Publican says she has been priced out of London as landmark Highgate pub goes on the market
'It costs £1,500 for Sky Sports and another £1,000 for BT Sport every month just to show football'
12 October, 2017 — By Dan Carrier
Patsy Rapley at the Old Crown
A LANDMARK pub which commands grandstand views across the city is on the market, with a publican warning that she has been priced out by the spiralling costs of running a pub in London.
Patsy Rapley, who has been behind the bar of the Old Crown in Highgate for eight years, said she would miss the regulars after telling them of her plans to move to Greece.
The Highgate Hill pub, with its instantly recognisable turret, sits on the corner of three boroughs. It has a bed-and-breakfast business on the upper floors, a self-contained flat for the landlord and takes extra income from a car park next door. Ms Rapley said she had poured her heart and soul into running the Old Crown.
“It appears that the days of the individual pub landlord are on their way out and that only really big chains will be able to run pubs of any size,” she added. “It has become increasingly hard to pay the council rates, rents and other costs.” Before running the Old Crown, she was a “mother and housewife”. “I saw the pub and thought it would be a challenge and why not?” she said. “I sold my house to invest in it. I live upstairs with my children – but it is not viable for me now. The rent has gone up because chains are taking over.”
Patsy Rapley with daughter Loly at the Old Crown
Ms Rapley, who moved to the UK from Milan 33 years ago, has raised three daughters here.
The pub’s name goes back to the time Queen Victoria, after a visit to Highgate, was heading down Highgate Hill in her carriage when the horses bolted. The pub landlord chased the carriage and pulled the horses up. He then served the Queen and her shaken footmen a restorative brandy in his bar, which was named the Old Crown from then on.
The pub’s leasehold is now on the market for £250,000. Ms Rapley said: “It is a lovely building and the B&B helps keep the business going. But the rising rents and cost of living are too much for me. It costs, for example, £1,500 for Sky Sports and another £1,000 for BT Sport every month just to show football. I do not understand which planet they live on if they think independent businesses can afford this.”
She added: “I will miss the regulars, I will miss running such a lovely pub – but it has become impossible for me.”
Ms Rapley said her rent had gone up under freeholder Enterprise Inns, but the company had not responded by the time of going to press.