Pasqua Rosee's Coffee-House, 1652–1666
Author: Ellis, Markman
Source: The London Journal, Volume 29, Number 1, May 2004 , pp. 1-24(24)
Publisher: Maney Publishing
Abstract:It has long been claimed that the first coffee-house in London was that of Pasqua Rosee in St Michael's Alley, Cornhill, in 1652. This essay sunreys the hitherto available sources for this claim, and observes that the claim derives from seventeenth and eighteenth century antiquarian evidence, all of it recorded some decades after the events described, as an act of recollection. When the coffee-house first became an object of historical interest in the 1690s, this antiquarian construction of Rosee's Coffee-house was established as authoritative, and has been widely repeated since in the twentieth century. Using archival evidence from vestry minutes and other parish and city records (primarily in the Guildhall Library and the Corporation of London Records Office), this essay establishes on firmer foundations the history of the first London coffee-house. Vestry minutes record the granting of leases to Rosee and his partner Christopher Bowman, from which the particular location of the coffee-house can be established. The essay argues that the early coffee-house was closely associated with the coffee-drinking culture of the London merchant elite, especially those associated with the Levant Company. By the Restoration, Bowman's coffee-house was one of many, and a celebrated part of the social life of London in the 1660s. Nonetheless, by the time Bowman's coffee-house was destroyed in the fire, its importance had been eclipsed by the Elford's Coffee-house in Exchange Alley.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Queen Mary, University of London
Publication date: May 2004