Marlborough Head Pub

20131110_141129After visiting some friends in their flat and indulging in a wonderful Sunday brunch a few weeks ago we found ourselves wandering around Mayfair, London. Since we had just eaten a massive amount of food I wasn’t hungry, but we were both parched. So we hopped into the Marlborough Head. I didn’t know anything about the pub’s history until I did some research for this review. That’s a shame since I would have explored more looking for ghosts.

It’s believed that the pub was named after the Duke of Marlborough John Churchill. The area of Tyburn from the 12th century until 1783 was used for executions. More than likely, this spot was selected because it was surrounded by fields that could host a large crowd. Before the installation of permanent gallows, hangings took place in an area with a lot of sturdy trees. And hanging days were quite popular. People would gather and there would be food and drink stalls. During the centuries, thousands of people were either hanged or had their head chopped off. Then it was decided to move the gallows to Newgate. Okay, that’s enough morbid stuff for a Friday.

This photo doesn't show the guilty party.

This photo doesn’t show the guilty party.

I didn’t know any of this when I visited. and I wouldn’t have guessed it since it’s in a fashionable part of London now. My impression of the pub was that it was crowded, but decent. I glanced at the menu and it serves typical pub food. Nothing fancy, but from other Taylor Walker pubs I’ve tried the food is okay and does the job.

We were able to find a small table with two seats. Near us there were two tables. One sat four people and the other sat three. One man sat at the larger table. Then a family of four came in. They didn’t speak much English, but they managed to ask the man if he would swap tables. He didn’t speak English either, but after some gesturing, the family of four got the man to move to the smaller table. Five minutes later, the man’s family showed up and now he had five people crammed around the smaller table. I observed and wondered if the family who moved the man would see the error of their ways and if they would swap tables with them. Not a chance. I know for a fact that they saw the man trying to seat his large family around the table since there was a lot of bumping of chairs, but the people who insisted on having the larger table did their best to ignore the man that they booted. They should be ashamed of themselves.

More people streamed in and since we weren’t hungry we decided to move on. Like I said, I wish I knew the history of this area before visiting this pub. I may have tried to enjoy it more. But to be honest, this pub didn’t impress me at all. I give it 3 stars out of 5.

Before I go, I wanted to announce that my first novel, A Woman Lost, is finally available in paperback. If you would like to know more about this process check out this post on my writing blog. If you always suspected that I was an idiot, this post will confirm it for you. Happy Friday!

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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38 Responses to Marlborough Head Pub

  1. Geoff W says:

    I don’t know how I didn’t think to tell you this before! You need to go to Leeds and visit Drydock! I’m sure it’s not the best food (I only ever had one drink there) but it’s a BOAT in the middle of a road and it’s a PUB!

  2. That’s fascinating that Marlborough was a place where heads rolled or necks hanged. Pretty gruesome business TB! Good thing the justice system has been reformed. Surely, the smaller family that bumped the larger family from their table would have had to pay some price back in the day. It sounds like the language barrier was a contributing factor here, but it does blow that the poor sap with the larger family ended up getting the shaft. A friend of mine once said, “Sometimes you’re the roach, but sometimes you’re the roach motel.” I don’t entirely knows what that means but after quaffing a few, it might seem like the meaning of life. Hey, thanks for the Goodreads shout out!

    • TBM says:

      Oh man I remember all those roach motel commercials from when I was a kid. I need to ponder the quote some … after a beer or two. That always helps me think more clearly when it comes to philosophy.

      I’m enjoying your book and I’m almost ready to write my review. Will there be a second one?

      • I think that quote might require a third luke warm one … Will there be a sequel? In theory, yes. There’s even a title: Lame Adventures: Unglamorous Tales from Manhattan and Beyond. But I’m still in recovery from this one which seems okay considering how slender is the herd that awaits the second coming of my literary ramblings.

        I forgot to congratulate you on your contribution to deforestation. I am a fan of paper even though e-published work is the moneymaker of our time, but who writes for something as cliche as monetary reward? Seriously, I tip my chapeau to you.

      • TBM says:

        Contribution to deforestation–I love it. And I raise a luke warm beer to you.

