Monday, July 30, 2012

Fountain, Virginia Row, Shoreditch

The minutes from a meeting of the LCS General Committee on 27 August 1795 report that:

The following wish to establish a Divn at Fountain Virginia Row Shoreditch -
Wednesday
Wm Weston              I Dykes
J Downing                I Keene
P Dykes                    R J Lester
N Hammersley         N Clayton
J Drior                      S Davies
Joseph Thompson    W Smith
Thos Carter              J Salter
D Barking                John Croft
J Young                   C Hartley
J Jones                     H Fox
John Kniblet            J Devonshire
C Bower

A Citizen said that it would be best for those Citizens to enter into a Division on the spot which there was one at Bethnal Green, & then they might branch to that house -- And there was a Person named Dykes amongst them as he believed was not a good Citizen as he belonged to the Loyal Britons  On the other hand it was stated that we ought to appoint a deputation & let them establish a Divn for it we ought to give all encouragement possible to Citns wishing to become Members & that they had as good a right to open a Divn by themselves, as to tun to some Place a distant from their habitations to join one
Citn Place said he had once being a Loyal Briton, but he did not think himself any worse for it, & he said he knew that Dykes -- & beleived him to be a very good Citizen -- Citn Wilson informed the Commee he had once belonged to the Loyal Britons -- & he made no doubt but the Citn was fully convinced of his error
To be 55 Deputed B Binns Dyall, Cardinall Webb, Canty (Add MSS 27813, fos. 113v-21; Thale 291. See also PC 1/23/A38; Thale 296 for Powell's spy report from the same meeting).

In May 1766 the lease for the Fountain was sold by auction, when it was described as a "well-known and good-accustomed Public House, known by the Fountain in Verginina-Row behind Shoreditch church, with a large new erected drinking-room, and three bed-chambers over ditto; there are three skittle grounds, one bear ditto, two gardens, and a plat [sic?] of ground... The whole premises are subject  to the rent of 35l." (Gazatteer and New Daily Advertiser, 24 May 1766).

Gazatteer and New Daily Advertiser, 24 May 1766.

Apparently the auction did not go well, as it was put of for sale again by the same auctioneer, Thomas Skinner,  less than two months later (Daily Advertiser, 18 July 1766).

In July 1783 the lease was auctioned again, after the death of its previous owner, Samuel Newton, who still had 11 years left on his lease at the time of his death (Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser 10 July 1783).

Skittles appears to have been a particularly popular past time in the area. The History of the County of Middlesex reports that "Gambling with cards and shuffleboard, especially on Sundays, were included in charges against disorderly alehouses in 1818. Gambling at cards and skittles in beershops were the principal recreations around Virginia Row in 1875."

In 1800 and again in 1807 the Fountain was insured to a "gentleman" named John Johnson from Canal Row in Rotherhithe. (Sun Fire Office Records, Guildhall MS 11936/418/706377; MS 11936/441/809048). And in March 1811 it was insured to a large brewing company Messers Clowes and Co, of Stoney Lane, who owned around fifty other public houses in East London around Whitechapel,  Shoreditch and Bermondsey. (Guildhall MS 11936/452/854816).

In December 1827 it was insured to Henry Fearon (Guildhall MS 11936/514/1069271).

It continued functioning throughout the nineteenth century. The website deadpubs has traced the Fountain in various post office directories until 1915. The London Metropolitan Archive holds a box of "secretaries papers" relating to buildings formerly owned by Courage and Company Limited, including  one dated the 13th August 1923 that agrees to the sale of the building. The consent of debenture agrees to sell the "aforesaid formerly used as a public house know as "The Fountain" but now unlicensed" to Louis Harr for £125. The building is listed as number 93 Virginia Row, though according to deadpubs, in the eighteenth-century it had been 13 Virginia Row Shoreditch.

The area is now occupied by a post-war housing development.



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