Friday, May 22, 2009

Bricklayers Arms, Cripplegate

In a meeting of the LCS General Committee on 10 September, 1795, it was reported that The Bricklayers Arms on White Cross Street "wished to have a Divn" (Add MSS 27813, fos. 126-9; Thale 302). A report from Spy Powell, who was in attendence at the LCS General Committee, on 29 October 1795 stated that: "Div 40 Branch to the Bricklayers arms White Cross Street on Tuesday to be No 73 Incledon, French, Ralph & Colebrook deputation" (PC 1/23/A38).

There was a pub called The Bricklayers Arms at 201 Whitecross Street until 1915. It is now part of the Barbican complex

Bricklayers Arms, Bloomsbury

The minutes of the LCS General Committee for the 13 August 1795, contain the following wonderfully sarcastic note detailing why Div. 29 were forced to move to the Bricklayers Arms:

29 - Are compelled by their Landlord to change their night of Meeting from Monday to Tuesday & was obliged for that Evening to meet in an upper Bed Room to accommodate a Society of Loyal Britons or a club of Church & Kings men who have taken our late meeting Room. The Landlord therefore obliged us to evacuate the same, during the whole Evening Citizens our Senses were charmed with those melodious Notes of God Save the king, rule Brittania Briton strike home &c &c &c - But those tunes not being quite in unison with the undermentioned Citizens they therefore determined to branch of to form a new Division to meet on a Monday at the Bricklayers Arms Kingsgate Bloomsbury & request the Comee to appoint a Number & Deputation to open the Same -
The Citns who are here present have set down their Names
Turner Stacey Skale Stone Wenham Hanbury Sherman Anderson Parkinson Flyill
To be No 51 - Banting Powell, Place - Monday (Add MSS 27813, fos. 101v-7v; Thale 285).

The minutes of the LCS General Commitee for 10 September 1795 report that Div. 51 moved "from Bricklayers Arms Kingsgate St to the Kings Arms Smarts Buildings" (Add MSS 27813, fos. 126-9; Thale 302).

This description shows some of the pressures that the LCS were under which forced them to abandon certain meeting places, and eventually led to the collapse of the society. Typically pressure was exerted on sympathetic landlords, who were threatened with having their licenses revoked if they allowed the LCS to continue meeting. Here, however, pressure was exerted much more directly by members of the public who sought to drown out the political voices of the LCS, with their own patriotic songs.

The 1839 Pigots Directory lists The Bricklayers Arms at 22 Kingsgate Street. Kingsgate Street was approximately where the southbound carriageway of Southhampton Row is today.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Bowling Pin, Old Street Square

In the minutes of the LCS General Committee meeting, held on 2 July 1795 it was reported that Div. 16 had "moved to Bowling pin Old Street Square Wednesday" (Add MSS 27813, fos. 65v-7;
Thale 258).

Old Street Square was once on the present site of the Redbrick Estate to the west of the Old Street/Bath Street junction. It had a history of providing meeting places for radical and dissenting groups, such as the Muggletonians.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Boatswain and Call, Southwark

Reporting from a meeting of the General Committee on 9 July 1795, spy Powell reported that Div, 14 had moved their meeting place to the "Boatswain & Call Maze Pond Southwark" (PC 1/23/A38; Thale 263).

Maze Pond was a road that lay on the grounds owned by Guy's Hospital, which was originally built in the 1720's, and was officially opened in 1725. Originally the hospital was to the north west of Maze Pond, a road that was newly made in the 1720s, but as the hospital expanded throughout its history, the various houses on the street were pulled down, and now the street runs through the middle of the hospital complex.

A plaque on the railings near Guy's Hospital bears the following inscription:

The "Maze" Pond, which used to be situated at the southern end of the Guy's site, was fed by a tributary of the Thames river, now known as 'Guy's Creek.' Archeological excavation of the site has unearthed an early Romano-British boat and roman timbers edging the creek.

In the Middle Ages farmers from Kent and Surrey used to drive their cattle up to London for sale at Smithfield Market. The fields around Maze Pond were a focal point where the cattle were grazed and watered.

"Mr Guy's Hospital for the Incurables" was built on this site in 1725. John Rocque's 1746 Map of London shows the pond still in existence. The local street-names then included "Maze Pond," "Little Maze Pond" and "The Maze Pond," which subsequently became Great Maze Pond - the name it still has today.

A further plaque on nearby St Thomas's Street reminds us that from 1815-1816 John Keats lived here while studying at Guys Hospital.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Blue Posts, Haymarket

The Journal of the LCS General Committee, contains the following on Thursday 20th September, 1792:

"James Black Delegate of Division No. 8 informed the Committee that their Landlord of the Blue Posts, in the Hay-market had been threatened with the loss of his licence of he permitted the Division to assemble any longer in his house. Accordingly they moved to the Rising Sun in Bedford Bury" (Add MSS 27812, fos 20-2v; Thale 20).

