Victorian London - Entertainment and Recreation - Drinking and Drugs - Public Houses - The Cheshire Cheese

CHESHIRE CHEESE, WINE OFFICE COURT, FLEET STREET. A tavern so called, deservedly famous for its chops, steaks, beef-steak-puddings, and punch.

Peter Cunningham, Hand-Book of London, 1850

    Visiting the "Cheshire Cheese" not long since, I was struck by the marvellous change that the advance of civilisation (!!) had effected in that most cosy and unconventional of rooms. The steaks and puddings are still as good as ever, but the rollicking Bohemians, bristling with wit, with churchwardens and brown ale that one met at every table, have long since been replaced by their modern prototypes, who sip their beer out of a glass, call for a serviette in evidence of a trip to Boulogne, and bolt after depositing a penny on the table. And where are the jolly old waiters in rusty tail-coats, shambling along in their carpet slippers, who never inquired how many "breads" you had had nor what had won the 3.40 race? And the Americans who now invade the place are not an unalloyed blessing, as males and females appear to consider it a sine qua non to flop on to the seat where Doctor Johnson is once supposed to have sat, in order to be able to tell poppa and momma in the old Kentucky home how, if they could not rub shoulders with the mighty living, they had at least rubbed something with the mighty dead. 

'One of the Old Brigade' (Donald Shaw), London in the Sixties, 1908 

Victorian London - Publications - History - The Queen's London : a Pictorial and Descriptive Record of the Streets, Buildings, Parks and Scenery of the Great Metropolis, 1896 - In "Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese"

In Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese - photograph


The "Cheshire Cheese" is a well-known inn in \Vine Office Court, on the north side of Fleet Street. According to tradition, Goldsmith and Dr. Johnson used to dine here (although Boswell makes no reference to the circumstance), and the corner to the right of our picture, beside the fireplace, is pointed out as the favourite seat of the lexicographer. This is quite possible, for Goldsmith lived in Wine Office Court, and it was there that Dr. Johnson first visited him, on the 31st of May, 1761. The Cheshire Cheese is chiefly frequented by regular customers, who find compensation for the hard benches and sawdust-covered floor in the old-world appearance of the place, and in the excellence of the special dishes for which the house has long been famous.

see also Dinners and Diners (1899) - click here