The Horse and Groom, Kinnerton Street, S.W
“Along the varying road of Life:
In calm content, in toil or strife,
At morn or noon, by night or day,
As time conducts him on his way,
How doth man, Igy care oppress
Fina’ in an inn a place of rest?
Wherier his fancy bids“ him roam,
In every inn he ﬁnds a home. _
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The Horse and Groom
THERE is a danger, against which we shall hope to guard, of over-
sentimentalizing the English pub; and it is to be feared that the
last line of that poem is an over-statement.
What we can say is that a very high proportion of pubs tries
to make it true, and in an astonishingly large number it is the plain
The traveller can, more often than not, be sure of ﬁnding a
good meal, something to wash it down with, and congenial company
in which to enjoy it. When you‘have said that, you have said
And indeed it is true that the English tavern, inn or pub are
not just buildings. They are a part of us; to be without them seems
such an absurdity than it does not bear a moment’s thought. But
let us not be in too great a hurry to dismiss the highly unlikely,
in this highly individual land of ours.
The traditional and still surviving terms for innkeeper and
traveller are host and guest. Is there not a rich signiﬁcance to be seen
in that? Our inns, then, are not like railway stations, public libraries
and cinemas: they are semi-private.
This is not a dissertation for or against nationalization”which
does not come within our scope; but we may take note that Mine
Host is, like the public he serves, highly individual”a servant
of the public, if you will, yet with a mind of his own, some rich
juicy prejudices, decided preferences, and particularly in his choice
Beaufighter – Staffordshire Bulldog
Some pub dogs, of course, get rather beyond their station in
life; some wear their honours with an easy, conﬁdent dignity.
For example, if you drop in (and drop in seems the appropriate
phrase) to The Horse and Groom, you will most certainly meet Beau-
ﬁghter who considers he is Mine Host; the licensee only pays the
Beau (for of course he has come to be known as that) will give
you a tremendous welcome, but it will be well to keep clear of his
tail, which has a sting in it.
It will cost you a beer, in all likelihood, for Beau likes a drop.
He prefers Burton, but if it is scarce (by which we mean in
short supply) then he is prepared to accept bitter or mild and
Beau is a Staffordshire bull terrier of nearly ﬁve. His name
derives from the fact that on his chest is a perfectly formed white
wing. The ﬁghter part of his name has been dropped but don’t
let that lead you astray; he is well able to take care of himself in
this stormy world, and one must feel deeply sorry for any canine
who thinks that he can pull a fast one on our hero.
Beau has several agreeable pastimes. One of his bar pals owns
an Austin taxi. I remember one night as I was enjoying a modest
pint with Beau, cars of all makes and sizes passed the door.
Suddenly, for no apparent reason, Beau cocked his ear; his powerful
frame went rigid, and there came into his eyes a look of great
expectancy. While he listened, his head stayed on one side. Then I
heard the purr of an engine.
Sure enough, it was the purr of an
Austin martin’. This is an uncanny gift that some dogs seem to have,
and we shall meet it now and then in our wanderings.
If it is true, as the posters say, that beer is best, I think it is
time to add two words, “Beer is best for Beau”. just look at him”
he seems to be all muscle.
This powerful chap is a great believer in Anglo-American
relations. Towards the end of World War II, a certain sergeant
of the American Army used to be seen in The Horse and Groom,
and very soon Beau and he became inseparables. No doubt, some-
where in Georgia, a youngish American thinks of his buddy in
London. They were in the habit of making jaunts together in the
Park which, rumour says, used to terminate in a scrap between
Beau and a “hanger on”. And as you know, there is no dog in the
world capable of defeating this stubborn English breed. Indeed,
they are very like the English”kindly and tolerant, up to a point.
But when the point is passed, a deep, surging hatred rises, and
only victory can make the old easy-going ways return. It is like
that with this great breed of which Beau is a worthy representative.
It is an astonishing thing that many people who fondly imagine
they know London, know it very imperfectly. No one can claim
to know very much about our capital city till they have penetrated
the quiet little squares and mews that await them o,’ the bus and
For example, how many Londoners know of the existence of
Kinnerton Street, wherein Beau dwells? Tucked away between St.
George’s Hospital and Sloane Street, you will ﬁnd it. It is a street
with some of the most charming and delightfully quiet mews you
will ever discover.
This, then, is where The Horse and Groom opens its doors to all
who like the London pub of the quiet ways and byways, where a
good English dog with strength and character plays his happy
part to the delight of the regulars who frequent it.
In time, as you come to know Beau, he will shed much of his
bossiness. The way to his affections is a straight and narrow path”
if we may so call half a Burton.