Hole in the Wall Taverns : 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 odd sign exists in Chancery-lane, at a house on the east side, immediately opposite the old gate of Lincolns Inn ; " and," says Mr. Burn, " being supported by the dependants on legal functionaries, appears to have undergone fewer changes than the law, retaining all the vigour of a new establishment." There is another " Hole in the Wall " in St. Dunstan's-court, Fleet-street, much frequented by printers.

Mr. Akerman says : — " It was a popular sign, and several taverns bore the same designation, which probably originated in a certain tavern being situated in some umbrageous recess in the old City walls. Many of the most popular and most frequented taverns of the present day are located in twilight courts and alleys, into which Phoebus peeps at Midsummer-tide only when on the meridian. Such localities may have been selected on more than one account : they not only afforded good skulking 'holes ' for those who loved drinking better than work ; but beer and other liquors keep better in the shade. These haunts, like Lady Mary's farm, were —

'In summer shady, and in winter warm.'

Rawlins, the engraver of the fine and much coveted Oxford Crown, with a view of the city under the horse, dates a quaint supplicatory letter to John Evelyn, 'from the Hole in the Wall, in St. Martin's ; ' no misnomer, we will be sworn, in that aggregation of debt and dissipation, when debtors were imprisoned with a very remote chance of redemption. In the days of Rye-house and Meal-Tub plots, philanthropy overlooked such little matters; and Small Debts Bills were not dreamt of in the philosophy of speculative legislators. Among other places which bore the designation of the Hole in the Wall, there was one in Chandos street, in which the famous Duval, the highwayman, was apprehended after an attack on — two bottles of wine, probably drugged by a 'friend ' or mistress."

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 01:16:30 BST
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