This is probably my favourite little lane or passage way in Dublin. Not least because it’s not featured on any maps, it was the site of two of Dublin’s most famous 18th century coffee houses – ‘Little Dublin Coffee House’ and ‘Royal Exchange Coffee House’ and as I’ve had some memorable personal experiences in the lane (nothing dirty!)
Crampton Court links Dame Street (entrance just under ‘BAR’ in the sign for Brogans BAR) and leads right down, past the back entrance to The Olympia Theatre, to Essex Street East (entrance just beside the Dublin Theatre Festival office)
Flora H. Mitchell in her excellent Vanishing Dublin (1966) described it as being
“… the unofficial “exchange” of Dublin until the “commercial buildings” were opened in 1799. No 20, “The Little Dublin Coffee House” provided the merchants with a meeting place prior to this. Crampton Court had been used as a short cut from the Olympia Theatre to the well known Dolphin Restaurant prior to it being demolished in 1963.”
The doors in Crampton Court were famous in their own right:
This is how it looked in the 18th century when the court was bustling with trade and housing:
Like so many beautiful and historical sites, it fell into decay in the 1950s and 1960s:
A real pity. An anonymous letter to The Irish Times (May 23rd, 1931) described it as ‘a part of Dublin which still seems to suggest its ancient history’.
No doubt at one stage Palace Street used to run right across Dame Street and into Crampton Court:
So next time your heading down Dame Street, when not pop through Crampton Court and have a gawk at an old, forgotten part of Dublin.
Plus see if you can spot the wooden rafter above your head, as you come from the narrow Essex St. East side, that looks especially old! Perhaps original?