Rules - History and Facts | History Hit


London, England, United Kingdom

Celeste Neill

03 Sep 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Rules

Founded in 1798 by Thomas Rule, the oldest restaurant in London is located in Covent Garden. Originally launched as an oyster bar, it became an instant success. Today it serves traditional British food, with a speciality in classic game.

History of Rules

During its 200 year history, the restaurant has only had 3 owners and has served some of the most famous writers, artists, politicians, film stars, and royalty in the world.  It has been a popular dining spot for literary giants such as Charles Dickens with the private dining room of the restaurant named after the author.

There is also a dining room named after Graham Greene which the novelist used when he visited London and which featured in his novel ‘The End of the Affair’. It has also been featured in books written by Evelyn Waugh, Graham Greene, John Le Carré, Dick Francis, and Claire Rayner.

Due to its proximity to the West End theatre scene of London, it has been a popular dining spot for those in the entertainment world such as Buster Keaton, Stan Laurel, Clark Gable, Charlie Chaplin, Joan Collins, and Harrison Ford. Edward VII, then still the Prince of Wales, had his own private dining room that he used to discreetly romance the actress Lily Langtry.

The restaurant is also a popular location for film and television, most recently being used in the series ‘Downton Abbey’ and the James Bond film ‘Spectre’. The restaurant’s proximity to Whitehall has seen British politicians such as Michael Heseltine, William Hague, and Ken Clarke often walk through its doors.

Rules today

The restaurant specialises in serving British food such as pies and puddings as well as classic game cookery. Each year Rules serves some 18,000 game birds, more than any other restaurant in Britain. The interior still retains much of its original style and various photos, cartoons, and paintings from British cultural and political history adorn the walls throughout the restaurant.

Getting to Rules

The restaurant is a five minute walk from the tube stations Covent Garden or Charing Cross Station.

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