On this day in 1660, Samuel Pepys “did send for a cup of tee, a China drink, of which I had never drunk before”.
Coffee- and tea- houses began to spring up all over fashionable London after the introduction to England of the said mild stimulants in the mid seventeenth century (see Matthew Green’s “The Lost World Of The London Coffee-House”, published by Idler Books in 2013, or his “London – A Travel Guide Through Time”, published by Michael Joseph in 2015). They became places where respectable gentlemen, who wouldn’t be seen dead in ale-houses, congregated and transacted business. One eventually evolved into an entirely separate enterprise – Lloyd’s.
On a related note, the site of the first coffee house in London, at the sign of “Pasqua Rosee’s Head”, is visited on our “Aldgate, Bishopsgate and beyond” standard walk. The eponymous Pasqua Rosee was employed as a man-servant by one Daniel Edwards, a London merchant, member of the Levant Company and trader in Turkish goods, and he appears to have run the coffee-shop as a sideline, in partnership with one Christopher Bowman, a freeman of the City and former coachman of Edwards’s father-in-law, Alderman Thomas Hodges. It is thought that Rosee and Edwards met in Smyrna in Anatolia, and that Rosee was originally from Ragusa in Sicily, although ultimately of ethnic Greek extraction.
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