To coincide with Charles Dickens's 200th birthday this week, AnOther contributor John-Paul Pryor spoke with acclaimed actor Sir Ian McKellen, proprietor of The Grapes, a London public house steeped in history and featured in the opening chapter of Dickens' novel Our Mutual Friend. “A tavern of dropsical appearance… long settled down into a state of hale infirmity. It had outlasted many a sprucer public house, indeed the whole house impended over the water but seemed to have got into the condition of a faint-hearted diver, who has paused so long on the brink that he will never go in at all", Dickens penned.
Formerly The Bunch of Grapes, the public house is located next to The Thames on Limehouse Reach and has been in operation for over 500 years. In this time, it survived the Blitz bombing of World War II and was frequented by local residents including The Krays and painter Francis Bacon.
McKellen, one of Britain's most treasured actors, celebrated for his work on screen and on stage has been a Limehouse resident for over 30 years and recently took over the pub's lease. Here, in this exclusive filmed interview, he talks candidly about the pub's rich history, its regulars, the interior and its associations with Charles Dickens, who was a regular in Limehouse for over 40 years.
The Grapes is located at 6, Narrow Street, London E14 8BP.
Directed and produced by John-Paul Pryor
Film by Craig Thomas