The Seven Stars

The Seven Stars pub was built in 1602 and in all likelihood was built specifically as an alehouse (the evidence has some patches to contend with). Taverns were usually called the Seven Stars to attract Dutch sailors, which referred to the Seven United Provinces of the Netherlands. The area surrounding Carey Street, bounded by the River Fleet to the east and Thames to the south; was popular with Dutch settlers in London - so it appears late-Renaissance marketing Seven Stars, Carey Street - when the weather plays ball, you can 'hang out front' with the legal eagleswas at work here. Prior to its embankment, the Thames was broader (and therefore closer) to The Seven Stars, and industry was very much marine based. 

The pub was called "The Leg & Seven Stars" for many years, and although an unbroken run of records dating back its entire 400 year history does not exist, information about every business and service in the area is also incomplete. The Great Fire of London fizzled out before reaching Temple Bar, sparing this original pub, but the unseen cost to London of the fire, was the widespread destruction of parish records. The historic Lincoln's Inn to the north and the building of the Royal Courts of Justice during the 1870s to the south, effectively wrapped Carey Street in a protective jacket of listed buildings.

The Seven Stars landlady Roxy Beaujolais, which sounds like a stage name - but isn't - was co-presenter of the BBC's "Full on Food" programme (me neither). Also the author of classic pub cookbook, "Home from the Inn Contented", she began her working life front of house at Ronnie Scott's jazz club. Her husband, a notable architect designed the interior of the Seven Stars, which sets the informal and quirky tone. Food is good, as you would expect with such professional credentials and the wine list is thoughtfully thrifty, considering the well-heeled status of customers. Adnams ales feature and several Dark Star brewery offerings too, including Hophead. Food and drink: in order, m'lud.

Roxy's cat, Tom Paine - as famous as The Seven Stars itself - once ruled the bar area. Yes, sadly the past tense is required. Noted for sporting several kinds of Elizabethan-style ruff, Tom passed on to that scratching-post-in-the-sky, September 2011. There is a poem on the wall, with a photo of Tom 'be-ruffed' which is at the foot of this article. But worry not: the king is dead, long live the king! Roxy found a replacement: please pad forward - Ray Brown. He doesn't sport the jet black fur, or the disapproving stare of his predecessor, in fact Ray even appears unconcerned by the egress and ingress of local pigeons and dogs. Yawning is more his thing. The traditionalists will be relieved to learn, that he too has taken to ruff wearing from early kitten-hood.

Much is made of the location of the Seven Stars and how, unsurprisingly, its customer base has a high legal headcount. This is inevitable, but also traditional since Lincoln's Inn, on whose doorstep it resides, predates it. Although its early customers were indeed, likely to have been Dutch sailors, the siting of the Bankruptcy Court nearby, as well as the Law Courts; would have created a steady stream of defendents requiring a stiff one. Seven Stars interior - not overburdened with space. It's comfy and familiar, rather than smart and polishedAccompanied by successful plaintiffs including the 'beak' in a celebratory round. They get a bad press, lawyers, it's true - but like many of the misunderstood, they are so often the unwitting architects of their own downfall. While enjoying a few Friday afternoon wind-down drinks, a group of 15 or so lawyers (young ones) entered the Seven Stars awkwardly and decamped nearby. There then began a cacophonous symphony of table and chair scraping, until they had blocked all passage in or out of the bar. Regaling of a most competitive flavour followed, ever louder, underwritten by a desperate, pleading "notice me" subtext. Its volume only matched by the ethereal transparency of its content. We drank up and moved on - our seats snatched hungrily into their possession before we got to the door. Congratulations, you've emptied the pub! Not all lawyers are like this, true, but this was selfish and shameful behaviour. Hopefully, few noticed. 

So, a very fine traditional pub, with some quirks, good food and drink - but best visited outside peaks (especially in cold weather since space is limited). It's open all over the weekend (when most lawyers are at home bothering their families), which is unusual for City pubs. Technically it's the wrong side of Temple Bar, so has never been a City pub, hence the WC2 postal code. Also if you're visiting from abroad, there's a pleasing 'phlange' of traditional red telephone boxes just over the road - for the holiday album. 

Nearby you've got Lincoln's Inn Fields, The Hunterian Museum and Sir John Soane's Museum as well as some of London's best pubs: including Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, Ye Olde Mitre and The Cittie of Yorke.