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Horse & Dolphin Yard – The Gem of Chinatown, London

The pedestrianised Horse & Dolphin Yard is located on the road linking Gerrard Street and Shakespeare Avenue in the Chinatown area of Soho. It was named after the Horse & Dolphin coaching inn that was built at the site in 1685. This 17th century inn gave way to the De Hems Dutch Cafe Bar that is now occupying the place where Horse & Dolphin once stood, just off Shaftesbury Avenue.

Horse & Dolphin Yard is one of the many little courtyards and alleyways that adorn the wonderful area of Chinatown in London. This small yard with a great street name is located off ‘Macclesfield St’, between ‘Gerrard St’ and ‘Shaftesbury Avenue’. Although it has made a name for itself, it was only an unattractive service alley not long ago. It is now a piece of the treasure basket because of the regeneration of the area. It also boasts of a newly built pagoda and an award winning public art installation titled “1888”.

The De Hems Dutch bar which was previously Horse & Dolphin country inn is located to the north of the Horse & Dolphin yard on Macclkesfield St. The combination of Horse and Dolphin as a pub name is quite odd and no logical explanation for the same can be found. In early 1800s, it was owned by Bill “the Black Terror” Richmond who was one of the most successful and famous bare-knuckle boxers of his time. He started off as a US slave who returned to England as the servant of the Duke of Northumberland 1777 and after his retirement from his boxing career, he bought this pub. The pub was sold when he died in 1829 and in 1890 it was renovated and renamed ‘The Macclesfield’ and managed by a retired Dutch sea captain as an oyster house. It became the hub of Dutch things and movements in London including the Dutch resistance during WWII. It was renamed De Hems in 1959 but the site of the yard still retains the original name.

The Horse & Dolphin yard was chosen in late 2007 as one of the sites in Chinatown to be regenerated by HRH the Prince of Wales through his Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment. It was proposed to change it to a place of market stalls and small shops from its existing state of litter filled service alley. Although the objective was not fully realised, the small yard did get several significant changes including a competition for a public art exhibition for representing the history, heritage and diversity of Chinatown. The winning installation was unveiled in 2008 and named 1888.

1888, or ‘day of great fortune’ in Cantonese language, was originally opened for two years but it is still there. It has 1888 photographs of the residents and visitors of Chinatown that have been presented in the photo collage in such a way that it appears to be an image of a rice bowl from a distance. The yard was further refurbished in preparation of the first family day of Chinatown that was held in July 2014. The yard is now home to a beautiful pagoda that is giving it the right atmosphere.

An ordinary doorway that leads into an ‘Experimental Cocktail Club’ can be seen at 13A Gerrard Street which is just around the corner from Horse & Dolphin Yard. Such a hidden drinking spot was necessary when there was prohibition of alcohol in the US in the early 20th century but this hidden speakeasy stretching over 3 floors and having great decor and ambiance is not of much use in London nowadays.

Stations near Horse & Dolphin Yard
The Underground stations nearest to the yard are Leicester Square tube station and Piccadilly Circus tube station. The nearest overground stations are Charing Cross railway station and Euston railway station. The nearest car parks are China Town Masterpark and Leicester Square Masterpark.

Hotels near Horse & Dolphin Yard
It is best to look out for London West End hotel deals if you wish to stay in a luxury hotel at an affordable cost, close to the Horse & Dolphin Yard and to the other attractions of central London. The area near the yard is in the heart of the city and hotels of all descriptions are available. Whereas there are many budget hotels in the area, the luxury hotels include The Marble Arch at Montcalm London, The Montcalm at the Brewery London City, London City Suites by Montcalm, The Montcalm London Marble Arch, The Marble Arch by Montcalm London, M by Montcalm Shoreditch London Tech City, M by Montcalm Finsbury Square London City, Park Grand London Paddington, Grand Royale London Hyde Park, Park Grand London Hyde Park, The Shaftesbury Premier London Paddington, London Premier Notting Hill, Park Grand Kensington Hotel, Park Grand London Lancaster Gate, Shaftesbury Paddington Court London, Shaftesbury Premier London Piccadilly, Shaftesbury Hyde Park International, Executive Rooms London Kensington, The Metropolis London Hyde Park, London Premier Kensington, Shaftesbury Suites London Marble Arch, Paddington Court Executive Rooms, Paddington Court Suites and others.

Places of Interest near the Yard
There many tourist attractions located close to the yard and many areas of interest such as Soho, Leicester Square, The West End, Piccadilly Circus, National Portrait Gallery, National Gallery, St Paul’s Covent Garden, Nelson’s Column, The Fourth Plinth, Trafalgar Square, Isis Gallery, Admiralty Arch and many more.

Entertainment Options Close to the Yard
There are many options of entertainment close to the yard including Curzon Soho, Prince Charles Cinema, Vue West End, The Hippodrome, Ronnie Scott’s, Palace Theatre, Prince Edward Theatre and many more.

Shopping near the Yard
While there are many shopping districts near the yard, the outlets closest to it are SeeWoo, Loon Fung Supermarket, I Camisa & Son, Sunspell, Gerry’s, Any Amount of Books, Algerian Coffee Stores and many more.

Restaurants near the Yard
These include Four Seasons, New Loon Fung, New Fook Lam Moon and many more.

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