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Picture of The Sir Richard Steele
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Submitted on Tuesday, 28th August 2018
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The Sir Richard Steele, NW3

97 Haverstock Hill
Phone: 02074831261
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Reviews of The Sir Richard Steele (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 Sir Richard Steele

6th December 2017:

Built in the mid-19th century just to the north of the site of Steele's cottage, little can be added to that below, except that the pub has an unusual Formica-topped bar and illuminated Charrington's bar back. Externally, the corner splay exhibits a West's Three Crowns Brewery plaque which is probably unique in its survival. Despite living most of my life no more than around 20 minutes' walk from here, I've only ever been in here around a dozen times over the last 30 years. Steve C (below) is not wrong when he refers to "undesirable patrons"; there are definitely some very rum characters in here at times though their presence seems to have dwindled over time which may explain the removal of the drug enforcement notifications.
Indeed the brewery regalia and backlit stained glass windows are fantastic - it's like being inside a museum to the brewing trade; the hanging Bass lantern is most impressive.
Ales are four in number and better than the Wells' ales of yore, typically the likes of Sambrook's Wandle or Adnam's Ghost Ship as spotted the other night, and two further not recalled; quality was decent.
This pub is a must-visit but if rumours are to be believed - and I believe them - you may have very little time to do so.


Closed for seven months and reopened on 29th July. There had been fears that this pub would lose its charming character given that the upper floors and function room would be converted to residential use which explains why the grand staircase now leads to nowhere.
The pub’s new website shows that the superb West’s Brewery plaque has been retained along with the Charrington’s lanterns and late-model Courage sign bracket but what you can’t see is the new and completely unnecessary corner entrance where there was a fine backlit stained-glass depiction of the eponymous Steele. What you also can’t see is that the Courage bracket has been ripped off and just a week before reopening, the lanterns were removed and replaced with humdrum Windsor lanterns; why? This pub has a unique name and the lanterns were customised by Charrington’s with the name in ‘Cinerama’-style type face to their fronts making them not just attractive but as mentioned, unique; what an utter waste. Otherwise, the original Charrington’s leaded lights have been retained which is a crumb of comfort.
However, it’s what you see – or don’t see – that comes as by far the greatest shock as in effect, there’s nothing remaining from the original interior which was this pub’s unique selling point, drawing people from far and wide. Architecturally the pub was nothing special, but it was the knick-knacks and brewery regalia that made the interior so memorable. The lovely Charrington’s backlit bar stature has been ripped out and replaced with a dark wood and mirrored affair in a modern reinterpretation of something from a bygone era, with lighting now coming from chrome spots attached to the ceiling; a new dumb waiter has been attached to one side. The original bar was topped with red Formica (or similar), but this too has gone, replaced with a period-style bar with a dark wood top. The bar’s frontage seems to be original, resembling a modern take on lignum undulatum, though to the base there’s now a projecting step plinth topped in what looks like slate; the floor’s new too and appears to be solid oak. The paint scheme is typical contemporary with part wainscoted walls ‘zoned’ by oh-so-predictable colours: white, burgundy, smoky blue and black. At least one wall is papered with monochromatic wallpaper from House of Hackney. The integrated Bass mirror above the fireplace has gone, replaced with a boring everyday affair. Indeed, all the interior décor has been removed save for the fantastic Worthington/Bass lantern which now hangs over the corner entrance, a couple of Bass mirrors and the enamelled Tollemache Brewery sign. The curved Steele stained glass window now resides to the rear of the pub in what was the snug and is electrically backlit, looking for all the world like an art installation created by Gilbert and George. Now downstairs, there are new swish lavatories, but a large dining room has been created to the rear, named the Tatler after one of Steele’s publications. The ceiling mural remains, cherubim and seraphim gazing down on the much-altered proceedings. What now passes for décor comprises a handful of ephemeral items as well as some paintings apparently composed by local artists. From on high, there are some very impressive skeletal metal lanterns which appear to have something of an astronomical bent, looking like a cross between armillary spheres and orreries. Furniture is surprisingly conventional with a couple of tall tables and chairs and to the rear, some tub chairs upholstered with pus-coloured vinyl. Free from electronic entertainments aside from piped music which was a little too loud, there’s now a greater mix of clients and in greater numbers too with the oddballs seemingly gone. Some of the old-boy locals were in attendance, cackling away like Sid James and seemingly unphased by the veritable feng shui tsunami visited on their old watering hole.
Staff are clad in white shirts and black slacks/skirts; corporate in both appearance and efficiency, whilst one of the two bouncers hovers by the bar like some store detective; not at all appealing. Ales: the dreaded Doom Bar has reared its ugly [foaming] head, thereafter Adnams Broadside (4£4.60) and Portobello Star at a very steep £4.70 a pint and a bit lacklustre. Otherwise it’s just a somewhat predictable choice of craft/premium keg offerings delivered from copper founts, with my pint of Camden’s Pilsner coming in at £5.10 which I suppose is what you now expect to have to pay in an institution like this.
I suppose we should be grateful for small mercies when you consider just how painfully close this pub came to being converted into a branch of Tesbury’s. This is probably the most comprehensive – and expensive – makeover I’ve ever seen and for the disinterested, superior to and considerably cheaper than The Belrose across the road. It may be very tasteful and restrained, with no awful motifs such as exposed ductwork, bare brick, low-wattage filament bulbs or weird lights. However, for me and I suspect many others, this pub’s charms have been lost forever.

