A melancholy yet amusing tale is told in a 1903 issue of the Brewer’s Journal and Hop and Malt Trades’ Review.
As expected, humdrum reportage vital to brewing business dominates the pages: hops arriving from Ostend, Brisbane and points between; reports of a diastatic nature; new yeasty science, etc.
But a tale in literary form stood out.
And so a noted, venerable public house of London was lost to history. The Harp had long been patronized by those who tread the boards or with other connections to the world of playhouses, acting, and greasepaint.*
The locale was in Drury Lane, near the Theatre Royal and Fortune Theatre. There is, today, an old Harp pub in Covent Garden, a Fuller house, but of different lineage, it seems.
Famed Shakespearean actor Edmund Kean (1787-1833) knew a thing or two about the pot, including evidently as missile. A good bio appears in the Alchetron site, with a dynamic image of Kean shown.
Richard Sheridan will need no introduction for many, but this Wikipedia entry may interest some. His reaction to the conflagration of his prime business asset reveals sang froid to the max, or maybe a peculiar dark humour, call it what you will.
The general temperament today is quite different – no doubt a call would be made to the local M.P. for government help to build a new one – but then the pub business is not what it used to be, either.
Despite the fire disaster a Theatre Royal still operates, at the original location. It was rebuilt with the help of no less than Samuel Whitbread, the great brewer, appropriately for our story. The Wikipedia entry for Theatre Royal states:
Already on the shakiest financial ground, Sheridan was ruined entirely by the loss of the building. He turned to brewer Samuel Whitbread, an old friend, for help. As well as investing strongly in the project, Whitbread agreed to head a committee that would manage the company and oversee the rebuilding of the theatre, but asked Sheridan to withdraw from management himself, which he did entirely by 1811 ….
The present Theatre Royal in Drury Lane, designed by Benjamin Dean Wyatt on behalf of the committee led by Whitbread, opened on 10 October 1812 with a production of Hamlet featuring Robert Elliston in the title role.
Of the wryly named City of Lushington, it is long gone, the wit and gaiety that inspired it, at any rate.
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*There is no connection here to Irish Harp Lager.