The Pigot's directory of London Pubs from 1839 lists two Blue Posts on the Haymarket, one at number 59, one at 23. Horwood's map meanwhile shows four public houses on this street, the Bell, the Black Horse, the Cock, and the George none of which were known meeting places of the LCS. This points to the fact that Horwood marks only "reputable" public houses on his map, or at least sufficiently large taverns, whereas the LCS tended to meet in smaller alehouses. Most of these alehouses would not have been distinct from the other residential houses on the street, except for the presence of their sign. Indeed typically alehouses would have been the homes of the landlords, with patrons simply invited to sit in the "kitchen." Beer would have been served to guests out of jugs, which were used to bring beer in from the brewhouse -- bars being a later innovation. The listing of four larger taverns on Haymarket, on a street with only about eighty houses, plus at least two alehouses by the name of the Blue Posts, gives some indication of the sheer quantity of public houses in the late eighteenth century London.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Blue Posts, Brewer Street

The minutes of the LCS General Meeting of the 23 July 1795:

"Informed by the Assist Secretary that Citn Moody had applied to the Ex Com to establish a Divn at the Blue Posts Brewer Street Golden Sqre the Ex Com had given him the No 31. & requested the Genl Comee to appoint a Deputation & they Deputed Binns Wilson, Salter Mirfin Lemaitre --"

I have been unable to track down much information about the Blue Posts, in part because it is a popular name for pubs in Soho, in part because -- as the name suggests -- Brewer Street was originally the site of two breweries, and there have consequently been a great many pubs on the street, so it's hard to narrow it down to a particular location.

The popularity of the name has often been attributed to the fact that blue posts once demarcated the boundary of a royal hunting ground (the name Soho itself being taken from a hunting cry). It seems more likely, however, to derive from the practice of painting posts blue as an advertisement for sedan chairs, which could be hired from houses sporting azure poles.

According to the Survey of London Brewer Street is first mentioned by name in the ratebooks in 1675. "In the early eighteenth century it was occasionally referred to as Wells Street, presumably from the building activities there of John Wells. The street clearly owes its present name to the breweries on its north side, Ayre's Brewery built in c. 1664 and Davis's Brewery built in 1671–4. Brewer Street and its immediate vicinity was evidently a centre for noxious trades, for the western end was at first sometimes called Gunpowder or Powder Street, presumably in allusion to the saltpetre house which stood at the other end of the street in Colman Hedge Close, while Glasshouse Street nearby may suggest the existence of a glass manufactory there."

Monday, May 4, 2009

Black Swan, Spitalfields

Information that the government held on the LCS from its earliest days in November 1792 listed the "Black Swan Brown's Lane Spitalfields" as a meeting place of Div 17, which was formed on the 6 Nov, and met on that day, and on the 13th Nov "but not suffered to remain."

In the 1770s and 1780s, the Black Swan was home to the Spitalfields Mathematical Society. Records of the Society written in 1784 give some information about its history:

In the year 1772, another Mathematical Society, then held at the Black Swan, Brown's Lane, Spitalfields was, at the request of its members (who brought with them their books and instruments, etc.) incorporated into the Society: and in the year 1782 the Society removed to the aforesaid Black Swan.

(From The Spitalfields Mathematical Society webpage).

According to the Survey of London Brown's Lane changed its name to Hanbury Street in 1876. Census infomation shows there was a pub called the Black Swan at 23 Hanbury Street until 1899, on the north side of the street. The photograph at the top of the page (reproduced in the Survey of London vol 27) shows the house next to it -- 24 Hanbury Street -- before the houses were demolised. A market building currently stands on the site.

Black Horse, Borough

On 16 July 1795 it was announced to the LCS General Committee (Citn Beck in the chair) that division 12 had branched off "to the Black horse corner of Fishmonger Alley High Street Borough." The new division was assigned to be number 15, and Yates, Ramsay, Price and Dukes were appointed to be the deputies (Add MSS 27813, fos. 69v-76; Thale 264). Spy Powell's report on the meeting also reported that Div 12 were "To branch off to the Blackhorse Fishmongers Alley Borough to meet on Monday" (PC 1/12/A38; Thale 267).

Fishmongers Alley no longer exists, though the image at the top of this entry, reproduced from the Survey of London is an illustration by Buckler, in the Guildhall Library (1827). (This shows the alley, looking east from High Street towards Redcross Street). The Survey of London (1950) offers the following infomation on Fishmonger's Alley: "This small court turns out of Borough High Street between Nos. 62 and 64. In the time of Henry VIII this alley and the surrounding property belonged to the Fishmongers' Company who sold it to various tenants in 1554–5. The name Fishmongers' Alley survived until circa 1835, when it was changed to St. Margaret's Court." Margaret Court no longer exists, though 62 Borough High Street still bares its name, and is currently the home to the victim support office of the Services for Refugee and Asylum Seekers in Southwark.

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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Black Dog, Oxford Market

Spy Kennedy reported that Division 7 met at the Black Dog in November 1792. Maurice Margarot -- who would later get convicted and transported to Australia for his participation in the Edinburgh Convention of 1793 -- was the delegate.

Edward Walford, in his 1878 Old and New London reports that Oxford Market was erected in 1721. It was called by the painter Barry "the most classic of London markets;" but according to Walford, "it is certainly difficult to see in what its "classic" nature consists. It was originally a plain hexagonal structure, mostly of wood; this was pulled down, either entirely or to a great extent, about the year 1815, when it was rebuilt, small dwelling-rooms above being added to the shops below." In February, 1876, the site of the market was disposed of by public auction, the property being purchased for £27,500 by Messrs. Louise and Co.

