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Dicks coffee house : London coffee houses and taverns
A historical site about early London coffee houses and taverns
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DICK'S COFFEE-HOUSE, 8 Fleet street.
This old Coffee-house, No. 8, Fleet-street (south side, near Temple Bar), was
originally " Richard's," named from Richard Tomer, or Turner, to whom the house
was let in 1680. The Coffee-room retains its olden panelling, and the staircase
its original balusters.
The interior of Dick's Coffee-house is engraved as a frontispiece to a drama,
called The Coffee-house, performed at Drury-lane Theatre in 1737. The piece met
with great opposition on its representation, owing to its being stated that the
characters were intended for a particular family (that of Mrs. Yarrow and her
daughter), who kept Dick's, the coffee-house which the artist had inadvertently
selected as the frontispiece.
It appears that the landlady and her daughter were the reigning toast of the
Templars, who then frequented Dick's ; and took the matter up so strongly that
they united to condemn the farce on the night of its production; they succeeded,
and even extended their resentment to every thing suspected to be this author's
(the Rev. James Miller) for a considerable time after.
Richard's, as it was then called, was frequented by Cowper, when he lived in the
Temple. In his own account of his insanity, Cowper tells us : " At breakfast I
read the newspaper, and in it a letter, which, the further I perused it, the
more closely engaged my attention. I cannot now recollect the purport of it; but
before I had finished it, it appeared demonstratively true to me that it was a
libel or satire upon me. The author appeared to be acquainted with my purpose of
self-destruction, and to have written that letter on purpose to secure and
hasten the execution of it. My mind, probably, at this time began to be
disordered ; however it was, I was certainly given to a strong delusion. I said
within myself, 'Your cruelty shall be gratified; you shall have your revenge,'
and flinging down the paper in a fit of strong passion, I rushed hastily out of
the room ; directing my way towards the fields, where I intended to find some
house to die in ; or, if not, determined to poison myself in a ditch, where I
could meet with one sufficiently retired."
It is worth while to revert to the earlier tenancy of the Coffee-house, which
was, wholly or in part, the original printing office of Richard Tottel,
law-printer to Edward VI., Queens Mary and Elizabeth ; the premises were
attached to No. 7, Fleet-street, which bore the sign of " The Hand and Starre,"
where Tottel lived, and published the law and other works he printed. No. 7 was
subsequently occupied by Jaggard and Joel Stephens, eminent law-printers, temp.
Geo. I. — III. ; and at the present day the house is most appropriately occupied
by Messrs. Butterworth, who follow the occupation Tottel did in the days of
Edward VI., being law -publishers to Queen Victoria; and they possess the
original leases, from the earliest grant, in the reign of Henry VIII., the
period of their own purchase.
A number of references to Dicks coffee house are noted in trade directories. In
1832, a John Colnett is at Dicks coffee house, 8 Fleet street; in 1843 it is
James Patterson, where it is also noted as a tavern; and in 1874 just a coffee
house again, is S Allen. It is the
until at least the 1881 census.
In the 1829 Robsons directory is listed
William Woods, at the Dicks hotel & tavern, 8 Fleet street
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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And Last updated on: Saturday, 10-Aug-2019 21:38:07 BST
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London Street Listings in 1832.