Today I visit the pub and wine bar where our first London coffee house once stood. Inside the labyrinth of The City of London’s hidden alleyways and courtyards. On St. Michael’s Alley, off Cornhill and in the former yard and shadow of St. Michael’s Cornhill Church.
Sadly London’s Great Fire of 1666 completely destroyed this area. Including the Church, with the exception of the tower and our first London coffee house burned to the ground. St. Michael’s Cornhill Church completed rebuilding by Sir Christopher Wren between 1669 and 1672 by which time the coffee business had moved on.
The Jamaica Wine House
The Jamaica Wine House now stands on the site which was built in 1869. Today The Jamaica Wine House building is now home to one of the City’s well-hidden pubs and cellar wine bars. London’s first ever coffee house opened here in 1652. Counting Samuel Pepys amongst its first customers. There is a plaque on the wall outside to mark the spot.
First London coffee house
Britain’s first coffee shop opened in Oxford in 1650. Two years later Pasqua Rosée, established London’s first coffee shop in St Michael’s Alley, Cornhill. Pasqua Rosée, was the Greek servant of Daniel Edwards. Daniel Edwards was a trader in Turkish goods who imported the coffee and helped Rosée establish his coffee business in the then church yard.
The first coffee house was a huge success. As a result it was widely imitated and many more were established in the city. They began to replace the taverns or pubs as we now know them as a place to do business. Coffee is probably better for business than beer. Different Coffee houses attracted different businesses and traders. Edward Lloyd’s coffee house on Tower St was the place to go for marine insurance. It later evolved into world renowned insurance market Lloyd’s of London.
Jonathan’s Coffee-House famously developed into the London stock exchange. In 1698 prices of stocks and commodities began to be listed and posted in Jonathan’s coffee house. Also traders of stocks became banned from London’s Royal exchange for bad manners. So they began trading in Jonathan’s. Eventually they out grew the coffee shop and built their own building the London stock exchange. Although affectionately known at the time as new Johnathan’s.
Its also believed Auction houses Sotherby’s and Christie’s had early origins and dealings in coffee houses.
Also today the Jamaica Wine House is a favourite among city workers. Jamaica Wine House’s ground floor has become a very traditional London pub. In addition to wood-panelled bars and high ceilings is a great selection of beers. Finally in the snug basement cellar there’s Todd’s Wine Bar. Also a place to relax and enjoy some food and of coarse new and old world wines in historic surroundings.
The Jamaica Wine House is now home to one of the city of London’s finest pubs and wine bars. For further information or to visit the historic birthplace of London’s coffee scene. www.jamaicawinehouse.co.uk