Ben Jonson's Head, Aldersgate Street

In the minutes to a meeting of an LCS General Committee, held on 6 August 1795 the delegates heard that "Ben Jonsons Head Westmoreland Buildings Aldersgate St" was one of a number of houses that "wished to have Divns opened in them" (Add MSS 27813, fos 94-101; Thale 280). The following week, at another meeting of the General Committee, it was announced that Div 3 would branch and would become Div 50, to meet at "Ben Jonsons head Westmorland Buildings" (Add MSS 27813, fos 101v-7v; Thale 285). Spy Powell also notes this in his report of 13 August and adds "French, Gibbons, Read & Hewitt to open it" (PC 1/23/A38).

In September, during a discussion of how to manage the General Committee better, Div 50 made a proposal, and was quite careful to distinguish its autonomy from Div 3, the parent division. Thale reports:

"The covering letter, headed, 'Plan for Printing Reports. From Div. 50. By the Secretary, a Compositor' and signed 'John Franklin Kennington. Secretary to Vivision 50 No 2 Ben Johnsons Head Westmorland Buildings Aldersgate Street. Branched with & from No 3. Lord Cobham's Head, Clerkenwell', asks that the plan be introduced as that of Div. 50, not of Kennington, who last year had an information filed against him for publishing (under the name of Hunter) a weekly 2d pamphlet called the Gleaner."

The site is currently occupied by Mitre House, 160 Aldersgate Street, which serves as office buildings for law firm CMS Cameron McKenna.

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Bee Hive, Portman Square

On 30 July 1795 at a meeting of the LCS General Committe (with Francis Place in the chair) it was revealed that division 24 had requested to branch, and would meet at the "Bee hive Durweston Street York Place Portman Square." They were to become Division 38 and Salter, Wilson and Evans would be the delegates (Add MSS 27813, fos. 87v-93v).

York Place is now Baker Street, and Durweston Street is Crawford Street. Currently on the site there are a number of offices and banks including The Royal Bank of Scotland, Halifax and Barclays. There is also a Bathstore. On the other side of Baker Street is the Sherlock Holmes Hotel.

Bandyleg Walk

On about 23 August 1793 George Lynam, an ironmonger who was under suspicion for spying, reported to the government that the LCS was increasing. A new Division -- number 10 -- had started up at Bandy Leg Walk, Southwark, he claimed (TS 11/966/3510B; Thale 80). At another report filed the following month Lynam reports: "A new division of L.C.S. meet in the Grove No. 10 Great bandyleg walk Boro' and are violent" (TS 11/966/3510B; Thale 83). The accusation that Div. 10 were violent was repeated in the Treason Trials of 1794, at which Lynam acted as a witness for the government. Lynam testified that "They branched off from another division and took the number 10, a previous division of that number having ceased to meet. One of the delegates reported that the members were very violent (Lynam's testimony, State Trials vol. 24, col. 794). A spy report from Lynam from 12 November 1793 confirms that division 10 continued to meet "In the grove bandy leg walk Southwark," again insisting that they were "violent" (TS 11/958/3503; Thale 92).

Horwood's Map does not list a bandyleg walk, though the Survey of London suggests there was a street by that name in the 1790s: "In 1788, in anticipation of the passing of the Catholic Relief Bill, Roman Catholics in Southwark started collecting subscriptions for a chapel to replace the inadequate accommodation in a house in Bandyleg Walk with which they had previously been forced to be content. The chapel in London Road, an unimposing building whose site is now occupied by the South London Palace of Varieties, was blessed and opened in March, 1790, and finished in 1793."

Below is a later edition of Horwood's map (1818) which shows the Catholic chapel.

According to John Strype's Survey of London (1720) "BANDY LEG WALK, very long, comes out of Maiden Lane, crosses Queen street and falls into Bennets Rents." By 1814, however, Bandy Leg Walk is shown on Stranger's Guide Through The Streets Of London & Westminster as being a relatively short street that runs north-south, approximately where Southwark Bridge Road is today.

Fairburn's map of 1801, also shows Bandyleg Walk in the same place. The equivalent position on Howood's 1799 map shows a street called America Place, which is surrounded by a series of streets with names such as New Street and America Street. It is likely that there were developments to the area in the 1790s, with the streets being renamed. The older names, however, appear to have been persistent, and -- until further developments to the area -- continued to be used by Londoners.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Unicorn, 37 Henrietta Street

In August to November 1792 Divisions 1, 2, 3 and 9 all met at the Unicorn. On 2nd August it was suggested that some of the members join with Div. 5, who met at the Marquis of Granby, Castle Street to "reinforce their numbers." (MSS 27812, fos. 12-20; Thale 17).

On 13th September 1792 the delegates of Divs 1, 2, & 9 - which all met at the Unicorn - were directed to "severely reprimand" their members for ordering a song - R. Thompson's "God Save the Rights of Man" to be printed at the expense of the Society. (MSS 27812, fos. 20-2v; Thale 20)

Spy Lynam attended a meeting of Division 2 on 20 October 1792, at the Unicorn, saying that between 70 and 80 persons were present, including LCS founder Thomas Hardy, who had been elected as the division delegate to the General Committee. (TS 11/959/3505; Thale 24).

