Two years before acceding to the throne of Great Britain and Ireland in 1625, Charles I made an incognito visit to Spain in an attempt to conclude a marriage treaty with a young languorous Spanish princess, the Enfanta de Castile. The mission failed because Charles refused conversion to Roman Catholicism, a condition imposed by the Spanish government. This romantic setback so angered the young prince that it helped to trigger war against Spain a few months later.
In London, however, the journey was marked by the opening of a publick house (pub) appropriately named Enfanta de Castile. Through a typical dysphemistic transformation of the late 17th century, Enfanta de Castile soon became known as Elephant and Castle (many, if not most, of today’s Cockney expressions are such dysphemisms). It catered to Londoners and others at the same location for over 300 years, until it was leveled one night by a German V2 rocket during the 1942 Blitz. (Blitz, or lightning in German, was coined by Germany to describe the speed and prowess of German armies.)
After the war ended, the site was cleared, and Elephant and Castle became a large traffic circle and a communication hub for the London Underground and British Rail.
Situated not far from the Embankment of the Thames, Elephant and Castle can easily be reached by Underground via the Bakerloo Line, to whose last stop it lends its name.
Our Elephant & Castle has replaced “and” with an ampersand. The New York Elephant & Castle opened in 1973 with a menu whose dishes soon appeared throughout lower Manhattan restaurants. It led us to adopt as motto at the time “Copied by many, Excelled by none.”
The Dublin Elephant & Castle was opened in 1989 when one of our Irish chefs was denied entry into the U.S.A., so we decided to move to Dublin instead. If Mohammed cannot come to the mountain, the mountain will come to Mohammed.