Friday, 23 May 2008

The Jerusalem Tavern

I see that reprobate son of mine (see Stonch's Beer Blog) has been ratting on again about his favourite drinking den, The Jerusalem Tavern. Buck up, boy, there's more to life than getting bladdered and swearing at pigeons!

Actually, The Jerusalem Tavern's present decor, though it may date back only to the 1990s, is a very clever reproduction of what it must have been in Dr Johnson's day, though I couldn't imagine that grim old fart going there often. Hanging around coffee shops and forcing his views on other people was more in his line than wassailing with the lads. In fact there was a Jerusalem Coffee House in Exchange Alley in Dr Johnson's day, but it was swept away by fire in 1748.

The original Jerusalem Tavern was adjacent to St John's Gate in Clerkenwell, that eminent structure which still stands today. The tavern was "on the east basement" of the gate where "a south side-entrance was ruthlessly cut through the angle of the projecting gate-tower". The quotation is from volume two of Old and New London, a rare set of magazines I bought at auction, dating from about 1880. I believe that the tavern can be seen in the engraving shown here, which dates from 1860.

The keeper of the tavern at that time, Mr Foster, "a great lover of ancient architecture", displayed a large oil-painting in his premises, representing the Knights of St John starting out for a joust. Perhaps the proprietor of the present Jerusalem Tavern should commission a modern replacement!

8 comments:

Stonch said...

I was inside the arch yesterday. Went to look at the museum with Dave the Goon. There's a display about the Old Jerusalem Tavern.

impymalting said...

That you call Johnson a grim old fart fills me with glee.

I am really enjoying your blog-- it's visually and textually very rich!

papastonch said...

He was the arch-tormentor of all succeeding generations! His "standardisation" of spelling with his damnfool Dictionary was an interference with civil liberty. The English language was much richer and idiosyncratic before he took away our freedom to spell as we choose.

Ron Pattinson said...

Freedom to spell how we choose. That's a great concept. I'd never thought of it quite like that before, but you're right.

I remember a liguist once telling me that they had a reasonable idea of how people pronounced English in different parts of the country up until the 18th century, because of the spelling. When it was standaradised all that information disappears.

Who hasn't sworn at pigeons? I certainly have. You should forgive him that. Not the crappy facial hair, though.

Ron Pattinson said...

There's a photograph from sometime in the 19th century of the original Jerusalem Tavern in "The Red Barrel. A history of Watney Mann." It's a better book than the title suggests.

papastonch said...

Thanks for the info, Ron, I'll certainly look up the illustration of the original Jerusalem Tavern you have mentioned, as I may write something further on the subject.

Ron Pattinson said...

I can send you a scan if you want.

papastonch said...

Thanks, Ron, I'd be very grateful for the scan.