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Royal Turf Hotel (Green Mandolin)

Last Updated:

25 Oct 2023


This is a


54.951938, -1.568545

Founded in 


Current status is


Designer (if known):

Benjamin Simpson


Locally Listed

Felling went and dropped another lovely and charismatic pub on me.

I don't recall ever seeing a pub like the Green Mandolin, inspired by the decorative arts and crafts movement of the 19th century.

It was previously known as the Royal Turf Hotel and was rebuilt in 1898 with the intention of elevating its reputation as a respectable public house rather than a rowdy one. I'm not too sure it worked though - in 1914 the license holder Mr Thomas Jefferson was fined £2 for permitting drunkenness, specifically relating to two drunken sailors who were being served by the barmaid.

The architect was Benjamin Simpson - a relatively well known region architect who designed buildings in a number of styles. Alongside the Royal Turf, he designed 31 Groat Market and Nos 128 & 130 Pilgrim Street.

Sadly I can't find any shots of the 1st Turf, though it was certainly there in the early 1890s. Before and after the rebuild it was a Deuchars inn. The landlord was Mr Dixon and it operated as a beer house. The ornate signage seen on the shot below survived into the 80s or early 90s, though was dismantled when the inn became the Green Mandolin. It was fully repainted into its current aesthetic.

During the Christmas of 1974 the hotel was smashed into by a truck which fell down the bank at Felling into the side of the hotel. Fortunately no one was hurt, and though there was much cosmetic damage at the time it appears to have not impacted the structure.

Listing Description (if available)

This Arts and Crafts influenced 2-storey public house was originally the Royal Turf Hotel (lettering can still be seen advertising this in the fanlight over the door, despite being painted over). Constructed primarily in painted brick, it has stone dressings accompanied by timber detailing. The distinctive red clay tiled roof has a tilting fillet at the eaves, and incorporates a brick chimney disguised in a shaped gable, as well as corniced chimneys and half-timbered gables. A whimsical terracotta finial adorns one hip, although the other has been lost. The fenestration is profuse and varied, including a dormer and a large hexagonal oriel window on a stepped plinth to the north west corner. To the north elevation a large Venetian window fills the ground floor, with an arched window to the side elevation. Multipane casements feature to the 1st floor, of which several are painted over. The dormer has similar lights under a pitched roof. All windows are of timber and many are original, though one has lost glazing bars. Even the rear of the building retains its timber sashes in an informal arrangement. The whole building is painted green and cream. The orielled corner is chamfered to accommodate the doorway, which has an arched head and tall keystone over a double leaf 6 panelled door. The original rainwater goods with decorative brackets creep down the walls through the cornicing below the 1st floor windows. Unfortunately roller shutters have been introduced, one window is boarded and there is a large vent in the roof, as well as floodlights and an indiscreet alarm box. The bracket for a hanging sign remains, which it would be positive to take advantage of in the future. It is an attractive and striking building in the tradition of quirky, good quality public house architecture in the Felling area. Making the most of a topographically interesting site, the oriel would have had a wonderful view when built, but it is also overlooked by the rose window of St Patrick’s Church, creating a curious interaction between sacred and profane. The rebuilding dates from a time when a large proportion of the alehouse stock of the borough was undergoing similar treatment, when landlords were endeavouring to elevate the quality of the internal environment and the reputation of their establishments, as they sought to attract a respectable clientele. MATERIALS Brick, stone, timber, slate ARCHITECT Benjamin Simpson BUILDER: John Hope DATES 1898 (rebuilt) LOCAL LIST -

Both maps above illustrate the Royal Turf site from the 1890s through to the 1910s. The hotel is not labelled on the earlier map. This is likely because the building was used solely for residential/other commercial purposes. The original Royal Turf was probably an adapted building before being rebuilt in its current stature. As you can see, the area was already incredibly dense at the end of the 19th century, with 3 Christian churches of various denominations and a Zion Chapel on Providence Place. Only St Patrick's remains out of the four, but the melting pop of denominations and cultures likely comes from the shipbuilding and mining heritage of the area.

The 1919 Ordnance Survey depicts a similar story, though government functions also moved into the area in the decade prior.

For posterity, it is certainly worth presenting the 1862 map to exhibit the contrast in the area. The village was scattered with small early 19th century dwellings, likely built to accomodate pitmen from John Pit north west of here and the quarry. These are also the days before St Patricks - Only a Wesleyan Methodist Chapel was situated here. This again provides evidence of the mining community which developed here.


Though the pub is now closed, the faded sign of the Green Mandolin can still be seen.


The Royal Turf and its stunning, progressive signage around the 1910s. It was a Deuchars Inn from its inception.


An excerpt from the Chronicle of December 1974, exhibiting the damage undertaken at the hotel.

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