Published On: Tue, Mar 25th, 2014

The Peasant: Weddings and historical mosaics

As part of our series St John Street At Work, we talk to Joel Burns, bartender at The Peasant, who has been working at the pub for about five months

The wall showing Saint George and the Dragon. You can see the little flower on the neck of the horse that was painted over the damage

The wall showing Saint George and the Dragon. You can see the little flower on the neck of the horse that was painted over the damage

Among the first gastro-pubs in London, The Peasant has a rich history. Although filled with the owners’ circus memorabilia and art, some details of the interior date from pre-1900, like the mosaic floor and a pipe system that goes around the bar and was used to keep people’s feet warm during the winter.

During the Second World War, an area near the pub was bombed and a piece of shrapnel hit a tiled picture on the wall, scratching it. To hide the damage, an artist painted a flower over it.

But what’s it like at The Peasant today?

Who comes to the pub?

“Usually during the lunch period we get many people that work in the city, so the business people because we are quite close to a business sector. In the evening, we have many people who generally work in the area, so from local businesses as well. We get students as the university is only 200 yards away. They come in and they enjoy themselves.”

What do you like most about working on St John Street?

“It is right in Islington, so you get different crowds of people. Lots of things are always happening all around St John Street. Then we have weddings here on Saturdays so every day is quite different from the first day, it’s never the same business so you get to know people who come from different backgrounds.”

Joel Burns at work

Joel Burns at work

What is your favorite spot in the neighborhood?

“Well apart from here, I quite like the pub around the corner called the Green. We are quite friendly with the staff there. We go there after we have finished work, just to see our friends, have a few drinks. They do good food; they have quite a lot of different cheese burgers. Yet The Peasant is the best place.”

Do you have other events apart from weddings?

“We do music when we have weddings. We once had all the foreign exchange students from America, they had a private party here which was quite fun. We never have certain nights for certain people. We have had over 50 weddings this year and I think last year we were voted online in the 500 best British locations to have a wedding reception.”

What do you like most about working here?

“I think the thing I love most about the job is how you meet different people from all different sorts of jobs. We have very interesting people coming here. We work as hard as we can but we enjoy it, which I think everyone wants to do in their work. We are never bored, we never get a moment to stand still, there is always something to be done. It starts from the bottom to the top, everyone takes responsibilities. There are difficult parts, it is that balance between sweet and sour, you never know how sweet it is till you taste the sour.”


If you have a suggestion for places to feature in St John Street At Work, please email

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