User name:



Sign in with Facebook

Not already a member?
Join our community and - Rate & review pubs - Upload pictures - Add events JOIN for free NOW

Chat about:
Beer of the Week (w/e 18th October 2020) with oldboots on the Pub Forum

Picture of The Magdala Tavern
Image posted by Rex Rattus
Submitted on Monday, 29th July 2013
With picture contributions to 1077 other pubs
View all this pub's pictures (19 more images)
Only members may add pictures, click to receive free membership

Requested be closed with reason - Other:

The Magdala Tavern, NW3

2A South Hill Park
Correct details

Served areas

Reviews of The Magdala Tavern (Average Rating: of 10) Add Review see review guidelines

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Tris C left this review about The Magdala Tavern

This pub closed early last September but has been saved with the upper floors converted to residential use. It is owned by the team behind The Stag just down the road and The Mall (W8), both of which despite not being fault-free, are worthwhile operations.

First off, let's clear something thing up once and for all: the chipped tilework to the front was not caused by Ruth Ellis's bullets, but was applied at a later date for effect. Externally the pub is unchanged - the Charrington's stained and banded leaded lights remain and the name 'Tavern' has been reinstated. The once 'compact' beer patio has been decimated to make way for the apartments' entrance. It's now just three wall-mounted wooden slatted benches to sit about 9 as an emergency smokery.

Previously the pub had a two-bar format - retained - and the right-hand CAMRA heritage-listed bar with its wood panelling and alabaster fireplace has survived unmolested. The piano and TV have gone, a muted jazz track played on the stereo. Furniture is a conventional combination of low round tables with round stools, vinyl upholstered, burgundy velour banquettes, a high table with high chairs, and stools to the bar so that bar hogs can block out other drinkers. Paintwork is smokey blue with a white ceiling, the floor is bare boarded. The lighting now employed renders the space painfully gloomy, even in broad daylight. To the rear is a function annex called The Rigsby Room; perhaps it suffers from rising damp? The tiny central bar's only beer engines front onto this bar and above is a new square section tubular steel gantry, which seems to be a pub's fashion accessory de nos jours. A vapist sat in the corner practicing his dark, smelly art which isn't on.

The right- and left-hand bars have a shared but split entrance and at the mid-point both have access to the lavatories. These have been completely reordered and are a vast improvement. They are somewhat Art Deco and a little worn and chipped so must have been reclaimed; perhaps they are original Art Deco?

It is however the left-hand bar that has undergone the most dramatic change. Long stripped of its original décor, this was once a stark white room with a custard coloured wood floor, sturdy pale wood furniture and a coffee table and sofa to the rear and a rather unpleasant open kitchen to the side; no longer. The kitchen has gone and with the addition of a central partition with some etched glass, has been transformed into a kind of snug. The room appears to have been opened up quite a bit and is less formal than before. The floor has been painted pale grey and should wear well. Walls below window height are bare wood panelled, whilst above the picture rail are now clichéd bare brick. To the window wall are spherical opaque lanterns with such low wattage bulbs that this bar is about as dark and gloomy as the other. Tables are round and wooden with what look like old classroom chairs. To the windows are high stools painted pale grey which serve a perimeter beer shelf - under which are charging sockets - which also seems to have been constructed from reclaimed wood. This side of the bar features a new pale green and white tiled bar back - which looks like something from a 1950s' hospital - but there are no pumps. It seems more geared towards serving food and displays breads and cakes (not covered) in the manner of a branch of Gail's or Pain Quotidien. To the side is an office canteen-style glass compartment housing ready made salads and charcuterie. Towards the lavatories is a rather wonderful old Kelvinator.

Just three ales on offer which is a pity: Fuller's London Pride, Gipsy Hill Brewing Company's Beatnik (£2.15 a half) and Hammerton Brewery's N1 (£4.40 a pint). Both were on good form. To the bar's rear wall are twenty chrome taps dispensing who knows what as none is marked. Service was efficient and friendly. Food is served from a basic menu and prices are given in 'units' rather than £s, i.e. 4.5 rather than £4.50 which is pretentious, unoriginal and just plain naff.

I've been coming to this pub for over 40 years and it has changed a lot; it was once a rough builders' pub. In its last incarnation, the pub's best aspect was its great staff. Now though on the down side there are only three ales, and yapping dogs in the main bar - where food is served - lose the place at least two points but on balance vapists, style oddities and stygian lighting aside, it's a big improvement and hopefully its future will be secure.

