Black Friar, Blackfriars

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Black Friar, 174 Queen Victoria Street, Blackfriars, London EC4

The Black Friar in December 2018:

The Black Friar is a listed building (grade 2-star), and the official listing description follows:


QUEEN VICTORIA STREET EC4 1. 5002 (North Side) No 174 (The Black Friar Public Houses) TQ 3180 NE 14/400 5.6.72


Public house. c1875, remodelled c1905 & 1917 by H Fuller Clark, architect, & Frederick Callcott & Henry Poole, sculptors. Yellow stock brick with granite & Portland stone dressings; mosaic, sculpture & copper panel enrichment. Flat roof with 2 tall chimneys. Roughly triangular plan on a corner site. 4 storeys & cellars. 1 window to Queen Victoria Street, 1 to chamfered angle & 3 to New Bridge Street return. Ground floor public house frontage extends around the building with segmental arched entrances to both streets & the angle. Transom & mullion windows with small panes above segmental arched cellar lights. Above, a deep mosaic fascia carrying the words "Saloon / 174 / The Black Friar / 174 / Brandies". Fascia interrupted by carved panels, depicting drinking & devilry, which surmount entrance flanking piers with bronze directional & advertising panels depicting friars. Queen Victoria Street entrance with mosaic tympanum of a friar. Above each entrance an elaborate wrought-iron sign with lamp. Upper floor windows architraved; those to Queen Victoria Street tripartite with enriched pediments to 1st & 2nd floor; angle with clock to 1st floor &enriched segmental pediments to 2nd; New Bridge street with enriched pediments to 1st & 2nd floor apart from that above entrance with segmental pediment extending from doorcase. Patterned cast-iron window guards. Projecting cornice & blocking course. Fine Arts & Crafts interior clad in variegated marble with brass, mosaic, wood & copper reliefs. Small, windowless extra rear vaulted room, known as the Grotto, excavated from a railway vault, designed by Clark in 1913 but not executed until 1917-21 owing to the war. In the main bar features include the enriched fireplace recess, framed by a broad tripartite arch, which encloses corner seats; grate with firedogs surmounted by imps; overmantle has bronze bas-relief of singing friars entitled "Carols", flanked by 2 friars' heads with swags above seats. Stained glass window depicting a friar in a sunlit garden. Above the bar, a bronze bas-relief entitled "Tomorrow will be Friday" depicting monks catching trout and eels; above the entrance to the Grotto, a further relief entitled "Saturday afternoon" depicting gardening monks whose produce is coloured in enamels. Barrel-vaulted Grotto entered from 3 arcaded arches with bas-relief monks on the pillars. Mosaic vaults with marble-clad ribs. Features of interest include end walls each with a bronze relief, one entitled "Don't advertise, tell a gossip" with a group of monks doing the weekly wash, the other entitled "A good thing is soon snatched up" depicting monks pushing a trussed pig in a wheelbarrow. On the cornice below, devils representing music, drama, painting & literature. Side walls have 6 alabaster capitals illustrating nursery rhymes, 16 smaller capitals illustrating Aesop's Fables & mottoes such as "Haste is slow" in good electro-gilt letters by the Birmingham Guild. 4 lamp brackets with alabaster figures of Morning, Evening, Noon and Night holding up a bronze monk with water buckets. Extra at one end with a relief entitled "Contentment surpasses riches" depicting a sleeping monk surrounded by fairies, executed with mother of pearl and semi-precious stone inlay. The "window" below with red marble colonettes is an arrangement of mirrors. Further mirrors in the Grotto enhance the small space.