Search my Pub history, pubwiki and London

Simpsons Tavern & Hotel, Ball court, St Michael Cornhill EC3

St Michael Cornhill index

The later address is at 38 1/2 Cornhill. At times listed as a restaurant.

Billingsgate was so named after an ancient I>ritish king, Belinus, who here had his waterside palace — his " villa on the Thames." Two British poets, " at two distant ages born," wrote the two following couplets, —

"Where great Belinus held his court of old,
Oisters are now obstreperously sold ;
Where bows were made to Ministers of State,
The populace now purchase Ling and Skate.'


" A beau t'other day made a monkey-like spring.
And at once over set all the fish of Sal Ling ;
Enraged Sal pursued ; and caught hnn so snug ;
And gave for his frolic a rib-squeezing hug.''

This is the Billingsgate as is, and not the Billingsgate as was, to paraphrase an old pun in Flinch on two Sultans of Turkey.
I knew the old Billingsgate, as was, very well. It was twice as dirty, and ten times more fragrant than, the new one. At the west end of old Billingsgate was Ball Alley, only just wide enough for two people to walk abreast, and then they were in danger of having their coat tails bedaubed with wet fish.

It is very probable that to this danger to one's garments is to be attributed the fact that no ladies ever ventured down Ball Alley, and so never discovered Simpson's Fish Dinner House, which was down at the bottom of this lane, alley, or passage, overlooking the river and the various boats alongside, delivering their several cargoes of oysters, eels, winkles, whelks, and other like delicacies.

" Simpson's " had a world-wide repute that has survived the demolition of his habitation. I have dined there repeatedly. It was at the best a scramble ; and I do not enjoy a scramble at dinner. It was also a match against time. Fish, of various sorts, the best in season, cooked unexceptionally, was placed upon the tables.

Every seat around was occupied, and the chairs were packed pretty close. A hurried grace was said — I had almost written gabbled — and the scramble began. It was simply "Devil take the hindmost." The old and regular customers were all right, were served promptly, and came in for most of the tit-bits. Many of these gentlemen were located in the neighbourhood. The Custom House, close by, the Coal Exchange, and other business places supplied this clientele. Strangers had to look sharp, and, seizing a waiter by the tail of his once new swallow-tail coat, either implore or threaten him with dire consequences, according to their own temperament, to induce him to attend to their wants.

One thing the waiters were most assiduous in pressing on the notice of the guests, and that was punch. Simpson's punch was one shilling a small, or one and sixpence a large glass. It was worth it — but, like many other good things, had to be taken with caution and moderation. A little of it, and you felt you almost preferred a hurried dinner a la scrimage. A little more, and you began to discover beauties in the view of the River Thames and the distant shores of Southwark that had not occurred to you when you sat down. You felt happy and comfortable.

Waiter (loq.) — "More punchy sir?"

If you were a prudent man, you said, '' No ! " with a capital N, and prepared to take your walks abroad.
All this has vanished, and a new market that knows not Simpson has risen in its place. Bell Alley has gone into limbo. The new market is a very creditable affair, but has one glaring and insurmountable fault. It should be ten times as big, and approached by wide streets from north, east, and west.
Up in the corner of this new market is a public house or tavern on the banks of the river, as Simpson's was ; but at the other or eastern end.
After trying every door into the different bars in vain, a right one will be found at last. Proceeding upstairs, the seeker after a fish dinner will be rewarded for his journey, for there will be served to him, at stated hours, a fish dinner equal to anything Simpson ever supplied, and in a style of comfort that was utterly unattainable at the old place.
Restaurants and dining-places of all descriptions have improved with the age, and why should not the fish dinner of Billingsgate Market go with the times ? It has, if people only knew it ?

A listing of historical London public houses, Taverns, Inns, Beer Houses and Hotels in  St Michael Cornhill parish, City of London.

Residents at this address

1841/Mrs S. Kincaid/../../../Post Office Directory *

1841/Sophia Kincaid/Tavern Keeper/50/../Census
1841/Mary Kincaid/../19/../Census
1841/Charles Dunnage/Independant/28/MiddlesexCensus
1841/Edward Oate/Male Servant/31/../Census
1841/Alfred Lawler/Male Servant/19/../Census
1841/Frederick Lawler/Male Servant/22/../Census
1841/John Gritton/Male Servant/13/../Census
1841/Thos Ellis/Male Servant/12/Middlesex/Census
1841/John Maltson/Male Servant/22/../Census
1841/Ellen Cormac/Female Servant/14/Middlesex/Census
1841/Ann Waters/Female Servant/25/Middlesex/Census
1841/Mary Young/Female Servant/26/../Census

1843/Mrs Sophia Kincaid/../../../Kellys Directory

1848/Mrs Sophia Kincaid/38 Crutchedfriars/../../Post Office Directory

1851/Mrs S Kincaid/../../../Kelly’s Directory

1851/Sophia Kincaid/Tavern Keeper, Widow/60/Cranbrook, Kent/Census
1851/Charles H Kincaid/Son/38/Cranbrook, Kent/Census
1851/Mary Ann Kincaid/Daughter, Assistant/26/Cranbrook, Kent/Census
1851/Louisa Kincaid/Daughter in Law/35/Madras, East Indies, British Subject/Census
1851/Donald Kincaid/Grandson/7/Quimper, France/Census
1851/Charles Dunnage/Nephew/41/Hainsworth, Middlesex/Census
1851/Henry Andrews/Waiter/22/Petworth, Sussex/Census
1851/Mary Ann Clarke/Kitchenmaid/34/Yeovil, Somerset/Census
1851/W Baker/Waiter/19/Bayswater, Middlesex/Census
1851/Jesse Ferrier/Barmaid/33/Banffshire, Scotland/Census
1851/Ann Newton/Housemaid/25/Cranbrook, Kent/Census

1856/William Gardner/../../../Post Office Directory

1861/James Jackson/Tavern Keeper/41/Streatham, Surrey/Census
1861/Emily Jackson/Wife/31/Kingsland, Middlesex/Census
1861/Maria Hewitt/Barmaid/37/Greenwich, Kent/Census
1861/Julia Reynolds/Kitchenmaid/21/Blackfriars, Middlesex/Census
1861/Lipporah Willing/Housemaid/23/Bramfield, Suffolk/Census
1861/Martha Penfold/Scullery Maid/22/Hartfield, Sussex/Census
1861/James E Higgins/Kitchen Boy/17/City of London/Census

1869/James Jackson/../../../Post Office Directory *

1882/John Smith/../../../Post Office Directory *

1895/John Smith/../../../Post Office Directory *

Simpsons, Ball Court & 38 1/2 Cornhill
1911/Alice Jome Thomas/Manageress/44/Finsbury, London/Census
1911/Henrietta Maud Smith/Barmaid/34/Gloucester/Census
1911/Ada Maria Looke/Housemaid/28/South Bromley/Census

1915/J. Smith & Co./../../../Post Office Directory *

1921/J Smith & Co/Simpsons Restaurant/../../Post Office Directory
1921/E A Smith/Simpsons Tavern/../../Post Office Directory

1938/J Smith & Co/Simpsons Restaurant/../../Post Office Directory

1983/Free House/Simpsons Tavern, 38 Cornhill/../../Pub Directory

1991/Bass/Simpsons Tavern, The pub was founded by Thomas Simpson in 1757 and is currently owned by E.J. Rose but is for sale as is the Jamaica Wine House. /../../Pub Directory


* Provided By Ewan

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

Man Loaded with Mischief
  • My favourite pub sign
  • Navigation

    And Last updated on: Monday, 30-Sep-2019 15:20:38 BST