Above: Looking west in Doves Place at the Dove Inn.
One of the most attractive pubs anywhere in Inner London is situated at Upper Mall, in Hammersmith. It is called the Dove Inn (sometimes written as ‘Doves Inn’) which is a fairly unusual name for a pub. It is probably derived from the Bible story of Noah’s Ark. Several other pub names come from Bible stories – the Three Kings, the Angel, the Star and the Cross (as in Crucifix).
The building stands between the narrow alleyway called Doves Place and the Thames. Doves Place, no doubt, was also named from the pub. The thoroughfare used to link Upper Mall with High Bridge, in the days before Hammersmith Creek was culverted.
It is claimed that the public house has stood on the site since the 17th century. The structure of the present pub actually dates from the early 18th century and it has been owned by Fullers since 1796. The front bar is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the smallest public bar in the United Kingdom.
Above: View of the Dove Inn from the Thames.
In terms of famous names associated with the Dove Inn, there are several to mention. James Thompson is said to have written the words for the 1740 song ‘Rule Britannia!’ there. The pub appears in the 1930 novel by A P Herbert called ‘The Water Gipsies’, loosely disguised by the fictitious name of ‘The Pigeons’. Bearing in mind that William Morris lived and worked within a very short distance of the Dove Inn, it would be surprising if he did not have a drink there at some time. Since he had many friends, all of them as well-known as he was, it is more than likely that they also had a drink there on more than one occasion. T J Cobden-Sanderson named his nearby Doves Bindery and the Doves Press after the pub.
Above: View from the riverside garden.
As you enter the pub, the bar by the door is really small one, as has already been mentioned. That leads to the upper bar – just a few steps above it – which is also quite cramped. However, this all adds to its charm. To cater for more customers, the pub has had a covered area built onto the back, in the form of a conservatory. There is also a small garden area, which faces onto the river, providing splendid views of the Thames and the craft moored nearby at Hammersmith Pier. The Dove is a Grade II listed public house whose address is 19 Upper Mall, Hammersmith.