Daily entries from the 17th century London diary
The overlays that highlight 17th century London features are approximate and derived from:
This was a tavern on King Street, Westminster, between George Yard and Boar's Head Yard (from Latham's Companion to the diary).
The Leg was one of the many inns on King Street, near New Palace Yard. Consequently it became a regular meeting-place for businessmen and government officials. There is a notice in the "Parliamentary Intelligence" periodical in 1660 that reads: "All tenants for Lives, or for Years, which hold of the Bishops, or Deans and Chapters, are desired to meet on Tuesdays and Saturdays, at eight of the clock in the morning (note, 8am not 8pm) at the Sign of the Leg, in Westminster, in the Palace Yard, to consider of their respective intersts."
Samuel Pepys found the Leg very convenient, and mentions it no less than 21 times in his diaries, beginning on 2 March 1660 when he was waylaid by friends on the way to his nearby home and taken for an excellent meal. Meals were not the only good things about the pub: he kissed at least one girl there (on 8 April 1661).
The Leg --
"There is one reference in that 'Parliamentary Diary'" supposed to have been written by Thomas Burton, the book which Carlyle characterized as being filled 'with mere dim inanity and moaning wind.' This chronicler, under date December 18th, 1656, tells how he dined with the clothworkers at the Leg, and how 'after dinner I was awhile at the Leg with Major-General Howard and Mr. Briscoe.' Being so near Whitehall in one direction and the Parliament House in the other, it is not surprising to learn that the nimble Pepys was a frequent visitor at the tavern. After a morning at Whitehall 'with my lord' in June, 1660, he dined there with a couple of friends. Nearly a year later business took him to the House of Lords, but as he failed to achieve the purpose he had in view he sought consolation at the Leg, where he 'dined very merry.' A more auspicious occasion took place three years after. 'To the Exchequer, and there got my tallys for ~17,500, the first payment I ever had out of the Exchequer, and at the Legg spent 14s. upon my old acquaintance, some of them the clerks, and away home with my tallys in a coach, fearful every moment of having one of them fall out, or snatched from me.' He was equally glowing with satisfaction when he visited the tavern again in 1667. All sorts of compliments had been paid him that day, and he had been congratulated even by the King and the Duke of York. 'I spent the morning thus walking in the Hall, being complimented by everybody with admiration: and at noon stepped into the Legg with Sir William Warren.'"
From Henry Shelley's Inns and Taverns of Old London (1908)
Leg Tavern, King Street, Westminster. The leg was a not infrequent sign for hosiers and bootmakers, and as they would take care that their boots and stockings were represented as fitting close and smooth, the aptness of Falstaff's simile is clear when he says that one of the reasons which made Prince Henry love Poins was that he wore "his boot very smooth, like unto the sign of the Leg." For inns the sign was very unusual.---London, Past and Present. H.B. Wheatley, 1891.
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