Image: the plaque on the left of the arch reads: “In this court in the 18th century stood the Fountain Tavern where the political opponents of Sir Robert Walpole met using the title of the Fountain Club, also the Coal Hole, the meeting place of the Wolf Club of which about 1826 Edmund Kean was a leading member.”
From the website of the Lost Pubs Project:
“The Fountain Tavern was situated on The Strand where the current Simpson’s-in-the-Strand restaurant now stands. It was also home to the celebrated literary group, the Kit-Kat Club.”
From: ‘The Melodies Linger On’ by W Maqueen-Pope, edited by and with additions from Matthew Lloyd:
“The Coal Hole was a tavern, formerly called the Unicorn, located in the north east corner of a narrow alley called Fountain Court, just off the Strand, and opposite the former Exeter Hall. It was established in 1815. Fountain Court itself was arched over when (in 1883) Savoy Buildings (see image) replaced the buildings in that part of the Strand, including the former Fountain Tavern from which the court originally took its name. Later part of the site would be used to erect the Terry’s Theatre.
In its time the Coal Hole was quite a rough place…It had no platform, commenced proceedings at eleven p.m. and was conducted by a chairman: It was very well patronised by all the celebrities of the time.
It gained fame under the direction of John Rhodes, who had a passion for silver plate and boasted that more silver tankards, goblets and flagons, loving cups and the like could be seen there than in any of the big hotels in London. He ran it successfully on the lines of Evans’s and was himself Chairman. He was a big man with a fine presence, an excellent baritone voice and was one of the most popular turns of the time. When he died, his son improved it but when Rhodes Junior died in 1850 his widow tried to carry on but without success, likewise John Bruton, of Vauxhall Gardens, and so the glory of the Coal Hole departed.”
From the website of Arthur Lloyd.co.uk:
“William Blake lived in two rooms on the first floor of No. 3 Fountain Court, a red brick house, from 1821 until his death in 1827. He was very poor, and frankly admitted that ‘he lived in a hole’. He consoled himself, however, with the thought that ‘God had a beautiful mansion for him elsewhere’. It was here that Blake produced his Illustrations to Dante’s Divine Comedy and his Illustrations to The Book of Job.
From the steps behind the Tavern you can enjoy a similar view of the Thames – looking like ‘a bar of gold’- to that which Blake enjoyed.”
“The Present Coal Hole Public House, 91 Strand
“Edward Lee in Thirteen Guided Walks to the Fascinating Music Landmarks of London suggests that the name came as a result of its use by coal heavers. He also indicates the existence of a memorial plaque that states that the original song and supper room was located nearby. Although close to the original location, the Coal Hole Public House at 91, The Strand is related by name only.”