St Stephen's Tavern

10 Bridge Street,

This pub is a grade II listed building and is on CAMRA’s London Regional Inventory of Pub Interiors of Special Historic Interest. The description is as follows: “Opposite the Palace of Westminster and so often busy with tourists, this is a pub to enjoy late-Victorian pub fittings at their grandest. It was built in 1875 and the fittings may well date from that time. Pride of place goes to the extraordinarily tall, eclectically decorated bar-back in the lofty main room. It has five panels of etched and gilded mirrors with swirly foliage, cornucopias and birds in flight: viewed closely the details are a little crude but the overall effect is exotic. High up, over the arched openings is a sequence of mirrored cupboards – it’s hard to imagine what they could have been used for. The bar counter is a curvaceous affair with recessed panels between 17th-century-style pilasters. The deeply coffered ceiling is an impressive feature in its own right. In a subsidiary area behind is another Victorian bar-back, probably reset or brought in. There is some original glass in the doors. This pub was well restored by owners Hall & Woodhouse and reopened in 2003 after a long period of closure. Note the new brass lamps: those on the counter are based on glass spirits dispensers which graced some of the most up-market Victorian pubs. New mezzanine floor. The once wonderful first-floor restaurant is now offices. History across the road: In 1834 a fire destroyed much of the Palace of Westminster including the Houses of Parliament. The architect Charles Barry’s gothic design for the new buildings was selected out of 97 entries. He was assisted by Augustus Pugin whose magnificent polychromatic designs decorate the interior. The massive tower which houses the famous bell Big Ben is called St Stephen’s Tower, hence the name of the pub.”

The listing description is as follows: “Public house and dining rooms. Dated 1875. Portland stone and brick, slate roof. Eclectic French Renaissance style with pavilion roof. 4 storeys and attic. Narrow 3-window front with 8-window long return to Cannon Row. Ground floor has public house front with basket-handle arched window and entrance set back under corner. Close set architraved 1st and 2nd floor windows and feature of open columned loggia to 3rd floor. Cornices to each floor, the crowning one surmounted by elaborate stone dormer. Ornamented cast iron balconies to 1st and 2nd floors; cast iron cresting to front pavilion. Similar 3-window return, the further 5 bays in brick and stone with elaborate piers articulating ground floor; stone dormers.”

St Stephen's Tavern featured on the Four Lions, a Badger and the Garden of Eden: Evening Crawl of Westminster and St James's in August 2008.