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


Strand, now the site of Nos. 101 and 102, Ries's Divan, gave the name to the Fountain Club, composed of political opponents of Sir Robert Walpole. Strype describes it as "a very fine Tavern, with excellent vaults, good rooms for entertainment, and a curious kitchen for dressing of meat, which, with the good wine there sold, make it well resorted to." Dennis, the Critic, describes his supping here with Loggan, the painter, and others, and that after supper they "drank Mr. Wycherley's health by name of Captain Wycherley."

Here, Feb. 12, 1742, was held a great meeting, at which near 300 members of both Houses of Parliament were present, to consider the ministerial crisis, when the Duke of Argyll observed to Mr. Pulteney, that a grain of honesty was worth a cart-load of gold. The meeting was held too late to be of any avail, to which Sir Charles Hanbury Williams alludes in one of his odes to Pulteney, invoking his Muse thus:—

"Then enlarge on his cunning and wit;

Say, how he harang'd at the Fountain;

Say, how the old patriots were bit,

And a mouse was produc'd by a mountain."

Upon the Tavern site was a Drawing Academy, of which Cosway and Wheatley were pupils; here also was the lecture-room of John Thelwall, the political elocutionist. At No. 101, Ackermann, the printseller, illuminated his gallery with cannel coal, when gas-lighting was a novelty.

In Fountain-court, named from the Tavern, is the Coal-hole Tavern, upon the site of a coal-yard; it was much resorted to by Edmund Kean, and was one of the earliest night taverns for singing.

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