Sort file:- Greenwich, October, 2022.

Page Updated:- Wednesday, 05 October, 2022.


Earliest 1843-

Richard I

Open 2020+

52-54 (1) Royal Hill


020 8692 2996

Richard 1 1960s

Pub entrance circa 1960s.

Richard 1 2012

Above Google image, April 2012.

Richard 1 sign 1980

Above sign, circa 1980.


In 1869-70 the pub was part of a consortium who were advertising their goods of selling tea in response to grocers' selling beer and wine. (Click for further details.)

The Kentish Mercury reported in 1908 that the pub was regarded as a beer house without full license and was under consideration for redundancy. They also referred to it as "Ye Old House."

I am informed by Christine Mortimore that the pub is also affectionately known as the "Tolly House" after the Tolly Cobbold beers from Ipswich Cliff Brewery that were once sold there in the 1950s and 60s.


From an email received 5 October 2022.

In 1898 William Dorrington, (the earlier William’s son or grandson) was licensee of the "Richard I" public house at 1 Royal Street, Greenwich when he was charged with allowing card playing for beer at his house.

The court was told police had witnessed men playing whist while beer was served. No money was paid until the end of the game when the loser paid for the beer.

Mr Pook, the lawyer defending William, said the house had been in his family for 55 years, including his father and his grandfather.

Several witnesses were called to say they had played there for years and there had been no gambling, only payment for the drinks.

The magistrate said it sound like a model club and he wished he played whist himself.

He dismissed the case.


From 1 June 2013.

I started going to The Tolly around 1972. The CAMRA real ale revolution started by Richard Boston in The Guardian had just started and The Tolly, a basic, back-street boozer, seemed ideal. No 52 Royal Hill, the bit with the curved window, was a simple, single room bar. No 54, what is now the public bar, was an off-licence. The off-licence had hardly any stock and very few customers; although it was possible to buy bottles of Toll Light Ale which came in a very attractive Perrier-style bottle with a label featuring an art-noveau statue of a naked Bachante. Arching over the ground floor windows of the two buildings was a large sign saying ‘Tolly House’. So, like everybody else, I assumed that the pub was called The Tolly or The Tolly House. Only on close inspection could you see that ‘Richard I’ was written in the corners of the sign. The single, wood-floored bar had some simple wooden tables and chairs; the most prized being the long table and forms in the bay window. The toilet was outside at the back; and could only be reached by walking through the backyard. There was no garden.

They have probably been selling beer at 52 Royal Hill almost since the street was laid out around 1830. Contrary to popular belief, and the insistence of the residents, the street has no royal connections other than that is was developed by a Victorian builder called Robert Royal. It was previously known as the more prosaic Gang Lane. After Royal Hill had been built the current stretch of Point Hill up to Maidenstone Hill was known as Royal Hill Row. The bit of Royal Hill which now runs between Blissett Street and Greenwich South Street was still known as Green Lane.

The ravages on the working classes of London caused by gin drinking are well-known. To combat this, The Duke Of Wellington’s Tory government introduced the 1830 Beer Act designed to encourage beer drinking as an alternative; beer being much safer than water due to the heat of the brewing process destroying bacteria. The tax on beer was abolished; and anybody could apply for a licence, costing 2 guineas, which allowed them to brew and sell beer in their own houses. (Don’t ever say that a Tory government ever did anything worthwhile!) Not surprisingly this proved a very popular measure and Beer Houses, also known as Small Beer Shops or Tom & Jerry Shops sprung up everywhere. Many of these proved to be extremely dubious establishments and The 1869 Act put a brake on the opening of new shops; but those already in existence were allowed to continue.

The 1860 Greenwich Licensing Guide makes no mention of premises at 52, 54 (or 56, the current Greenwich Union) Royal Hill; the only establishments there are The "Prince Albert" (now The "Prince Of Greenwich"), The "Barley Mow" (now The "Hill"), The "Globe," and The "Duke Of Kent" (demolished 1856). But this lists only Inns, Ale Houses and Victualling Houses. In the 1896 Guide (Unfortunately, the Heritage Centre only has the 1860, 89, 91 & 96 editions of these fascinating books) a new section for Licensed Beer Houses, Wine Shops and Grocers has been added and we now find The "Richard I" at number 52 and The "Fox and Hounds" at 56. Both establishments are listed as providing Beer, Wine and Billiards. I don’t know if this is ‘proper’ 3-ball billiards or Kentish bar-billiards. If is full billiards then I can only assume that the table was upstairs as there is certainly no room in the current bar.

