Once frequented by highwaymen and now run by a football legend, the site of the pub now known as Nightingale on the Green has a rich history. Millicent Brown reports
It is a historic Wanstead public house which has been visited by families for centuries – and recently, it has been buzzing once again under changed ownership and the new name of Nightingale on the Green.
Dating back to the early 18th century, the picturesque green it is situated upon – once known as Mob’s Hole – was the heart of all the crime that characterised this now tranquil area of Wanstead. At that time, a woman who called herself Lady Butterfield kept a notorious roadhouse here.
The green was a well-known place for people to go and enjoy a drop of alcohol and some gambling – and legendary highwayman Dick Turpin was the most regular and famous visitor. In fact, he and his accomplices are thought to have used many different parks and buildings in the whole area to launch their raids on who they thought were wealthy families travelling through Epping Forest. Turpin, born in 1705, and his accomplices certainly made our Georgian ancestors watch over their shoulders!
The current building dates back to 1851 and is now Grade II listed. It is the only building from the Victorian era to remain in the square. The pub has enjoyed many different landlords over the past centuries – the first known landlord was James Wyatt from Dorset – but the one most locals will remember is Noel McMahon, who ran the place for 30 years. More recently, it was taken over by the football legend Frank Lampard Snr, whose son, also Frank, was recently appointed manager of his former club Chelsea FC.
Most people will remember the pub’s current landlord as he was capped twice for England and played as a left back for West Ham for most of his career. Prior to that, he had a brief spell at Southend United.
Since taking over the pub, Frank Snr has taken a keen interest in the local community – and the main thing he has become involved in is Snaresbrook FC, based on the Nutter Field, which he is now sponsoring for the second season. “It has been absolutely fantastic running this pub – all the customers are so friendly and seem to get on really well. Recently, the weather has been great at times, so people have enjoyed a barbeque. When it hasn’t been so good, everybody has stayed indoors and watched Sky Sports on telly or had a quiz,” said Frank Snr.
The venue has now enjoyed refurbishment both inside and out, which happily hasn’t spoilt the way it looks – and the pub has managed to keep its traditional green colour and cosy atmosphere.