The Old Jack Straw's Castle
In one form or another Jack Straw's Castle has been a Hampstead fixture for at least 300 years. It first appears on record as an early 18th Century pub, but may have been around before that.
In the early 19th Century, the building underwent major alterations. Despite this, it remained a pub, and a popular one at that. Even Charles Dickens was a fan, having complimented its 'red hot' chops and 'good wine'.
It featured in Bram Stoker's Dracula, as a rest-stop for vampire hunters Professor Van Helsing and Doctor Jack Seward. It is also mentioned in the Harold Pinter play No Man's Land.
The Jack Straw's Castle Of Today
Unfortunately, the original Jack Straw's Castle suffered severe bomb damage in the Blitz. As a result, it was replaced with the building that stands today.
This 1964 build was designed by architect Raymond Erith. It served as a pub until 2002 when it was converted into a flat complex with a gym. It is Grade II listed, but has been empty since 2020.
The Real Jack Straw Of Jack Straw's Castle
Jack Straw is thought to have been a preacher and a leader of the 1381 Peasant's Revolt. However, some accounts claim that he didn't actually exist. 'Jack Straw' was a pseudonym for real-life rebel leader Wat Tyler, they say.
It is impossible to know whether or not they are right, but what is certain is that, regardless of this, Jack Straw remains part of the popular image of the Revolt. He was mentioned in Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and John Gower's Vox Clamantis, and his name is of course emblazoned on the outside of Hampstead's Jack Straw's Castle, where he supposedly hid until capture, after the Peasant's Revolt failed
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