There was a public house of the name Crown and Seven Stars at the corner of Blue Anchor Yard and Rosemary Lane (the name of Royal Mint Street until the late 1850s) by 1790.1 The present building was described as 'recently built... with superior elevation' in 1829.2
The signage on the front suggests reuse of an existing building, but it seems likely, given that the premises included a warehouse in 1829, that it refers to use of part of the building for the retail and wholesale sale of wines and spirits concurrent with its use as a public house which has apparently been unbroken since 1790. The pub was renamed the Artful Dodger in 1985.3
London Metropolitan Archives, Sun Fire Office records, CLC/B/192/F/001/MS11936/366/567713 ↩
Morning Advertiser, 14 April 1829, p. 14 ↩
On 27 February 1754 the Old Bailey heard the case of Gerrard Gervise, accused of theft from the Blue Anchor public house in Whitechapel (at that date the only pub of that name in the parish was on Rosemary Lane, present-day Royal Mint Street). The full account can be read on the Proceedings of the Old Bailey website.1 Gervise was accused of stealing eight and a half guineas, seven shillings and sixpence, plus two gold rings, from pub licensee William Hall. The court heard that Gervise had lodged at the pub for several days in advance of going to sea. On the day of his departure, William Hall found the money and rings missing from the drawer where they had been kept and confronted Gervise, having heard that the latter had just purchased two silver buckles at Mr Bond's shop in Whitechapel. Gervise confessed all when arrested, saying that as well as the buckles, he had bought a wig, a hat, a coat, a waistcoat and some breeches. But in court he claimed he had been given the money by his aunt to buy clothes for his sea voyage and that the rings were his family's. He was found guilty of theft and sentenced to transportation.
https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?id=t17540227-49&div=t1754 0227-49 ↩
A digitised colour slide from the Tower Hamlets Archives collection showing the Artful Dodger when it was still the Crown and Seven Stars, in 1975
I have an unsubstantiated note that this pub was present in Rosemary Lane by 1764. But the early history of the pub is confused by the possibility that there may have been another pub in Rosemary Lane called the Seven Stars (the address of the Crown & Seven Stars seems to have been given consistently as 47 Rosemary Lane, whilst I have the other Seven Stars as at 22 Rosemary Lane - but these could well have been one and the same premises).
The first licensee I have been able to name is George Beaumont, who in 1803 held an insurance policy on the Crown & Seven Stars with the Sun Fire Office.
The impressive relief of a crown and seven stars at the top of the building is said to have been added to the frontage in 1888, the work of one C J Reynolds - and it seems likely that the words 'Warehouse' and 'Retail & Wholesale' date also from this time. This old signage has led some to conclude that the building served formerly as a warehouse of some sort before it became a pub; but these are in fact routine words used to describe a fully-licensed pub that also sold wine and spirits on a wholesale basis, a trade which would have been important for a pub located so close to the docks. The attractive ground- floor frontage with its cast iron columns may also date from this time.
The pub became tied to the Ind Coope Brewery, but closed in 1981. It re- opened, following substantial refurbishment, as the Artful Dodger some four years later in September 1985.
The 1891 census shows that William Vinall was the innkeeper here with his wife Alice Tigwell. We believe that his father Fred Vinall, who later kept the Old Bull and Bush (Hampstead) in the days of the music hall song, was the actual leaseholder or owned the freehold. My husband's father, Albert Sidney, was born at the Crown and Seven Stars in 1901 and often visited his grandfather at the Old Bull and Bush where he also ran errands for the ballerina Anna Pavlova.
Opposite the Artful Dodger pub was St Mark's House originally St Mark's School built c.1841. It closed in 1939. In 1945 it was purchased by Freimullers Ships Stores. Eventually, St Mark's House was demolished to make way for the Docklands Light railway, approx mid 1980's .
The Artful Dodger and 39–45 Royal Mint Street from the northeast in 2018
Contributed by Derek Kendall