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IN THE NEWS
TOUR OF THE MONTH
ON THIS DAY IN LONDON
The Rainbow Coffee House
One of England's oldest and most tawdry coffee houses.
Location: 16 Fleet Street
Description: This pub was established in 1656 or 1657 by James Farr as the Rainbow Coffee House, then only the second coffee house in London, although it appears to have also functioned as a tavern from the start. The pub was rebuilt in around 1859 and became more famous for it's stout, but is now long-gone. Farr was a barber as well as a coffee house pioneer.
Many complaints were made against Farr's notorious coffee house and indeed against coffee, as both were seen as dens of debauchery.
The Phoenix Fire-office (the second office established in England for insurance against fire) was located at the Rainbow Tavern, in Fleet-street as early as 1682.
The Spectator's Joseph Addison and Richard Steele were both samplers of coffee here, where the latest scandal was talked and the latest fashions exhibited.
In No. 16 of the Spectator it says I have received a letter desiring me to be very satirical upon the little muff that is now in fashion ; another informs me of a pair of silver garters buckled below the knee, that have lately been seen at the Rainbow Coffee-house in Fleet Street.
Writers Hilaire Belloc and GK Chesterton frequented the pub.
For the past 60 years it has been a legal bookshop.