The Swan Review

A few weeks ago, we wandered down to The Swan, a pub located across the street from Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park. It was a gorgeous Saturday afternoon and we sat at a table outside. In fact, I didn’t spend much time inside the pub at all. When the weather is that nice, I can’t stand to be inside.

Most of the tables were full, but a couple from America was kind enough to share their table. As it turned out, we had a lot in common and we ended up having lunch together and swapping stories about home. That is one of the best parts of going to pubs in London. I meet the kindest people from all over and I love getting to know them, even if the time is short.

The pub dates back to 1721, but many suspect that it was an inn before that date. It is also thought that The Swan was the last place for people to have a drink before heading to Tyburn Gallows, the capital’s public execution site.  According to their website, the famous highwayman Claude Duval, had his last drink at The Swan before being hanged in 1670. Also, they say that two phrases, ‘one for the road’ and ‘on the wagon’ were coined at this pub. As the story goes, the jailer would arrive with the prisoner’s cage and would ask for ‘one for the road.’ When the jailer left with the prisoner, people would comment that ‘he’s on the wagon,’ which meant that the person would never have a drink again.

The Swan serves traditional pub food. My lunch was good, my cider was cold and perfect for a hot day, and the staff was friendly. We’ve already said that we want to go back when the weather is just as nice. Sitting outside and looking across at the park is a relaxing way to spend an afternoon. I give this pub 4 out of 5 stars. I would have given it 5 stars, but I thought that my lunch was just good and not fantastic. If you want to go for just drinks and soak in the history, I don’t think you would be disappointed.

And it’s located near one of my favorite spots in Kensington Gardens, the Italian Garden. I’ve shared photos of this part of the park before, but in case you missed them, here’s a few more.

About TBM

TB Markinson is an American who's recently returned to the US after a seven-year stint in the UK and Ireland. When she isn't writing, she's traveling the world, watching sports on the telly, visiting pubs in New England, or reading. Not necessarily in that order. Her novels have hit Amazon bestseller lists for lesbian fiction and lesbian romance. She cohosts the Lesbians Who Write Podcast ( with Clare Lydon. TB also runs I Heart Lesfic (, a place for authors and fans of lesfic to come together to celebrate lesbian fiction.
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23 Responses to The Swan Review

  1. What a wonderful post!! I’m starting to think you should write travel brochures on the side. You always give such well-rounded descriptions, and I particularly like how you add in a touch of history. I always enjoy hearing about the origin of popular expressions too. It’s so interesting!. You can add this pub to the list of places we will go when I visit ok? 🙂

    • TBM says:

      Thanks Cindy! I love hearing how words and phrases came about. I don’t know if the phrases in this story are actually true, but it’s fun to think about. And I don’t think I’ll forget about the morbid connection to hangings. Consider this place added to our list. It may become a long list–hopefully that’s okay 🙂

  2. winsomebella says:

    I have to look to see if I am related to the infamous Claude Duval 🙂

  3. Paula says:

    I liked reading this article, and can’t help wondering what you ordered for lunch?

  4. Melissa says:

    Once again, beautiful pictures! What an interesting place. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to live around that much history, especially Western Culture history that we still reference today.

  5. Anita S says:

    I enjoyed your pictures (as always), especially the statues. Why can’t we have decent statues in Texas? All we have is modern abstract art, which is okay sometimes, but I’d like to see a move towards realism occasionally.

    • TBM says:

      I haven’t been to Texas yet, but I want to go. I’m amazed by all of the statues and how old the buildings are in England. I’m not used to that, coming from America.

  6. Kate Kresse says:

    i remember loving kensington gardens and hyde park….the pub sounds like it was just right for a lovely day. looks like a really pretty day!

  7. patricia says:

    Great history lesson and I love highwayman stories.

  8. acrupp7 says:

    Hm… This makes me miss England more than ever!

  9. zelmare says:

    I think if I lived in the area, I would quickly become a regular here… Love the review and the website, will definitely keep this in mind if I’m ever in London again. 🙂

    • TBM says:

      I wish it was closer to my flat. It’s only a 30-40 minute walk, but it still seems so far after a drink. I think it might become one that I takes guests to when they visit.

  10. Fergiemoto says:

    Sounds like another great pub to add to the list…if I ever go back!
    Thanks for this!

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