Dol Dhu – Black Donald Cross

DOL-DHU SPREAD EAGLE D O L – D H U,
The Spread Eagle, Rotherhithe, S.E. I 6

 

I KNOW no greater trial on the patience and good temper of
man than to join a long queue for a postage stamp, finally reach
its head, and then be told that “further down the counter, please,
for stamps”only telegrams and postal orders here”.

But I have discovered a. place where you can buy your stamp”
and here you will be rewarded with a smile, a stamp, and a glass
of beer to boot, if you wish. In addition to this, you will be intro-
duced to Dol-Dhu. ‘

 

(This Limited Edition Original Book Plate/Lithograph, May still be for sale ) see Our Sales sites

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NuMonday Vintage Crafting – MuzG

Dol Dhu – Black Donald Cross

Despite his grand name, Dol-Dhu is a mongrel, and the highly
efficient watch dog of this pub-cum-post office. The name is Gaelic,
and, being translated, means Black Donald. It was the original
owner of this canine who christened him Dol-Dhu, and we must
adhere to his original ma.ster’s wishes, the more so since he gave
his life during the war when the S.S. Orford went down.

Dol-Dhu has a big job on hand in the guarding of his charge.
Dol’s predecessor was beaten up by intruders, and so grievous
were his wounds that he had to be put to sleep.

There are men who do not hesitate to attack a dog and beat
it to death, but happily they are few and far between. You can see
for yourself that D01 has to be more than ordinarily efiicient and
to be able to look after himself. But D01 is a great house dog, and
is full of quiet, almost playful, confidence.

The Spread Eagle

The Spread Eagle has been robbed seven times,

but it is noticeable that the house has
not been molested in any way since Dol took over command of
the situation. He is now fourteen years of age, which is quite a
venerable age in the canine way of Life. He is still very playfiil in
ofi’-duty hours, and is wholly devoted to his ball and swings.
The roof of this ancient and fascinating pub was removed
during a visitation by the Luftwaffe, but all was well with the
bars and cellars.

This house is the only one which is licensed to sell postage
stamps. The facility was granted to them for the convenience of
seamen who had no time to walk from the ship to the then nearest
post office.
So there’s nothing unusual””in this house, at any rate”to hear

the call of “a twopenny halfpenny stamp and a pint of bitter,
please”. It’s an idea that might well be introduced to other parts
of London; men might thus be induced to keep in touch with old
friends.

The story of this eighteenth-century riverside tavern has not,
however, been all beer and postage stamps, quite apart from
the seven burglaries and the noisy attentions of the German air
raiders.

A Chapter in Crime, and  Arson,

Let us, for example, look at the events of November and
December 1834, as recounted by Beck in his History of Rothehythe.
It was a busy, eventful time”a chapter in crime, in arson, to
be precise. The supposed perpetrator of this outbreak of fire was
a tall-hatted police constable of the name of Palmer. The constable
was arrested and in due course committed to stand his trial at the
Old Bailey.

It appears that the series of fires occurred soon after the
establishment of a police force and before the firm guiding hand
of Sir Robert Peel had permanently established it in the affections
of the citizens of London. There were plenty of people more than
ready to utter dark suspicions about the activities of this new force.
For these solid reasons there was a feeling that, if possible, the
stigma which Palmer’s conviction would have entailed on the civil
power should be avoided at all costs.

Fire Starter

Strange to say, all the fires broke out on Palmer’s beat, and
this, as can be imagined, was the subject of a great deal of gossip
at the time. Also strange was the undoubted fact that not a single
conflagration occurred after his committal.

Much excitement and alarm prevailed round and about (and in) The Spread Eagle, so
much so that the fire engine was kept constantly parading the
streets ready for action. It can readily be imagined that little groups
of residents were to be seen speculating about the scene of the next
night’s fire.
In the succession of fires, many were sadly destructive, but it
will be obvious that no outbreak was so sincerely mourned as that
which took place at The Spread Eagle.

The trial, conviction, and punishment of the police constable,
however, finally ended the series of fires”until the outbreak of
World War II.

Dol-Dhu -Pub Saviour

But of course, as we know, you can’t keep a good pub down,
and this fine house is still going strong, aided and abetted by
Dol-Dhu.
If you want to find it (and I hope you will one of these days),

it stands on the left-hand side coming up the Thames on the way
to London. Certainly, it is an experience that is worth the tasting.

The call of “a twopenny halfpenny stamp and a pint of bitter,
please”. It’s an idea that might well be introduced to other parts
of London; men might thus be induced to keep in touch with old
friends.

History, Medieval and Modern

The story of this eighteenth-century riverside tavern has not,
however, been all beer and postage stamps, quite apart from
the seven burglaries and the noisy attentions of the German air
raiders

Nor does the pub and the district lack historical interest, in its
associations with the Roman occupation, the Saxon and Danish
invasions, the Norman Conquest, and the Monastic domination.
It was during this time that ancient Rotherhithe was ruled by the
monks of the great abbey of St. Saviour of Bermondsey.

The district too is linked with the Puritan rule, as well as with
the gayer Restoration. Many of the Royalists of those stirring times
made Rotherhithe their home.

Yes, you can have all the history, medieval and modem, that
you wish”all for the price of a pint and maybe a stamp”down
Rotherhithe way, with a dog that bears a historic name, even if his
lineage is hardly up to scratch.

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