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Cock Tavern, Fleet street : London coffee houses and taverns
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COCK TAVERN, Fleet street.
The Apollo Club, at the Devil Tavern, is kept in remembrance by Apollo Court, in
Fleet street, nearly opposite ; next door eastward of which is an old tavern
nearly as well known. It is, perhaps, the most primitive place of its kind in
the metropolis : it still possesses a fragment of decoration of the time of
James I., and the writer remembers the tavern half a century ago, with
considerably more of its original panelling. It is just two centuries since
(1665), when the Plague was raging, the landlord shut up his house, and retired
into the country; and there is preserved one of the farthings referred to in
this advertisement: — " This is to certify that the master of the Cock and
Bottle, commonly called the Cock Alehouse, at Temple Bar, hath dismissed his
servants, and shut up his house, for this long vacation, intending (God willing)
to return at Michaelmas next ; so that all persons whatsoever who may have any
accounts with the said master, or farthings belonging to the said house, are
desired to repair thither before the 8th of this instant, and they shall receive
satisfaction." Three years later, we find Pepys frequenting this tavern : " 23rd
April, 1668. Thence by water to the Temple, and there to the Cock Alehouse, and
drank, and eat a lobster, and sang, and mightily merry. So almost night, I
carried Mrs. Pierce home, and then Knipp and I to the Temple again, and took
boat, it being now night." The tavern has a gilt signbird over the passage door,
stated to have been carved by Gibbons. Over the mantelpiece is some carving, at
least of the time of James I. ; but we remember the entire room similarly
carved, and a huge black-and-gilt clock, and settle. The head-waiter of our time
lives in the verse of Laureate Tennyson — "O plump head-waiter of the Cock ! "
apostrophizes the " Will Water- proof" of the bard, in a reverie wherein lie
conceives William to have undergone a transition similar to that of Jove's
cup-bearer : —
" And hence (says he) this halo lives about
The waiter's hands, that reach
To each his perfect pint of stout,
His proper chop to each.
He looks not with the common breed,
That with the napkin dally ;
I think he came, like Ganymede,
From some delightful valley."
And of the redoubtable bird, who is supposed to have performed the eagle's part
in this abduction, he says : —
" The Cock was of a larger egg
Than modern poultry drop,
Stept forward on a firmer leg,
And cramm'd a plumper crop."
The 1829 Robsons directory places William Colnett, at the Cock tavern, 201 Fleet
street, and again in
1832 and 1842
although the modern address today is at
from about 1888.
Lots of references are made to two sources on the
Edward Callows, Old London Taverns &
John Timbs, Club life of London Volume 2
My Pub history sites.
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the 1832 and 1842 street directory
And Last updated on: Saturday, 10-Aug-2019 21:38:06 BST
London pub history directory.
London Street Listings in 1832.