Opening of the London Tavern

Engraving of the London Tavern in 1809

            During the 18th century, London was home to many coaching inns and taverns that served as places of rest for travelers. Bishopsgate and surrounding regions were ideal spots for such inns, as, upon the popularization of stagecoach travel in the 17th century, travelers often entered through Bishop’s Gate, an old Roman entrance to the city (McLachlan). One notable inn from this period is the London Tavern, built in September 1768 on the former site of the White Lion Tavern, which had been destroyed in a fire three years prior. The London Tavern notably featured a large dining room with ornate Corinthian columns and other elaborate ornamentation. According to the contemporary account of John Timbs in his Club Life of London, Vol. II, this dining room could hold at least 300 dinner guests for banquets (274). Timbs also further elaborates on the tavern’s decoration, writing, “The walls are throughout hung with paintings; and the large room has an organ,” (274).

            Even shortly after its opening, the London Tavern was the site of numerous important meetings and events. In 1769, for instance, around 400 men formed the Society of the Supporters of the Bill of Rights in the London Tavern (Cash 249). The Society was dedicated to supporting John Wilkes, a controversial member of parliament who championed the individual rights of people associated with the American Revolution and who introduced the first ever motion in the House of Commons to allow for the voting rights of all adult males (Cash 2). Another London Tavern meeting of historical importance is that of the Revolution Society, a group sympathetic to the ideals of the French Revolution that celebrated the cause of the Glorious Revolution, which met in the tavern in 1789 shortly after the fall of the Bastille (Abstract of History 8).

            In the subsequent century, the London Tavern was also visited by Charles Dickens, who presided over a meeting there in 1841 for the benefit of the Sanatorium for Sick Authors and Artists, and who also attended another dinner there in 1851 for the General Theatrical Fund (“London Tavern”). The London Tavern also makes a direct appearance in Dicken’s novel Nicholas Nickleby (Dickens).


Abstract of the History and Proceedings of the Revolution Society, in London. Revolution

Society, 1790, Pamphlet.

Cash, Arthur H. John Wilkes: The Scandalous Father of Civil Liberty. Yale University Press,


Dickens, Charles. The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, 1839. Project Gutenberg, 2016.

Engraving of the London Tavern in 1809. Wikipedia, 1809. Accessed 17 Apr. 2023.

“The London Tavern.” The Worshipful Company of Bowyers, Accessed 17 Apr. 2023.

McLachlan, Sean. “Travel Through Time at England’s Coaching Inns.” British Heritage Travel,

10 Apr. 2023, Accessed 17 Apr. 2023.

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

Associated Place(s)

Event date:

Sep 1768

Parent Chronology: