Up Ludgate hill and on beyond St Paul’s to the north of city of London there has been a Tavern in this part of Cheapside for more years than anyone can remember. It was a tavern with no name or rather it had a proper name but it hadn’t been used for so long that everyone thereabouts had forgotten. It became known as Turpin’s after Sybil’s father who ran the place for forty years. It was he who made the place the notorious tavern it is today. It was synonymous with every conceivable sort of crime and in his day Turpin had been personally involved in most.
There is a maze of small passages around Honey Lane and it is possible to approach the tavern from at least five different routes. It is even possible to walk past the building a few yards from the main entrance and not even notice a tavern is there at all. From the Turpin’s It is possible to make a short walk to the run-down dockland area of the Thames. This and the numerous approaches to the Tavern make it a special haven of comfort for the criminal fraternity who make up the larger part of Turpin’s trade.
The building itself is U shaped and the courtyard within has a stable block, a gin shop and a veranda on two sides where guests may walk to their rooms. It might have been a coaching Inn in the past; there is certainly space for a carriage to enter and leave without having to be backed up. Twenty or more horses could be stabled here but what self respecting business would advertise their presence in such a place. It would be like shouting out to the highwaymen and their accomplices,
“Make way the coach is leaving and there are tidy pickings on this trip. A banker from Bow a wealthy shopkeeper from Queen Street and the Lord Mayor’s personal assistant are all travelling north.” The customers of Turpin’s would be falling over themselves to get ahead of the coach.
Part of the stables has been converted in to a brewery where for many years Turpin brewed a weak ale he could sell at a good profit. Sybil keeps the brewery going because the locals still enjoy it. The Gin shop is tiny cellar opening on to a track at the back of Honey Lane. Locals living in the vicinity will use the shop bringing a tin jug in which to collect their favourite brew. Business owners will also use the shop sending for the pot boy to deliver. The population is safer drinking the weak ale than they are the water. Gin was cheap. Sybil watered hers down and charged one penny a tankard, thus doing customers a great service although she did not dilute it for altruistic reasons.