In 1729–30 No. 37, in common with most of the north side of Henrietta Street, was demolished and replaced by a house of the best second rate. The articles of agreement for the rebuilding specify a four-storey house in which the height of the rooms on the ground storey were to be 9 feet, on the second storey 9 feet 6 inches, on the third storey 8 feet 6 inches and on the garret storey 7 feet. The front of the house was to be faced with grey stock bricks and the parapet coped with stone. By this time a licensed victualler was the occupant, and from then until its demolition in 1888 to make way for the present building (now No. 34), the house was a tavern, which by 1743 was called the Unicorn. (Survey of London 36, 95-6)

According to the Survey of London 36 (1970) there had been no public house in Henrietta Street since the Bedford Estate suppressed the Unicorn in the 1880s, although in the mid-eighteenth century there were five. A Natwest bank currently stands on the site.

The Bell, Exeter Street

The Bell, which housed the inaugural meeting of the LCS, stood on the Northwest corner of Wellington Street and Exeter Street. Most of the houses here were rebuilt in 1732, but none of these buildings remain standing. The Bell Tavern stood on part of the site now occupied by Be At One. The current building on the site was built in 1835 as the Old Bell pub (Survey of London 36, 225-6).

Thomas Hardy gave an account of the first meeting in a series of letters he wrote to Francis Place:

This plan of a society I read to an intimate acquaintance who approved of it, and a few days afterwards two more friends and him met me at supper where I took the opportunity of reading it to them. They all were pleased with it as a groundwork. And t being a new thing we were anxious to put it into practice. I proposed that we should have a meeting next Monday night at a public house the sign of the Bell in Exeter St. strand. It was agreed to, and each of us was to invite as many of our acquaintance as we thought would agree to the measure. Mr. Boyd the Landlord with whom I was acquainted, and who I knew was a friend to freedom was quite agreeable that a society for a reform of parliament should meet at his house... This meeting of the society took place after the evening of the 25th Ja. 1792. After the business of the day was ended they retired as was customary for tradesmen to do to a public house and after supper conversation folllowed, condoling with each other on the miserable an wretched state the people were reduced to , merely as we belived, from the want of a fair, and equal representation in the commons house of parliament. (Add MSS 27814, fos. 1-38)

He provided another account in his memoir:

In the beginning of January, 1792, the first meeting was held at the sign of the Bell, in Exeter Street, in the Strand, when there were present only nine persons, all acquainted with each other. They had finished their daily labour, and met there by appointment. After having had their bread a cheese and porter for supper, as usual, and their pipes afterwards, with some conversation on the hardness of the times and the dearness of all the necessaries of life, which they, in common with their fellow citizens, felt to their sorrow, the business for which they had met was brought forward -- Parliamentary Reform -- an important subject to be deliberated upon, and dealt with by such a class of men. (Memoir of Thomas Hardy, 1832, 13)

According to spy Lynam, the LCS moved on from the Bell because the landlord Robert Boyd was scared of losing his license (TS 11/959/3505; Thale 26), though they must have continued meeting there for a number of weeks as the First Address (April 1792) is addressed from the alehouse.

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3 Herrings, 15 Bell Yard

Division 11 met at the 3 Herrings in November 1792. According to spy Christopher Kennedy - a carpenter and constable at Bow Street - the division reported that "Mr Paine gave £1000 to the SCI since then £2000 has been Subscrib'd to prevent information and to defend Actions &c" (TS 11/959/3505; Thale 29).

Bell Yard is shown to the West of the map, parallel to Chancery Lane. Number 15 is shown behind numbers 12 and 13, backing on to them.

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Bell Yard is at the eastern end of the Royal Courts of Justice, unlike many of the streets in this area, it survived the building of the RCJ, the structure of the 3 Herrings, however, no longer remains.

Robin's Coffeehouse, Shire Lane

"Robins Coffee House Shire Lane" according to spy Lynam's report of 17 January 1793, is "a very good room, 29 meets there, and will take any of yd Division's on Monday & Friday nights" (Thale, 44). During Hardy's trial Henry Alexander, a spy, described a meeting of Division 29 in November 1793, which met at "Robinson's Coffee House in Shire Lane," and at which between sixty and a hundred people had been present (Thale 90). In February 1793 Division 12 was due to meet at the Crown in Newgate Street, but if refused at the Crown it was to go to Robin's who would take any of the divisions (Thale 51). Similarly in March Division 1 was forced to remove from 8 Queen Street to Robin's. This suggests that a number of taverns were coming under increasing pressure not to allow the LCS to meet on their premises, but that Robin's (significantly perhaps a coffee house, rather than an alehouse) remained sympathetic to the LCS. Division 29 continued to meet at Robin's until after Hardy's arrest in May 1794. A further spy report, this time from Spy Taylor describes a meeting that took place here on March 11 1794, the day before Hardy's arrest: "The chair being taken Ashley the delegate read the Report from the General Commee the same as in the Second Division of the Preceding Night - Some very violent Persons present who gave toasts and sung songs of a very treasonable tendency - One person drank a Speedy Guillotine to the King meaning his Majesty but I could not learn his name" (Thale 122). After Hardy's arrest the nature of the meetings go increasingly hot. The final eye witness report of an LCS meeting comes from the oral testimony of George Sanderson, who had attended a meeting of the 13th Division at Robin's on Monday 19th May 1794: "A Member stood up and said that the House of Commons met at three, and Mr Pitt will go over Putney Bridge at 12 o'Clock. No Explanation was made - but the Examinant understood it to mean that there would be an Opportunity for any one to dispatch him" (Thale 171). Despite its importance to the LCS Robin's Coffee House appears not to have left much of a trace in the history books. None of the numerous studies of the London Coffee House mention it, suggesting that it was not sufficiently salubrious to have left much evidence behind.

