Advert for the Ship Restaurant
Medium: Print on paper
Restaurants were not as popular in 19th century Britain as they were in continental Europe. One of the reasons for this was the British public's unflagging devotion to inns, taverns and public houses. Such establishments had served cheap food since the days of the old coaching inns, and many of them had stages or rooms for music and comedy performances. As such they remained popular with the middle and working classes.
At the wealthier end of the social spectrum, the upper classes considered it rather declassé and impersonal to eat large meals out of the home. They could afford to host large dinner parties in their homes, sometimes with staggering gastronomic or presentational elaborations.
Restaurants such as the Ship became more popular towards the end of the 19th century, first of all with the professional classes (many of whom could not go home for their midday meal), but eventually even with the upper classes. It is perhaps not coincidental that the end of the century was marked by a general decline in the numbers of domestic servants.