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Cock Tavern, Bow street : London coffee houses and taverns

A historical site about early London coffee houses and taverns and will also link to my current pub history site and also the London street directory


This Tavern, of indecent notoriety, was situated about the middle of the east side of Bow street, then consisting of very good houses, well inhabited, and resorted to by gentry for lodgings. Here Wycherley and his first wife, the Countess of Drogheda, lodged over against the Cock, " whither, if he at any time were with his friends, he was obliged to leave the windows open, that the lady might see there was no woman in the company, or she would be immediately in a downright raving condition."
(Dennis's Letters.)

The Cock Tavern was the resort of the rakes and Mohocks of that day, when the house was kept by a woman called " Oxford Kate." Here took place the indecent exposure, which has been told by Johnson, in his life of Sackville, Lord Dorset. " Sackville, who was then Lord Buckhurst, with Sir Charles Sedley, and Sir Thomas Ogle, got drunk at the Cock, in Bow-street, by Covent-garden, and going into the balcony, exposed themselves to the company in very indecent postures. At last, as they grew warmer, Sedley stood forth naked, and harangued the populace in such profane language, that the public indignation was awakened ; the crowd attempted to force the door, and being repulsed, drove in the performers with stones, and broke the windows of the house. For this misdemeanour they were indicted, and Sedley was fined five hundred pounds ; what was the sentence of the others is not known. Sedley employed Killegrew and another to procure a remission of the King, but (mark the friendship of the dissolute !) they begged the fine for themselves, and exacted it to the last groat."

Sir John Coventry had supped at the Cock Tavern, on the night when, in his way home, his nose was cut to the bone, at the corner of Suffolk-street, in the Haymarket, "for reflecting on the King, who, therefore, determined to set a mark upon him : " he was watched; when attacked, he stood up to the wall, and snatched the flambeau out of the servant's hands, and with that in one hand, and the sword in the other, he defended himself, but was soon disarmed, and his nose was cut to the bone ; it was so well sewed up, that the scar was scarce to be discerned. This attempt at assassination occasioned the Coventry Act, 22 and 23 Car. II. c. 1, by which specific provisions were made against the offence of maiming, cutting off, or disabling, a limb or member.

References :  Lots of references are made to two sources on the internet archive :
Edward Callows, Old London Taverns &
John Timbs, Club life of London Volume 2

And Last updated on: Tuesday, 26-Apr-2022 01:16:21 BST
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