Mitre Tavern

Definition

Theater

  • The name of three London inns with literary and theatricalconnections.

    The Mitre Tavern in Wood Street was used by Ben Jonsonas the setting for scenes in Bartholomew Fair and EveryMan in His Humour; subsequent visitors included Samuel Pepys.The building was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666.

    In the late 17th century the Mitre Tavern in St James's Marketwas run by a Mrs Voss, the aunt of Anne Oldfield. The playwrightGeorge Farquhar was impressed when he heard Anne rehearsing passagesfrom The Scornful Lady by Beaumont and Fletcher while she wasworking behind the bar; they subsequently became lovers. Anne's mothermentioned Farquhar's admiration for her daughter to another guest,John Vanbrugh, who - anxious not to lose such a promising talentto a rival - found her work at Covent Garden. By the time ofher death in 1730 Anne Oldfield was the most famous actress in thecountry.

    The Mitre Tavern in Mitre Court, Fleet Street, was a meeting-placefor Dr Johnson, Oliver Goldsmith, and other figures fromthe literary world of the time. It was here that Johnson made hisfamous remark that a seat in a tavern is "the throne of humanfelicity." The building was demolished in 1829.

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