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The Rochester Castle (JD Wetherspoon), Stoke Newington, N16

143-145 Stoke Newington High Street
N16 0NY
Phone: 02072496016

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J D Wetherspoon
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Reviews (Current Rating Average: of 10) Add Review see review guidelines

Tris C left this review about The Rochester Castle (JD Wetherspoon)

A pub has been here since 1702: the Green Dragon, with this Grade II-listed former replacement arriving in 1900, the original being built by Richard Payne of Rochester, whose countenance can be seen above a fireplace. It’s been under the stewardship of Wetherspoon’s since 1983, which makes it their oldest surviving branch.
I’ve passed this place countless times and it always seems to depict the tableau outlined in the previous review, some earlier ones too. Indeed, I almost entered here a couple of months before the previous reviewer and saw a customer- the same one? - slumped at a table early evening and of course, there were the staggering all-day drinkers.
Well, I think that maybe Timbo read the previous reviews because the place seems to have upped its game. It matches the earlier descriptions though now with a marble bar top, but the tables to the front are, booths aside, now high; it’s hard to slump at a high table. There are still the multiple games machines near the entrance and seemingly just the one TV. But the real reason to visit is the fine frontage with the marvellous glazed tiles with integrated mirrors in the front section; there’s also the very ornate and impressive lantern in the middle section which was probably the billiards room. Walls and ceiling are clad in Anaglypta, painted mainly white or Eau de Nil; the fireplaces seem now to be in good condition. The only sign of tattiness that I saw was a small patch of peeling paper which looks to be the result of water ingression.
The customer base was probably the most interesting aspect of the place, as the large majority of customers were either middle-aged Afro-Caribbeans or elderly Africans, having a high old time. Another oddity here is that there were no empty glasses or plates on tables – what’s going on here?
The other item of note were the prices with all ales priced at an astonishing £1.99, apart from Abbot at £2.29. For the record, the other ales were: Portobello’s JPA, Block109 Brewing’s Wembeerly, Three Sods’ Mon Cheri or Session, East London Brewing’s Cowcatcher or Pale. which was in excellent condition; Gloom and GK IPA were available, but you know who brews them.
I don’t know if all this is some sort of publicity stunt, but as things stand, this is now one of the best boozers in Stoke Newington. If they continue to sell ELB’s Pale to this standard and especially this price, I’d – gulp – actually come here again.

On 13th August 2021 - rating: 6
[User has posted 1062 recommendations about 1041 pubs]

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Pub SignMan left this review about The Rochester Castle (JD Wetherspoon)

I’ve been to some grotty Wetherspoons in my time, but this one, with a prime High Street location, has to rank right up there as one of the grimmest. You enter into a carpeted room with some seating under the front windows and banquette booths down the left hand wall, broken midway along by a neglected old fireplace. The servery is over on the other side of the room, along the right hand wall, and has a typical dark wood counter and ‘Spoons bar back, plus an unusual white canopy. A small skylight above the bar area acts as a vaguely eye-catching feature and helps illuminate the high tables and stools that fill the central part of the room, opposite the bar. Two arches lead though to the pub’s mid-section, carpeted by both carpet and a layer of detritus (menus, waste food, beer bottles) that had accumulated over the course of the day (or perhaps week – who knows?). Tables and chairs run through the centre of this area, with floral wallpaper, contemporary paintings (including one of the eponymous castle) and ‘Spoons info boards on the walls. The nicest area in the pub by some way, the area also boasts a large skylight surrounded by elaborate moulded plasterwork and a series of small, nude statuettes. Moving on again, you reach the rear section of the pub, which looks like a modern addition thanks to conservatory style windows around three sides and plenty more seating within. A garden can be accessed from here, but it was too dark to get a proper look at it, which may just have been for the best. It took me some time to find a table that didn’t have a pile of uncleared plates, glasses, or other such crap on it and even then, I ended up amongst rowing couples, staggering all-day drinkers and one bloke slumped, possibly dead, across his table.
The bar offered some kind of salvation for the unsuspecting visitor, thanks to five guest ales that took their place alongside three ‘Spoons regulars and a real cider. After a bit of fuss and confusion with the hopeless barman, I managed to extract a pint of Enfield Pale Ale at the usual reasonable price, which was very much sub-par and arguably on the verge of turning undrinkable, although I managed to get through it.
What an absolute dump this place is – it must go down as one of the most uncared for ‘Spoons in the country, which seems to be reflected by the clientele it attracts. I’d had enough of this place after the first five minutes or so and things didn’t get much better after that. ‘Spoons get a bad reputation at times and places like this don’t do anything to help dispel that myth – it would take a pretty serious overhaul to get me back in this pub again.

On 15th January 2019 - rating: 3
[User has posted 2597 recommendations about 2597 pubs]

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Real Ale Ray left this review about The Rochester Castle (JD Wetherspoon)

A very disappointing display of ales on handpump on our visit, so managed a quick half of Banks Goldingot. The interior of the pub had an impressive skylight in the middle section and a display of Victorian glazed wall tiles in the front room, which covered the majority of the wall. The pub is tatty around the edges, but the beer selection was the downside.

