On the UK’s National Pie Day (23 January), I am pleased to report that Manze’s pie shop in south-east London has been awarded a Grade II listing – a rarity in commercial buildings, particular among those humble, high-street shop fronts which have been driven to extinction by the march of coffee-chain branding, plate glass and so-called progress.

On Deptford High Street, Manze’s first opened in 1914, and still retains its distinctive green façade, black glass signage, gold lettering and near-original café interior complete with (according to English Heritage) ‘its benches, tables, terrazzo flooring, display counter and servery’. But that’s not the only reason it deserves heritage status.

The classic eel, pie and mash shop was once an institution in early 20th century London representing ‘a distinct vernacular cuisine that formed a staple of working-class life’. Surviving examples are rare, but the Deptford pie shop is actually one of four Manze’s – or former Manze’s – in the capital, all of them Grade II listed: the oldest, and perhaps the finest, on Tower Bridge Road, first opened in 1895, followed by others in Peckham (1927) and Walthamstow (1929). A new version opened Sutton in 1998.

Originally, there were 14 Manze’s, founded by Italian immigrant Michael Manze and owned by different branches of the same family (which perhaps explains why the Deptford branch has a different website than the other three ).

The newly-listed Deptford pie shop is owned by Manze descendant George Mascall (pictured, above right). He still serves his own traditional meat pies, fresh eels, mash and ‘liquor’ (a rather unnervingly green parsley sauce) but not for long… George plans to retire in 2025. His retro pie and mash business may not survive his departure but at least the character of the building is safe. Luigi Manze’s Walthamstow pie shop closed in 2022 and was replaced by a Japanese restaurant called Taro – thankfully they’ve kept the lovely tiled interior and booth seating.

Other Grade II listed dining establishments in London, include E. Pellicci in Bethnal Green (the classic East End ‘caff’ open since 1931 and featuring Formica, marquetry and custard yellow Vitrolite) and, at the other end of the socio-economic spectrum, the now-upmarket Quality Chop House on Farringdon Road (dark wood panelling, black and white tiles and pew-like Victorian bench seating).  

For more information, visit The Twentieth Century Society whose tireless campaigns to save the architectural treasures of the last century helped secure the listing for Manze’s humble Deptford pie shop. I’m on my way…

Photographs courtesy of Historic England.

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