Jenny’s Whim couldn’t really be described as an inn although it did sell ale and other alcoholic beverages. Officially it was a teahouse but that doesn’t tell even half the story. Some might have said it had more connections to a brothel but that didn’t quite fit either. But, however it is described, it was popular in its time.
Situated in the Pimlico area of London, not far from Westminster, it was located by a bridge which spanned the Grosvenor Canal. Jenny’s Whim flourished in the 1720s when Pimlico was nothing like it is today; in the eighteenth century it was mostly just marshland. And the area was plagued by criminals – highwaymen and murderers.
So why did Jenny’s Whim attract all levels of society but especially the more well-off? It was because it offered diversions and opportunities for couples looking to spend time together and lovers searching for somewhere they could meet. Indeed, it was described as the best place to take a young lady. There were pleasure gardens of a sort there as well.
A couple might take a stroll around the gardens and all of a sudden one of them might step on a hidden spring which might trigger a “ghost” or “monster” to appear. This was intended to have the effect of making the young lady swoon into the arms of her companion. I must stress this was the eighteenth century! There were also quiet alcoves in the garden and rooms could also be hired in the teahouse. In addition, one could play skittles, go duck hunting or even watch some cock fighting. It is thought that it was these diversions that led to the term “Whim” in the name.
Jenny’s Whim came to an end in the 1860s. Victoria Station was being built and the new lines cut through where the house and gardens stood.