3 Annotations

First Reading

Glyn  •  Link

More correctly known as the GREAT JAMES and afterwards as the SHIP TAVERN: proprietor Ascanius Hicks. It is believed by some historians to have been located at 118 Bishopsgate Street and finally demolished to make way for part of the North London Railway in the 19th century.

Second Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Has anyone else noticed how often Pepys says something like this: "... to the Old James, and there found Sir W. Rider and Mr. Cutler at dinner"? Rider and Cutler must have had shares in the place.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Some artefacts evoke an entire world. No larger than a thumbnail, these tavern tokens in the Bishopsgate Institute collection bring alive the calamitous years when London was struck by the plague in 1665 and the Great Fire in 1666.

Bishopsgate was one of the few parts of the City spared by the Fire. It was lined with ancient taverns, used as points of departure and arrival for travellers on the Roman road north from the City of London.

Inside the City wall was known as Bishopsgate Within and the part outside the wall was Bishopsgate Without, and beyond, where the muddy road widened, was known as Bishopsgate St.

The taverns served as hotels, drinking and dining houses, breweries and stables, couriers and coach offices, places of business and of entertainment, and were such significant centers of commerce that they issued their own currency.

There is a vibrant quality in these tiny tokens, combining hand-lettering and familiar imagery with an appealing utilitarian irregularity. Long before the numbering of London streets, buildings were adorned with symbols like those engraved on the tokens. The reverse carries the date and initials of the owner who issued them, who can be identified from vintners’ records.

There is a token from Spittlegate, now Widegate St., and one from Bedlam, now Liverpool St. The White Hart is the only tavern to survive today.

After the Fire, rubble was spread upon the marshy land of Spitalfields, preparing it for the construction of the streets we know, and charcoal is still found when foundations are dug.

In 1632, King Charles gave a license for flesh, fowl and roots to be sold in Spitalfields. The market was re-established in 1682 by Charles II, defining the territory with a culture of small-scale trading that persists to this day.

Tavern tokens were unremarkable items of small monetary value, passed hand to hand without a second thought, but are now precious evidence of another time.

Shown are images from:
King’s Head, Spittlegate, issued by Vintner Thomas Avis in 1658
The Beehive, Bishopsgate Without, issued by Thomas Goss, 1652
The Mitre Tavern, Bishopsgate, issued by Robert Richardson 1644
The Flower Pot, Bishopsgate Within, issued by Ascanius Hicks, 1641
The Helmet, Bishopsgate Without, issued by Robert Studd
The White Hart at Bedlam, issued by EE, 1637
Red Lion Court, Bishopsgate Without, issued by John Lambe
The Black Raven, Bishopsgate Without
The Black Raven, Halfpenny issued by Sam Salway
The Sunne, Bishopsgate Within
Lion Above a Stick of Candles, Bishopsgate Without
Lion Above a Stick of Candles, issued by Ralph Butcher, 1666
At the Sign Of The Boore, Bishopsgate Without
The Half Moone Brewhouse, Bishopsgate Without
Edward Nourse Next The Bull In Bishopsgate Street, 1666
The Mouth Tavern, Bishopsgate Without, issued by Robert Sanderson, 1638


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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.





  • Mar