Strange things are happening in a corner of East London, a corner that’s reverberating with the sound of mystical chanting and rhythmic incantations… or maybe it’s just the lunchtime crowd at Hand of Glory going up and down the menu – from Fleisch Mob creator Mark Andrews – trying to choose what sounds best. No matter, the magic is strong at this Wiccan-influenced pub from JaguarShoes Collective which has charmed us completely.
There’s been a licensed premises here on Amhurst Road since the 1800s when it was surrounded by fields, but the traditions observed at the pub in its current guise go back much further even than that. Pagan festivals are celebrated here, artefacts from folk religions and old customs bewitch the eye hither and thither, and symbolism is all around: an indoor maypole stretches it kaleidoscopic ribbons across the ceiling, a bear effigy looms in a corner, horse brasses gleam. The only dark arts being practised at Hand of Glory however are cider-making and cocktail mixing, which won’t do anyone lasting harm and may do many people a great deal of good. Members of JaguarShoes Collective are exhibiting a selection of their work that channels the old ways; Royal College graduate Julia Hayes’ hand-made costumes, folk art prints from Alice Pattullo and David Owen and taxidermy head-dresses from milliner Loren Anthony James-Wood all add their flavour to the cauldron.