Prospect of Whitby

The Prospect of Whitby is a famous public house on the banks of the Thames at Wapping in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. It lays claim to being the site of the oldest riverside tavern, dating from around 1520. It was formerly known as the Devil’s Tavern. All that remains from the pub’s earliest period is the 400 year old stone floor.

In former times it was a meeting place for smugglers, cut-throats and footpads. Later, it became the hostelry of choice of Hanging Judge Jeffreys, the scourge of the Monmouth Rebellion. He lived nearby and a noose hangs by a window, commemorating his custom. He was chased by anti-Royalists into the nearby Town of Ramsgate, captured and taken to the Tower for his own safety. According to legend, criminals would be tied up to the posts at low tide and left there to drown when the tide came in. Execution Dock was actually by Wapping Old Stairs and generally used for pirates.

Views from the pub were sketched by both Turner and Whistler. Writers Charles Dickens and Samuel Pepys are known to have paused to sup here.

Following a fire in the early 19th century, the tavern was rebuilt and renamed The Prospect of Whitby, after a Tyne collier that used to berth next to the pub. The Prospect was listed Grade II in September 1973.

On the opposite side of the road (Wapping Wall) is the Wapping Hydraulic Power Station, now an arts centre and restaurant.

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