The Castle, Cowcross Street, E.C.
“A SMALL gin, please. And how much will you give me for this
tie-pin my mother-in-law gave me?”
“Umph. Sorry, but I can’t give you anything on that. . . .”
“Thought not. Don’t blame you. Hate the thing myself. But
what about these mother-of-pearl cuff links?”
“Ah, now, that’s different. Five bob?”
“Right, that’s a deal. Add a large gin, and you can have the
tie-pin as well.” ‘
That conversation could easily have taken place at The Castle
because-it is the only public house that is also a pawnshop.
But I must warn you” not to rush along with that dress suit
which is, perhaps, a little tight now, or even with the set of carvers
you had as a wedding present; the landlord is much more con-
cemed with pleasing his customers with pints than pledging with
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Sally protector of Pub
Such is the home”I might say the unique home, even if the
word is a trite overworked”of Sally and Lanah, who provide
protection for Mine Host in his double capacity.
Sally is a lovely thoroughbred wire-haired terrier. Take a look
at her portrait, and see if you don’t agree.
Her name, as registeredat the Kennel Club, is Castle Charm.
If she doesn’t actually own
the Castle, she certainly supplies much of the charm. No doubt
she knows a thing or two about The Trade since her grandmother’s
name was Brewery Girl. Be that as it may, Sally (I prefer the
homelier name) has brought up her daughter in the way she
should go. The daughter rejoices in the poetic name of Eileen
Allanah”Lanah for short.
Six-year-old Sally and her offspring are just like sisters,
thoroughbreds in the English fox terrier strain.
Sally, who received a good deal of training in her younger
days, gives all who enter her house a most charming welcome, but
she just hates you to leave, and howls her objections to some purpose.
There is a good deal of high frequency about these two minxes.
Sally and Lanah
I’ll call it that for want of a better one. Even before the phone bell rings they give tongue in no uncertain fashion.
Do ‘they hear a preparatory click before the bell does its stuff which is denied to
humans? I don’t know. Here’s another curious fact: a certain
customer always calls at the home of Sally and Lanah on Tuesdays.
No particular time is ﬁxed for the visit, but he always comes by
taxi. Sally is able to tell her master that the customer is arriving,
even before the taxi has turned the corner, which is one hundred
yards away. It makes you think.
Mother and daughter are taken to Hampstead Heath every
Saturday for exercise. And they always seem to know when Saturday
comes round before their master makes the slightest preparation
for going there.
Now let’s pop into The Castle to investigate this “popping”
business. There’s sure to be a bit of history behind it all. And
About one hundred and ﬁfty years ago a certain portly party
in a cloak slipped out of his West End home and took a hackney
coach to Hockley-in-the-Hole. This was a part of Clerkenwell
which specialized exclusively in the disagreeable pastime of bear-
baiting and cock-ﬁghting. These, however, were not the only Old
English sports and pastimes played here. Brawling and the gentle
art of pick-pocketing were practised. Our portly fare, clad in the
comfortable anonymity of his ,owing cloak, paid his fare, and
settled down to back his fancy with a well-ﬁlled purse.
George the Fourth
But luck can be as elusive as a beautiful woman. The purse
of guineas was soon empty, and the gentleman with the paunch
found himself in an awkward ﬁnancial predicament; it was a feeling
that was not altogether uncommon with him, for he was none
other than Prinny, afterwards George the Fourth.
He withdrew from the ringside as unobtrusively as possible,
thinking doubtless that a walk might cool the fevered royal brow.
During his walk he came across an inn. The inn was called The
Castle which may have provided him some little amusement, for
Prinny preferred the architectural horror at Brighton to any
Entering the inn, the royal guest took the landlord aside,
whispered something to him, produced his gold watch (which was
a rather remarkable circumstance remembering the activities of
pick-pockets at sporting assemblies) and desired a loan on it.
Whether the landlord knew the identity of his customer is not
known. But he was a kindly, understanding landlord, and duly
parted with the necessary coin.
His purse suitably re-ﬁlled, the customer returned to his ringside pursuits,
and departs from our story–almost.
For Prinny despite the waspish observations passed on him
from time to time”had a heart just as well as the landlord.
A messenger afterwards called at the inn and redeemed the
pledge. Soon after the landlord also received a document giving
The Castle the right of pawnbrokerage in perpetuity.
And so you can go there today, as I have, to meet Sally and
Lanah. You can look at the clock, and immediately below it you
will note the familiar three brass balls in all their gilded glory,
together with the original Pawnbrokers’ Act of I872.
And if The Castle ever has a visit from a ghost, I like to think
it is a kindly ghost, a ghost with a paunch, a ghost with a merry
laugh, a ghost with a quaint idea of sport”-the ghost of the Prince