Cache-Control: public, max-age=1024000 Rose Tavern Tower Street


In Tower-street, before the Great Fire, was the Rose tavern, which, upon the 4th of January, 1649, was the scene of a memorable explosion of gunpowder, and miraculous preservation. It appears that over-against the wall of Allhallows Barking churchyard, was the house of a ship-chandler, who, about seven o'clock at night, being busy in his shop, barreling up gunpowder, it took fire, and in the twinkling of an eye, blew up not only that, but all the houses thereabout, to the number (towards the street and in back alleys) of fifty or sixty. The number of persons destroyed by this blow could never be known, for the next house but one was the Rose tavern, a house never (at that time of night) but full of company; and that day the parish-dinner was at the house. And in three or four days, after digging, they continually found heads, arms, legs, and half bodies, miserably torn and scorched; besides many whole bodies, not so much as their clothes singed.

In the course of this accident, says the narrator (Mr. Leybourne, in Strype), "I will instance two; the one a dead, the other a living monument. In the digging (strange to relate) they found the mistress of the house of the Rose tavern, sitting in her bar, and one of the drawers standing by the bar's side, with a pot in his hand, only stifled with dust and smoke; their bodies being preserved whole by means of great timbers falling across one another. This is one. Another is this:—The next morning there was found upon the upper leads of Barking church, a young child lying in a cradle, as newly laid in bed, neither the child nor the cradle having the least sign of any fire or other hurt. It was never known whose child it was, so that one of the parish kept it as a memorial; for in the year 1666 I saw the child, grown to be then a proper maiden, and came to the man that kept her at that time, where he was drinking at a tavern with some other company then present. And he told us she was the child so found in the cradle upon the church leads as aforesaid."

According to a tablet which hangs beneath the organ gallery of the church, the quantity of gunpowder exploded in this catastrophe was twenty-seven barrels. Tower-street was wholly destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666.

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