Given that few Beer Houses were created after 1869, we can assume that The "Richard I" and The "Fox and Hounds" were in existence well before 1869. The 1885 census lists Mrs E Dorrington a Beer Retailer at number 52; Thos Tippen, a florist, at 54 and George Hulby at 56 which is actually named as The "Fox and Hounds."

The situation continued for the first couple of decades of the1900s. 52 & 56 continued as Beer Houses; but 54 changed to a confectioner. In 1910 54 also opened a Telephone Call Office on the premises to enable to local residents to make and receive calls on the exciting new telephone system. The owner of 52 since 1910 was a George Honeybone and in 1923 he managed to buy 54 and to merge the two building to create his beer empire at The "Richard I."

At some stage the business was taken over and the pub supplied by The Tollmache Brewery Company which later merged with the Cobbold Company to form the Tolly Cobbold brewery based in Ipswich. Hence the sign; which is where we first came in.

The Tolly had always been a basic working-class boozer.. the pub has many evocative photos of old charabanc trips hanging on the walls. However, with the CAMRA revolution and the transformation of West Greenwich’s Victorian terraces into highly desirable bijou residences, it rapidly became transformed into a heaving, standing-room only mass of students, academics, media-types and others generally classified as Guardian readers. Many came for the real-ale; but others, such as myself, preferred the large bottles of Holsten lager that were sold; well before the general availability of strong continental lagers like Stella. Soon the only trace of the old working class was the old bloke in the cloth cap who collected the Christmas Club money every Monday and the pickled-eggs which remained the only food available. The trendiness probably reached its peak when we were treated to melodies from Jules Holland on the old piano in the back on the way to the outside toilet.

When I started the landlord was a genial old Cockney geezer called ’Arry who we all thought was married to a very large lady called Hilda who spent all her time perched on a stool by the bar. ‘Arry’s assistant was a bloke called John Ling who was distinguished by his dislike of the way the pub was going and his hatred of the new clientele. His particular dislike was anybody who tried to create a group of 5 by moving a chair from one group of 4 round a table to another. ‘Don’t move the chairs’; he would scream across the room.

When ‘Arry died in 1976 John took over the licence and we thought that he had married Hilda. But census records show that 52-54 was occupied by Henry C and Rose French from 1969 to 1976. Presumably Henry was ‘Arry; but I am sure I never saw Rose. And from 1964 to 1967 52-54 was occupied not only by the Roses but also by Fredrick and Joan Lambert. The only time it has been under multi-occupation. So I’m not really sure what was going on there.

In the late-1970s, a drivers’ strike at the brewery affected supplies to The Tolly, and Tolly Cobbold indicated to John Ling that it was not worth keeping their remote outpost in SE10 open. However, Young’s Brewery stepped in and took over the lease. A friend assures me that this happened because he was so upset at the prospect of losing his favourite pub that he wrote a personal letter to Sir John Young pointing out that The Tolly would make a great asset in the Young’s estate and this had spurred Youngs into the takeover. Whether this is true or not, we will never know.

Traditionalists were delighted that a brewer like Youngs had taken over the Tolly. However, one of things that they did was to give the place a complete refit. Obviously, the first thing to go was the Tolly sign and its replacement with a large Richard I sign together with a much more distinct sign on the street column. The off-licence was converted into what is now the public bar and the back was extended to provide the luxury of indoor toilets. A nice beer garden was also built.

The Tolly has been a Young’s house for the past 30-odd years and it has always had more of a corporate feel than the pub under ‘Arry and John. Managers have come and gone without any really establishing a personality for themselves; and the bar staff tend to be the usual crowd of itinerant antipodeans and, more lately, east Europeans. Youngs corporate food and wine is available and the usual pub gimmicks; quiz night (Sunday nights, can be entertaining), curry nights; burger nights; poker nights come and go.

