Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Painting Nunhead ........ Nu 1 a pub and a shedful of memories of walking to school in 1961

Now when you are just 11 and on the way to school pubs don’t feature very heavily and the Old Nuns’s Head was no exception.

It is on Nunhead Green and I will have passed it pretty much every day on my way to the Annexe on Old James Street which housed the over spill for Samuel Pepys.

There were other routes I could have taken from Lausanne Road but this was I think the most direct.

And when I was passing it the pub was coming up for its twenty-seventh birthday, although according to that excellent pub blog, London Pubology* there was a pub here in the 18th century when “the pub was known for games (it had a skittle alley), dancing and particularly for its tea gardens. 

These were a fashion of the era — tea had only been introduced to the country during the 17th century and had built up an immense popularity during the early parts of the 18th century to become effectively the national drink. 

The tea gardens were suburban relatives of the pleasure gardens (such as the famous one at Vauxhall), where high tea was served in the afternoon. 

To a certain extent, too, they were tainted with the same negative connotations, being the playgrounds of the frivolous leisured classes, encouraging licentious behaviour and gambling, and frequented by prostitutes. There is no indication in the sources that the tea gardens in Nunhead were anything less than respectable.”

In the mid 19th century it was run by Sarah Dyer and I rather think there might be a rich history here to trawl.

But of course all of that was unknown to me back in 1961.

Today one guide describes it as a “large, airy and child-friendly pub with a mish-mash of old furniture, serving modern British meals” and perhaps when I next get down to Nunhead I might call in.

I think Peter’s painting pretty much captures the place although straying from side to side is to be shocked at the new development which aren’t in keeping with the green or the old alms houses.

That said I bet there were a few back in 1934 when the pub was built who muttered darkly at “pretend Tudor buildings” and lamented the earlier one which just leaves me to go and search for an image of that older pub and reflect on all those trips along Evelina Road and Nunhead Lane half a life time ago.

Location; Nunhead, London

Painting; The Old Nun’s Head Nunhead Lane © 2015 Peter Topping from a photograph 

Web: www.paintingsfrompictures.co.uk

Facebook: Paintings from Pictures https://www.facebook.com/paintingsfrompictures

*London Pubology, https://pubology.wordpress.com/2008/07/10/old-nuns-head/

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