The History Of The Blind Beggar
In The Legend Of The Blind Beggar Henry de Montfort was wounded and lost his sight in the Battle of Evesham in 1265, and was nursed to health by a baroness, and together they had a child named Besse. He became the "Blind Beggar of Bednal Green" and used to beg at the crossroads. The story of how he went from landed gentry to poor beggar became popular in the Tudor era, and was revived by Percy’s Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, published in 1765. The legend came to be adopted in the arms of the Metropolitan Borough of Bethnal Green in 1900.
William Booth (1829-1912) Booth was the founder of The Salvation Army and preached his first sermon outside the Beggar. William and Catherine Booth opened the "Whitechapel Mission". BOOTH HOUSE (a mens resettlement centre), now stands in Whitechapel Road and a statue of him also stands close by. The pub is a common tourist attraction for Salvationists.
Ronnie Kray & George Cornell On 9th March 1966 Ron Kray walked into the saloon bar of The Blind Beggar and shot George Cornell in the head using a 9mm Mauser.
Legend would have it that this happened because Cornell had called Ronnie a 'big fat poof', in public, to which Ron obviously took offence and sought revenge.
This story seems highly unlikely according to reliable sources and it is more likely the shooting occurred due to a 'business disagreement' involving the Richardson Brothers.
After getting a tip-off that Cornell was in the pub, Ron Kray arrived with another member of The Firm, ‘Scotch’ Ian Barrie. Cornell was seated at the bar, drinking a Gin and Tonic. On seeing Ronnie, Cornell mocked him further and in silence Ron took the gun from his pocket and shot George Cornell in the head. Ian Barrie fired some shots into the ceiling. They turned around and walked out as calmly as they had come in. The record playing on the jukebox (which also took a bullet), at the time was 'The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore' by the Walker Brothers.
Below are copies of the actual newspaper articles published in The Times, from the time of the shooting to the verdict at The Old Bailey. Please click on them to enlarge.
This wasn't the first murder in The Blind Beggar. In 1904 a man called Wallis who was a member of The Blind Beggar Gang (a notorious firm of pick-pockets who frequented the pub), stabbed another man in the eye with an umbrella.
More Recently... In 2005 David Dobson bought The Blind Beggar,after being the face of the pub for over five years. This brought about a full refurb of the pubs interior, while keeping its Victorian splendour and style, with comfortable seating areas and open fires for the winter months.
Today you can expect to find a friendly mix of locals, history -seeking visitors, celebrities and even the odd ghost hunter. ‘Most Haunted’ were here for part of their 2006 live Halloween show.
Due to the pubs success, notoriety and location, The Blind Beggar remains one of the favourite stops on various theme tours, including the The Ripper Walk.