London Pubs Group

Campaign for Real Ale

Campaign for Real Ale

Lord Nelson

386 Old Kent Road,

This pub 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: “The Lord Nelson was once magnificent - even now it retains some of the most spectacular mirrorwork in the country. Pride of place goes to a large painted and gilded mirror of the great admiral receiving the surrender after the battle of Cape Vincent in 1797 from some shifty, swarthy Spanish types. There are two more vast mirrors behind the servery but one is cracked and the other is largely covered up. The maker was a James Carter of Gray’s Inn Road and they date from around 1888. The details include grapes, kingfishers, vases of fruit and foliage trails.

There is also what is probably a unique feature in a pub - an impressive timber arcade striding across the servery with two bays sitting on top of the counter and a third spanning a walkway between two counters. The screen and bar-back have wonderful detail including coloured panels advertising all manner of drinks - champagne, finest old brandies, liqueurs, ports and sherries - the list goes on.

The serving area has an extraordinary shape and projects out into the main bar. This is because it serviced a whole variety of small compartments, reminders of which are preserved in the door glass (perhaps of the 1950s) which notes ‘public bar’ and ‘saloon bar’. At the rear is another room entered through an archway. It too has its own outside entrance with fine Victorian decorative glass (also proclaiming ‘saloon bar’). This room also has its own counter screen, like that in the main bar, which has a fine old clock over a doorway. History in the area: The Old Kent Road follows the course of the Roman Watling Street running between London and Dover and was the route taken by medieval pilgrims to Canterbury. Until the end of the 19th century it was known as Kent Street Road, being a continuation of Kent Street in the Borough. More recently, in the 20th century, the area had become notorious as a haunt of criminals.”

The pub is also a grade II listed building and the listing description is as follows: “Public house. Early C19 with later alterations. Yellow brick with stucco parapet and dressings. 3 storeys, 3 bays with projecting extension to left of 2 storeys, 2 bays. Later C19 projecting ground floor, curved toright with splayed corner entrance and another 3 bays along to left. Fluted modified Ionic pilasters articulate ground-floor with dentil cornice above fascia board and cast-iron railings to balcony above. Wide bow to central bay on 1st and 2nd floors with tripartite windows. Sash windows with vertical glazing bars have stucco architraves, those on 2st floor withentablatures, those on 2nd floor with bracketed sills. Similar details to 2-bay return to Old Kent Road with segmental-headedwindows. INTERIOR: has elaborately carved timber bar fittings.”

The Lord Nelson featured on the Knocked 'Em in the Old Kent Road: Evening Crawl of Bermondsey in December 2010.