In the sixteenth century there were a number of taverns situated in Fleet Street. In fact, the parish of St Dunstan was said to have been home to twenty-six inns. But one of the more famous was The Devil’s Tavern located at number 1 Fleet Street. The inn has an association which makes it very interesting. For at number 2 Fleet Street and being an integral part of the tavern, was the Apollo Club.
It attracted a number of prominent people as customers including Samuel Pepys and Dr Johnson. We know the latter patronised the Devil by 1616 because he refers to once having some disagreeable wine there which he described as “the Devil is an asse.”
The Apollo Club or sometimes also referred to as the Oracle of Apollo was a literary club where Dr Johnson, Jonathan Swift and Samuel Pepys were members. It was a club reserved for the more intellectual members of society. However, it does appear that much of the time was reserved for drinking as well as debate.
Towards the end of the eighteenth century the Devil’s Tavern began to fall from favour with the consequence that it could no longer pay for itself. And so, in 1787, the building was demolished to make way for a bank. This was called Child & Co and they paid £2,800 for the plot. A bank is still there and outside is a blue plaque to the memory of the Devil’s Tavern.