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Crown and Anchor, Strand

Image from the Creed Collection, held at the Guildhall Library, London EC2
View looking east down the Strand, showing the Strand entrance to the Crown and Anchor, opposite St Clement's church.

The original Crown and Anchor building had associations with Samuel Johnson, though it had been rebuilt in 1790 and was able to accommodate much larger meetings. In the nineteenth-century the tavern became the home of the Dick Whittington Club until it burned down in 1857.
Both Coleridge and Hazlitt gave lecture series here in 1818. It subsequently existed as The Temple Club, The Academy of Ancient Music and a branch of WHSmiths.

In the 1790s the tavern was heavily associated with those campaigning for political reform, though in reality it also housed many loyalist meetings, including the Crown and Anchor Society, or "the Association for the Preservation of Liberty and Property against Republicans and Levellers."

The Crown and Anchor featured prominently in a number of political satires of the 1790s. James Gillray in particular frequently associated it with sympathizers to the French Revolution. In his print The Hopes Of The Party Prior to July 14th (1791), a mob gathers outside the Crown and Anchor to watch a number of well-known reformers assassinate the king, as the queen and the prime minister William Pitt hang from the lampposts of the tavern.

A dinner celebrating the the anniversary of the fall of the Bastille had been held in the Crown and Anchor on 14th July 1791, five days before the publication of James Gillray's satire. Neither Charles Fox, nor Richard Brindsley Sheridan had attended this meeting, but this held no deterrent for Gillray who depicts Fox poised to chop off George III's head, while Sheridan holds his ear to keep him still. The King is shown with a shaved head and is clearly still insane, oblivious as Horne Tooke hoists the King up and presses into him. The obscene sexual implications of Tooke's posture are echoed in the positions of William Pitt and Queen Charlotte who hang from the lampposts of the Crown and Anchor, their bodies jerking into sexual proximity. Joseph Priestley meanwhile offers words of condolence and Sir Cecil Wray politely asks Priestley to get out of the way so that he can catch the "small beer" when it is tapped. Small beer was the beer taken from the third running of a brewers mash - the first runnings would go to a stronger beer, the second for ordinary beer. The small beer was weak and frequently that given to servants, fieldworkers or the poor. Wray's comments about small beer, combined with the barrel he carries to catch it in may be a comment about Wray's status compared with the other figures on the stage, equally it may be a comment about the quality of the Hanovarian king's blood. Tooke, Priestly and Wray each have political pamphlets either in their hands or in their pockets.

Here's the description of the print from M. Dorothy George's Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum, VI, 1938:

A scaffold extends across the foreground: Fox raises an axe to strike the neck of George III, whose head is held by Sheridan. The scaffold is surrounded by a dense and cheering mob. On the right is the gate of the 'Crown & Anchor' tavern, and from two projecting lamp-brackets swing the bodies of Queen Charlotte and Pitt. The houses of the Strand recede in perspective and terminate in Temple Bar, with two heads on spikes; clouds of smoke appear to come from burning houses east of Temple Bar. On the clouds a meretricious Liberty sits enthroned and triumphant.
The King's neck rests on a narrow block, his shaved head appears bald, his legs are held up by Horne Tooke, who stands on the left, saying:

"O, such a day as this, so renown'd so victorious,
Such a day as this was never seen
Revolutionists so gay; - while Aristocrats notorious,
Tremble at the universal glee."

From Tooke's pocket projects a paper: 'Petition of Horne Tooke' (against the return of Fox and Hood for Westminster, see BMSat 7690). The King, who supports himself on his hands, says, "What! What! What! - what's the matter now". Fox, enormously stout, straddles behind the King, full face his axe raised in both hands; he wears a mask with large circular eye-holes and fox's ears; he says: "Zounds! what the devil is it that puts me into such a hell of a Funk? - damn it, it is but giving one good blow, & all is settled! - but what if I should miss my aim! - ah! it's the fear of that which makes me stink so! - & yet, damnation! what should I be afraid of? if I should not succeed, why nobody can find me out in this Mask, any more than the Man who chop'd the Calf's-head off, a Hundred & Forty Years ago - and so here goes!" Sheridan kneels in profile to the left holding the King by the ear and nose, he looks up at Fox with a sinister scowl, saying, "Hell & Damnation, dont be afraid give a home stroke, & then throw off the Mask - Zounds, I wish I had hold of the Hatchet."
Priestley, behind Sheridan, leans towards the King, saying, "Don't be alarmed at your situation, my dear Brother; we must all dye once; and, therefore what does it signify whether we dye today or tomorrow - in fact, a Man ought to be glad of the opportunity of dying, if by that means he can serve his Country, in bringing about a glorious Revolution: - & as to your Soul, or any thing after death don't trouble yourself about that; depend on it, the Idea of a future state, is all an imposition: & as every thing here is vanity & vexation of spirit, you should therefore rejoice at the moment which will render you easy & quiet". He holds a paper: 'Priestley on a Future State'. Sir Cecil Wray stands with his right hand on Sheridan's shoulder, saying, "Here do give me a little room Joseph that I may be in readiness to catch the droppings of the Small Beer when it is tapp'd; I never can bear to see the Small Beer wasted Joseph!" He holds in his left hand a small cask, 'For Small Beer', and a large pipe; in his pocket is a paper: 'Plan of Chelsea Hospital by Sir Ceci[l] Wray'. The Queen is cruelly caricatured; she swings against Pitt, who is in a death agony with crisped fingers. 19 July 1791

