This famous Pub, which was built in the 1520s, in the reign of King Henry VIII, proclaims itself to be the oldest riverside inn and has successfully served patrons during the reigns of 22 different Monarchs.
This historic Pub still retains its original 400 years old flagstone floor and boasts a very rare pewter bar top. The Pub has a small garden terrace which overlooks the Thames and a comfortable Riverside lounge, from where there are good views of the River and also of the famous gallows.
The Prospect of Whitby was originally named “The Devil’s Tavern”. As the original name suggests, the Pub had strong associations with sea rovers, sailors, pirates, thieves, smugglers and all types of “low life”, who were associated with the River.
The bodies of drowned men were often found along this stretch of the River. Several of theses men had, in fact, been customers of the many nearby Riverside pubs and inns. The poor men, after drinking too much ale, would be bundled into a small boat and taken out to the centre of the River and thrown overboard to drown. After victims had drowned, their bodies were retrieved and sold to medical schools and student doctors to be used for study.
During the late 1600s, one frequent visitor at The Prospect of Whitby was the infamous “hanging judge” Jeffreys, who lived close by in Butchers Row. The Judge became notorious for his brutality and had a liking for executions – he sentenced to hang at least 300 men (and transported at least another 800) after the Monmouth Rebellion in 1685. After condemning the men deathm it is said that the Judge would come here, sit on the rear balcony, and enjoy his lunch, while watching the men, whom he had condemned, hang at Execution Dock. The Judge must have been good at his job, because as a reward, King James II gave him a peerage. When James II was overthrown in 1688, Judge Jeffreys lost his privileged royal protection and became a wanted man.
From all the famous visitors at the Pub we have, Charles Dickens, Samuel Pepys, Turner, Whistler and Cox.