Cache-Control: public, max-age=1024000 Piazza Coffee House


This establishment, at the north-eastern angle of Covent Garden Piazza, appears to have originated with Macklin's; for we read in an advertisement in the Public Advertiser, March, 5, 1756: "the Great Piazza Coffee-room, in Covent-Garden."

The Piazza was much frequented by Sheridan; and here is located the well-known anecdote told of his coolness during the burning of Drury-lane Theatre, in 1809. It is said that as he sat at the Piazza, during the fire, taking some refreshment, a friend of his having remarked on the philosophical calmness with which he bore his misfortune, Sheridan replied: "A man may surely be allowed to take a glass of wine by his own fireside."

Sheridan and John Kemble often dined together at the Piazza, to be handy to the theatre. During Kemble's management, Sheridan had occasion to make a complaint, which brought a "nervous" letter from Kemble, to which Sheridan's reply is amusing enough. Thus, he writes: "that the management of a theatre is a situation capable of becoming troublesome, is information which I do not want, and a discovery which I thought you had made long ago." Sheridan then treats Kemble's letter as "a nervous flight," not to be noticed seriously, adding his anxiety for the interest of the theatre, and alluding to Kemble's touchiness and reserve; and thus concludes:

"If there is anything amiss in your mind not arising from the troublesomeness of your situation, it is childish and unmanly not to disclose it. The frankness with which I have dealt towards you entitles me to expect that you should have done so.

"But I have no reason to believe this to be the case; and attributing your letter to a disorder which I know ought not to be indulged, I prescribe that thou shalt keep thine appointment at the Piazza Coffee-house, to-morrow at five, and, taking four bottles of claret instead of three, to which in sound health you might stint yourself, forget that you ever wrote the letter, as I shall that I ever received it.

"R. B. Sheridan."

The Piazza fašade, and interior, were of Gothic design. The house has been taken down, and in its place was built the Floral Hall, after the Crystal Palace model.

John Timbs
Club Life of London Vol. II
London, 1866