Nor long after my wanderings in Chelsea during my visit to The
Six Bells, I walked along Cheyne Row, entered the grounds of the
Royal Hospital, and came into Old Church Street. Here, I mused,
there should be a venerable pub with a dog to match. There were
The historical background of Old Chelsea has received much
attention from the scribes; so I shall conﬁne myself to the exploits
of Peter. And that will keep me busy enough, in all conscience.
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Peter is a black cocker spaniel. He is an excellent retriever,
but it does not always pay to retrieve. But to call Peter, like his
father and mother before him, simply a retriever is something
in the nature of understatement. Kleptomaniac is perhaps a more
accurate description of Peter. Let us not be unfair to Peter, though.
It is but proper to record that some of his escapades in retrieving
have brought undying gratitude; others have made his master
blush for very shame. –
On one famous occasion he earned a rebuke. One evening he
returned to The Black Lion, bearing triumphantly in his capable
teeth a trilby. It was not just another trilby to be prized as an
old friend, because of lineage. It was, to put it mildly, dilapidated
and overdue for pension. It was also incredibly dirty, and it was
deduced that much of the dirt was due to the ministrations of
A Night Watchman
His mistress acted like it was ash: it went into the ﬁre, much to
Peter’s disgust. Then like the dawn, came the sequel”the appearance
of a night watchman, complaining that some so-and-so had taken
his highly cherished hat. In loving kindness, I draw a veil over
the ubsequent proceedings.
at there are honours to record as well and, in particular, a
battle honour earned during the blitz. It was, by the way, one of
the blitzes which destroyed the lovely Chelsea Old Church. No
lover of Old London can trust himself to speak of that.
Peter’s recovery of the odd handkerchief, the purse, the scarf
and the handbag for the women patrons merely goes to show that,
in his heart of hearts, Peter is a ladies’ man. But these useful services
are as nothing compared to his war-time service.
Should they dare to oversleep they hear
all about it from Penny. In winter, she demands a ﬁre for her
comfort and (always) calls in her own special way for a saucer of
milk before condescending to leave her bedroom. The last thing
at night she kisses her Governor a sweet good night, which may
explain why she is not an attached young lady. To see Penny with
her governor is a sight for sore eyes. There she is, all dignity, on
a lead, -but she could easily go in his pocket.
The daughter of the house is staying at The Drayton Arms with
her baby daughter, and Penny guards her with her stout little life.
She insists even on sharing the perambulator on the daily walk.
Baby and dog are inseparable, and it would break Penny’s heart
to be parted from her “charge”.
The Drayton Inn
Although The Drayton Inn: is not, in fact, a tavem, it is of some
interest to recall that there was a time when inns and taverns
were not licensed. Before 1550 anybody could open such a house.
When the licensing system was initiated there were, of course,
certain regulations concerning the conduct of landlord and customer
and most of these regulations are still in force today.
The difference between a tavern and an inn lies in this”that
the innkeeper is compelled by law to provide shelter and refresh-
ment to all bona ﬁde travellers at any hour of the day or night”.
This condition is still binding on all who hold an inn-licence. You can
still knock up an innkeeper at any old time and demand, shelter
or food. Should he refuse (without just cause) you can report him
to the licencing justices.