Victorian London - Food and Drink - Coffee Houses / Coffee Rooms - Gliddon's Divan 


    This magnificent resort of the refined, the literary, the artistic, and histrionic lies to the north of King-street, Covent-Garden, in close proximity to the hostelry of Evans. Through two large windows of real plate glass the fortunate spectator, standing in the shop, may catch some glimpses of the grandeur and the taste of Gliddon.
    Quitting the counter, and passing in a northerly direction, we enter the Divan. Its walls are decorated with the glories of eastern fable, painted by Stanfield, Charles Tomkins, and other giants of the four-pound brush. In the centre of the room is 
taken with the famous tiger's head (now in the possession of her Majesty) from the despot, and purchased at an immense outlay by the magnificent Gliddon.
    The waiters are warranted real Mussulmans, and are of course habited in oriental costume. The principal attendant is named TOMK IL PACK, a young gentleman with a bass voice, of the Mahometan persuasion.
    A real Arab has been imported at vast expense, and tells tales to the curious from eight to ten. Here Sir Edward Lytton Bulwer may sometimes be found playing chess with William Cribb, Esquire; the great Whig-Tory-Radical politician of Covent-Garden, who has in the handsomest manner presented an egg in spirits to Gliddon - (it decorates the mantel-piece of the Divan) - being no other than the identical egg flung at Sir Francis Burdett, when he last stood for Westminster.
    The poet, painter, the actor, the politician, may all be found here in every variety. Here, too, the famous BARON SLENDERLIM, accredited to this country by Holland for the express purpose of protecting the shape of Dutch cheeses, may be seen circled by attentive listeners, the while he talks of Antwerp sieges, and, at times, singeth the Cancan.

Punch, Jan.-Jun. 1842

    A favourite resort for young men was "Gliddon's Divan," next door to Evans's, a tobacconist's with a large smoking-room attached, kept by one Tom Kilpack, a quiet little man who, in those days, sold a very decent cigar for 3d. An American bowling alley was afterwards established here.

Edmund Yates, His Recollections and Experiences, 1885
[chapter on 1847-1852]