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
Ye Whyte Lion.
On the north side of Cornhill, up a court or " blind alley," are the offices of " Lloyd's Registry of British and Foreign hipping," a work well known by the commercial communities of every maritime nation, and sometimes irreverently called " The Underwriters' Bible." " Lloyd's Registry," however, is a comparatively modern invention, and years, ay, centuries, before even the name of Lloyd was ever known in connection with " the ships that traverse the boisterous seas," there stood there, in juxtaposition to the rear premises of Merchant Taylors' Hall, a well-known tavern, yclept Ye Whyte Lion, about which a somewhat curious incident is worth recording.
On the evening of 1st September, 1666, a bargain was entered into between the proprietor of Ye Whyte Lion (who, having, no doubt, made his fortune, was desirous of disposing of his house) and a willing purchaser, who agreed to give £4000 for it, with its licences, goodwill, and all appurtenances.
As values ruled at that time, this was a goodly sum to pay for such a property, even in Cornhill. This gives one a pretty clear idea of the importance of the house. Were a fully-licensed tavern in the same position to change hands in this present year of grace, 1899, how many multiples of £4000 would the purchase money amount to ?
The very next day the Great Fire broke out, and before the deeds of title and transfer could be prepared, and the money paid, it had reached Cornhill, and all that remained of Ye Whyte Lion were the smoking embers left by the fire in its progress towards Pye Corner.
The fire broke out on 2nd September, 1666, at a bakehouse, No. 25, Pudding Lane, and when the place was rebuilt a stone with the following inscription was embedded in the walls, " Here by ye permission of Heaven, Hell broke loose upon this Protestant City from the malicious hearts of barbarous papists by ye hand of their agent Hubert, who confessed ; and on ye ruins of this place declared ye fact for which he was hanged.
Here began that dreadful fire which is described and perpetuated on and by ye neighbouring pillar.
" Erected, 1681 in the Mayoraltie of Sir Patience Ward, Knt."
This stone was removed from the building on its being pulled down, and presented in 1876, by Messrs. King and Son, to the Corporation of London. It is now in the Guildhall Museum.
On the Monument erected to commemorate the fire is an inscription which states, in Latin, that the fire began at a spot 200 feet N.E. from its base, 200 feet is the height of the Monument, and that distance, measured in a N.E. direction, locates the spot at the corner of St. Magnus House, Monument Street, lately erected by B. Arnold. Esq. of 72, Baker Street, Portman Square.
A mapping exists in the NSCC W K Morrison collection which exemplifies the exact position of the Whye Lyon
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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