French House

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The French House in 2012
The French House, formerly The York Minster, is a pub and dining room at 49 Dean Street, Soho. Whilst is it not a specific gay bar, it has been a regular haunt of many famous gay people.

The York Minster

The York Minster was opened by a German national named Schmidt in 1910 and traded as "The Wine House". In 1914, with the outbreak of World War I, Schmidt was deported and the business was bought in 1914 by Belgian Victor Berlemont, who had moved to London in 1900.

Berlemont changed the name of the pub to the "York Minster". He was succeeded by his son Gaston Berlemont, who was born in the pub in 1914, and worked there until his retirement in 1989.

After the fall of France in World War II, General Charles de Gaulle escaped to London where he formed the Free French Forces. His speech rallying the French people, "À tous les Français" is said to have been written in the pub

The French House

The York Minster was informally called "the French pub" or "the French house" by its regulars. The name was officially changed to "The French House" after the fire at York Minster in 1984.

The French House does not serve pints, only European measures. It is also famous for its Bastille Day celebrations. It sells more Ricard than anywhere else in Britain and only serves beer in half-pints, except for on April the first, when a recent custom has been that Suggs serves the first pint of the day.

Famous people who frequented

The French House was and is popular with artists and writers. Francis Bacon frequented The French House, his portrait is still on the wall in the ground floor bar, with neighbour and violinist Eddie Gray. Madness front man Suggs often starts the annual pancake race from the French House. Brendan Behan wrote large portions of The Quare Fellow there, and Dylan Thomas once left the manuscript of Under Milk Wood under his chair. Other regulars over the years include Daniel Farson, Lucian Freud, Augustus John, Malcolm Lowry, Michael "Atters" Attree and John Mortimer.

See Timeline of West End Bars and Clubs.


49 Dean Street, Soho, London W1D 5BG

External links

Registered landlords: