JASPER AND BRANDY,
The Chequers, Duke Street, St. James, S.W.1
DUKE STREET is full of charm and historical interest. Hugh
Walpole has described in his Wintersmoon the atmosphere of this
part of London so beautifully, that I must quote:
There is an hour in St. James’ and the summer when the
guardian saint of all bachelors takes‘ his walk. It is the hour
when he can observe most pleasantly the happyidoings of his
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Jasper And Brandy – Bulldog and Sheep dog
There is probably nothing pleasanter than this hour
of the afternoon when the sun has done his hardest work of the
day and is tempted to linger lazily among the twisted chimney
pots, crooked roofs, and odd angles of Ryder Street and Duke
Street, when the smoke from these same chimneys is coloured
with the faint plum-shadowed purple, and the sparrows as
they sit in somnolent rows on the telegraph wires ﬁnd their
feathers ,flecked with colour, and when the errant scraps of
paper scattering over the tiles in the afternoon breezes glow
with a sort of irridescence very satisfying to their submerged
During this happy hour or two St. James’ is pleasantly and
complacently busy. Doors are for ever opening and shutting.
Unlike. the Piccadilly world at the top of the hill everything of
the motor savage hinterland is here softened and advanced a step
in civilization. Horns that have shrieked outside the Royal
Academy are hushed to gentility outside Ghristie’s, and Princes
of the Motor Blood Royal jare contented to steal modestly-from
street to street once they are south of Jermyn Street.
With this result, that in St. James’ at this hour you hear everywhere
human voices. There are still many streets and squares in London
where the human voice can be heard (in Paris, New York, Rome,
Berlin it‘ has gone the way of other outmoded functions), but
nowhere can it be more pleasantly heard than here in St.James’.
Page boys, valets (either thin, spare and sharp-nosed or stout,
purple-veined and amiable), barbers, newsmen, dog-fanciers,
racing touts, and the white-haired Prophet of a Newly Revealed
Religion (he has a place always at a quarter to ﬁve of an afternoon
at the corner of Ryder Street with his placard saying
“WATCH AND PRAY, FOR THE LORD COMETH”),
all these people have their proper places and functions in this
aftemoon hour. They step, they stroll, they wander (all with the
exception of the Prophet, who is stationary) from door to door.
The public house half down the hill in Duke Street knows them
all: everyone in fact knows everyone, and social amiability is
Few London houses, we may well conclude, have enjoyed such
an agreeable introduction as Hugh Walpole’s words. And, more-
over, what Walpole wrote in 1930 is more or less true of this
part of the West End even today. It remains full of charm as does
the public house half down the hill”The Chequers.
This house indeed is as much a club as a pub. Everyone seems
to know everyone else, and we wish there was more of this in
many a pub we know. The stranger is made very welcome, and
is free to join in all the fun.
Jasper of St. James
The Chequers has been licensed for three hundred years, though
the present structure is but one hundred and twenty years old.
And here we ﬁnd the agreeable company of jasper and Brandy,
whose friendliness is as constant as their tail wagging. Jasper is a
pedigree bulldog costing as much in pounds as his older chum costs
]asper’s real name, by the way, is Jasper of St. James’, but
the territorial reference can be dropped once you are properly
introduced. He is in fact a comparative newcomer, being but ﬁve
months old in original sin, and is already a great favourite with
the “club members” who have become attached to his highly
pugnacious face. The day is fast approaching when Jasper will be a
ﬁne guard dog and, maybe, an efficient chucker-out.
Brandy is of a very friendly disposition. She has reached what
is quaintly known as the canine years of discretion, being (like the
jingle of our youth) seven. You are unlikely to see many of her
kind in London. She is a Scottish Kerr sheepdog, a breed with a
sort of chrysanthemum head, renowned for devotion to their
masters, as well as for their uncanny ability to keep “law and order”
on the hillside farms from which the breed sprang.
The next time you are in St. James’, take a look at the clock on
the tower of the Palace, and if it coincides with the hour of opening,
introduce yourself to two of the friendliest canines in all London.