The Crown and Anchor also feature promently in Gillray's The chancellor of the inquisition marking the incorrigibles. George's description once again: "Burke, writing as he walks, advances towards the door of the 'Crown & Anchor' tavern, over which is inscribed 'British Inquisition'. He wears a skull-cap and long legal robe, from his waist hangs a bag like that of the Great Seal, on which the royal arms are replaced by a crown and anchor and having a skull at each corner. His head is in profile to the left and he scowls with fiercely protruding lips. He holds up a large sheaf of paper headed 'Black List', his pen touching the last word of the inscription (a parody of Richard III): 'Beware of N--rf--k! --P--tl--d loves us not! - The R--ss--l's will not join us The Man of the People [Fox] has lived too long for us! The Friends of the People must be blasted by us! Sherridan, Ersk[ine].' On one of the door-posts is a narrow slit inscribed 'Anonymous - Letter Box'. The door of the famous tavern appears to be correctly depicted, but its lamps are surmounted by royal crowns. 19 March 1793"

A number of descriptions of the Crown and Anchor attest to its size and grandeur. According to E. Beresford Chancellor's Annals of the Strand (London, 1912) the tavern "contained one splendid room measuring no less than 84ft by 35ft" (333), and on Charles James Fox's birthday in 1798 two thousand reformers were said to have met in the tavern.

Another political satire, The Reformers' Dinner by Samuel de Wilde (1809), depicts the interior of the tavern, and attests to the continued importance of the Crown and Anchor for reformist projects into the nineteenth century.

Initially the Crown and Anchor was too grand a place for the London Corresponding Society, which typically met at much smaller venues. On 6 June 1793, however, it was proposed that the Crown and Anchor might be used for a general meeting of all the divisions. Citizens A. Callander, J. Field, and M. Margarot were appointed to negotiate for the use of a room at the famous tavern (Add MSS 27812, fos 46-7; Thale 71). On 27 June they reported back to the General Committee that they had agreed "with the Master of the Crown and Anchor for the use of his Great Room on the 8th. July at the price of five Guineas." The Committee, clearly pleased with this coop, ordered that the sum be paid forthwith "in order to prevent any underhand maneuvres of the Enemies to Reform from taking place," indicating the atmosphere of suspicion and paranoia that the LCS operated under at the time (Add MSS 27812, fos 48-55; Thale 75). Between six and seven hundred members of the society attended the meeting on July 8th, which resulted in the publication of the Address to the Nation from the LCS.

On 2 May 1794 twenty or thirty members of the LCS were among the 350-400 diners who attended the Anniversary dinner of the Society for Constitutional Information which took place at the Crown and Anchor. These included Hardy, Thelwall, Richter, Lovett, Moore, Pearce, Jones and the spy Groves. Groves was given his ticket (which cost 7s 6d) by Hardy on the night before the dinner for free, which the government took to be a sign that the LCS was under the control of the SCI. Indeed there had always been a strong alliance between the LCS and the SCI, which regularly met at the Crown and Anchor, with the SCI admitting six LCS members as early as June 1792.

Horwood's map shows the Crown and Anchor a little way down from the Strand on Arundel Street. Though a long corridor provided entrance from both streets.

Recently on the site was an office building that held a branch of the HSBC bank. At 7 Arundel Street was Kay House, out of which King's College's Centre for Computing in the Humanities operates.Update:
The office building was torn down in 2013. At the time of writing (May 2014), the site is being developed into a multi use residential development, called 190 Strand. Plans for the new development can be viewed on the 190 Strand website.

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Angel Inn, 61, High St, St Gile's

At a meeting of the General Committee, on 6 August 1795 (John Binns, chair) Division 27 requested to branch and became Division 46, which met at the Angel. The deputies were Benjamin Binns, Roebotham, Rawson and Brewer. (Add MSS 27813, fo. 94-101; Thale 280)

On 13 August 1795 (General Committee; James Powell, chair) it was reported that Division 26 were no longer able to meet at their previous meeting place and would move to the Angel: "Citn Moggeridge stated that the Justices had terrified the Landlord were Divn 26 meet that he would not let them meet there any longer - they had therefore moved to the Angel High St St Giles" (Add MSS 27813, fos. 101v-7v).

