Historically interesting pubs

To be precise – The Dove, Hammersmith

Tintin_-_Thomson_&_ThompsonA good place to watch the latter stages of the Boat Race – if you get there early enough – this pretty riverside inn was, so they say, once the secretive meeting place of Charles II and his famous mistress Nell Gwynn.

Except it wasn’t. As Martyn Cornell explains in his Strange Tales of Ale, despite many assertions that the restoration monarch and his comely actress squeeze had romantic trysts at the pub – including on its website – in fact it wasn’t built until 50 to 60 years after both of them had died.

The myth has gathered pace since the 1950s when a pamphlet mentioning the pub also stated that the pair had stayed in the area. Another claim that the poet James Thompson composed the music to ‘Rule Britannia’ in the pub is also bunkum.

To be precise, his surname was Thomson not Thompson and he was the librettist not the composer. Thomas Arne was the composer and Thomson wrote the lyrics at home, in Kew further down the river.

All of which goes to show, don’t believe everything you read in the guidebooks.

Gwynn was just one of many mistresses kept by the libertine Charles and the mother of some of his (many) illegitimate children, notably Charles Beauclerk, duke of St Albans.

In fact, Charles never had any legitimate offspring with his wife, Catherine of Braganza, as all of her pregnancies tragically ended in miscarriages.

On Charles’s death, therefore, the throne passed to his brother, James, but not without some resistance, which takes us neatly into the next tale of pub-related history.

One more quick fact however: which is that Charles and Catherine are often credited with introducing the custom of tea drinking to the British court (it was common in Portugal at the time).

2 Responses to “Historically interesting pubs”

  1. Philip Johnson says:

    Nell Gwynn cumly? How very revealing, Dictionary or decent sub-editor required.

  2. jenna says:

    It was the other way around. Rosalind Franklin first showed the X-ray experiment. Then Watson and Crick get “inspired” to postulate the double helix. #womeninscience…

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