great places to visit off the beaten path.
In 2001 an exhibition at the Museum of London traced the rise and fall of various artists’ communities across London, from Covent Garden in the 17th century to present-day Hoxton. Longest lived and best known of these enclaves is “Fitzovia”, an area between Oxford Street and Euston Road to the south and north, and Great Portland Street and Gower Street to the west and east. The name comes from the Fitzroy Tavern – the heart of the artistic community of its day. In the middle of this community is Charlotte Street, built in 1787 and named after the hugely popular wife of hugely unpopular King George III. The street was an artists’ quarter from the late 18th century to the 1950s. George Morland, an occasional lodger at The Fitzroy in 1776, can be considered Fitzrovia’s first ‘member’. In its heyday from the 1920s-50s Fitzroy inhabitants included Dylan Thomas, artists’ model Nina Hamnett (‘Queen of Hohemia’), George Orwell and Tom Driberg, who in 1940 first coined the term ‘Fitzrovia’. Another regular, the Welsh painter, Augustus John, has a wall dedicated to him. It is possible that its proximity to the BBC led to Orwell and Thomas’s regular patronage as they worked there in the 40s and 50s. By the 1950s The Fitzroy’s famous patrons were attracting tourists – which pushed the real Bohemians to Soho. There are still plenty of prints and pictures (especially downstairs) of The Fitzroy of yesteryear to create a vivid impression of what the pub was like in its heyday.
Originally the Fitzroy Coffee House (1883) it was converted to a pub (called “The Hundred Marks”) in 1887. It was rebranded “the Fitzroy Tavern” in March 1919. A book – “The Fitzroy: The Autobiography of a London Tavern” – documents the history of this pub. The pub is now owned by Samuel Smith and offers typical pub food. Downstairs is a separate bar which is often used for functions and on Wednesday nights becomes the Pear Shaped Comedy Club.
Located at: 16a Charlotte Street, W1T 2LY
Closest Tube: Goodge Street