Dirty Dicks Pub – The Poignant History Behind the Cheeky Pub Name

If you ever wandered around Bishopgate, you have probably spotted and giggled at the scarlet electric letters, spelling ‘Dirty Dicks’. I’m pretty sure you’ve wondered where the name comes from.

Well, there is a sad story behind the funny name.



Did you know the sad story behind this pub? 🥺 #historicalpub #londonpubs #londonpub #bishopgate #liverpoolstreetstation #pubslondon #historicalplaces #londonhistoryspots #urbanadventures #londonadventures #londonblogger #sadstory🥀😥 #tragicstory #tragiclovestory #lovestory❤️

♬ A Thousand Years – Christina Perri


The Tragic Story of Dirty Dick


Dirty Dicks Pub London

Photo: Urban Adventurer


Dirty Dick’s real name was Richard Bentley, or some say Nathaniel Bentley. Bentley was a successful and prosperous city merchant who owned a warehouse and a hardware shop in Leadenhall Street. The young Bentley was known for taking close attention to his look and appearance and was pretty popular among the ladies. He even earned the nickname: “the beau of Leadenhall Street”.

Everything changed, however, on Nathaniel’s wedding day. In the morning of his wedding, he received the most terrible news imaginable: his fiancée died. Bentley broke apart.

His emotional breakdown went so deep that he never again took off his morning suit and refused clean anything, including himself.

He locked the reception room and didn’t allow anyone, including the landlord, to enter or to clean warehouse and he never again cleaned any part of himself either.

The myth says he let the wedding table untouched for decades, leaving everything on the table to rot and acquire dust forever.

The dirt accumulated over the years, cobweb covered everything, and rats and cats died on the floor, but Nathaniel still refused to let anybody in and clean. The warehouse turned into a dirty den and even letters were addressed to “The Dirty Warehouse London”.

Nathaniel Bentley and his warehouse became a tourist attraction, and he got the nickname ‘Dirty Dick’.


Dirty Dick Inspired Charles Dickens


Dirty Dick Pub

Photo: Urban Adventurer


Despite of his astonishing transformation from “the beau of Leadenhall Street” to Dirty Dick, Nathaniel remained a polite and well-mannered man.

Charles Dickens was fascinated by Nathaniel’s story, and it is widely believed that Dirty Dick inspired the character of Miss Havisham in Great Expectations.

Dickens regularly published in “Household Words” at that time and in 1852 he wrote a note to the printer of his weekly publications, saying: “Don’t leave out the Dirty Old Man, he is capital.”


The Pub


Food at Dirty Dick Pub

Photo: Urban Adventurer



Dirty Dick stopped trading in 1804 and died in 1809. Following his death, the warehouse was demolished.

The Old Jerusalem Pub – that was once owned by Nathaniel himself – was still standing and operating not far from the warehouse. The owners renamed it Dirty Dick’s and filled it with cobwebs and mummified animals they had got from the warehouse and recreated the look Dirty Dick’s warehouse to commemorate the local legend.

Today, of course, Dirty Dicks is clean and tidy, serving delicious food and drink and is among the most famous pubs in London.

Make sure you drop in next time you’re around Bishopgate and raise a glass to Nathaniel Bentley alias Dirty Dick who inspired Charles Dickens.



Ready for your next adventure? If you love historical pubs, you’ll definitely want to visit The Sherlock Holmes Pub that holds another piece of London’s history.