Daily entries from the 17th century London diary
From Henry Shelley's Inns and Taverns of Old London (1909) --
No one who gazes upon the century-old print of the King's Head can do other than regret the total disappearance of that picturesque building. This tavern stood at the west corner of Chancery Lane and is believed by antiquaries to have been built in the reign of Edward VI. It figures repeatedly in ancient engravings of the royal processions of long-past centuries, and contributed a notable feature to the progress of Queen Elizabeth as she was on her way to visit Sir Thomas Gresham. The students of the Temple hit upon the effective device of having several cherubs descend, as it were, from the heavens, for the purpose of presenting the queen with a crown of gold and laurels, together with the inevitable verses of an Elizabethan ceremony, and the roof of the King's Head was chosen as the heaven from whence these visitants came down. Only the first and second floors were devoted to tavern purposes; on the ground floor were shops, from one of which the first edition of Izaak Walton's "Complete Angler" was sold, while another provided accommodation for the grocery business of Abraham Cowley's father.
From 1679 the King's Head was the common headquarters of the notorious Green Ribbon Club, which included a precious set of scoundrels among its members, chief of them all being that astounding perjurer, Titus Gates. Hence the tavern's designation as a "Protestant house." It was pulled down in 1799.
One of the most famous inns in London, and in Fleet Street on a regular route for Pepys, so it’s surprising that it appears only twice in the Diary.*
From 1662 it was owned by a Lewis Willson but it had changed ownership by 1666 when a William Mart was the proprietor. The tavern stood at the junction of Chancery Lane and Fleet Street where there is currently (as of 2012) a legal bookshop.
The first recorded mention of the King’s Head was in 1472 where it was referred to as being in Chancellor’s Lane rather than Chancery Lane in Fleet Street. A later customer was the Elizabethan courtier Edward, Lord Dudley who held dinners there.
• Although the Olde Cheshire Cheese nearby is also on Fleet Street and is mentioned not at all.
Source: “Taverns and Tokens of Pepys London” (1976) by George Berry, page 41.
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