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October 29 , 2009

Inns And Taverns Of Old London


For all races of Teutonic origin the claim is made that they are essentially home-loving people. Yet the Englishman of the sixteenth and seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, especially of the latter, is seen to have exercised considerable zeal in creating substitutes for that home which, as a Teuton, he ought to have loved above all else. This, at any rate, was emphatically the case with the Londoner, as the following pages will testify. When he had perfected his taverns and inns, perfected them, that is, according to the light of the olden time, he set to work evolving a new species of public resort in the coffee-house. That type of establishment appears to have been responsible for the development of the club, another substitute for the home. And then came the age of the pleasure-garden. Both the latter survive, the one in a form of a more rigid exclusiveness than the eighteenth century Londoner would have deemed possible; the other in so changed a guise that frequenters of the prototype would scarcely recognize the relationship. But the coffee-house and the inn and tavern of old London exist but as a picturesque memory which these pages attempt to revive.
Naturally much delving among records of the past has gone to the making of this book. To enumerate all the sources of information which have been laid under contribution would be a tedious task and need not be attempted, but it would be ungrateful to omit thankful acknowledgment to Henry B. Wheatley's exhaustive edition of Peter Cunningham's "Handbook of London," and to Warwick Wroth's admirable volume on "The London Pleasure Gardens of the Eighteenth Century." Many of the illustrations have been specially photographed from rare engravings in the Print Boom of the British Museum.

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