William Booth created The Salvation Army at The Blind Beggar in 1865. 99 years later gangster Ronnie Kray shot and killed George Cornell who had apparently called the notoriously bisexual Kray a “fat poof”. Cornell’s last words were, apparently, “Well, look who’s here.”
The French House got its name after Charles de Gaulle used it as the base of his operations during WW2. De Gaulle reportedly wrote his rallying speech “A tous les Francais” in the bar, with the lines “France has lost the battle, but France has not lost the war” on the wall. It’s was also a hit with the artistic community, with painter Lucian Freud regularly propping up the bar, Sylvia Plath signing (and celebrating) the contract for The Colossus and Other Poems here and Dylan Thomas losing the first draft of drama Under Milkwood beneath a chair after an all-day bender in the 1950s.
On 6 April 1895, in room number 118 of The Cadogan Hotel, Oscar Wilde was arrested for “committing acts of gross indecency with other male persons”. Pre-warned of his imminent arrest, Wilde – drunk on “hock and seltzer” (wine and soda) – refused to flee, sitting up in bed and waiting to be taken away. He received two year’s hard labour for his “crime” and the arrest was later encapsulated in John Betjeman’s 1937 poem “The arrest of Oscar Wilde at the Cadogan Hotel”.6 More Infamous London Bars Here