Above: The large pub on a rather untidy corner in Woolwich Road.
The Antigallican Public House, standing No 428 Woolwich Road at the junction with Charlton Church Lane, is now the only pub by this name in Inner London. It was, until 1965, in the old Metropolitan Borough of Greenwich. In April 1965 the metropolitan Borough of Greenwich was merged with that of Woolwich into the larger London Borough of Greenwich. Until some time before 2000 there was a pub with the same name in Tooley Street but that has been redeveloped into a small block of offices.
Amid all the ‘George’, ‘King’s Head’, ‘Black Horse’, ‘Red Lion’ and other well known pub names that you come across in London and, indeed, throughout Britain, every now and again you see an unusual pub name. This is one of them and its story is an unlikely one.
The country we know as ‘France’ today was known to the Romans as ‘Gaul’ – hence the English word ‘gallic’ meaning ‘of French origin’. Antigallicans were so-named after a society formed to perpetuate hatred between England and France during the Anglo-French wars. As early as 1558, Stephen Perlin, a French ecclesiastic, in a description of Britain, is credited with saying “The people of this country have a mortal hatred for the French as their ancient enemies.”
There have been no less than eight Antigallican pubs in Inner London, most of them dating from some time around 1800. The earliest record for this pub in Woolwich Road is 1809. Pubs in London, as well as all over Britain, are closing down at an alarming rate, due to social habits having changed considerably over the last few decades. This means that pubs with interesting or historic names a similarly being lost as the years go by. It is therefore important to photograph these buildings along with their names before they are lost for ever.