Tag Archives: Cleaver Square

The White Bear

Like the Elephant & Castle, the White Bear is a Kennington pub with a very long history, which has recently relaunched in impressive style.

The White Bear Theatre Pub new exterior - kenningtonrunoff.com

Thomas Ellis owned the Horns Tavern pub on Kennington Common, where Guy Fawkes stored his gunpowder in the cellar. Mary Cleaver leased White Bear Field to Ellis in 1780, and he laid out Cleaver Square, the earliest London square south of the Thames, and built the White Bear (read more Kennington history on their blackboard).

The White Bear Theatre Pub fire and local history - kenningtonrunoff.com

We first knew The White Bear as a rather edgy, although rarely busy, Irish sports pub, with the White Bear Theatre feeling very incongruous in the back. It was bought by Young’s around 2012, after which there was a short-lived relaunch (bye Irish sports fans, hello not many other people), then it closed for a long time for a much more thorough overhaul.

The White Bear Theatre Pub middle dining room - kenningtonrunoff.com

The White Bear Theatre Pub back dining room - kenningtonrunoff.com

Now it’s huge – Kennington’s biggest pub  – with two dining areas where the theatre used to be, plus a garden stretching the width of two properties.

The White Bear Theatre Pub garden - kenningtonrunoff.com

The White Bear beer garden - kenningtonrunoff.com

The theatre (which we’ve not visited since the relaunch) has relocated to the first floor – the bear will show you the way.

The White Bear Theatre Pub bear - kenningtonrunoff.com

The new White Bear has the feel of a country pub, and we can’t think of another like it in central London. Perfect for Kennington Village!

The White Bear Theatre Pub bric a brac - kenningtonrunoff.com

They serve food which is good if pricey. Mains at launch ranged from toad in the hole for £11 to black Angus sirloin, mushrooms and tomatoes, chips, Bearnaise sauce for £21. Being mostly vegetarian we haven’t tried either of their specialities yet, which are beef Wellington, black cabbage and chestnuts (£21) and steak and kidney suet pudding, calcannon (£20). But we have tried rainbow chard, pine nut and blue cheese quiche (£13):

Rainbow chard, pine nut and blue cheese quiche at the White Bear - kenningtonrunoff.com

And the roasted pumpkin cobbler, purple sprouting broccoli, not entirely successful but relatively cheap at £12:

Roasted pumpkin cobbler, purple sprouting broccoli at the White Bear- kenningtonrunoff.com

The Queenie and monkfish scampi, chips, peas cost £16.50:

Queenie and monkfish scampi, chips, peas at the White Bear - kenningtonrunoff.com

And the ale battered cod, chips, mushy peas, tartare sauce are £13, which is £2 more expensive and not quite as good as the Duchy Arms’ equivalent:

Ale battered cod, chips, mushy peas, tartare sauce at the White Bear - kenningtonrunoff.com

Nonetheless, we keep going back there to eat and find the service exceptionally friendly and helpful. They have a good selection of ales on tap, and it’s always busy in the bar area – great to see after years of emptiness. Well done The White Bear and Young’s brewery.


Fête season is upon us.

Today from noon till 4pm is the mother of all fêtes, the Kennington Village Fête. This takes place in Cleaver Square, or St Anselm’s Church if it’s raining, which it won’t be – the sun always shines on the Kennington Village Fête – the Friends of Durning Library see to that.

Kennington Village Fete flier

We will be there, doing a supermarket sweep past the local honey stand, staring in fascination at the human fruit machine, and keeping a low profile around Kennington Tandoori.

Kennington Village Fete reverse side

Then on Saturday June 27th, the North Lambeth Parish Fête takes place from 12.30pm to 5pm at Lambeth Palace – another opportunity to visit their grounds. We are fully expecting The Archbishop of Canterbury to set up his own human fruit machine.

North Kennington’s beautiful West Square has a fête, AKA a summer afternoon, on July 4th:

A summer afternoon in West Square

If there are any other fêtes we’ve missed (perhaps something in Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens?), please leave a comment below or email kenningtonrunoff@gmail.com

The Prince of Wales

Early this year Londonist asked “What’s the best pub in Kennington and South Kennington?“. The Dog House came out top, and it’s certainly the most visited pub in Kennington. The Old Red Lion was second and has a lot going for it, including its garden and its record player. But for lovers of traditional boozers, outside drinking, and boules, there can only be one winner – The Prince of Wales on Cleaver Square.

They offer real ales from “Britain’s oldest brewery”, Kent’s Shepherd Neame. They serve a menu of high end pub classics. If you want to be outside on the square, they will serve your drink in a plastic cup and even loan you a boules set. When you’re inside the pub, you’ll feel like you could be anywhere in the countryside in the south of England, any time in the last 100 years. Their website boasts that the Richardson gang used to hang out there in the 1960s. Nowadays the Countryside Alliance gang would feel more at home there.

The Prince of Wales pub, Cleaver Square - kenningtonrunoff.com

Cleaver Square and boules

Cleaver Square is one of London’s most desirable residential areas – it’s picturesque, architecturally unspoilt, closed to through traffic yet lively thanks to the pub in the corner, and conveniently located close to the throbbing heart of Kennington, between Kennington Park Road and Kennington Cross.

Cleaver Square houses at dusk - kenningtonrunoff.com

It’s home to leading politicians, award-winning author Sarah Waters, and a large boules pitch in its centre, surrounded by benches for spectators and outdoor drinkers. Players don’t need to invest in a boules set, they can simply lay down a £20 deposit in the very fine Prince of Wales pub and stroll outside for a game of pétanque. But get there early if it’s a warm evening, to beat the throngs of after-work drinkers, former Liberal Democrat leaders, and students from the City & Guilds art school. A couple of years ago, luxury brands all decided to congregate eagerly around pétanque, with Karl Lagerfeld hosting a pétanque party, Chanel and Louis Vuitton creating their own limited edition boules sets, and style supplements a-cooing, dubbing it ‘the trendiest game in London’. We thought the hysteria had died down, and hoped you could once again enjoy a game of boules in Cleaver Square without someone from Pernod Ricard trying to corral you into their pop-up concept event. But Lacoste took over the square recently for precisely that purpose:

Boules, petanque in Cleaver Square - kenningtonrunoff.com

The excellent Wikipedia entry on Kennington has information on the history of Cleaver Square which was once called Prince’s Square, but has barely changed for decades as you can see in this photo from 1964 (with thanks to ideal-homes.org.uk/).

cleaver-square-01722-750 Kennington, 1964 from ideal-homes.org.uk

Cleaver Square also plays host to the annual Kennington Village Fete.

The eighth annual Kennington Village Fete is this Saturday in Cleaver Square

As you can see from all the elements on the flier below, it’s really more than a fete – it’s a hyper-fete.

Although the alarmingly popular Bat the Rat stall has sadly departed for pastures new, the Amazing Human Fruit Machine still remains – and it really is amazing, or at least highly amusing the first time you see it.

Several Kennington restaurants will be serving food including The Lobster Pot which is one of London’s finest seafood restaurants, and definitely the most fun.

There will be live music, and who will the surprise special guests be? Morrissey? Florence? The Machine? Dot Allison? Giles Fraser performing A Change Is Gonna Come?

Finally, be sure to buy some Walworth Honey as harvested in East Kennington – previous years’ batches have been deliciously lemon-y like nothing you can buy in the shops, and eating local honey is supposed to be good for hay fever.

See you there.

Kennington Village Fete - kenningtonrunoff.com