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Cheapside, Ben Jonson, and lost London (that never was)

Today is Ben Jonson's birthday (1572) and the almanac listing reminds us that he and all our other favorite Elizabethan playwrights would hang out at the Mermaid Tavern in Cheapside, which was at the corner of Bread Street and Cannon Street just west of St. Paul's.

Members of the first-Fridays drinking club included among them Ben Jonson, John Donne, John Fletcher and Francis Beaumont, Thomas Coryat, John Selden, Robert Bruce Cotton, Richard Carew, Richard Martin, and William Strachey -- but probably not Will Shakespeare, because they considered him lower class and poorly educated.

If you look at that location today during your walk across the Millennium Bridge between the church and the Tate Modern, you'll see a very different image of modern London:,+London+EC4M+6XD,+UK/@51.5127433,-0.0950892,3a,75y,41.16h,91.2t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1sa9RF1nAfnSu1LSwC2nPSHw!2e0!!7i16384!8i8192!4m5!3m4!1s0x487604aa8b81d613:0x4d46699e8b7b7b24!8m2!3d51.5126742!4d-0.0951381

Time marches on -- the Mermaid Tavern burned down in the Great Fire of 1666.
And out of the ashes grew a lot of mythical stories about how Shakespeare and his crew ruled the roost there:

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“Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.” One of my favorite quotes from Dr. Jonson . Or , was it Louis Mazzini ?