Cache-Control: public, max-age=1024000 The Castle Tavern Holborn


This noted tavern, described by Strype, a century and a half ago, as a house of considerable trade, has been, in our time, the head-quarters of the Prize Ring, kept by two of its heroes, Tom Belcher and Tom Spring. Here was instituted the Daffy Club; and the long room was adorned with portraits of pugilistic heroes, including Jem Belcher, Burke, Jackson, Tom Belcher, old Joe Ward, Dutch Sam, Gregson, Humphreys, Mendoza, Cribb, Molyneux, Gulley, Randall, Turner, Martin, Harmer, Spring, Neat, Hickman, Painter, Scroggins, Tom Owen, etc.; and among other sporting prints, the famous dog, Trusty, the present of Lord Camelford to Jem Belcher, and the victor in fifty battles. In Cribb's Memorial to Congress is this picture of the great room:—

"Lent Friday night a bang-up set

Of milling blades at Belcher's met,

All high-bred heroes of the Ring,

Whose very gammon would delight one;

Who, nurs'd beneath the Fancy's wing,

Show all her feathers but the white one.

Brave Tom, the Champion, with an air

Almost Corinthian, took the chair,

And kept the coves in quiet tune,

By showing such a fist of mutton

As on a point of order soon

Would take the shine from Speaker Sutton.

And all the lads look'd gay and bright,

And gin and genius flashed about;

And whosoe'er grew unpolite,

The well-bred Champion serv'd him out."

In 1828, Belcher retired from the tavern and was succeeded by Tom Spring (Thomas Winter), the immediate successor of Cribb, as Champion of England. Spring prospered at the Castle many years. He died August 17, 1851, in his fifty-sixth year; he was highly respected, and had received several testimonials of public and private esteem; among which were these pieces of plate:—1. The Manchester Cup, presented in 1821. 2. The Hereford Cup, 1823. 3. A noble tankard and a purse, value upwards of five hundred pounds. 4. A silver goblet, from Spring's early patron, Mr. Sant.

Spring's figure was an extremely fine one, and his face and forehead most remarkable. His brow had something of the Greek Jupiter in it, expressing command, energy, determination, and cool courage. Its severity was relieved by the lower part of his countenance, the features of which denoted mildness and playfulness. His actual height was five feet eleven inches and a half; but he could stretch his neck so as to make his admeasurement more than six feet.

John Timbs
Club Life of London Vol. II
London, 1866