Saturday, April 14, 2012

Today I am ... in Cambridgeshire, Holborn

Ye Olde Mitre pub, Ely Court.
Tucked away in a higgledy-piggledy alleyway in the City of London, I recently stumbled across a charming old world pub which, thanks to an ancient legal loophole, is technically in Cambridgeshire.

Ye Olde Mitre pub dates back to the 1500s, and sits on land which once fell within the grounds of the Palace of the Bishops of Ely. This means the land is still legally within Cambridgeshire and therefore the City of London Police have no jurisdiction there.

If I ever decide to embark on a life of crime in the City, I know where I'll be hiding...

Marked by a lone lamppost, Ye Olde Mitre peeps out invitingly onto Ely Court, a crooked little enclosure which looks uncannily like Diagon Alley from Harry Potter. Once we stepped into the pub and departed the Muggle realm, we entered a crowded room full of old men huddled around tables, talking under their breath (no doubt brokering dodgy deals involving illegal dragon eggs and bags of galleons...).

There is also a pretty, fairy-lit courtyard, popular with a younger clientele escaping the City for post-work drinks.

Ye Olde Mitre, Ely Court. Image:
After a few glasses of wine here, we took our leave and on our way back to Farringdon station, found ourselves walking past the mythical Bleeding Heart Yard, an atmospheric cobbled courtyard with a history as gruesome as the name suggests.

According to urban legend, seventeenth century socialite Lady Elizabeth Hatton was murdered here in 1626, after being lured away from her Annual Winter Ball by a hooded figure. Her heart was found in this very yard, 'pumping blood onto the cobblestones'. Lovely.

Tavern in Bleeding Heart Yard, Farringdon
There is also a small selection of bistros, taverns and restaurants within the yard which we didn't enter however, according to the New Yorker, are 'bleeding hard to find, but worth it.'

Where else but London could after-work drinks turn into such a peculiar but fascinating historical whistlestop tour?

Ye Olde Mitre, Ely Court, Hatton Garden, Holborn, EC1N 6SJ. Nearest tube: Farringdon, Chancery Lane.

Bleeding Heart Yard, off Greville Street, EC1N 8SJ. Nearest tube: Farringdon.

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