High Street was effectively demolished during the building of Charing Cross Road in 1877. This area, and in particular Crown Street, which ran parallel to High Street was renowned for the number of inns. In 1720 Stype described the area as 'very ordinary' and 'a Place not over well built or inhabited' (London Survey 33, 192).

The History of Pubs in London lists a house called the Angel at 61, High St. This would place the Angel on the corner of present day Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road, approximately on the site of where Dionysus, a Greek restaurant, currently stands.

Angel, Cecil Court

The first mention of Angel Court occurs in the minutes from a meeting of the LCS General Committee, 20 August 1795 (Citizen Beck in the chair). "Angel Court Cecil Court St Martins Lane" is listed as one of ten "houses" that "wish to have divisions." The implication is that the houses were approaching the LCS volunteering to have hold meetings -- presumably because there were men frequenting the alehouses that were sympathetic to the LCS cause. That is to say the meeting places came first, and then divisions were assigned to the venue.

(Add MSS 27813, fos, 108-13; Thale p288)

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At a meeting of the LCS General Commitee on 3 September 1795 (Francis Place, chair) it is revealed that Division 5 "Branches to the Angel Cecil Court St Martins Lane."

(Add MSS 27813 fos. 121v-5v; Thale 299)

The Angel also features in William Hamilton Reid's The Rise and Dissolution of the Infidel Societies in the Metropolis (London, 1800), in which Reid lists it as one of the meeting places of the new breed of  clubs that spring up in the wake of the publication of Thomas Paine's The Age of Reason. Reid was himself a member of the LCS, and the "Infidel Societies" which he exposes in the Rise and Dissolution overlap with, but are not limited to, the LCS. His preoccupation is specifically with religious dissent (i.e. deist and atheist groups), and its political and social consequences:

The West end of the metropolis, having in the mean while attained to a degree of rivalship, in consequence of an association, in Wells-street, Oxford-road, where the members where permitted to recite their own productions; and another, on a Sunday evening, much more numerously attended, viz. the Angel, in Cecil-court, St. Martin's Lane. Those nearest the city were, in some measure, deserted; but, as they closed their debates sooner than those at the west end of the town, some of the speakers contrived to exhibit at two places on the same night: even the weather presented but few obstacles. The visionary expectation of a new order of things, it is presumed, often vibrated from the imaginations of the leading members to their fingers ends, and rendered them less sensible of the operations of the elements than the vulgar herd.

The Wells-street Society being dissolved, in consequence of some disagreement among the members, the whole focus of Deism and Atheism was concentrated at the Angel, in Cecil-court, St. Martin's Lane, where a mingled display of real talent and miserable imitation was continued, on the Sunday and Wednesday evenings, till February, 1709; when, without any previous notice from the Westminster-magistrates, as had been customary in the city, a period was put to this promising school; the whole of the members and others present, being apprehended, and the next day, obliged to find sureties for their appearance, to answer any complaint, at the next Quarter-Session, at Westminster; but no bill being found, the business ended with the withdrawing of the recognizances of the parties, 57 in number; which would certainly have been doubled, if the police-officers, sent to apprehend the club, had stayed till the business of the evening had commenced.

Reid concludes by pointing out that the Angel meetings were understood by magistrates as "wholly political," a circumstance he attributes to the "silly appellation of citizen, made use of by the members" and by the fact John Binns, one of the LCS leaders, was in attendance at the meeting which was broken up by police. The inference though is that while is was understood as a political meeting, it's main function and purpose was religious, i.e. it was responsible for the spread of atheist / deist ideas.

It is not clear where on Cecil Court the Angel was, though Cecil Court is a tiny street. The History of Pubs in London lists a pub called the Bell at 18 Cecil Court from the 1881 census. Assuming the street numbering remained unchanged this would have the Bell on the south side of the street, slightly nearer the St Martin's Lane end, approximately where Goldsboro Books stands now. Today, Cecil Court specializes in print- and antiquarian book shops.

Below is a from a watercolour by J. P. Emslie of the South side of Cecil Court in 1883, reproduced in The Survey of London Vol 20 ed. G. H. Gater and F. R. Hiorns. This volume does not cover Cecil Court in detail except to say that "In Cecil Court, on the west side of St. Martin's Lane, the child Mozart lodged in 1764 at the house of "Mr. Couzin hare cutter.""

9, Piccadilly

9, Piccadilly was the home and workplace of shoemaker and LCS founder Thomas Hardy and his wife from 1791 until 1794. The house stood on the site now occupied by the Shaftesbury Monument Memorial Fountain in Piccadilly Circus. Olaudah Equiano lived here with the Hardys in 1792. 6 doors down from Hardy's house (to the East) lived the printseller WS Fore, who had published a number of prints by James Gillray, including "The Hopes of the Party Prior to July 14" (see Crown and Anchor).

The house was raided in 1794 as the leaders of the LCS were put on trial for treason. Hardy's wife was at home pregnant at the time of the raid. She died in childbirth on 27 August 1794, and many considered her death a martyrdom for the sufferings of her husband.

