A London pub menagerie

The Prospect of Whitby - Mid 1960's
From Colin Pickett on Flickr.

The great thing about researching a book is what you find by accident. Take this passage from a 16 May 1959 article in The Times, for example:

Towards the end of the Lower Pool, The Prospect of Whitby is the most aggressively picturesque of London River taverns, with a veranda as a platform for the yarns of one-time smuggled cargoes. Wistful little Jenny, the monkey, has long since gone–

Whoah, hold on — a monkey? A wistful one? In a pub? A little more digging turned up this:

A visit to the “Prospect of Whitby” on the Thames-side at Wapping has long been an important item in the education of visitors to London who are lucky enough to have knowing guides. From 1939 it was run by James Saunders — “Slim Jim” — and his wife… Mrs Saunders, who even in the most difficult days of the blitz produced meals for 200 a day, had a specially soft spot in her heart for animals and birds. The population of the “Prospect” included in her day, three parrots, a monkey, four cats and three dogs. (The Guardian, 19 May 1947.)

(Here’s Mrs Saunders (or Sanders) in the Hulton Getty picture library.)

The author of the Times article, L.M. Bates, seems to have been a bit obsessed with Jenny the monkey, and she later cropped up in a 1980 book he wrote about the Thames, though, this time, he mentioned that she ‘rattled her chain along the rail’ — a grim detail, which reminds us that the idea of keeping exotic animals in pubs might not be quite as much fun as it sounds.

See also: donkeys in pubs.