£65k raised to save historic chophouse

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Save Our Simpsons: Manger aims for £385k target to reopen tavern (Getty/ Paul Campbell)
Save Our Simpsons: Manger aims for £385k target to reopen tavern (Getty/ Paul Campbell)

Related tags London Property Finance Beer

£65,060 has been raised to save a chophouse visited by Charles Dickens - the Simpsons Tavern in central London - after the landlord locked the doors in a dispute over rent.

The Cornhill-based pub, which has been serving customers for 265 years since 1757, closed in October. The manager is aiming to crowdfund £385,000 to re-open the venue.

Historic figures Samuel Pepys and William Thackeray were reputed to be customers at the tavern.

Manager Benjamin Dugan said: “Our locks have been changed; our lights turned out. The team displaced with stock spoiling in the fridges as the landlord refuses to engage, seemingly determined to deliberately close the business and remove from the City of London a landmark. A centuries old venue who has placed host to generations of the market.

“It would be a tragedy to see this unique part of the City of London and indeed this nation’s history turn off the lights forever.”

No road back

He feared, without support, there would be no road back for the historic institution. “The venue and stories soaked into its walls will be lost,” he continued. “Once we leave, we take it all and the shell that held us, may come to market, but it will never be the same again. Another part of heritage and shared history snuffed out.

“Gone will be a venue whose customers previously bragged about who had been coming the longest or ate the most Stewed Cheese and whose secrets were always kept!

“I hate to beg, I am a professional who is good at their job, but the odds without support are too high, so please, I ask you... Please Save Our Simpsons.”

Simpsons Tavern visitor Tom Walker would be “disappointed” if the historic pub closed for good. He said: “It’s a unique pub in a discrete location, tucked away from the rush of Cornhill. It’s the archetype of a proper tavern and a reminder of what the city of London has to offer in terms of architecture and hospitality."

Holding on to good things

Unless in a party of six or more you are seated alongside strangers. This social atmosphere is echoed by the banter of the staff, who without fail, suggest a sausage with every meal, according to the 24-year-old.

“The Simpsons Tavern is a symbol of the city’s foundation, and its relationship with the past,” he continued. “As London modernises around us, maintaining elements of its earlier life is crucial to its identity – while the building will remain, replacing the tavern with a Starbucks is one step closer to the city turning into any other modern city. Low fat soy pumpkin spiced lattes are no replacement for steak and ale pie.

“Most importantly, this change would be irreversible- to quote Scruton: 'good things are easily destroyed, but not easily created.'"

A spokesperson for Hartnell Cook Limited, which represents Tavor Holdings, said the tenant company had not paid any rent or service charge since January 2020, until they suddenly decided to pay this September quarter’s rent.

Various offers had been made by the firm, but the latest one had been rejected by the client. The £385,000 crowdfunding target would “more than happily” cover the debt if reached, he added.

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