Cache-Control: public, max-age=1024000 The Tzar of Muscovy's Head Tower Street


Close to Tower-hill, and not far from the site of the Rose tavern, is a small tavern, or public-house, which received its sign in commemoration of the convivial eccentricities of an Emperor, one of the most extraordinary characters that ever appeared on the great theatre of the world—"who gave a polish to his nation and was himself a savage."

Such was Peter the Great, who, with his suite, consisting of Menzikoff, and some others, came to London on the twenty-first of January, 1698, principally with the view of acquiring information on matters connected with naval architecture. We have little evidence that during his residence here Peter ever worked as a shipwright in Deptford Dockyard, as is generally believed. He was, however, very fond of sailing and managing boats and a yacht on the Thames; and his great delight was to get a small decked-boat, belonging to the Dockyard, and taking only Menzikoff, and three or four others of his suite, to work the vessel with them, he being the helmsman. Now, the great failing of Peter was his love of strong liquors. He and his companions having finished their day's work, used to resort to a public-house in Great Tower-street, close to Tower-hill, to smoke their pipes, and drink beer and brandy. The landlord, in gratitude for the imperial custom, had the Tzar of Muscovy's head painted, and put up for his sign, which continued till the year 1808, when a person of the name of Waxel took a fancy to the old sign, and offered the then occupier of the house to paint him a new one for it. A copy was accordingly made from the original, as the sign of "The Tzar of the Muscovy," looking like a Tartar. The house has, however, been rebuilt, and the sign removed, but the name remains.

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