The Grave Maurice was a Truman's Brewery public house in Whitechapel Road which was frequented by Ronnie Kray and other underworld gangsters including Frankie Fraser and George Cornell during the early 1960s.
Ronnie would often sit at the bar with a clear view of whoever walked in the pub door, being one of his most favoured pubs in The East End.
The Grave Maurice was situated at 269 Whitechapel Road and was opened in 1874, although was established in 1723 and rebuilt in its present form in 1873. The name itself from derives from Maurits van Nassau, the Prince of Orange, the Dutch Count who lead a revolt against the Spanish in the 16th Century.
On the Proceedings of the Old Bailey website, it reads the account of the 1844 trial of Timothy Tobin and John McNally. The pair were found guilty of grievously assaulting a fellow customer after leaving the Grave Maurice pub. The account gives some colour to what the pub and its customers were like at this time, before it was rebuilt in 1874.
The pub was described as being large, with a Parlour and a Taproom. Customers on the night in question included John Hatfield, a builder's labourer nicknamed Long Jack, McNally, an engine driver or stoker who wore a paper cap, Tobin, who was wearing a glazed hat, and (possibly) Patrick Fining, who said he lodged nearby and had shared three pots of porter in the pub with friends and stayed behind to listen to a man sing a song when his friends left. Serving in the pub were potboy James Davis and landlord Thomas Hill. Local landmarks referred to in the case were the Blind Beggar pub and Gilass' butter shop on Whitechapel Road, and a pub at the corner of North Street (this must be the Queen's Head, North Street being a former name for Brady Street).
1960sEditWhen the Met's Inspector Leonard Read learned that Ronnie Kray was to be interviewed here for TV he visited the pub incognito, sat by the window and saw a flash American car draw up outside, a smartly dressed man get out, feel in his pocket for his gun, and enter the pub. The man looked carefully around, went back outside, looked up and down the road to make sure that the pavement was clear and then opened the back door of the car in a grand manner. From the vehicle stepped Ronnie Kray, dressed like Al Capone, his cashmere coat nattily tied at the waist reaching down to his ankles. Flanked by minders, Kray made a suitably grand entrance while his entourage frisked the interviewer, even though the latter was in a neck brace. When the interview finished Kray left as ostentatiously as he had arrived, with the minder visually sweeping the street before allowing his charge outside.
Upstairs, the pub had a giant totally intact snooker room on the top floor that hadn't been touched for 40 years and a valuable Elizabethan blanket box which was used to keep logs for the open fire in the bar. There was a small private lounge bar with elaborate brass lighting and everything was leather and red plush drapes.
Rather run down in its later years (a 2002 review described it as “populated with people who appear rarely to see daylight”), it achieved further notoriety when the singer Morrisey was photographed standing outside the pub for a 1995 compilation album cover, Sunny and pilgrims following in his footsteps were made to feel less than welcome. Usually frequented by doctors from The Royal London Hospital, custom declined when the hospital opened a cheaper social club in the grounds. In the late 2000s it briefly spent time named ‘Q Bar’ before reverting to the name Grave Maurice again and subsequently closing at the end of 2010 for conversion to a Paddy Power bookies.
The pub still has some tiled lettering visible between the first and second floors that says,“Rebuilt The Grave Maurice An. Dm. 1874”, as a solemn reminder of years gone.