|Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire|
From the Simpson’s in the Strand website:
Originally opened in 1828 as a chess club and coffee house – The Grand Cigar Divan – Simpson’s soon became known as the “home of chess”, attracting such chess luminaries as Howard Staunton the first English world chess champion through its doors. It was to avoid disturbing the chess games in progress that the idea of placing large joints of meat on silver-domed trolleys and wheeling them to guests’ tables first came into being, a practice Simpson’s still continues today. One of the earliest Master Cooks insisted that everything in the restaurant be British and the Simpson’s of today remains a proud exponent of the best of British food. Famous regulars include Charles Dickens, George Bernard Shaw, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (and his fictional creation, Sherlock Holmes), Benjamin Disraeli and William Gladstone.
Known for it’s joints of beef wheeled tableside on huge, steel trollies, Simpsons has always been a favourite of those with a literary bent. From Wikipedia: In E. M. Forster‘s Howards End, Henry Wilcox is a devotee of Simpson’s. P. G. Wodehouse devoted several paragraphs of Something New to the restaurant, and in his novel Psmith in the City, his two heroes dine there: “Psmith waited for Mike while he changed, and carried him off in a cab to Simpson’s, a restaurant which, as he justly observed, offered two great advantages, namely, that you need not dress, and, secondly, that you paid your half-crown, and were then at liberty to eat till you were helpless, if you felt so disposed, without extra charge.” Simpson’s is also featured in Wodehouse’s “Cocktail Time” as the restaurant that one of the characters, Cosmo Wisdom, chooses to lunch at after leaving Prison. Simpson’s also features in the Sherlock Holmes stories. Watson joins Holmes there during the story “The Illustrious Client” the detective is sitti
ng “looking down at the rushing stream of life in the Strand.”
|The window in the upstairs bar at Simpsons. Possibly the window Holmes himself had gazed out from.|
So you see, it’s not unusual that I should have chosen Simpson’s as the scene of this evening’s dinner party, for a party it was to be and, as Diane and I had some time before the rest of my guests arrived, we headed upstairs to Knight’s Bar for a cocktail. Wodehouse would no doubt have approved.
Literary connections aside, Simpson’s has also been the site of a Royal intrigue or two, the most widely known being that Simpson’s, this very bar no less, was used by King Edward VII to secretly meet with his mistress, Lillie Langtry.
|Lillie Langtry and King Edward VII|
And so Diane and I sat with our cocktails and waited for the rest of the party to arrive. Can you guess who they were? A member of the Royal Family, perhaps? Much better – my guests this evening were some of the fabulous guest speakers and guides who will be part of Number One London’s 2017 Tours.
Oysters, dinner, wine and a grand time were had by all!
Full Details Regarding Number One London’s
2017 Tours Coming Soon!
“What’s that church up ahead?” Diane asked after a while.
I looked at the church as we approached. “No idea.”
“No idea?” she asked, sounding surprised.
“Nope. Afraid not. I really don’t know this part of London like the back of my hand, as I dare say I do in Mayfair and the West End. This is all pretty much virgin territory for me, except for Twinings. I know where Twinings is. But I do know how we can figure out what church this is.”
“We’ll read the sign.”