On 9th September 2018 - rating: 4
[User has posted 2026 recommendations about 1991 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Moby Duck left this review about Sir Richard Steele

A pub with an interesting interior as well described below,and well worth a look for this alone, but when it comes down to the beer I found it wanting, the four pumps were offering Wells and Youngs Bombardier and Youngs Bitter, along with Adnams Lighthouse and Westerham Gods Wallop. The latter being less familiar to me was the one I opted for but I found it to be a rather average beer.A nice enough pub but my taste buds demand more these days so its unlikely to be on the return list.

On 9th December 2013 - rating: 6
[User has posted 1900 recommendations about 1873 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

hondo . left this review about Sir Richard Steele

Quirky stunning old style interior with brewery memorabilia and nick nacks on the walls and a picture painted on the ceiling. 4 real ales and food served. Didn't visit upstairs.

On 21st November 2013 - no rating submitted
[User has posted 2897 recommendations about 2834 pubs]

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Pub location see interactive map of local area
Map location corrected by Malden man
Kentish Town West, 0.58 miles, 11 min walk (show)
Hampstead Heath, 0.86 miles, 16 min walk (show)
Gospel Oak, 0.91 miles, 17 min walk (show)
Latest updates View all updates for The Sir Richard Steele, NW3
8th Nov 2019, 17:03
Picture submitted by Jonathan Wilde approved
8th Nov 2019, 16:30
Picture submitted by Jonathan Wilde

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 12 August 2018 by Tris C
  • Bar Billiards : No last updated 12 August 2018 by Tris C
  • Beer Festivals : No last updated 12 August 2018 by Tris C
  • Beer Garden : Yes last updated 12 August 2018 by Tris C
  • Car Park : No last updated 12 August 2018 by Tris C
  • Darts : No last updated 12 August 2018 by Tris C
  • Function Room : Yes last updated 12 August 2018 by Tris C
  • Hot Food : Yes last updated 12 August 2018 by Tris C
  • Jukebox : No last updated 12 August 2018 by Tris C
  • Karaoke : No last updated 12 August 2018 by Tris C
  • Live Music : No last updated 12 August 2018 by Tris C
  • Live TV Sports : No last updated 12 August 2018 by Tris C
  • Micropub : No last updated 12 August 2018 by Tris C
  • Pinball : No last updated 12 August 2018 by Tris C
  • Pool Table : No last updated 12 August 2018 by Tris C
  • Quiz Night : No last updated 12 August 2018 by Tris C
  • Real Ale : No last updated 15 June 2023 by Tris C
  • Wheelchair Access : Yes - Disabled WC. - last updated 12 August 2018 by Tris C
  • WiFi : Yes last updated 12 August 2018 by Tris C
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