The Artillery Arms is a blissful little local strattling 2 seperate but definitively London identities: the City folk with their shiny shoes and expensive suits rubbing elbows with the local punters from the nearby council block. Hidden down Bunhill Row, this is a Fuller’s pub which offers the full range including any seasonals. During the winter months I enjoyed the porter, then with spring came the new Bengal Lancer IPA (review coming soon), and now they have the HSB on, which according to the landlord will be on for a bit. While I was sad to see the porter go, I am happy with the rotation of seasonals.
Open 7 days a week, this is the perfect place for a quiet pint on a weekend or later on a weekday when the business boys and girls have all taken their trains home. A central island bar serves the crowds with seating areas all around and plenty of board games. You should seek out the ‘shut the box’ game if you can, and get your money onto the table if you see me close. Along with the worn wooden tables and chairs, an exposed brick wall and a fireplace, there are also seats at the bar usually reserved for the same locals I see there everytime I come in. Do also check out the beautiful stained glass within the wooden partitions along the windows, which let in an amazing amount of light. The walls are lined with mirros also, and the huge Fuller, Turner and Smith one on the back wall would look brilliant in my flat, but alas probably is more suitable in its current home.
My secret is to escape upstairs when you can for what feels like someone’s living room, with a view to the cemetary across the way. This pub offers the distinct opportunity to tip up your drink to William Blake amongst many others buried across the steet in Bunhill Fields.
Lying just outside of the former city walls, this land is now the final resting spot of some 128,000 people, and has been closed for business since 1853. The name is a derivation from Bone Hill because in 1549 the charnel house (bone deposit) of St. Paul’s (the one that had yet to be burned down in the Great Fire) cleared out all the current occupants and with over a thousand cart loads moved the remains over to what was to become a bone hill, i.e. the current Bunhill Fields.
There was evidently enough bone mass to form the foundations for 3 wind mills. In 1665, the City of London was in desperate need to bury people who couldn’t be put in conventional cemeteries because of a lack of space, i.e. plague victims. This plan to consecrete the land to be used as a holy space for the dead never came to fruition, and so the land was never actually consecrated. Consequently it become popular with those outside of the Church of England (C of E). These Non-conformist (Protestants, along with Catholics and Jews for example) could be buried here, and boy did they.
Its a who’s who of dissenters buried here, one amazing artist and poet by the name of William Blake (who’s works can be seen at the Tate Britain), Daniel Dafoe (author of Robinson Crusoe), and John Bunyan (author of The Pilgrim’s Progress). This plot of land has been taking people in since the English Civil War, and has made it through to today even with nearly half of it being lost in the Blitz. It simply is an amazing piece of land with its history lying under the feet of many a City worker hurriedly dashing out for lunch or to catch a tube. They run across its ground everyday without knowing how many bones upon which they prance.
As for the name of the pub, the Artillery Grounds are right down the road. These grounds were first used for archery practice in the late 15th century to ready the troops, and are now the property of the Honourable Artillery Company (the oldest surviving British Army regiment). These grounds were also the original home of the London Cricket Club oddly enough, and still hold cricket and also rugby matches.
All in all, another great pub nestled amongst the ruins of a City built upon its dead where the living toast to what remains.
020 7253 4683