The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street

Queen Anne-style corner public house with residential over, rebuilt 1883, in red and stock brick with rubbed-brick decoration

The Bell public house
Contributed by Survey of London on June 5, 2019

The Bell is a longstanding pub, known by 1709, and probably extant much earlier, as it stood on the south corner of Black Bell Alley, known by the 1670s, on the site of New Goulston Street.1 A Society of Odd Fellows, ‘composed entirely of Jews’, with officers known various as Noble Grand and Great Warden met at the Bell in 1803, one meeting resulting in a court case following a drunken brawl between the members.2 More friendly presumably, the Phoenix Union Friendly Society was based at the Bell in 1829.3 By 1838 the Bell was tied to the King’s Arms Brewery in Old Castle Street (on the site of Herbert House), acquired by Truman, Hanbury, Buxton in Brick Lane, along with the tied pubs, in 1864. The Bell was demolished for the widening of Middlesex Street and the new site, a few feet further east, reacquired by Trumans. The Bell was rebuilt for them by W. Shurmur of Lower Clapton in 1883 in a vestigially Queen Anne manner in stock and red brick with fielded brick panels and steeply pitched gables with rubbed-brick relief panels of bells on the canted corner and New Goulston Street frontages, possibly by the local architect Bruce J. Capell, who had recently designed the Princess Alice in Commercial Street with the same client and builder.4 It was acquired, like a number of Whitechapel pubs, by Thorley Taverns group in 1997 and renamed the Market Trader, but reverted, in independent ownership, to The Bell in 2010.5 It currently has a sports bar with billiard table in the basement, main bar on the ground floor and dining room on the first floor, with residential above. Street artists, notably the French artist Zabou, have been invited on a number of occasions to decorate the window shutters and doors of The Bell: themes have included Jack the Ripper (2015), Hallowe’en (2016), Alice in Wonderland (2017) and the horror film The Shining (2018). The fascia sports a 2011 artwork made of bottletops that reads ‘YOU CAN RING MY DING DONG’ by the Spitalfields Brazilian artist Reuben Cezar, who gathers bottletops from pubs to make artworks.6


  1. Tatler, 30 March to 1 April 1709 

  2. ‘Society of Odd Fellows: Lyon v. Martin and Others’, Sporting Magazine, June 1803, p. 160 

  3. _Accounts and Papers 1837, vol 51: Papers Relating to Friendly Societie_s, London 1837, p. 14 

  4. London Metropolitan Archives, District Surveyor's Returns (DSR) 

  5. Post Office Directories (POD): information Stephen Harris: http://www.thebellpub.co.uk/ 

  6. http://spitalfieldslife.com/2011/09/04/robson-cezar-king-of-the- bottletops-2/: https://zabou.me/news/ 

A few historical facts about the Bell
Contributed by stephen.r.harris on Dec. 14, 2016

The earliest date I have for this pub is 1838, when a pub in Petticoat Lane called The Bell (which I think must be this one) was insured with the Sun Fire Office by Arthur Manners, John Furze and Charles Marshall, brewers of Old Castle Street, Whitechapel. By 1842 the pub was listed as The Bell in Robson's Directory, with the first known licencee named as J. Bremer.  In later years the pub was tied to the Truman's Brewery of Brick Lane.  It was acquired in 1997 by the Thorley Taverns pub group and renamed the Market Trader, with the name reverting to The Bell in 2010.

Detail of carved brick panel, The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street
Contributed by Aileen Reid

The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street
Contributed by Aileen Reid

The Bell and Zabou
Contributed by Derek Kendall

The Bell bottle-top decoration
Contributed by Derek Kendall

The Bell, north gable
Contributed by Derek Kendall

Bell with face from The Bell
Contributed by Derek Kendall

The Bell, west side, June 2017
Contributed by Derek Kendall

The Bell and Zabou
Contributed by Derek Kendall