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A couple of years ago, great outrage was caused in my sleepy hometown when a local public house was closed down after it was discovered that, after hours, the building was being used as the setting for pornographic films (Nottinghamshire can be naughty, too!). However, as the pub was built in the early eighteenth century, I doubt that this was the first lewd episode in the building’s history.

The saucy tiles below were found adorning a fireplace on the upper story of Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese on Fleet Street (reputedly one of Dr Johnson’s regular haunts), stirring suspicions that the upper rooms could have been used as a place of prostitution. It is just as likely, however, that they added a flash of eroticism in rooms intended for the meetings of gentlemen’s clubs or drinking societies. Although their exact date is uncertain, those clever fellows at the Museum of London have deduced that they probably date from sometime after 1740, owing to the contemporary fashion for blunt-toed shoes.

Images © Museum of London
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