The Champion – London, England - Gastro Obscura

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Gastro Obscura

The Champion

This 19th-century pub features stained-glass windows celebrating Victorian-era "champions." 


Walking into this pub near the westerly end of Oxford Street, visitors may think that they have time-traveled back to the Victorian period. The bar is indeed from the late 1800s and features historic fixtures like a “snob screen,” a panel of etched glass that swivels, allowing the patrons to have an air of privacy between themselves and those working behind the bar. The Victorian-era apparatus in the Champion is one of only a handful in existence in the United Kingdom.

But the real attractions are the stained-glass windows depicting Victorian-era figures who seem to fit the pub’s “Champion” name. Along with famous names, like Florence Nightingale and David Livingstone, there are the more obscure figures, such as Captain Matthew Webb, the first person to swim the English Channel.

While the bar is from another era, the panels are from the 1980s. They’re the work of British artist Ann Sotheran. Each window is adorned with a life-sized image of a particular Victorian “champion” and above them, also in a decorative panel, is their name including their particular achievements. This layout creates an almost church-like ambience, with the outside world being blocked out by colored glass. This arrangement is typical of the time period, when drinking establishments were deemed dens of vice and would have their windows concealed.

Know Before You Go

The pub is open from noon to 11:00 p.m. daily. The nearest tube station is Oxford Circus.

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February 24, 2021

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