The Angel, Rotherhithe


A Sam Smith’s house, formerly Courage, of small richly painted and panelled rooms, nooks and crannies, cast iron fireplaces and historic photographs that decorate the walls. There is little of the ostentatious about this understated pub that has sought to preserve its heritage, it does not need it!

There are three panelled rooms at the front; the Public Bar, Saloon Bar and a Private Bar have a unique Victorian symmetry. That Private Bar allowed both men and women to drink together, for a small surcharge, and no doubt kept the clientele apart from the locals who worked on the quayside.

The small room at the back, that was once the kitchen, now plays host to four tables and chairs with one window that overlooks the river and another that frames up stream looking towards Tower Bridge and St Pauls with the admonition ‘WINDOW KEEP CLOSED AT HIGH TIDE’.

The photographs mostly relate to pre-second world war scenes of terraced houses streets and wharves, the black and white creates the impact to give a sense of life in Rotherhithe and add to the historical interest.

Upstairs is a lounge, carpeted and wallpapered with comfy chairs and settees to look out over the Thames, towards Execution Dock and Wapping Old Steps. Behind are prints from Wylie and Whistler, who completed his own etching of Rotherhithe in 1860 from this balcony looking similarly toward the City. No doubt they and Turner drank downstairs in the Private Bar if they ever entered the doors of The Angel.

There is a choice of a wide range of Sam’s most popular offerings but not one on hand pump!

Food is pub food from sandwiches to pies, burgers and mains that include liver and onions which would be perhaps a little heavy for a summer’s walk.

On my Monday, walking from Westminster Abbey to Greenwich on 1066 Harold’s Way along the Thames path, it had the feel of a good local’s pub but I am assured, by one of those locals, that weekends are busy with walkers.

My half (there was still some miles to walk before Greenwich) of Old Brewery bitter was fine and the service good on this empty lunchtime but tellingly, The Angel is not listed in CAMRA’s WhatPub – but it is still worth a visit.

7th August 2017