with Jack The Ripper, I don’t see much to recommend this pub.

On 7th March 2008 - rating: 5
[User has posted 2575 recommendations about 2493 pubs]