Chocolate House Tour
Join dandyish earls, Spanish conquistadors, rakish gamblers and chocaholic tyrants for an immersive whirlwind tour of the decadent and anarchic chocolate houses of Georgian London led by Dr Matthew Green to violin accompaniment in the majestic boulevards of St James’s.
- The tour includes free servings of mind-blowing luxury Baroque hot chocolate courtesy of Cocoa Hernando.
Witness how a thick, luxuriant, exotically spiced glop called chocolate conquered Baroque Europe and corrupted the most fashionable quarter of London, spawning sexually-charged hotbeds of decadence, depravity and despair that Londoners came to call chocolate houses.
Meet the the chief Spanish conquistador, Hernán Cortés, the man who pulverised the Aztec Empire and brought chocolate (and rubber balls) to Europe. Hear his stories of how he found money growing on trees in the form of cacao pods, which the savages liked to brew up with chilli and vanilla and mix with the blood of sacrificial slaves.
Enjoy an audience with chocaholic Cosimo de’ Medici of Tuscany, Baroque Europe’s most gluttonous tyrant and taste his extravagant Jasmine hot chocolate, the drink that bankrupted Florence. Marvel at the contrast with the weak and watery powdered hot chocolate that most of us suffer today.
Visit the lively, decadent chocolate houses the Cocoa Tree and Ozinda’s, whirlpools of Jacobite sedition and immerse yourself in the lost world of White’s Chocolate House, “the most fashionable hell in London” where dukes and highwaymen met to place some of the most absurd and ruinous bets in the history of the world.
Saunter past luxury shops, mighty townhouses and royal palaces of St James’s where chocolate houses sprouted and flourished in London’s most exclusive quarter, once home to dukes, earls, prime ministers and royal concubines Moll Davies and Nell Gwynn.
With startling performances, transportive violin music, and a cornucopia of historical anecdotes from genial and charismatic London historian Dr Green — not to mention the best hot chocolate in London — this is a self-indulgent treat that will open your eyes to one of the most colourful yet overlooked chapters in London’s history.
- Click here to read Dr Green’s front-page feature in the Telegraph on London’s lost chocolate houses.
Dr Matthew Green
In 2009, Dr Matthew Green completed a PhD in the history of the mass media at Oxford University. Unmoved by the prospect of a cloistered academic life he turned to popular history and now writes for the Guardian and Telegraph, appears on BBC TV and radio, teaches a wide range of historical subjects, and gives sell-out talks at the Idler Academy, 5x15, Port Eliot and elsewhere. He is currently writing a book on 17th and 18th-century coffeehouses.