So after all the hype we finally kicked off our Halloween tour this weekend, I have to say I was feeling pretty nervous but fortunately the weather held, we had great audiences and everyone played their parts beautifully. Best of all my very talented photographer friend Isabelle Plesscheraert came along for our opening night and took these great pics of everyone in action!
We will be back for more halloween adventures next weekend, tickets have almost gone but you might find a few if you click HERE
A new one on our Pub tour route but a Hampstead classic, the Duke of Hamilton has been in business since 1721. It takes its name from the 4th Duke of Hamilton who was killed fighting a duel with his cousin Baron Mohun over who should inherit their uncles valuable Scottish estate.
The Dukes death caused such a scandal at the time that it lead to a ban on duelling as a means to settle disputes. Apparently up until that point it if some one got on your nerves it was relatively common to throw down your sword and challenge them to fight for their honour - As you do!
(However most duels were only fought until one contestant drew blood not with the intention of killing.)
In more recent history the pub made a name for itself as a favourite haunt of legendary hard drinking actors Richard Burton, Oliver reed and Peter O Toole. It also made the headlines in 2015 when 800 local residents petitioned for the pub to be made an Asset of community value - meaning that the building would have to remain a pub
You would have thought the (Then landlord) Steve Coxshall would have been delighted however this was not the case, instead he denounced them as ...'Cardigan wearing busy bodies'... and banned all 800 of them from entering the pub - his reasoning? It would make the pub harder to sell. I don't know if Mr Coxshall did find the pub hard to sell when he left in 2017, but I have to say since the pub reopened last year (After being taken over by two brothers Ed and Ben Robson who formerly ran the Horseshoe - another NW3 local.) The place has been given a much needed make over, and the Duke of Hamilton is now an excellent little pub with great selection of craft beers, and a mouth watering seasonal menu They also have live jazz in their basement venue every weekend - Whats not to like!
If you live in the area or your visiting Hampstead for whatever reason you really must check it out. For more info you can check their website here https://thedukeofhamiltonnw3.com/
We will also be dropping in on our Halloween pub tour which is running until November 3rd, for more info click HERE
One of my favourite pub on our Halloween tour - In fact probably one of my favourite pubs in London full stop. Would have to be Flask in Highgate village, an old 17th coaching inn which still retains much of its olde worlde charm, with its hidden corners, wood panelled ceilings and real log fires its a perfect to visit now the nights are drawing in, and if you happen to drop by on a Sunday it also serves a mean roast!
Of course a pub with such a long and colourful history must have a few skeletons in the cupboard and The flask certainly does not disappoint in that respect Infact each year since the pub tour began we have explored a different facet of its darker side; from our first run in 2015 when the lovely manageress at time sat us down and told us the sad tale of a Spanish bar maid who worked in the pub in the 1800's and tragically hung herself in the cellar following a doomed love affair with the pubs then landlord. Her ghost is believed to haunt the pub to this very day, affectionately known as Esmerelda, she is said to be very fond of white wine as empty bottles are frequently discovered down there.... (Or could that just be thirsty bar staff?!) The pub is also reputedly haunted by a cavalier gent and a silent monk was once is believed to haunt the beer garden. As if that wasn't enough a side funstion room is still known as the autopsy room as illegal autopsys were once carried out there using corpses stolen from nearby Highgate cemetery!! which of these creepy tales will we be investigating on this years Pub Tour? well that would be telling you'll just have join us one evening and find out CLICK HERE for booking info
Or to find out more about the Flask Highgate CLICK HERE
One very important part of the Halloween process is the annual pilgrimage taking 'Henry' our prop chicken from his regular roosting spot under my stairs in Hampstead to his other home in the shed at The Flask, Highgate where he lives for the duration of our Highgate to Hampstead Halloween Pub Tour
Incase you were wondering what a chicken has to do with Halloween Henry plays the role of a phantom chicken who is believed to have haunted near by Pond square since the 17th Century.
Henry has been causing chaos in Pond square since 2017 originally he had a detachable wire tail that we would tie sparklers into and set alight, but unfortunately he fell foul (terrible pun intended) of the Pond Square residents committee, and after a bit of negotiation they agreed that while he could continue to haunt pond square over the Halloween period there must be no pyrotechnics involved.
'How are we going to make him a spectacle if we can't sent him on fire?'
I wondered, then suddenly it dawned on me: This is halloween season of gore - I'm going to have to kill him!
So poor Henry was beheaded - As quickly as possible so hopefully he didn't suffer too much! and after a few more alterations he was once again ready to get on the tube to make his annual journey to Highgate
As we trundled up the road towards Hampstead tube station I did notice that Henry attracted more favourable attention when he head was still attached but even so he wasn't without his admirer's and plenty of people were kind enough to help me negotiate the steps and escalators once we got on the underground.
Everything was going well it seemed until about 2 minutes after we got out at Highgate when the heavens opened!! As I'm sure you're aware rain and paper mache don't mix very well! - Anyone around Highgate village about 3pm this afternoon might have seen a very angry looking woman attempting to run up Southwood Lane dragging an oversized dead chicken on a very heavy set of wheels...
Fortunately we made it in one piece and the lovey guys in the Flask helped to calm my nerves with a much needed drink. I'm please to say that Henry now installed in his new home and ready for action!
To meet Henry and the rest of the Haunted Pub Tour crew click the button below for booking info.
With preparations well under way for our halloween pub tour we really needed to get some good promotional pics, luckily for us Jo Dazig (actress playing female ghost and prop make extrodinare) had a photographer friend who would be willing to help us out. Fantastic now we just had to get our costumes in order!
On the day of the shoot,Jo was kind enough to host us (In her lovely Poirotesq 1930's apartment building) and we had great fun dressing up before going out to strike poses in her communal gardens (god only knows what the neighbours thought!!) photographer Virgina was very creative with lighting and took some amazing pics, which have since been gracing our insta and twitter feeds!