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.