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Hoop & Toy Pub in Kensington


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Hoop & Toy

It is the oldest established pub in this area of Knightsbridge dating back almost 500 years with it being licenced premises since 1760, formerly called the Hoops and Grapes. It has played host to royalty and film stars alike as Lord Rothschild entertained both George III and George IV and the pub itself featured in a Roman Polanski film.When the first London congestion charge came into force in 1796, the owner built another pub just 1 mile up the road in Knightsbridge called The Bunch of Grapes, and as such changed the name of the pub. The renamed Hoop and Toy now had an added stable to look after commuters’ horses for the day, to avoid the daily charge levied at the Brompton Gate where the Victoria & Albert Museum stands today. The 'Toy' is symbolic of a rum soaked leather bound peg which could be placed in a horse's mouth to stop it grinding its teeth or biting its gums. The original building suffered fire damage in an incident that started at a bakery just three doors east of the pub, and was re-opened at great expense by the new owner Lord Rothschild in 1885. It had many high class patrons including two King George's. The current building dates back to just after World War II as much of this area suffered damage from bombing raids as can be seen from the museum walls along Exhibition Road. The Hoop and Toy’s basement is claimed to be haunted. The story goes that it was formerly part of a grave site. The bodies of Priests were said to be bound and entombed in the underlays of the building. When the tube stations were built, the railway workers disturbed their graves, and subsequently their route to the monasteries and Churches in London were obstructed. As a result, the souls of the priests wonder the pub, creeping up and down the stairs as they attempt to find an alternative route to their places of worship. In later years, the pub was featured in several brief scenes in the classic 1960’s film ‘Repulsion’. The traditional decor is enhanced by old books, rustic ornaments and framed prints and cartoons.The Hoop & Toy offers a comfortable, relaxing and friendly place to have something to drink and eat for both locals and tourists. It is so convenient for all the museums in the South Kensington area you can even view the domed façade of the Victoria & Albert museum from its doorstep. The area has also been home to well-known people from the past included Howard Carter who discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun, poet T S Elliot and renowned film maker Alfred Hitchcock.

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