THE CASTLE TAVERN IN HOLBORN
‘TOM SPRING’S PARLOUR; Otherwise the “TEMPLE OF THE FANCY!” […] First opened as a Sporting House [c. 1810…] by the well-known Bob Gregson’. [It became a highly popular sporting meeting place for this sporting set].
'The groupes to be met with in the coffee room […] are highly characteristic of the different grades of life – abounding with ORIGINALS of all sorts - a kind of Masquerade […] You may be seated next to an M.P without being aware of that honour; and you may likewise rub against some noble lord without committing a breach of privilege' (Egan, Book of Sports).
'It must be admitted, that it is not of equal notoriety with Lloyd’s Coffee-house, yet it is of great celebrity in the SPORTING WORLD, and is viewed as a prominent feature in the Metropolis […] BOB’S frequenters are of the most respectable description; and the various gradations of the Fancy hither resort, to discuss matters incidental to pugilism' (Boxiana I).
The Castle Tavern appears to have been a place of anecdote, badinage, and rousing sing-alongs. Diverse ranks of pugilists were celebrated in the drinking song ‘A Boxing We Will Go’, defiantly resisting the threat posed by Napoleon:
'If Boney doubt it, let him come,
And try with Crib a round;
And Crib shall beat him like a drum,
And make his carcase sound.
We’ve many more would like to floor,
The little upstart King;
And soon for mercy make him roar,
Within a spacious ring.
Egan later commented:
'During the principal time of Tom [Belcher]’s residence […] milling, ‘glorious milling’ was the order of the day […] He had lots of sporting dinners; numerous gay little suppers; and always plenty of matches on the board to excite the attention of the fancy. The Daffy Club, a prime hit, also became very popular in the Sporting World'.
(Book of Sports, 1832)