Whitelock’s Ale House in Leeds City Centre has this week had its Listing status updated by Historic England from its existing Grade II-status to an enhanced Grade II* (star) – an accolade awarded to just the top 5.8% of protected buildings in England.
The award recognises Whitelocks’ largely untouched 1895 Victorian interior, which was installed by the Whitelock family, after whom the pub is named. The pub itself is even older, and was first licensed in 1715 under the name “The Turk’s Head”.
The pub has been owned and operated by Ed Mason and his team since 2012. Ed Mason: “This award is a testament to the beautiful interior and history of this great pub, of which are fortunate enough to be the current custodians. But also, to have a humble public house recognised as one of the most important historical buildings in England is I think a recognition of the important role that pubs can play in serving the community and within our culture. We aim to offer a place of welcome, of hospitality, and of refuge and I think that this is something that Whitelock’s has always done for the people of Leeds, through the ages.”
Historic England had this to say on releasing the news:
“Whitelock’s Ale House in Leeds, one of a small number of upmarket Victorian ‘luncheon bars’, has been upgraded from Grade II to the second highest grade, Grade II* by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on the advice of Historic England.
Described by Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman as ‘the very heart of Leeds’, Whitelock’s became a favourite watering hole for celebrities including actor Peter O’Toole, star of epic 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia and Prima Ballerina Assoluta Dame Margaret Evelyn (Margot Fonteyn).
Whitelock’s is one of the best examples of a late-19th century upmarket luncheon bar. It retains its 1895 interior decorative scheme and a wealth of high-quality features, including fixed-bench seating, brass barley-twist columns, stained-glass windows, an abundance of mirrors and a rare ceramic-tiled bar counter. The pub’s long narrow yard also reflects its original medieval plan. In 1897 when electric lighting was installed there was a futuristic revolving searchlight at the entrance to draw customers in. It soon gained the reputation amongst the arts world of being the social and cultural hub of Leeds.”
Photographs by JMA Photography.