Last year, at the start of my #365DaysofLondonBaby series, I received a tip from London Guide Miss B on a wonderful event she is running together with 18th century socialite Miss Kitty Pridden – The Georgian Dining Academy (you can see my old post here). At that time, i unfortunately could not make it, so I was very honoured and happy to be invited for a “special edition” of the Georgian Dining Academy, in conjunction with Dr Johnson’s House, celebrating Samuel Johnson’s Birthday at his very own house. You will have to excuse my probably “creative” use of “old English” in this post- i must admit i learnt so many new words this evening and thoroughly enjoyed this “in character” speaking of those who knew it well, that I try to use what i learn and to transport some of the atmosphere onto those virtual pages of the blog!
The fun already started before the night, receiving a dress code and a lovely menu choice, the menu aimed to closely represent food of that time (see below!)
Finding Dr. Johnson’s House (located at 17 Gough Square) was already half the fun, in the dark alleyways between Holborn and Fleet Street, you feel far away from our modern city, with cobblestones, arches and not so bright street lamps.
Upon arrival, the evening started with Gin and Tonics in the attic, followed by a short and witty introduction by Miss Kitty Pridden, with witty quotes of Samuel Johnson. Time to admire all the fancy costumes of both ladies and gents.
The convivial group then descended to the main room in the house, wonderfully decorated with the original Dr. Johnson’s Museum’s artefacts (such as furniture, pictures etc.) and the table decorated with exquisite chandeliers, glassware and cutlery and the dinner started, accompanied by endless flow of very excellent wine. In addition to food and drinks, the table also featured fans and games for the amusement of the guests and loud “Huzzahs” upon toasting and gambling wins could be heard.
As a special guest of the night, Georgian Times Expert and Author Catherine Curzon introduced Samuel Johnson, his role in Georgian Society and his meeting with his “fanboy” George III. in an interesting and animated talk. First I was afraid that a talk upon a full belly (between mains and desert) might be difficult to follow, but Catherine made it come to life and I sincerely enjoy reading her book of Life in the Georgian Court that i bought (so good was the talk!).
Below you can see some pictures I took this night (not all crystal clear as i might have been a bit tipsy)
If you want to get to know more about the Georgian Dining Academy, you can find their website here.
If you have time on December the 1st, and you like what you read above, the next event is the Yule-Tide Celebration in their regular location of Simpsons Tavern (established 1757!) to celebrate the start of the festive season. Tickets can be booked on Eventbrite or by enquiring directly with the organisers via email. They also offer discount on costume hire. Early Bird Tickets with discount are available until 17th of November.
In summary, i can just say thank you for the great evening. It was a glimpse of the London of the past with its celebrities, Kings, Food and customs. And it was a great mix of people attending, from London guides and historians, to foreigners like me, all having a sincere interest and appreciation for London in all its facets. I hope to be able to join again soon. If in the meanwhile, you have any tips for similar London adventures, please let me know in the comments or send a message. Until then, make sure you get your spot on December 1st or another Georgian Dining academy or in a walk by one of the two great Ladies behind this adventure. Happy Sunday!!