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Craven Head, Drury lane : 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
THE CRAVEN HEAD, DRURY LANE.
This modern Tavern was part of the offices of Craven House, and the adjoining
stabling belonged to the mansion ; the extensive cellars still remain, though
Craven House was built for William Lord Craven, the hero of Creutznach, upon
part of the site of Drury House, and was a large square pile of brick, four
storeys high, which occupied the site of the present Craven-buildings, built in
1723. That portion of the mansion abutting on Magpie-alley, now
Newcastle-street, was called Bohemia House, and was early in the last century,
converted into a tavern, with the sign of the head of its former mistress, the
Queen of Bohemia. But a destructive fire happening in the neighbourhood, the
tavern was shut up, and the building suffered to decay ; till, at length, in
1802, what remained of the dilapidated mansion was pulled down, and the
materials sold ; and upon the ground, in 1803, Philip Astley erected his Olympic
Pavilion, which was burnt down in 1849.
The Craven Head was some time kept by William Oxberry, the comedian, who first
appeared on the stage in 1807 ; he also edited a large collection of dramas.
Another landlord of the Craven Head was Robert Hales, "the Norfolk Giant "
(height 7 ft. 6 in.), who, after visiting the United States, where Barnum made a
speculation of the giant, and 28,000 persons flocked to see him in ten days, —
in January, 1851, returned to England, and took the Craven Head Tavern. On April
11th Hales had the honour of being presented to the Queen and Royal Family, when
Her Majesty gave him a gold watch and chain, which he wore to the day of his
death. His health had been much impaired by the close confinement of the
caravans in which he exhibited. He died in 1863, of consumption. Hales was
cheerful and well-informed. He had visited several Continental capitals, and had
been presented to Louis Philippe, King of the French.
Lots of references are made to two sources on the
Edward Callows, Old London Taverns &
John Timbs, Club life of London Volume 2
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