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Piccadilly Inns and 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


Piccadilly was long noticed for the variety and extent of its Inns and Taverns, although few remain. At the east end were formerly the Black Bear and White Bear (originally the Fleece), nearly opposite each other. The Black Bear was taken down 1820. The White Bear remains : it occurs in St. Martin's parish-books, 1685 : here Chatelain and Sullivan, the engravers, died ; and Benjamin West, the painter, lodged, the first night after his arrival from America. Strype mentions the White Horse Cellar in 1720; and the booking-office of the New White Horse Cellar is to this day in " the cellar."
The Three Kings stables gateway, No. 75, had two Corinthian pilasters, stated by Disraeli to have belonged to Clarendon House : " the stable-yard at the back presents the features of an old galleried inn-yard, and it is noted as the place from which General Palmer started the first Bath mail-coach." (J. W. Archer : Vestiges, part vi.) The Hercules' Pillars (a sign which meant that no habitation was to be found beyond it) stood a few yards west of Hamilton -place, and has been mentioned. The Hercules' Pillars, and another roadside tavern, the Triumphant Car, were standing about 1797, and were mostly frequented by soldiers. Two other Piccadilly inns, the White Horse and Half Moon, both of considerable extent, have given names to streets.

The older and more celebrated house of entertainment was Piccadilly Hall, which appears to have been built by one Ptobert Baker, in " the fields behind the Mews," leased to him by St. Martin's parish, and sold by his widow to Colonel Panton, who built Panton square and Panton-street. Lord Clarendon, in his History of the Rebellion, speaks of " Mr. Hyde going to a house called Piccadilly for entertainment and gaming:" this house, with its gravel-walks and bowling-greens, extended from the corner of Windmill-street and the site of Panton-square, as shown in Porter and Faithorne's Map, 1658. Mr. Cunningham found (see Handbook, 2nd edit. p. 396), in the parish accounts of St. Martin's, " Robt Backer, of Pickadilley Halle;"
and the receipts for Lammas money paid for the premises as late as 1670. Sir John Suckling, the poet, was one of the frequenters ; and Aubrey remembered Suckling's " sisters coming to the Peccadillo bowling-green, crying, for the feare he should lose all their portions." The house was taken down about 1685 : a tennis-court in the rear remained to our time, upon the site of the Argyll Rooms, Great Windmill-street. The Society of Antiquaries possess a printed proclamation (temp. Charles II. 1671) against, the increase of buildings in Windmill-fields and the fields adjoining Soho ; and in the Plan of 1658, Great Windmill-street consists of straggling houses, and a windmill in a field west.

Colonel Panton, who is named above, was a celebrated gamester of the time of the Restoration, and in one night, it is said, he won as many thousands as purchased him an estate of above 1500/. a year. "After this good fortune," says Lucas, " he had such an aversion against all manner of games, that he would never handle cards or dice again ; but lived very handsomely on his winnings to his dying day, which was in the year 1681. He was the last proprietor of Piccadilly Hall, and was in possession of land on the site of the streets and buildings which bear his name, as early as the year 1664. Yet we remember to have seen it stated that Panton-street was named from a particular kind of horse-shoe called a panton ; and from its contiguity to the Haymarket, this origin was long credited.

At the north-east end of the Haymarket stood the Gaming-house built by the barber of the Earl of Pemboke, and hence called Shaver's Hall : it is described by Garrard, in a letter to Lord Strafford in 1635, as " a new Spring Gardens, erected in the fields beyond the Mews :" its tennis-court remains in James-street.

From a Survey of the Premises, made in 1650, we gather that Shaver's Hail was strongly built of brick,and covered with lead : its large " seller " was divided into six rooms; above these four rooms, and the same in the first storey, to which was a balcony, with a prospect southward to the bowling-alleys. In the second storey were six rooms ; and over the same a walk, leaded, and enclosed with rails, " very curiously carved and wrought," as was also the staircase, throughout the house. On the west were large kitchens and coal-house, with lofts over, " as also one faire Tennis Court," of brick, tiled, " well accommodated with all things fitting for the same;" with upper rooms ; and at the entrance gate to the upper bowling-green, a parlour-lodge; and a double flight of steps descending to the lower bowling alley ; there was still another bowling alley, and an orchard wall, planted with choice fruit-trees ; " as also one pleasant banqueting house, and one other faire and pleasant Roome, called the Greene Roome, and one other Conduit-house, and 2 other Turrets adjoininge to the walls."
The ground whereon the said buildings stand, together with 2 fayre Bowling Alleys, orchard gardens, gravily walks, and other green walks, and Courts and Courtyards, containinge, by estimacion, 3 acres and 3 qrs., lying betweene a Roadway leading from Charinge Crosse to Knightsbridge west, now in the possession of Captayne Geeres, and is worth per ann. cl u ."**

* In Jermyn-street, Haymarket, was the One Tun Tavern, a haunt of Sheridan's ; and, upon the site of " the Little Theatre," is the Cafe de l'Europe.

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 01:16:37 BST
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