Pubs on the High Street


In 1900 there were eight pubs on Mortlake High Street. Nothing remains of the four on the south side of the street. The Two Brewers at number 52 was one of the oldest pubs in Mortlake, referred to as early as 1786. By the mid-19th century it was owned by the Mortlake Brewery of Phillips and Wigan. It closed in 1961.

Little is known about the Jolly Maltman at number 64. The Hope at number 22 was owned by Hawkes of Bishop Stortford which the Mortlake brewer James Wigan bought into after his break with Charles Phillips. The Hope closed in 1906.

The Old George was perhaps the most celebrated of the pubs in Mortlake, dating back to at least 1700 when it was simply known as "The George". By 1826 it had become the "Old George" probably renamed in memory of George III who died in 1820. Twentieth-century photographs show the pub dwarfed by three-storey buildings; inside, the ceilings were low and the floors uneven and at varying levels.

It was a social centre as well as a pub with assembly rooms behind used for wedding receptions and dances. It was the subject of Albert Betts' only known secular interior. The Old George closed and the building was demolished in 1968, falling victim to the widening of Mortlake High Street. The Charlie Butler was built next door as a replacement, but that pub itself closed in 2012, having had a much shorter lifespan than the Old George.

More remains of the pubs on the north side of the street. The Mortlake Hotel (earlier the Kings Arms), opposite Mortlake Green, was an important venue for social functions. With its curved corner on the junction with Sheen Lane, the building still stands, but the hotel closed for business in 1955 and was incorporated into Mortlake brewery. In the plans for the development of the brewery site, the facade of the old hotel is retained.

The Queens Head stood opposite the church and fronted onto the river, as depicted in Albert Betts' lithograph. It had access down an alley from the High Street as well as from the towpath. The pub was rebuilt in the late 19th century with four bars on the ground floor and a very large room, "the ballroom" on the first floor. It closed in 1952 and was converted into flats.

The only pub on the north side of the High Street which has left no trace is the Whitfield Arms just east of the Queen's Head at number 93. It was short-lived and little is known about it, featuring only in a couple of censuses and not listed in Kelly's directories.

Lord Napier was a Victorian public house which backed onto the river. It closed in the 1990s and the building was converted into housing, but its distinctive facade with a gable enclosing an oval window surrounded by fern leaves has been retained. For more information on the pubs of Mortlake and Barnes see Alan Bushell's book.