Sir Ian McKellen vows to safeguard Grapes pub in Limehouse

Lord of the Rings Hollywood star Sir Ian McKellen says he wants to keep his local pub as an authentic community boozer after becoming its landlord.

The Shakespearian actor is �determined to retain the Dickensian character of the Grapes pub in Limehouse after teaming up with his former partner, director Sean Mathias, and multi-millionaire Evgeny Lebedev, chairman of the Evening Standard, to take over the pub near his home in Narrow Street.

The trio bought the lease from Barbara Haigh, a one-time Bunny Girl at the London Playboy Club, who ran it for 17 years.

At the pub’s official launch last week the trio vowed it would not become “a star-studded bolt hole, a theatre cabaret or a gay bar”.

Sir Ian said: “It was quite fun on New Year’s Eve when we had a party and the locals saw Patrick Stewart, Kristin Scott Thomas, Frances Barber, and Sting and Trudi.

“They weren’t coming down to slum it, or to patronise us, and the regulars simply accepted them as friends of ours.

“There have been moves in the past to change the pub into something it shouldn’t be and make it look like another pub.

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“It’s so individual with such a long history and so popular for what it was.

“There has been a lot of branding of pubs, Irish pubs and Gastro pubs, but we don’t have to put a brand on it. It is itself. We’ve just given it a face-lift.”

Mr Mathias added: “People want an authentic experience so we don’t want to take it in a direction that would spoil that quality.”

Look out for our Big Interview with Sir Ian in next week’s issue of the Advertiser.