Hand & Shears

1 Middle Street,
Cloth Fair,
EC1A 7JA

This pub is in CAMRA’s 2011 Good Beer Guide and is one of CAMRA’s Real Heritage Pubs (ie on CAMRA’s National Inventory of Pub Interiors of Outstanding Historic Interest) where the description is as follows: “Popular with office workers at lunchtime and early evening, this is one of the best-kept secrets among City pubs and looks as hundreds, if not thousands, of plainly furnished London pubs did a century ago. The building probably dates from 1830 with later fittings. The pub name comes from Bartholomew Fair when the Lord Mayor cut the first cloth at England’s greatest cloth fair (granted a royal charter in 1133 but suppressed in 1855 amid fears about public disorder). The corner entrance has an unusual pair of curved doors. There are in fact several doorways, each leading into a separate drinking space around the central servery. Two of these are named in door glass - which looks like a refitting (along with the window glazing) in the 1930s. So we have, on the right, the ‘saloon’ and left of this is a cosy little ‘private bar’. A sensitive refurbishment in 1989 expanded the gents’ slightly into the rear bar, installed the diagonal shelving over the servery, and replaced the iron columns but the overall character was carefully kept. History in the area: To the west of the Hand & Shears lies St Bartholomew’s church, the oldest in London and part of an Augustinian Priory founded in 1123. The stern, deeply impressive choir from the 12th-century church still survives.”

The pub is also a grade II listed building and the listing description is as follows: “Early/mid C19 corner building. 4 storeys. 3 windows plus 2 windows to return in Kinghorn Street. Yellow brick - rounded corner, Most windows recessed under segmental arches below parapet to roof. Original timber front to ground storey with incised pilasters and 2 pairs of reused late C18 Ionic half columns. Modern leaded lights.”

The Hand & Shears featured on the Cloth, Meat, Diamonds and Leather: Evening Crawl of Smithfield and Clerkenwell in April 2011.