Victorian London - Entertainment and Recreation - Drinking and Drugs - Public Houses - Old Tabard Inn

My object was to look at the old Southwark Inns, and specially the Tabard. All along the east side of the old High Street they stand, each down a covered entry; and several are now used as railway goods-offices. 
    I went into the yards of some, the Half Moon, the King's Head, and others. What is left of their buildings suggests the days of Hogarth, and sometimes those of Pepys; but outwardly, a few gables and overhanging upper stories are all. Lastly, by the aid of a policeman, I found the Tabard; just opposite the place of the old Town Hall, now gone and replaced by big warehouses. The narrow covered entry soon broadens into a wide roughly paved yard: on the S. side of this is a great old stable with mighty hanging roof of red tiles: eastward, a narrower yard leads away to other stables; and the N. and E. sides of the main yard are faced by all that is left of the historic Inn. Along these two sides runs the old open gallery, with wooden balustrades, projecting over the low ground floor story, and sheltered by the broad eaves of a lofty sloping tiled roof. Waggons stood below, and men were loading them; for the Midland Railway has a warehouse here; but in the galleries, linen was hung out to dry, in antique fashion; and on the east gallery was fixed a great old signboard, bearing the words 'The Old Tabard', and over them a faded picture of the garment. I stood long in the yard, recalling that old time: the Pilgrims defiling up the entry; Harry Bailey shouting from that balustrade to his Knaves, Chaucer on his white steed below, the Knight helping my Lady Prioress upon her palfrey. The galleries indeed are not older than Elizabeth... and the railway men were bawling below: yet, how it all came back! And then I went into the bar, which is in the entry, a century part of the house, and had a draught of old ale there, as a memento. The landlord said that there are 15 ancient bedrooms in the galleries, which he lets to folk by the night; and offered to show me them any day!... 

Arthur Munby, Diary, 4 March 1869