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Dirty Dicks, 202 Bishopsgate, Bishopsgate EC2M 4NR

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Dirty Dicks.

There is within Bishopsgate Street Without a very well-known and curious sort of tavern. The original "licensed" name I never knew, but its name of " Dirty Dick's " was well merited by its appearance.
To this place hangs a tale. The name of " Dirty Dick's," it would appear, was originally given to the residence, warehouse, and offices of one Richard Bentley. Mr. Bentley was a very original and eccentric character, who died, possessed of considerable wealth, as long ago as 1804. During his lifetime his neighbours urged him frequently to clean, point, and paint the front of his house, for his dirty looking building was no credit to the street. He invariably refused, and his office and warehouse were known by everyone who did business there as the Dirty Warehouse and he as Dirty Dick.
The Dirty Dick's of Bishopsgate Street was originally only the " tap " to a wholesale wine and spirit merchant's premises. It was, in fact, the warehouse. There were no floor boards in the cellar, which was only some two steps down from the street level ; and there were no ceilings under the rafters supporting the floor boards overhead. It was never cleaned, whitewashed, or done anything to in any way. The rats, mice, and spiders had happy and unmolested quarters there ; and it was allowed to get into the dirty, dilapidated state in which it was when first I knew it, and well merited the very appropriate name transferred to it. One thing, however, there was that attracted customers to the place, in spite of its state of mildew, cobwebs, and dirt: good liquor was served.
The modern invitation to a friend to have a drink, of " Name your poison, dear boy," was quite inappropriate here, for whatever the outsides of the casks and bottles may have looked like, the insides and their contents were all right. No doubt that when it was opened as a " tap," the proprietor was a dry sort of fellow, and an independent one to boot. He liked his joke, chose to be " boss of his own show," for a number of painted pithy notice-boards were placed in the bar — if the place where the wine was served merited that name.
One was, "No smoking permitted." This was quite right, for the wines had a bouquet of rare quality, which the fumes of an ordinary " two-penny smoke," to say nothing of a pipe of "shag," would have polluted and destroyed.
Another was, " No improper language permitted." If a few more houses in this present day would place placards to this effect in their bars, it would be just as well ; not only at the East End of London, but in some of the swellest of swell bars between Fleet Street and Hyde Park Corner, where the Upper Circle Johnnies frequent, to meet a friend and spoon the young Hebes of the Bar, " don't cher know."
Another of these quaint notices was as follows : —

"Our shop being small, difficulty frequently arises
In supplying customers. Please, therefore,
When you are in a place of business,
Transact your business
And go about your business."

The most important and unusual notice, how-ever, was as follows : " No man can be served twice."

Considering how good everything was, and how one glass of good old port wine called beseechingly for another, this announcement was, to say the least, both strange and provoking. One was inclined to feel like the Yankee Senator, who always, when he came down his hotel stairs to the bar, had two cocktails. A friend of his, Colonel Stokes — they are all either colonels, senators, or judges in the States — asked; "Senator, can't you tone up with one cocktail?" "Wall, colon'l, it's just this — when I take one cocktail it makes me feel quite another man ; and I feel bound, as a gentleman, to treat that other man, to another cocktail."
The rule, according to Dirty Dick's notice, like many more rules, and even Acts of Parliament, was to be easily evaded if one only knew how. Customers who relished the old port and brown sherry surmounted the difficulty in a very simple way : they quietly walked outside and returned by another door. That satisfied the conscience of the servers at the bar, who in their turn, satisfied the request of the newly entered customers for another — no, not another glass, but " one similar to that supplied to the gentleman who just went out."
When the present house was erected on the site of the old one it retained, or rather tried to retain, the old name of " Dirty Dick's." But it was so transmogrified, so utterly different from the original shop, that it soon became known as " Clean Richard's." They still keep the old mummies of a dead cat, a few ditto rats, and some specimens of cobwebs ; but it won't do. In spite of all these mementoes, the place is Dirty Dick's no longer, but " Clean Richard's " — at any rate, to old customers who knew it years ago. The business remained in the same family for about 150 years, and only changed hands about four or five years ago.
It is now owned by a well-known Mark Lane wine and spirit merchant. The old wine and spirit vaults are still in existence, but the venerable cob-webs with which the place was festooned were, of necessity, somewhat rudely displaced during the rebuilding of the front and upper portion of the premises in 1870, when they were condemned and partially pulled down by order of the City authorities. The ceiling and walls of the shop are, however, still preserved.
Of late years there has been related and printed a legend that the place was shut up for many years, on account of the bride of its owner dying suddenly in the morning of what was to have been their wedding day, but it is utterly unworthy of credence for one moment. Quite similar legends are attached to some score of old country houses, particularly in the West of England. Tales of a similar character have been embodied in works of fiction over and over again, from Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins to the numerous writers of Penny Dreadfuls ad nauseam, and arc now quite played out.

