So, What's Tapping The Admiral?
After Nelson's death in the battle of Trafalgar in 1805, his body was placed in a barrel of brandy to preserve it on the long journey home. Legend has it that the crew drilled a hole in the top of the barrel and would use macaroni straws to draw off a little brandy to drink to the naval hero, Admiral Horatio Nelson, hence the term used to describe a sneaky drink: Tapping the Admiral.
Who's The Admiral?
As a child who lost his mother aged just 9, Nelson, hero of the battle of Trafalgar, loved to visit his maternal uncle, William Suckling, a customs house official who lived beside The Castle Tavern. In those days, the river Fleet ran close to what is now Castlehaven Road towards Sainsbury’s car park.
It was William Suckling’s brother, Maurice, who encouraged the young Nelson to join the navy. Maurice, himself a naval officer could surely never have expected his poor orphaned nephew to become such a high achiever. Nelson rapidly progressed up the ranks becoming Captain in 1778, at the age of 20. His most famous victories came in the Napoleonic wars, winning a number of great victories but at the cost of an arm and an eye.
At that time everything from the Castle Tavern to Totten Hall (at the top of Tottenham Court Road) was green fields. The wealthy and landed gentry build grand houses far enough from the smell, yet still not too far from the conveniences of the filthy city while the less affluent would use Taverns like the Castle as an affordable way of escaping diseases such as the frequent plagues that afflicted London. The Castle, offered rooms on a nightly basis, allowing its ailing clientele to enjoy the clean air and convalesce. It was a kind of primitive health spa and may be the origin of the area’s current name; Castlehaven.
The Castle Tavern was pulled down in the 1850s to make room for the new development around Castle Road and Lewis Street. Tapping the Admiral was originally named The Trafalgar and was built during this time.