On 2nd November 2016 - rating: 5
[User has posted 3006 recommendations about 3006 pubs]

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Moby Duck left this review about The Rochester Castle (JD Wetherspoon)

The usual large single roomed spoons formula,the room being slightly divided by two open archways toward the rear,this leads on to a conservatory area and on again into a small beer garden,the nicest bit about the pub. Beers on were Doombar ,GK IPA,three different Sambrooke's beers, ELB Quadrant Oatmeal Stout which was in fair condition, and a couple of Ciders.All in all though not a great place.

On 2nd May 2016 - rating: 5
[User has posted 1420 recommendations about 1405 pubs]

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john gray left this review about The Rochester Castle (JD Wetherspoon)

Considering Wetherspoon spends millions on new pubs this is a disgrace.Tatty interior.Dull selection of beers except Kelham Island -pale Rider which was okay.

On 18th April 2015 - rating: 3
[User has posted 940 recommendations about 927 pubs]

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Steve of N21 left this review about The Rochester Castle (JD Wetherspoon)

Actually I wasn’t as enamoured with the Rochester Castle as previous reviewers. Yes it’s true that, as one of the few remaining ‘traditional’ places to drink on Stoke Newington High Street as the others fall to gentrification, you can still get a feel of the ‘Old Hackney’ by visiting the Rochester.
But the edginess, desperation and despair of the Old Hackney in the 70’s and 80’s before they actually built some communication links to the place is not something I actually want to revisit.
And on this Sunday lunchtime both the interior of the pub and the majority of the punters gave the impression of being a bit run down and having seen better days. I am no oil painting, but I felt positively glamourous sitting amongst the old men and women (or at least I thought a few of them were probably women) taking up most of the tables on this lunchtime
Fortunately a very passable pint of Sambrookes Porter was available which I enjoyed out on the external garden patio at the back. Can’t say this is one I will be rushing back to.

On 15th April 2015 - rating: 5
[User has posted 1742 recommendations about 1688 pubs]

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Aqualung . left this review about The Rochester Castle (JD Wetherspoon)

This is officially the oldest surviving Spoons going back to May 1983.
When it became the Tanner's Hall back in the day it was a revelation. They were selling quality real ale at cheap prices in a comfortable setting. Prior to that it was a Bass Charrington music venue with a bad reputation, which is why they changed the name. Apparently the original name came about because it was built by some geezer from Rochester.
It went back to being the Rochester Castle many years ago now and is a relatively modest sized Spoons but all the better for being an original pub. Of course if you are in Stokey on a weekday morning or afternoon, most of the other options for a decent pint are closed.
There were three banks of three pumps containing GK IPA and Abbot, Doom Bore, 2 Ciders, London Fields Hackney Hopster, Arundel Wild Heaven, Moorhouse Pendle Witches Brew and East London Brewing Company Quadrant Stout. I went for the Quadrant Stout (£2.50) which was in great nick.
This is a real Oasis in the sea of trendy and late opening places that have overrun Stoke Newington.

On 18th May 2014 - rating: 8
[User has posted 2143 recommendations about 2143 pubs]

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hondo . left this review about The Rochester Castle (JD Wetherspoon)

Large spoons with some nice tiling at the front.

On 23rd March 2014 - no rating submitted
[User has posted 2774 recommendations about 2716 pubs]

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Rex Rattus left this review about The Rochester Castle (JD Wetherspoon)

This is a ‘spoons, so obviously it will have decent beer at reasonable prices, and cheap food. The traditional breakfast is £3.29 here. I had a pint of Hackney Brewery Hopster, which was still labelled as a festival ale when I was in on Friday. At £2.29 a pint it’s still a good price, but in my local, the Edward Rayne, they were selling of unsold festival ales at £1.49 a pint.

The pub itself is a magnificent old Victorian high street pub, with a most striking exterior. A lot of the original Victorian tiling remains on the interior walls, but unfortunately the best of it is obscured by a bank of three fruit machines. This wall has four centrepiece tiles showing scantily dressed ladies (so typical of the Victorians!) representing the four seasons. Furnishings are the usual mixed bag. Plus points here are the pair of skylights making it much brighter inside, and the conservatory area at the back. There is also apparently a garden at the back, but I didn’t bother to venture out there in the pouring rain.

As ‘spoons go this is a fairly decent one. It had its fair share of early drinkers (I was in at 11.30 AM), whose number I of course joined. I reckon that all things considered – not least the Victorian tiling on view – this one is definitely worth a visit.

On 9th November 2013 - rating: 7
[User has posted 2581 recommendations about 2498 pubs]

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Steve C left this review about The Rochester Castle (JD Wetherspoon)

This is a large Wetherspoons that was pretty busy with a mixed crowd when I visited on Saturday afternoon. There are plenty of tables which all have three or four menus on them advertising cheap food and drinks and there were lots of people eating, I did visit around lunchtime. There is a large skylight in the ceiling in the centre of the pub and a large conservatory has been added to the rear of the pub so it is quite a bright pub. There is also some more seating out the back that was mostly being used by smokers.

I counted nine hand pumps with at least four guest beers and Marcle cider available alongside Pedigree and Ruddles. After a small wait at the bar I was served a decent pint of Guinness which I enjoyed whilst trying to read the lips of the news reader on one of the two muted plasma screens. I can understand muted sport as the sound isn’t that important, but muted news?

This place is ok for a Spoons and the fact that it is open until midnight everyday and 1am on Fridays and Saturdays is a bonus, but I’m not sure of the sort of crowd attracted late at night.

On 4th October 2010 - rating: 7
[User has posted 3592 recommendations about 3571 pubs]

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