There once stood on the same side of the road as Dirty Dick's another of the old coaching hotels. The name remains in the " person," if I may so express it, of a public-house, the Catherine Wheel. Further towards Leadenhall Street was an old house well known in its day by its curious name — The Magpie and Punch Bowl ; but, like many more houses of the same kind, the old sign has gone under and become lost. The place is now known only by the name of its proprietor or Landlord. It is probable that one might inquire of many people in the street — even of a policeman — for the Magpie and Punch Bowl, and none would be able to tell him. Let him ask, however, for Finch's, and his very first inquiry will be answered by his being pointed to the corner of Clark's Place.

This is a famous pub, largely through its name. The pub was originally called the Old Jerusalem and was renamed Dirty Dick’s in 1814.The history suggests that it was just a wine bar (historically) for much of its life! The current address places it at the corner of Sweedland Court, and this has not changed since at least the 1850s, although the address has, being originallly at '48 & 49 Bishopsgate Street without' in 1882, and at 202 by 1915; it has always been a few doors away from the Woodins Shades.

In 1915 & 1921, for example, the wine bar is number 202, at the corner of Sweedland Court; Middlesex Street is at 210; Catherine Wheel Alley is at 194, and the Woodins Shades is at 212. The 1921 directory includes DD's as part of the name - Dirty Dicks! This is a Youngs pub in 2017.

A listing of historical public houses, Taverns, Inns, Beer Houses and Hotels in Bishopsgate - St Botolphs, London.

Ye Dyrtie Dick, 202 / 204 Bishopsgate EC - established 1745, circa 1940?

Ye Dyrtie Dick, 202 / 204 Bishopsgate EC - established 1745, circa 1940?

Kindly provided by John Carnaby

Dirty Dicks, 202 Bishopsgate - established 1745

Dirty Dicks, 202 Bishopsgate - established 1745

Kindly provided by Colleen

Dirty Dicks, 202 Bishopsgate - established 1745, circa 1940?

Dirty Dicks, 202 Bishopsgate - established 1745, circa 1940?

Kindly provided by John Carnaby

An early Dirty Dicks Poster

An early Dirty Dicks Poster

Kindly provided by John Carnaby

Dustbin Bar, Dirty Dicks, 202 Bishopsgate

Dustbin Bar, Dirty Dicks, 202 Bishopsgate

Kindly provided by John Carnaby

Dirty Dicks, 202 Bishopsgate, EC2 - in December 2006

Dirty Dicks, 202 Bishopsgate, EC2 - in December 2006

Kindly provided by Stephen Harris


Residents at this address.

1805/William Barker, wine and brandy merchant, 49 Bishopsgate street Without/../../Holdens Directory

1811/William Barker, wine and brandy merchant, 49 Bishopsgate street/../../Holdens Directory

1855/Wm. Barker & Son/../../../P.O. Directory **

1856/William Barker & Son/Wine & Brandy Merchants/../../Post Office Directory

1869/William Barker & Son/Distillers/../../Post Office Directory

1882/William Barker & Son/Wine Merchants/../../Post Office Directory

1893/W Barker & Son/Wine Merchants/../../Post Office Directory **

1902/W Barker & Son/Wine Merchants/../../Post Office Directory **

1908/W Barker & Son/Wine Merchants/../../Post Office Directory **

1915/William Barker & Son/Wine Merchants/../../Post Office Directory

1917/William Barker & Son/Wine Merchants/../../Post Office Directory **

1921/William Barker & Son (DD's) Ltd/Wine Merchants/../../Post Office Directory

2017/../Dirty Dicks, 202 Bishopsgate, City of London, London, EC2M 4NR : Youngs/../Post Office Directory


** Provided By Stephen Harris

References :  Lots of references are made to two sources on the internet archive :
Edward Callows, Old London Taverns &

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    And Last updated on: Wednesday, 03-Jul-2019 01:01:59 BST