The French House, Soho

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Coordinates: 51°30′46″N 0°07′54″W / 51.5127°N 0.1318°W / 51.5127; -0.1318 The French House is a Grade II listed pub and dining room at 49 Dean Street, Soho, London. It was previously known as the York Minster, but was informally called "the French pub" or "the French house" by its regulars. It sells more Ricard than anywhere else in Britain and only serves beer in half-pints, except for on April the first, when a recent custom has been that Suggs serves the first pint of the day.[1][2][3]


The French House

The pub was opened by a German national named Schmidt in 1910 and traded as "York Minster". In 1914, with the outbreak of World War I, Schmidt was deported and the business was bought in 1914 by Belgian Victor Berlemont, who had moved to London in 1900.[4][5] He was succeeded by his son Gaston Berlemont, who was born in the pub in 1914, and worked there until his retirement in 1989.[1][6][7]

After the fall of France in World War II, General Charles de Gaulle escaped to London where he formed the Free French Forces. His speech rallying the French people, "À tous les Français" is said to have been written in the pub.[1]

The French House was and is popular with artists and writers. Brendan Behan wrote large portions of The Quare Fellow there, and Dylan Thomas once left the manuscript of Under Milk Wood under his chair. Other regulars over the years include Francis Bacon, Daniel Farson, Lucian Freud, Augustus John, Malcolm Lowry, Michael "Atters" Attree and John Mortimer.[1][7][8][9][10]

The name was changed to "The French House" after the fire at York Minster in 1984. Contributions toward the restoration fund started arriving at the pub. Upon forwarding them, Gaston Berlemont found that the cathedral had been receiving deliveries of claret intended for him.[1]

In recent years landlady Lesley Lewis has encouraged Soho photographers to exhibit in the pub with regular contributions from John Claridge, William 'Bill' Corbett, Carla Borel and Peter Clark.


  1. ^ a b c d e Johnson, Richard (14 December 2008). "Soho's pubs: Bohemia's last-chance saloon". Food and Drink (London: The Times). Retrieved 2009-10-09. 
  2. ^ Tames, Richard (1994). Soho Past. Historical Publications Ltd. p. 48. 
  3. ^ Moggach, Lottie (17 August 2009). "Suggs: My favourite bits of London". Online edition (thelondonpaper). Retrieved 2009-10-17. 
  4. ^ Glinert, Ed (2007). West End chronicles: 300 years of glamour and excess in the heart of London. Allen Lane. ISBN 0-7139-9900-4. 
  5. ^ Fryer, Jonathan (1993). Dylan: the nine lives of Dylan Thomas. Kyle Cathie. p. 146. ISBN 978-1-85626-090-9. 
  6. ^ Boston, Richard (4 November 1999). "Gaston Berlemont". Obituaries (London: The Guardian). Retrieved 2009-10-09. 
  7. ^ a b Mortimer, John (5 October 1986). "That elusive ideal, the perfect pub". Magazine (New York Times). Retrieved 2009-09-24. 
  8. ^ Jackson, Michael; Frank Smyth (1979). The English Pub (2 ed.). Collins. ISBN 978-0-00-216210-4. Retrieved 2009-10-12. 
  9. ^ McKie, Andrew (14 July 2001). "Last orders, s'il vous plait". Food and Drink (London: The Daily Telegraph). Retrieved 2009-10-09. 
  10. ^ Attree, Michael "Atters" (Winter 2006). "The Bounder in Soho". Magazine (The Chap). pp. 8–9. 

External links[edit]

Official website