George Tavern

373 Commercial Road
Stepney
E1 0LA

The WhatPub entry is here: WhatPub/George Tavern

Like the Gun and the Queens Head, this pub is not on CAMRA’s Regional Inventory but it is a grade II listed building and the listing description is as follows: “Includes: No. 2A AYLWARD STREET E1. Public house, with accommodation above. Built c1820-25 approximately on site of an earlier pub, the Halfway House. Remodelled 1862, probably by James Harrison. Ground-floor pub interior remodelled 1891 by RA Lewcock. The 3-storey pub on corner site is of primary interest, with 2-storey range continuing along Aylward Street. EXTERIOR: Corner building with 2 principal elevations to Jubilee Street (W) and Commercial Road (S). Brick (now painted) with stucco dressings, modillion cornice under balustraded parapet in front of M-roof. Doors and windows to pub front set in continuous arcade with round-headed arches separated by panelled pilasters, with 3 bays to W elevation and 4 to E, the last bay with a broader, elliptical arch. Arches have decorative floral motifs in bas relief, keystones and cast-iron openwork spandrels. Bracketed cornice above ground floor. Above this, the elevations are identical, each with 3 windows; those to first floor with moulded architraves and bracketed pediments; second-floor windows with architraves and keystones, centre W window blank. String course at 2nd floor sill height. To Aylward Street return, a single bay as at front and then plainer detailing with single door in plain doorcase, rendered ground floor under plat band, and rebuilt brickwork above. East of this, 2a continues as lower two-storey range with blind windows and 1884 and 1843 parish boundary stones that indicated the boundary relative to 'The George'. Attached to east on Commercial Road, the single-storey range: 'Stepney Night Club', is not of special interest.

INTERIOR: Ground-floor pub plan has been opened up, with a modern bar in a traditional style. Cast-iron columns with foliated capitals. E wall has good series of tiled panels, including a painted scene of Halfway House titled 'Ye George Tavern in Ye Olden Times 1654’; Classical scenes with putti, and 'The George', framed with Art Nouveau-style tiles. Cellar has brick-lined passage with shallow barrel-vaulted ceiling and slate shelves in side niches. Features which are likely to be survivals from the 1820s building include a well stair with slender turned newels (balusters replaced), and first-floor doors with panelled linings and fluted architraves with lion masks to corners. Also, uncovered patches of wallpaper in early-C19 neo-classical style to first-floor landing. 3 marble Victorian fireplaces. Panelled window shutters.

HISTORY: The George Tavern and 2a Aylward Street were built approximately on the on the site of the Halfway House, believed to be of mid-C17 origin. Map evidence shows that the Halfway House was rebuilt in the C18, after 1745, approximately 50m to the north east of the earlier inn; neither building appears on Horwood's map of 1819. The present building was probably built c1820-25 and first appears on Greenwood's map of 1827. The pub therefore forms part of the development of Commercial Road, which was created following the Commercial Road Act of 1802 to link the newly-built East and West India Docks to the City boundary. Maps suggest that 2a Aylward Street was built around the same time as the George pub, possibly as a stable or other service accommodation; there was originally a yard to the rear of the pub, but this has been built over. It is unclear whether the vaults, which are mainly beneath the 2-storey range, date from the earlier inn or the 1820s. SOURCES: Pevsner, The Buildings of England, London 5: East, p 527 M Girouard (1984), Victorian Pubs English Heritage (1984), Pubs: Understanding Listing English Heritage (2004), Licensed to Sell”

The indefatigable landlady, Pauline Forster is gradually restoring the remarkable features of the pub, including gilt decoration on the exterior and the revealing of the fantastic ceramic tiling inside. The painted tiled mural (mentioned in the listing description) is signed by ‘A. B. Simpson & Sons, 100 St Martin’s Lane, London’, the same firm who manufactured an equally fine painted tiled mural in the Ten Bells, Spitalfields.

The George Tavern featured on the Going to the Dogs: Daytime Crawl of the Isle of Dogs, Poplar, Limehouse and Stepney in October 2015.