  3. the history is interesting, thx! it’s a shame about the table confusion. sounds like awkward musical chairs.

  4. poppytump says:

    No gin drinking ladies this week after a seat TBM … they might have set the cat amongst the pigeons on the table front …
    Have a great weekend !

  5. Wow. And we think video games are violent! Can’t imagine ever watching a public execution.

    We are having cool, cloudy weather today and I would love to be sitting in a pub such as this.

  6. Oh, that’s kind of dark, isn’t it? But makes for some fascinating history. Feel bad for the poor guy how had to seat his family at the smaller table. Have a wonderful weekend, TBM!

    Hugs from Ecuador,

  7. IsobelandCat says:

    Nice picture! is that with your new camera? Someone told me that gala day is a corruption of gallows day, when people turned out for the fun entertainment of seeing people put to death. i have never checked it, but it sounds as though it could well be true.

    • TBM says:

      I haven’t heard of that, but it does make sense. I have heard that some people would dip their handkerchiefs into the blood for a souvenir. I’ll stick with postcards. I used my cell phone for these photos. Finally broke down and bought one. Samsung Galaxy.

  8. Rorybore says:

    My hubby and I finally had a date the other day – actually a whole day! – and we ate lunch at this lovely local restaurant. We’d always thought it would too fancy ($$$) for us to have dinner there, but a lunch would be fine. And it didn’t disappoint at all. The interior was nice and cozy from the freezing temperatures outside, the food was delicious, and they had many varieties on tap (I should have listed that first). If only we had more than 3 pubs in this entire town, I might be able to make a career of reviewing! 🙂
    shame on that family that made the man switch. they should have determined if he was expecting more people first. But what grace he displayed in not making a fuss over it.

    • TBM says:

      Oh I’m so happy you two had a date. And it wasn’t a disappointment! How lovely for the both of you. And yes, alcohol should always go first. Then dessert 🙂

      Just keep reviewing the same places. Or write a sitcom like Cheers.

  9. Oh dear – things can sometimes get a bit mucky in pubs! Great history story which has reminded me of one (or two) expressions “Being on the wagon” and “Falling off the wagon”. I believe they relate to the executions at Tyburn – the first was the poor prisoners heading grimly for their executions (and nowadays relates to not drinking and the somehwhat less awful awfulness of that) and falling of the wagon was the prisoners heading off to be executed and plied with drink to help them with the ordeal ahead and sometimes literally being so drunk they fell off the wagon and had to be put back on (and nowadays referring to someone who shouldn’t be drinking or has given it up but has slipped and turned back to the demon drink)!

  10. bulldog says:

    Got worried for a mo, didn’t think you were going to make your Friday drinks…

  11. That’s a great post, I like to read about places with a history. I’m not much of a drinker though, unless it’s something very sweet.
    Congratulations on your first novel, that must be exciting, to have your writing out there in the world.

  12. Oooh, you must go back and look for ghosties :).

  13. bocafrau says:

    Loved reading about the history of the area and the pub. It’s just so cool when you think about it. 🙂

    • TBM says:

      Ever since I was a kid I’ve found history fascinating and on occasion pretty terrifying. This is one of those terrifying moments–hanging trees. Yikes!

  14. aFrankAngle says:

    I like places with local charm, but a very crowded atmosphere isn’t any fun. Meanwhile, oh the selfishness of human behavior!

  15. lynnsbooks says:

    Interesting history – shame you didn’t enjoy it more – looking at the pictures it doesn’t exactly look like your bog standard haunted pub does it.
    Fancy those people asking that poor guy to move – rude dear! He should have told them he was expecting more people though.
    Lynn 😀

    • TBM says:

      I think the man tried to explain or maybe he thought his family would shop more. The poor guy already had five full bags that he was guarding. I’m not the type to ask people to move so I was surprised by this family.

  16. explosiveniche says:

    great …keep it up

  17. Vishy says:

    Interesting to know about the history of the place where the Marlborough Head pub is located, TBM. I was sad to read your pub anecdote in which that man had to give up his seat.

    Wonderful to know that ‘A Woman Lost’ has come out in paperback. Congratulations! So proud of you!

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