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From the "Memoir of Thomas Hardy":
On the memorable 12th of May, 1794, at half-past six o'clock in the morning, Mr. Lazun, junior, the son of the King's messenger, as a reward for his activity on that occasion, gave a thundering knock at the door, No. 9 Piccadilly, before the shop was opened; and Hardy, having no suspicion of what had been prepared for him, jumped out of bed, and went, half-dressed, to see what could be the matter at that early hour. Upon the door being opened, Lazun rushed in, followed by John Gurnel, the King's messenger, P. Macmanus, and John Townsend, Bow Street officers -- better known by the appellation of thief takers -- Mr. John King, private secretary to Mr. Dundas, and two or three others whose names Hardy did not learn. Lazurus seized him, and proceeeded to search his pockets, where he found some letters and papers, besdes his pocket book, containing two bills of exchange to the amount of £196. Hardy desired to know by what authority he was thus treated, when Lazun showed him a paper, which he called a warrant for his apprehension, on a charge of High Treason; but before he could read more than a few lines, the young upstart in authority, re-folded, and put it again in his pocket. He observed, however, something about Hight Treason, connected with his own name, but had not an opportunity then of observing by whom it was signed.
Lazun was very active in rumaging all the drawers, even those containing Mrs Hardy's clothes. He remanded the key of a bureau, which happened to be locked, and when he found he could not obtain it, he threatened to break it, and proceeded to put his threat in execution by trying to force it open with the poker.

The Genuine Trial of Thomas Hardy, by
Manoah Sibly
The Trial of Thomas Hardy for High Treason, by Joseph Gurney
Memoir of Thomas Hardy By Thomas Hardy

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Pub Hunt Explained

This project has its origins in the summer of 2007, when I travelled to London for "Romanticism in the Age of Revolution," a summer course devoted to experiencing London through the lens of the turbulant final decade of the eighteenth century. While there, inspired by John Barrell's chapter "Charing Cross and The City" in The Spirit of Despotism, I decided that I would attempt to find -- and have a beer in -- one of the alehouses in which the London Corresponding Society met during the early 1790s. I was curious about the architecture of these spaces, and wanted to know what the interiors of these buildings might look like. I wanted to sit in a small eighteenth-century alehouse, drink a beer, and imagine what it would have been like to gather here with Thomas Hardy, John Thelwall, Thomas Spence, or Francis Place.

I began reading Mary Thale's Selections from the Papers of the London Corresponding Society, marking down the names and addresses of the meeting places that were mentioned. Over the course of a few weeks, using Thale's book, Horwood's map of 1790's London, and an A-Z, I visited the sites of about thirty places in which the LCS met. It was a frustrating experience. I did not find a single remaining alehouse. A few of the sites (the Ship in Little Turnstile, the Bell on Exeter Street) still had pubs on the same land, but in each case the building had been rebuilt since in the 1790s. More frequently the streets, and all the buildings on them, had been ripped up -- destroyed to make way for Trafalger Square, or the Royal Courts of Justice in the nineteenth-century, cleared during the building of the Charing Cross Road or Regent's Street, or bombed during World War II.

And yet, many pubs in London remain from the eighteenth century. Many more date from considerably before that. In total Thale list 145 different venues in which the LCS met. My hope was that of these alehouses one might remain in place, still serving beer.

Thanks to a tip off from Iain McCalman, I discovered that the Red Lion in Kingly Street, now operated by the Samuel Smith's Brewery, was a former LCS meeting place. You can read my discussion of it here. To date it is still the only LCS alehouse that I know of that still functions as a pub, though the hunt continues, and there is still much to explore.

This blog continues to be devoted to tracking down each of the sites listed in Thale's Selections. The ostensible goal remains to find further LCS alehouses that still function as pubs. But the hunt itself has become far more valuable than its initial purpose might suggest. In the process of tracking down the sites I have learned a great deal about London in the 1790s, its streets and alleys, its grandeurs, and - more frequently - its dirty, squalid side.

The membership of the LCS consisted of people from considerably more varied backgrounds than historians tend to suggest. They ranged from the violent and scurrilous through to members of "respectable" professions (such as James Parkinson, a well-known physician who gives his name to Parkinson's Disease). While the LCS was heavily male-oriented, there is a body of evidence to suggest that women had a considerable influence in their operations -- Thomas Hardy's wife was certainly heavily involved in many of the early activities, and there are suggestions that there was a "Society of Women" that was loosely affiliated with the LCS, and who met at one of the same venues (No. 3 New Lane Gainsford Street Horsley down -- see Thale 83). Certainly the open air general meetings that the LCS held at Copenhagen House, Marylebone Field,  and St George's Fields would have been accessible to women, who are indeed prominent in Gillray's depiction of the Copenhagen House meeting.

The places the society met in reflect this broad socioeconomic background, and ranged from the grandest tavern of the day (The Crown and Anchor) through to small alehouses that have left no trace in the archive outside of the LCS documents themselves. The vast majority of the meeting places, however, were of the latter kind. Most of the meeting venues of the society, especially after the 1794 Treason Trials, were small, out of the way places in which the society could hope to escape the gaze of the government's network of spies. It is due to the necessity of keeping a relatively low profile that I attribute the fact that many of the places the LCS met in have been destroyed. It is due to this also that the hunt has uncovered a host of under-explored areas of late eighteenth-century London, and revealed a hidden aspect to the metropolis teaming with alleys and alehouses, bagnios and beer, prostitution and politics.