The Good Samaritan Public House

1937–8, neo-Georgian public house designed by Arthur Sewell, chief architect for Truman, Hanbury, Buxton & Co.

The Good Samaritan Public House, 85–87 Turner Street
Contributed by Survey of London on July 7, 2017

The Good Samaritan Public House probably owes its name to the London Hospital, which incorporated a representation of the City of London as a Good Samaritan on its official seal of 1757. The present building lies on the corner site of 85–87 Turner Street, first developed in 1807–11 by Henry Stevens, a local builder with adjoining plots at 83 Turner Street and 12–26 Oxford Street (now known as Stepney Way). No. 87 Turner Street soon came into use as a public house. The earliest record of the Good Samaritan dates to 1827, when its landlord was the victim of theft. It is plausible that the pub was rebuilt in the mid-1840s, when its first occurrence in the directories coincided with the installation of a new shop front. By the time Truman, Hanbury, Buxton & Co. leased the Good Samaritan in 1906, it was an unassuming pub comprising a three-storey front with a corner entrance and a two-storey range in Oxford Street.1

The Good Samaritan Public House, 85–87 Turner Street. View from the north- east by Derek Kendall in 2016. 

The Good Samaritan was rebuilt in 1937–8 by G. Barker to designs by A. E. Sewell, chief architect to Trumans. The Brick Lane brewers had initially leased only 87 Turner Street and acquired the adjacent dwelling in 1936. In the preceding year Trumans had recorded that the pub was in need of repair, yet ‘much used’ by students of the London Hospital.2 Its reconstruction on an extended footprint was completed by August 1938, when it was assessed by the brewery’s surveyors as a ‘nice small house, well done’.3 In its neat neo-Georgian exterior, the Good Samaritan is typical of Trumans reformed pubs. It comprises two principal storeys, along with a cellar and an attic behind a steeply pitched tiled roof with tall chimneystacks. Its restrained brown-brick exterior is punctuated by red-brick and stone dressings, the latter now painted. The north front of the pub is adorned by a roundel bearing Truman’s distinctive eagle, flanked by swags and stout finials overbrimming with carved flowers. Sewell also incorporated discreet Art Deco motifs, including geometric patterns on the door lanterns and fanlights, and in bright stained- glass windows.4

The Good Samaritan Public House, photographed by Derek Kendall in 2016.

In line with the improving principles behind reformed pubs, the Good Samaritan’s public rooms originally included a saloon bar, a sitting room, and a club room accessed by separate street entrances. At the time of writing (July 2017), there are proposals by Stephan Reinke Architects to extend the building at the rear and convert its upper floors to flats. Despite numerous refurbishments, stained-glass windows are preserved in the ground-floor public bar, screening a small back yard. The Good Samaritan has also retained its popularity amongst those connected with the London Hospital and its medical college. This continuing association is commemorated by characterful street signs decorated with busts of white-coated doctors.5

The east elevation of the Good Samaritan Public House, with a view of the pub sign above the side entrance. Photographed by Derek Kendall in 2016.

  1. Denis Gibbs, Emblems, Tokens and Tickets of the London Hospital and the London Hospital Medical College (1985), pp. 13–17; Royal London Hospital Archives (RLHA), RLHLH/S/1/3; Morning Advertiser, 6 April 1827; DSR. 

  2. London Metropolitan Archives (LMA), B/THB/D/460, 9 April 1935. 

  3. LMA, B/THB/D/457, p. 29. 

  4. RLHA, RLHLH/A/5/63, p. 85; RLHLH/A/9/43, pp. 124, 126; RLHLH/D/3/16–17; RLHLH/S/1/3; RLHLH/S/1/4; Bridget Cherry, Charles O’Brien and Nikolaus Pevsner, London 5: East, The Buildings of England (New Haven and London: Yale University Press) p. 440. 

  5. LMA, B/THB/D/457, pp. 29, 135; B/THB/D/444, pp. 167, 279, 444; B/THB/D/460, 8 August 1938; PA/16/00988/A1; PA/00/00879; Donald Insall Associates, The Good Samaritan, 85–87 Turner Street, Historic Building Report for Gryphon Property Partners (March 2016). 

The Good Samaritan Public House from the south-east in 2016
Contributed by Derek Kendall

The Good Samaritan Public House
Contributed by Derek Kendall

The Good Samaritan Public House from the north-east in 2016
Contributed by Derek Kendall

The Good Samaritan Public House in 2016
Contributed by Derek Kendall