posted by davidt on Monday May 26 2003, @08:00AM
Richard de Pesando writes:

There has been renewed interest in The Grave Maurice after the announcement of the 'Under The Influence" CD - and I see a few people have been asking where the pub is. Yeah - its a great picture, yes its a pub on the Whitechapel Road with a huge history and associations to the development of the East End myth, but its is NOT the pub it used to be - that pic was taken in 1995 - shortly after the Maurice changed hands - if you go in there now you are likely to get your bag snatched, its not funny or clever and the landlord isn't interested in Morrissey fans. [more]

The Grave Maurice, October 2002. Photo: Scott Thomas
Click to enlarge

I was the evening bar manager of the Maurice from 1985 - 1994, it was owned by an old guy called Alan who had run it for about 40 years and the tenant was an eccentric polish Woman called Christina, it was run to a very high standard - was plush - extremely well run and very popular. There was a lot of history - the table where the Krays sat was still there - it had banquette style seating and most of the interiors were pure 1950's. They only played classical music by day and jazz by night. Most of the customers were doctors and consultant surgeons from the large teaching hospital opposite (The Royal London) and the local East End artists community, we had a visitors book for the many celebrities that came in including Diana Dors and the great Richard Widmark (he was a regular patient across the road). Christina was very popular and very eccentric - she did her own butchering in the cellars and would often have a half cow delivered down the trapdoor (sorry vegetarians), it was difficult to change a beer barrel with bacon hanging from the ceiling. She had a daughter called Louise who was a casino croupier in the West End and had a long affair with a youngish Jeff Goldblum during his marriage to Geena Davis - very strange to see him propping up a bar.

There was a giant totally intact snooker room on the top floor that hadn't been touched for 40 years and for some reason a very valuable Elizabethan blanket box was used to keep logs for the open fire in the bar. We had a small private lounge bar with elaborate brass lighting and everything was leather and red plush drapes. The daytime barmaid was a former bunny girl called Lorraine and the night time barmaid was a very smart middle aged East End woman called Gene (really!) who could finish any crossword in 5 mins flat.

It's all gone now - the place is full of drunks - bare boards and broken furniture. Alan died in about 1992 or 3 and Christina retired to Spain, I recently took a mate in there at his insistence and he was frankly terrified, the guy behind the bar knew we were on the Morrissey trail and said - " its ok - look around if you like - don't bother buying a drink, we're used to you lot".

The Grave Maurice is history - its not there anymore - even the hanging pub sign is a fake from about 1988 (done badly by a customer) and if you feel the need to go - don't confuse now and then - get your picture taken outside (not during the day when the market is on - you'll get mugged) and move on to the Blind Beggar up the road.

I always thought it was funny that as a lifetime Smiths and Morrissey fan - I had left shortly before that pic was taken - but the area was in decline and has changed so much now. If anyone wants to know anything about the Maurice or the Whitechapel area - I'm more than happy to help (Grave is German for Prince - Maurice was a brother or cousin of William of Orange), but its just a snapshot of the past - albeit, a very good one.

The Whitechapel area was famed for the associations with Jack The Ripper - and a middle aged TV pundit and writer called Martin Fido used to run a tour - he would arrange to meet American tourists outside The Grave Maurice and walk them around all the murder sites - and then bring them all back and tell improbable tall tales about The Ripper and the Krays and The Grave Maurice - they loved it and he made a packet - untill one night he was leading them down a dark and grimy backstreet behind the pub and stumbled across a real dead body. The tourists thought it was part of the 'act'. How we laughed! If I remember it was an old tramp who had died of natural causes.
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  • Actually "Graf" would be the correct German word and that doesn't really mean "prince" but "count" or "earl" or something like that.
    Sven68 -- Monday May 26 2003, @08:49AM (#62728)
    (User #4431 Info |
    • Re:Grave - Graf (Score:2, Insightful)

      In that case it is probably a good example of the effect of cockney accents in changing foreign words. In the same way the dodgy pronunciation Infanta of Castille is apparently how we ended up with the part of London called the Elephant and Castle.
      Sonny Jim -- Monday May 26 2003, @11:38AM (#62744)
      (User #6638 Info)
    • Re:Grave - Graf by Brighton Rich (Score:1) Monday May 26 2003, @03:12PM
  • An interesting story. Ta.
    maladjustedduck -- Monday May 26 2003, @08:49AM (#62729)
    (User #8226 Info)
    Victoria, can you make me a cuppa please? Muchos gracias my darling.
  • Thanks Richard, That was one of the most interesting tales I've ever seen on here. 1874 the builders inscription read; I bet Jack the Ripper did have a drink there. I wonder if Morrissey did. I'm going there next time I'm in London. (thank you for the warning though).
    paulybob <[email protected]> -- Monday May 26 2003, @09:18AM (#62731)
    (User #2426 Info)
  • I think I know the street that is on - Is it the street that you walk down and first see christ church at the other end?

    Shame how all that evidence of history is dead and gone in that place. Lots has been written about the loss of life, seems places and times can bring on the same feelings. Each time I go back to the place I grew up, its not the same, its changed - its like I've lost a friend.

    Thanks for the detailed history of the pub, it's one more old friend in London to pay respects to.

    Smiths <reversethis-{moc ... a} {2eporhtdniw}> -- Monday May 26 2003, @09:29AM (#62733)
    (User #215 Info)
    • Re:Great story by Brighton Rich (Score:1) Monday May 26 2003, @03:14PM
    • Re:Great story by asmodeuspunk (Score:1) Tuesday June 24 2003, @12:04PM
  • The Grave Maurice (Score:2, Interesting)

    I've often wondered how such a lovely old pub suddenly became so awful. I used to drink there with a girlfriend back in the early 90s, and we often thought it'd be the kind of place you'd expect Morrissey to drink in; it really was like stepping back 50 years in time as you walked through the door. No jukebox, no games machines, no pool table, no morons. Nowadays, well, it's very grave indeed...
    Steve M -- Monday May 26 2003, @01:10PM (#62747)
    (User #8407 Info)
  • Thanks for that Richard.
    Interesting yet sad story,it would have been great to drop by for a cocktail in its heyday.
    ScottyK -- Monday May 26 2003, @02:28PM (#62756)
    (User #7165 Info)
    Meet me in the alley
  • Thanks for the story...interesting but so sad of what's its become.
    17YRFAN -- Monday May 26 2003, @11:27PM (#62843)
    (User #5000 Info)
    "And love is just a miserable lie.... You have destroyed my flower-like life"
  • the name (Score:1, Informative)

    If the name had anything to do with William of Orange (Dutch Prince and first ruler of Holland) then the name might stem from his son Maurits. He was also a prince/earl at a later date. The Dutch word for the english "Earl" is "Graaf", hence Grave.

    Maurits once was (formallly) under command of the Earl of Leicester who was appointed by the Queen of England as governor of Holland. Hence the connection with the English.

    so there is a little history for ya!
    Anonymous -- Tuesday May 27 2003, @02:03AM (#62860)
  • A really interested, but sad story. thanks!
    And despite the warning, I think I'll check it out if I ever visit London.
    JiltedJim -- Tuesday May 27 2003, @02:10AM (#62861)
    (User #7728 Info)
  • I used to work just up the road at mile end before I left London earlier this year. On one of my final nights before leaving I suggested to a friend on the way back home we try a pint in The Grave Maurice because of the connection with Moz via the cover of the single "Sunny".
    Needless to say as we approached the Maurice that chilly Thursday night an ominous figure lurked in the doorway, the barman - behind him an empty pub. It was only 10:00pm and he looked too scary with his eerily empty pub. The Blind Beggar just a short walk further up the road is far more friendly and it too is rich with history.
    scotty -- Tuesday May 27 2003, @04:39AM (#62883)
    (User #8242 Info)
  • Really interesting stuff.

    did Morrissey ever actually drink in the pub?

    I've been in there on and off over the last 10/15 years and had no idea that it had such a rich heritage... It is, currently, in the worst state i've ever known it.
    carnal artist -- Tuesday May 27 2003, @06:24AM (#62896)
    (User #7076 Info)
    • Re:thanks by Brighton Rich (Score:1) Tuesday May 27 2003, @06:59AM
      • Re:thanks by Steve M (Score:1) Tuesday May 27 2003, @04:34PM
  • As I work around the corner from the Grave Maurice and walk past it every day, I was interested to hear about this pub's history. Whitechapel/ Spitalfields/ Banglatown is a truly fascinating area, one of the reasons I love London. However, I agree that it is a very dodgy pub now and I'd remind any fans planning to be photographed outside it to be careful, especially if you look like a tourist, don't know the area and are carrying a shiny expensive camera!!

    Lucky x
    Anonymous -- Tuesday May 27 2003, @03:07PM (#62958)
  • What a great story, thanks for that!
    I remember before the Royal Albert Hall show, we were going to arrange to get a few drinks in the Grave Maurice before the show.
    Kind of glad we didn't now!

    the_tatty_truth -- Wednesday May 28 2003, @05:08AM (#63039)
    (User #7359 Info)
  • All well and good, and it's a shame the previous owners couldn't carry on, but it's a pub not a theme park and it's in Whitechapel not Hampstead. Do you imagine that whatever the equivalent of Morrissey fans would recieved a warm welcome from the Krays themselves? Some people have to live in the area you know...
    Anonymous -- Wednesday May 28 2003, @09:49AM (#63098)
  • What exactly is Morrissey's interest in this watering hole?

    To be clear, this is the pub Ronnie Kray went to in March 1966, just after he murdered George Cornell in the Blind Beggar pub.

    "I remember the blood spurting from his forehead like a red flower. It turned me on. I'm still glad I done it." -- Ronnie Kray

    I really don't approve of the reinvention and romanticising of people that.
    Anonymous -- Saturday May 31 2003, @04:47AM (#63332)
  • That's a fascinating account Richard. I live in the area now and had no idea that the pub had ever been anything other than the scary flea-bitten place it is now.

    Judging by the planning notices that have been appearing on the door, someone wants to do the place up - let's hope they make a decent job of it.


    Anonymous -- Thursday June 05 2003, @02:18AM (#63944)

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