Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue – Day Fifty-Seven

The Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue was first published at the end of the eighteenth century, and given that the Coronavirus crisis is giving too much time to read books, I thought I’d pick a daily word from it until I got bored…..

Calves Head Club

I’m not sure this is much of a definition as it’s more of an historic tale, but the dictionary notes this is “a club instituted by the Independents and Presbyterians, to commemorate the decapitation of King Charles I. Their chief fare was calves heads; and they drank their wine and ale out of calves skulls”.

The club allegedly met every 30 January, the date of the execution of the King, becoming something of a Bullingdon Club arrangement. This kept going until 1734, when they went too far at an event at the Golden Eagle pub, on Suffolk Street in London, with an account reporting:

“Thursday in the evening a disorder of a very particular nature happened in Suffolk-street: ’Tis said that several young gentlemen of distinction having met at a house there, call’d themselves the Calf’s-Head Club; and about seven o’clock a bonfire being lit up before the door, just when it was in the height, they brought a calf’s-head to the window dress’d in a napkin-cap, and after some Huzza’s, threw it into the fire: The mob were entertained with strong-beer, and for some time halloo’d as well as the best; but taking a disgust at some healths which were proposed, grew so outrageous, that they broke all the windows, forc’d themselves into the house, and would probably have pull’d it down, had not the Guards been sent for to prevent further mischief. The damage done within and without the house, is computed at some hundred pounds. The Guards were posted all night in the street, for the security of the neighbourhood.”

A little too raucous for me.