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The “Dick Whittington,” Cloth Fair

Dick Whittington.jpg “Ye Olde Rover’s Return,” ManchesterThumbnailsThe Oldest Inhabited house in England“Ye Olde Rover’s Return,” ManchesterThumbnailsThe Oldest Inhabited house in England

The City of London’s oldest licensed inn is, by its own claiming, the “Dick Whittington,” in Cloth Fair, Smithfield, but it only claims to have been licensed in the fifteenth century, when it might reasonably—without much fear of contradiction—have made it a century earlier. This is an unusual modesty, fully deserving mention. It is only an “inn” by courtesy, for, however interesting and picturesque the grimy, tottering old lath-and-plaster house may be to the stranger, imagination does not picture any one staying either in the house or in Cloth Fair itself while other houses and other neighbourhoods remain to choose from; and, indeed, the “Dick Whittington”[Pg 6] does not pretend to be anything else than a public-house. The quaint little figure at the angle, in the gloom of the overhanging upper storey, is one of the queer, unconventional imaginings of our remote forefathers, and will repay examination.

The Old Inns of Old England, Volume I (of 2)
A Picturesque Account of the Ancient and Storied Hostelries of Our Own Country
Author and illustrator: Charles G. Harper
Published in 1906
Available from gutenberg.org