The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 20 Covent Garden, Kingsway, Lincoln's Inn Fields

Covent Garden 2

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At the west end of the Piazza, at the corner of King St., just to the north of St. Paul's church, stands the National Sporting Club, in a building of 1636, once occupied by Lord Orford and other men of note, and afterwards famous as Evans's Supper Rooms, the entertainments of which were visited by Colonel Newcome and his son Clive. Seats in the hall or theatre of the Club (King's Hall) are inscribed with the names of living patrons of the �noble art of self-defence�; and many important boxing-matches take place here. At the north-east corner of the Piazza stood the old Bedford Coffee Home, once the home of the �BeefSteak Club,� and frequented by Foote, Garrick, and Hogarth. To the south of this, at the south-west corner of Russell St., is the Hummums Hotel, occupying almost the same site as an old hotel, which originated as the first �Hammam,� or Turkish Bath, in England, and (like other �bagnios') did not always enjoy the best of reputations. The Tavistock Hotel occupies the site of the old Piazza Coffee House. York Street, so called in compliment to the Duke of York afterwards James II., and leading east from the Flower Market, contains the house (No. 4) in which De Quincey wrote his �Confessions of an English Opium Eater.' From the east side of Covent Garden Market Russell St. leads to Drury Lane, intersecting the thoroughfare formed by Bow St. (left) and Wellington St. (right) and skirting the north flank of Drury Lane Theatre. At the corner of Russell St. and Bow St. is the Fortune Theatre, opened in 1925, with architectural features recalling the old Fortune Theatre. This ingeniously planned theatre occupies a smaller area than any other in London, and a covered passage leads through its auditorium to the Scottish National Church, in Crown Court. No. 21 Russell St., at the corner of Bow St., was Will's Coffee House, a favourite haunt of Dryden, Wycherley, Pope, and other writers of the 17-18th centuries. Nearly opposite was Button's Coffee House, where Addison was the presiding genius and Swift and Steele among other frequenters. Addison here set up a carved lion's head as a letter-box for contributions to �The Tatler,� etc. Tom's, at No. 17 Russell St., was another famous coffee house (pulled down in 1856), patronized by Johnson, the elder Colman, Smollett, Fielding, Colley Cibber, Reynolds, and Garrick. Charles Lamb and his sister occupied lodgings at No. 20, over a brazier's shop (1817-23). The book-shop of Tom Davies, in which Boswell first met Johnson (1763), was No. 8, on the south side of Russell Street.