Named for an Elizabethan ballad, the Blind Beggar pub gained notoriety as the site of the murder that put East End gangster Ronnie Kray behind bars for the rest of his life.
Built in 1894, the pub is named after the legend of Henry de Montfort, son of the 6th Earl of Leicester, who fought in the Barons’ War against King Henry III in the mid-13th century. By most accounts, de Montfort was killed during the Battle of Evesham in 1265; however, a popular Elizabethan ballad depicts him surviving the battle, but with wounds that render him blind. In the story, known as “The Blind Beggar of Bethnal Green,” de Montfort marries a baron’s daughter who nurses him back to health. (Some say that he sunk to the status of beggar because his family’s possessions were taken by Henry III after their defeat at Evesham; others say he used the beggar as a disguise to hide from the king.)
The modern history of the Blind Beggar is no less legendary. The Kray twins, Ronnie and Reggie, were infamous gangsters who dominated the East End in the 1950s and ’60s. In 1966, Ronnie Kray walked into the Blind Beggar with a score to settle with rival gang member George Cornell. He shot Cornell once in the forehead, killing him. It was this murder that finally led to Ronnie’s arrest. After a brief stint in prison, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and transferred to Broadmoor Hospital, a high-security psychiatric facility, where he remained until his death in 1995.
Know Before You Go
The pub is open every day from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., except Friday and Saturday when it's open until midnight.