The overlays that highlight 17th century London features are approximate and derived from:

1893 text

[From the 2 January 1660 entry] Pepys constantly visited “Will’s” about this time; but this could not be the famous coffee-house in Covent Garden, because he mentions visiting there for the first time, February 3rd, 1663-64. It was most probably the house of William Joyce, who kept a place of entertainment at Westminster (see Jan. 29th).

This text comes from a footnote on a diary entry in the 1893 edition edited by Henry B. Wheatley.

6 Annotations

Phil  •  Link

The map location above is very approximate.

Philip Somervail  •  Link


“Though the old institutional ceremonies and celebrations of pre-Commonwealth times, such as the annual dinner on St Thomas’ Day, had lapsed, the young clerks [Pepys, Symons, Luellin, Hawley, etc] made up for it by a constant round of sly entertainments of their own. They had their weekly club at Wood’s in suburban Pall Mall, and could be found any time of the day, when they could escape from their professional duties, at Will’s, Harper’s or the ‘Dog’, or any other of the drinking houses of Westminster and Whitehall.” [(From ’Samuel Pepys, The Man in the Making’ (1933), by Arthur Bryant (1967 edition, p.48)]

Emilio  •  Link

Here is a link to Macaulay's description of the coffee house as a London institution. He's writing about 1685, but what he says should apply equally to 25 years before, and besides it's a fabulous piece of writing.

The most interesting bit is what he has to say about the importance of the coffee house amid the political uncertainty of the 17th century:

"The coffee house must not be dismissed with a cursory mention. It might indeed at that time have been not improperly called a most important political institution. No Parliament had sat for years. The municipal council of the City had ceased to speak the sense of the citizens. Public meetings, harangues, resolutions, and the rest of the modern machinery of agitation had not yet come into fashion. Nothing resembling the modern newspaper existed. In such circumstances the coffee houses were the chief organs through which the public opinion of the metropolis vented itself.

The first of these establishments had been set up by a Turkey merchant, who had acquired among the Mahometans a taste for their favourite beverage. The convenience of being able to make appointments in any part of the town, and of being able to pass evenings socially at a very small charge, was so great that the fashion spread fast. Every man of the upper or middle class went daily to his coffee house to learn the news and to discuss it. Every coffee house had one or more orators to whose eloquence the crowd listened with admiration, and who soon became, what the journalists of our time have been called, a fourth Estate of the realm. The Court had long seen with uneasiness the growth of this new power in the state. An attempt had been made, during Danby's administration, to close the coffee houses. But men of all parties missed their usual places of resort so much that there was an universal outcry. The government did not venture, in opposition to a feeling so strong and general, to enforce a regulation of which the legality might well be questioned."

Martin K. Foys  •  Link

Will's might also be Wilkinson's Cookshop, on King Street, close to Sam's house in Axe Yard. Tomalin mentions Wilkinson's as a place Pepys liked to frequent and drink with his "clubbers" during the early part of his clerking career (67).

Bill  •  Link

And, indeed, the worst conversation I ever remember to have heard in my life, was that at Will's coffee-house, where the wits (as they were called) used formerly to assemble; that is to say, five or six men, who had writ plays, or at least prologues, or had share in a miscellany, came thither, and entertained one another with their trifling composures, in so important an air, as if they had been the noblest efforts of human nature, or that the fate of kingdoms depended on them; and they were usually attended with an humble audience of young students from the inns of courts, or the universities, who, at due distance, listened to these oracles, and returned home with great contempt for their law and philosophy, their heads filled with trash, under the name of politeness, criticism, and belles lettres.
---The London Chronicle. Jonathan Swift, 1762

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Will's Coffee House was one of the foremost coffeehouses in England in the decades after the Restoration.
It was in Russell Street, Covent Garden, at the northwest corner of Bow Street, in London between the City and Westminster. According to the Methuen Drama Dictionary of the Theatre, it was also known as the Rose Tavern, the Russell Street Coffee House, and the Wits' Coffee House. It was founded by Will Unwin.
Will's Coffee House was the home of the Wits, centring on the figure of John Dryden.'s_Coffee_House

See Russell Street, Covent Garden, at the northwest corner of Bow Street here:

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