Street View: 29
Address: 44 Red Lion Street
And then in the blink of an eye
They were gone, gone, gone
Tallis mentions Charles Stennett as wine and spirit merchant at 44 Red Lion Street, but as so many of his wine-selling colleagues did, Stennett also ran a public house from the same address: The Dolphin. Or maybe we should turn that around and say that publicans were also wine merchants. From Michaelmas 1832, Stennett had been the tenant of The Dolphin at number 44 according to a report inquiring into charities, which lists the properties of Christ’s Hospital.(1) Before that, Stennett had been the proprietor of the Blue Last in Little Bell Alley.(2) The 1841 census finds him at number 44 with his wife Eliza, whom he had married in 1823. Ten years later, the couple could be found at Devonshire Place, Streatham; the occupation of Charles is given as retired wine and spirit merchant, and indeed, the 1851 census for 44 Red Lion Street gives us the name of John Featherstone, victualler. Stennett must have relinquished The Dolphin after 1843 as he was still there in the Post Office Directory for that year, but the 1848 Post Office Directory lists a John Hadrell as the proprietor. The Stennetts later moved to Heathfield Terrace, Turnham Green, where Charles died in early 1878.(3)
There does not seem to have been any incident in Stennett’s time at The Dolphin to make it into the newspapers or the Old Bailey reports to throw any light on the pub building itself, but there are earlier clues. In 1789, one Helen Parry testifies that she keeps The Dolphin in Red Lion Street. A servant of the Bartholomew coffee-house in West-Smithfield was suspected of stealing from her employer and afterwards pretending to want to go back to the country as the town did not agree with her, but in fact, staying in London and meeting with her accomplices. The servant, by the name of Sarah Natchell, had called for a coach to remove her stuff from the coffee house, but in stead of going to the country, she went to Red Lion Street and asked Mrs Parry if she could leave her boxes there for a little while as she had left her place. The boxes were removed by a porter for Natchell in due course and all Mrs Parry could testify to was the fact that the boxes had been in the pub for a while. Whether there has been a mistake in transcribing the original Old Bailey case notes or whether Parry was the maiden name of Mrs Parry, but earlier in the transcript the keeper of the coffee house said that a Mr Farrell was the proprietor of The Dolphin. Mrs Parry/Farrell mentions a few rooms in the pub: bar, back kitchen, parlour and dining room, the latter probably upstairs as she says that Natchell’s boxes “were taken up into the dining-room” and when the porter came to take the boxes away, “she went up with him”.(4)
Another room is mentioned in the tragic case of James Wilson who came to The Dolphin on the 27th of September, 1802, and ordered a pint of beer. “Shortly after, he went down in the cellar; and Mrs Game hearing the report of a pistol, thought it was one of the barrels that had burst. On going into the cellar, however, there lay the body of the unfortunate man lifeless, weltering in gore. He had put the muzzle of a pistol in his mouth, and blown out his brains”. He had apparently been showing signs of “derangement” for several months prior to the incident.(5)
Now jump more than a hundred years forwards from this tragic event of 1802 to another one that took the drinkers at The Dolphin by surprise. On the evening of 8 September 1915, a German Zeppelin released its bombs over London. The newspapers in 1915 hardly reported on the raid and did not give much reliable information about casualties; information like that was suppressed, but a few more details came out in 1918. A 1918 newspaper report said that Red Lion Street was badly hit and that the blast “wiped out the lower parts of most of the houses, including a public house, which was left apparently supported by one pillar”.(6) Although no name is mentioned, the public house was indeed The Dolphin. The pub apparently still has an old clock on the wall that stopped at 10.40 pm (the time the bomb was dropped) and a notice underneath it says that 3 men were killed.(7), although Historic England says that only one person died. Mouse over the picture of the clock on their site where you can read more about the Zeppelin raids (here).
The two lines above this post are part of the lyrics of the Crosby, Stills & Nash song ‘After the Dolphin’ which was inspired by the 1915 raid. For the complete lyrics, see here and for the song itself here.
(1) Report of the Commissioners Appointed in Pursuance of an Act of Parliament Made and Passed in the 5th and 6th Years of King William the 4th, C.71, Intituled, An Act for Appointing Commissioners to Continue the Inquiries Concerning Charities in England and Wales, until the First Day of March, dated 30th June 1837.
(2) Old Bailey case t18291203-132.
(3) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1878. Estate valued at under £6000. Probate is granted to his sister Sarah, the only next of kin.
(4) Old Bailey case t17890422-18.
(5) Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. 72 (1802).
(6) ‘The air raids on London: hithertho unpublished details [of] the streets and buildings that were hit’, The Manchester Guardian, 18 December 1918.
(7) Have not seen the clock or the plaque myself, but it is reported by Orlicat in his blogpost on the Zeppelin raid (see here).
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