On 31st August 2015 - rating: 5
[User has posted 973 recommendations about 958 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

hondo . left this review about Magdala

Plans to re-open a much-loved and historic pub in South End Green have been announced less than two weeks after it closed its doors.
The Magdala in South Hill Park will re-open under new owners in the New Year, having closed on Sunday, September 7.

On 23rd September 2014 - no rating submitted
[User has posted 2702 recommendations about 2645 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

John Bonser left this review about Magdala

Opposite Hampstead Heath Station ( North London Overground Line ) is The Magdala – the “Tavern” part of the pub’s name has seemingly been dropped. It’s a pub with two contrasting, interconnecting rooms and which is still probably best known as the pub outside which Ruth Ellis shot her lover in April 1955 and subsequently became the last woman in the UK to be hanged.

The main room on the left is a gastro pub operation with a featureless and bright interior of bare floorboards and long wooden tables and, in one corner, the ubiquitous open kitchen.

The much smaller room on the right is, carpeted, cosy and, by comparison, characterful. It includes half height wood panelling, a small original panelled bar counter and a fine marble surround fireplace. Seating includes some comfortable, upholstered chairs, although the rather garishly coloured fabric on some of the chairs does jar. On the wall in this room, a framed article tells us the story of Ruth Ellis and how she met her fate in July 1955. Apparently, there used to be a plaque outside and some bullet holes ( believed to have been introduced by an enterprising former landlord ), but these seem to have gone. The pub retains the green tinged leaded windows telling us that it used to be a Charringtons house.

The surviving 1930’s interior in the right hand room earns the pub an entry in the CAMRA book of London Heritage Pubs.

On my recent Sunday lunchtime visit, the right hand room had a good customer mix – a few venerable Hampstead locals, several groups of diners ( revealingly, preferring to eat here rather than the larger room ) and a few runners who had been out on Parliament Hill. A silent TV was showing France v Ireland in the Six Nations.

Beers on were Doom Bar, Greene King IPA and, notably, the rarely seen Bays Bitter from Devon which was £ 3.50p and a pleasant pint.

I like the way that this pub has retained two contrasting areas. I’d probably call in again if passing through

On 14th March 2012 - rating: 6
[User has posted 560 recommendations about 560 pubs]

View more reviews of The Magdala Tavern (6)
This pub features in the following crawls:
London Pubs of Crims and Crime by BobOs .
External web links for The Magdala Tavern

Pubs Galore is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

Pub location see interactive map of local area
Map location corrected by Steve C
Latest updates View all updates for The Magdala Tavern, NW3
15th Feb 2016, 16:26
Request to mark pub as closed by hondo . approved
15th Feb 2016, 13:52
Request to mark pub as closed submitted by hondo ., with included notes: Other:

Pub Details

Pub details supplied by members of this site to the best of their knowledge. Please check with pub directly before making a special trip.

  • Accommodation : No last updated 08 November 2013 by Tris C
  • Bar Billiards : No last updated 22 July 2013 by Tris C
  • Beer Festivals : No last updated 22 July 2013 by Tris C
  • Beer Garden : No - Much reduced side 'micro patio'. - last updated 28 August 2015 by Tris C
  • CAMRA Discount : No last updated 08 September 2014 by ROB Camra
  • Car Park : No last updated 22 July 2013 by Tris C
  • Child Friendly : Yes last updated 08 November 2013 by Tris C
  • Darts : No last updated 22 July 2013 by Tris C
  • Dog Friendly : Yes - Loud barking dogs welcome. - last updated 06 September 2015 by Tris C
  • Hot Food : Yes last updated 08 September 2014 by ROB Camra
  • Jukebox : No last updated 22 July 2013 by Tris C
  • Karaoke : No last updated 22 July 2013 by Tris C
  • Live Music : No last updated 22 July 2013 by Tris C
  • Live TV Sports : No last updated 22 July 2013 by Tris C
  • Micropub : No last updated 13 June 2015 by Tris C
  • Pinball : No last updated 22 July 2013 by Tris C
  • Pool Table : No last updated 22 July 2013 by Tris C
  • Quiz Night : Yes last updated 08 November 2013 by Tris C
  • Real Ale : Yes last updated 08 September 2014 by ROB Camra
  • Real Cider : No last updated 08 September 2014 by ROB Camra
  • Wheelchair Access : No - WCs downstairs. - last updated 28 August 2015 by Tris C
  • WiFi : Yes last updated 22 July 2013 by Tris C
Local pubs

Icon Key: Picture Recommendation Rating Closed