French House

49 Dean Street

Like the Angel, this pub is not a listed building but it is on CAMRA’s London Regional Inventory and the description is as follows: “This tiny single-room pub in the heart of Soho is a real institution with a long and strong French connection. It also has a good restaurant upstairs. It was taken over by the Francophone Belgian Victor Berlemont in 1914 (see framed cuttings and pictures in the bar) when it was called the York Minster, although by the 1920s it had acquired the nickname ‘the French Pub’. It was rebuilt in 1937 to designs of architect Alfred W Blomfield. There was some wartime bomb damage and partial refitting afterwards which created the pub we see today. The present name appeared in 1981 to celebrate the French ties. The fittings in the small, single bar are all very much of a piece with narrow, elongated panels featuring in the wall-panelling, counter (with doors for access to the beer engines in former days), and sash windows. Dumb waiter in the middle of the bar-back. As might be expected wine easily outsells beer. Breton cider is popular and it is claimed that more Ricard is shifted here than at any other UK outlet.

History on the spot: During the Second World War this pub was a focus for the Free French and, it is claimed, General de Gaulle was one of the illustrious patrons. In 1949, in his delightful book about London pubs, Maurice Gorham noted ‘a wall-full of photographs of French boxers and cyclists, and French spoken freely on both sides of the bar’.”

The WhatPub link is here: WhatPub/French House

The Pub Heritage Group Link is here: PHG/French House

The French House featured on the Evening Crawl of Soho in December 2004, and the Saints and Sinners: Evening Crawl of Covent Garden, Fitzrovia and Soho in April 2016.