Bods’s Guide to Pubs in Merton: The Princess of Wales

Published on 29 January 2009 in , , , , ,

So it began. And it continued. We are here. Here in the final part of a small series I’ve cunningly called “Bods’s Guide to Pubs in Merton”.

The idea is that this is a series of posts about stuff that’s in walking distance of my house, and which I rate and recommend. It’s all mostly in Merton and Colliers Wood – two towns which basically merge into one and which no one really knows where they begin and end because they’re really ill-defined.

So with that said, this is Part 3. It’s time for royalty.

The Princess of Wales

98 Morden Rd, Merton, London, SW19 3BP

There’s no denying that the Sultan and The Traf are ale gems and lovely pubs, and there’s no doubt that I’m lucky to live near them both.

Yet ironically it’s in a third pub that I can normally be found. It’s the Princess.

On the face of it, there’s nothing hugely special about the Princess. It’s a Youngs pub, so doesn’t have a rare and ever changing range of ales – just Youngs Bitter (Ordinary), Youngs Special (Special) and a Young’s seasonal ale (Winter Warmer or St George’s Ale normally – the third handpump usually goes quiet in the summer as Young’s don’t really do a summer ale for some unknown reason).

It is, however, a cosy pub – which is ironic because it’s the largest of the three pubs I’m going to write about.

The pub itself is a sort of L shape, and split into three “rooms”. Turn right from the door and you’ll be in a rather distinct section with a dart board. The other two “rooms” go straight down from the door, leading to a garden at the end.

Along many of the walls are long seats, padded with material that’s slightly worse for wear and probably in need of being replaced, but comfy non-the-less. There’s plenty of tables, plenty of room. And no noise – there is a TV in the right part of the pub, but so rarely on you forget it’s there. The sound is just of friends talking and having a good time.

There’s food – simple and homemade. Burgers, chips, sandwiches, fish etc. Roasts in the winter on Sundays. Always something vegetarian – usually a veggie burger or lasange, but other things appear too. Deb’s giant burger does exactly what it says on the tin.

Of course, there is the slightly sinister looking portrait of Diana, Princess of Wales to contend with – but it’s easy enough to position yourself so you can avoid it. The pub was, for many years, called The Prince of Wales, but renamed in 1997.

On other walls are photos that featured heavily in many Young’s pubs for many years – the shots of the Queen Mum and Prince Charles pulling pints have been banished as many Young’s pubs have been refurbished, but their continued presence in the Princess is re-assuring.

It’s not just royalty that features – also present is a horsehoe from one of Youngs’s shirehorses and there’s a piece of glasswork above the bar which celebrates the pub’s link with the Horse Brass Pub in Portland, Oregon – the two pubs became twinned after a team of Horse Brass darts players visited a plethora of London pubs, and loved the Princess so much, they went back again. The two pubs have been linked ever since.

There’s also a book area, and a monthly quiz with all proceeds going towards the nearby Dean City Farm, where the pub sponsors some animals. Indeed, in the past, a pony and a nonchalant sheep have even visited the pub during a carol concert.

And that’s the kind of pub the Princess is. It doesn’t look special but it is special. It’s a good solid community pub which makes you feel warm and cosy when you visit it. I can still remember my first visit, perched at the end of the bar having just left the chaotic busy surroundings of a Sultan beer festival. I felt quite at home. And I have been ever since.

Coming soon… Bods’s guide to eating out in Merton. Soon. At some point. Probably.


  • bob says:

    Thanks for using my photo. I’ve added your review to,_SW19_3BP
    I agree that it might actually be the nicer pub in the area. Although I will go to the others for the more interesting beer.
    It is also quite handy for the Watch Me

  • Andrew Bowden says:

    Hi Bob – I was going to leave a message on your flickr photo page but hadn’t got round to it yet. I always like to know when people use my photos, so I always try to make sure I do the same!
    It is very handy for Watch Me, although we tend to end up in the wonderful Paprika up near South Wimbledon station, which is very good Indian.

  • Damien Clarke says:

    Nice review of the pub.
    My only complaint is the comment about the sinister portrait of Diana.
    It is a very beautiful painting done by James Macko of the twinned pub The Horse Brass and brought over for the renaming of the pub.
    I think you should include a photograph of it and let other people decide if it is sinister or not, it is a faithful reproduction of the Andrew Morton book cover.
    The link to your website was sent to me by Don Younger, owner of the Horse Brass, so you are being read in the USA as well, just thought you might like to know.
    Give my best to Terry and Debs when you’re next in.

  • Andrew Bowden says:

    I’ll admit that I haven’t really looked at the picture enough to know it’s illustrious heritage – I certainly didn’t mean to insult anyone’s artistic skills – far from it. It’s just that I find the pose and the gaze itself which I find rather… well I’d go as far to say haunting, and I’m afraid it it does influence my seating position in the pub. I will make sure I blame the original photographer for my views on it from now on!
    I much prefer the discrete photo at the end of the bar of Kevin Lloyd who is sat in pretty much the same position, with the phone to his ear. Kevin played Tosh Lines in The Bill, and was a regular at the pub before he died.
    Anyway, hello to everyone in the Horse Brass! Believe me, if I’m ever in Portland, I’ll be in there like a shot! Pete Brown raved about the Horse Brass in his book, Three Sheets to the Wind and really sold the place to me. It was only later I remembered the connection with the Princess!