A couple of years ago we had another renovation; ubiquitous innovations like distressed sofas were introduced; and, to the horror of traditionalists, they even put down a carpet in the lounge bar. The furniture in the public bar can make the place look like a giant’s living room.

At one time I thought The Tolly was the best pub in the world; now I’m not even sure that it’s the best pub in 52-56 Royal Hill.

So much for the trip down Memory Hill. The "Richard I" seems to be the only establishment on Royal Hill which kept the same identity since its foundation in 1830. Ironic, since for at least 40 years it has been generally known by a completely different name.

Thanks to the staff at Greenwich Heritage Centre for their assistance.

My first two postings tracked my gradual disillusionment with the corporatisation of The Tolly. I think much of this can be put down to the transition of Youngs, the owners, from an independent brewer with a small chain of pubs in South London to a subsidiary of Charles Wells. Charles Wells now not only brew Young’s beer but also that of Courage and McEwan’s. However, this feeling is as nothing now that I have seen what is proposed for the future.

The Tolly has been closed for refurbishment since March 2014. Details of what is planned have now been posted here.

The Tolly mood-board.

Tolly Mood Board

I have studied Mood Boards (urrgh!) 1 & 2 with some difficulty as I have found it impossible to read the script; but essentially I think they propose to merge the public and lounge bars by knocking through the dividing wall at the Royal Hill end. A considerable loss of seating also seems to be involved. The area from the back of the current bar in the lounge to some distance into the garden will be a giant restaurant/conservatory. The whole lot will be kitted out from some central warehouse with all sorts of ersatz French shabby chic fixtures and fittings.


Tolly Mood Board

The size and layout of the front bar, it only has two full size tables, seems to indicate that it isn’t really designed as a serious drinking establishment but is just some sort of holding area for the dining room which is where the real action will be. So, it looks like The Tolly will be a restaurant with a small bar attached.

What sort of a restaurant will it be? Young’s do a corporate menu of the usual pub standards; crab cakes, goats cheese tarts, battered fish and chips; bangers and mash and burgers. The sort of thing you can find anywhere. Perhaps the pub that The Tolly will most resemble would be somewhere like The Dulwich Woodhouse. However, there are two main problems if The Tolly is to make a success of being a successful purveyor of pub grub. First, it has very little passing trade and why should anybody want to make the journey; and second, it is next to impossible to park anywhere near in the day, and still difficult in the evening, again why should anybody make the effort.

Perhaps they hope to turn the old place into a gastropub with its own gourmet menu. The problem with this is that are already two such establishments, The "Hill" and The "Prince of Greenwich," within fifty yards, and also an artisan craft brewery/restaurant next door. Throw in the nearby North Pole, Davy’s and The Rivington and I reckon that Royal Hill needs another gastropub as much as Blackheath Village needs a new Estate Agent.

So, who will be flocking to dine in this wonderful new conservatory? Perhaps the new residents of the area’s rapidly proliferating luxury apartments will stop drinking their Sauvignon Blanc on their Juliet Balconies; abandon their Waitrose ready meals in their designer kitchens, and flood across Greenwich South Street. But this is unlikely, especially as most of them would find it a bit of a slog from Singapore or Hong Kong.

Is this the end of The Tolly? A corporate gastropub among so many others. What would Harry and John and their pickled eggs have made of it?

And can anybody explain the bicycle?

Guest Post by BK


Project 2014 has been started to try and identify all the pubs that are and have ever been open in Kent. I have just added this pub to that list but your help is definitely needed regarding it's history.

As the information is found or sent to me, including photographs, it will be shown here.

Thanks for your co-operation.



DORRINGTON William 1843+

DORRINGTON William (son) 1869-71+ (age 64 in 1871Census)

DORRINGTON Ellen 1881-91+ (widow age 59 in 1891Census)

DORRINGTON William C (son) 1896-1908+ (age 30 in 1901Census)

HONEYBONE George William 1908-34+ (also wine and beer retailer age 33 in 1911Census) Kentish Mercury

THOMPSON Albert 1937+



Kentish MercuryKentish Mercury


If anyone should have any further information, or indeed any pictures or photographs of the above licensed premises, please email:-