Monday, 6 July 2009

Dirty Dick's, Bishopsgate EC2

I've always had a soft spot for Dirty Dick's, even though it has always been bogus and gets more bogus with every new round of public hygiene legislation. When I used to go there every so often in the early 1970s they still had the odd cobweb, but even the dead cat is behind glass now, apparently.
The original Dirty Dick was a Regency buck called Nathanial Bentley, a dandy in his youth who was so distressed by the death of his fiancee he thereafter refused to wash. "I'll only be dirty again tomorrow," he would say. He was not a publican, however - he owned a warehouse known for its filth. Letters addressed to 'The Dirty Warehouse' would be delivered to him. It was only after his death that an enterprising publican opened a drinking den devoted to his memory.
The present building was put up in 1870 and is crowned with a carving not of Dirty Dick but of a mitre and gateway - Bishop's Gate. The bishop in question, incidentally, is St Erkenwald, Bishop of London in the 7th century.

1 comment:

CarolineLD said...

You've solved a minor mystery for me: I'd heard variants of this story with Dirty Dick as the actual landlord, which always seemed unlikely. Notorious local character makes much more sense than publican whose aroma puts the drinkers off their beer!