Is The Ruin an Actual Pub in Hampstead?

In Apple TV+’s historical comedy series ‘The Completely Made-Up Adventures of Dick Turpin,’ the legendary highwayman Dick Turpin and his Essex gang often spend their time in The Ruin, a pub located in Hampstead. In the sixth and final episode of the show’s first season, Turpin’s rival Tommy Silversides decides to rob the establishment, only for the Essex gang to save the place and its proprietor Little Karen. As the series concludes, Turpin celebrates his freedom from the Syndicate at the pub as well. Even though a pub with the same name is not associated with Turpin, there is another establishment that stands out in the real history of the former!

The Ruin and The Spaniards Inn

The Ruin and its proprietor Little Karen are seemingly fictitious. Accounts concerning Dick Turpin do not mention a pub with the same name or Karen. However, there is an establishment in Hampstead that’s associated with the highwayman. The Spaniards Inn, which is still open to customers, is located on Spaniards Road in London, England. It is widely believed that Turpin not only frequented the pub but also was born in the place, especially while his father was serving as its landlord. Even though the claim of Turpin’s birth in the establishment is disputed, its association with the highwayman and the location makes it a counterpart of The Ruin.

The pub was built as a tollgate in the late 16th century and was named after the Spanish Ambassador to James I of England. The place is mentioned in Charles Dickens’ first novel ‘The Pickwick Papers’ and Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula.’ The establishment even claims that John Keats allegedly wrote “Ode to a Nightingale” while he was at the place. Although the pub has been existing since the mid-1580s, James Sharpe’s ‘Dick Turpin: The Myth of the English Highwayman’ states that Turpin might have been born elsewhere, especially since the establishment became an inn only in the mid-eighteenth century, after the highwayman’s execution in 1739.

The Ruin can also be seen as a representative of the countless pubs in England associated with Turpin. “The Ferry Inn at Brough notes modestly that it was frequented by Turpin towards the end of his career, a claim that is based on fact rather than legend,” wrote Sharpe in the biography. The Anchor Inn in Shepperton, Ye Olde King’s Head in Chigwell, White House on Hackney Marshes, and Old Bull and Bush in Hampstead are some of the other pubs that likely hosted the highwayman.

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