If you’re having a Sunday afternoon wander across the Heath (Hampstead) then this beautiful historic pub is a must (or at any time)
Built in the 1500’s as a toll gate, today it is one of the London’s oldest pubs and a grade II listed building with the toll gate still standing opposite the pub.
Named after the Spanish Ambassador who used to have his retreat out here.
This is still clearly seen in the road layout where the road narrows to single file (as you pay the toll)
Among it’s patrons are Charles Dickens (who mentions it in The Pickwick Papers), Mary Shelley and Keats (who wrote Ode to a nightingale here). Apparently highway man Dick Turpin used to drink here as well, in fact the rumour is that he was born here, as his dad used to the landlord here – who knows maybe watching the tolls handed over each day could have inspired his infamous career.
It also has a reputation of one of London’s most haunted pub too. It is reported that a woman in white walks at night. And also the ghost of a Spaniard killed in a duel here, and believed to be buried in the garden (which incidentally is a wonderful garden for a pint in the summer).
But don’t be put off by the ghosts, its a very attractive pub, and not surprising they would want to hang around here. The pub is also well known for its excellent food.
Dates from 1585