The overlays that highlight 17th century London features are approximate and derived from Wenceslaus Hollar’s maps:
Open location in Google Maps: 51.513557, -0.111778
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'The Devil and St Dunstan' was this tavern's full name, and it was directly opposite St Dunstan's church at what is now No. 1 Fleet Street. If you go there now, you'll see a Blue Plaque about it on the wall, which shows how historically important it must have been. Someone called Wade featured it in an engraving published in Dodsworth's 'London and its Environs' in 1761 - can anyone find this?
Its name refers to a well-known medieval legend about the Saxon saint Dunstan, who once was a worker in gold and who became the patron saint of goldsmiths. He is usually represented carrying red-hot pincers in his right hand. The legend is that he once seized the Devil by the nose with them and refused to release him until the Devil promised never to tempt Dunstan ever again. Saint Dunstan later became Archbishop of Canterbury.
The Devil was a large, rambling building with 19 hearths (fireplaces). It was also probably the most 'literary' tavern in the City. (In fact, this may have been just on the border between the City and Westminster.) It was famous as being a 'literary' place, and Ben Jonson seems to have moved home to be near it! John Evelyn described a gathering there in 1680 attended by 180 Members of Parliament, and John Aubrey also mentioned it in his writing.
Its owner in the early part of Pepys' Diary was John Waller, who is mentioned by name in the Diary. He was sufficiently important to be invited to take part in the Coronation Procession of Charles II. Wadlow owned the tavern from 1640-61, followed by Jonathon Barford (1661-68) and Richard Taylor (1668-81). Messrs Child the bankers bought it and rebuilt it in 1788, and for all I know they may still be there.
Devil Tavern, Temple Bar, stood between Temple Bar and the Middle Temple Gate. The church of St. Dunstan's was nearly opposite, and gave its name to the St. Dunstan Tavern. But the painted sign represented St. Dunstan pulling the Devil by the nose, and it naturally came to be called by the name of the more popular of the two personages. It was sometimes called "The Old Devil Tavern," to distinguish it from "The Young [or Little] Devil Tavern," ...
Alas! what is it to this scene to know
How many coaches in Hyde Park did show,
Last spring, what fare to-day at Medley's was,
If Dunstan's or the Phoenix best wine has?
Ben Jonson, Prologue to the Staple of News.
Bloodhound. As you come by Temple Bar, make a step to th' Devil.
Tim. To the Devil, father?
Sim. My master means the sign of the Devil; and he cannot hurt you, fool; there's a saint holds him by the nose.
—A Match at Midnight, by William Rowley, 4to, 1633.
All in that very house where Saint
Holds Devil by the nose;
Three Drunkards met to roar and rant,
But quarrell'd in the close.
Sir Charles Sedley, Works, vol. i. p. 74.
---London, Past and Present. H.B. Wheatley, 1891
Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.