The Prince of Orange Coffee House was located near the King’s Theatre at the junction of Cockspur Street and the Haymarket. During the mid-eighteenth century it served two interlocking groups: London’s Italian colony and the mixed population of musicians, actors, and dancers active around the Haymarket. Horn player Henry Rash either operated or lived at the coffee house. In 1754, Neapolitan diva Regina Mingotti used the Orange Coffee House as her base to meet fellow musicians after her performances at the King’s Theatre.
Here, in May 1759, tickets were sold for Tenducci’s benefit concert for the violinist Signor Falco at the Great Room, Dean Street. It was also the address chosen by Giuseppe Cattanei for the sale of his VI Sonate a violino e basso (around 1765). In his declining years the house was the favourite watering hole of the cellist Giacobbe Cervetto, affectionately known as ‘Old Nosey’.
In 1737, Michael Christian Festing was appointed director of the Italian Opera orchestra in London. One day in 1738, he and two other musicians (Karl Friedrich [Charles] Weidemann and Thomas Vincent) were standing in the doorway of the Orange Coffee House when they noticed two underfed boys driving some donkeys along the Haymarket. They recognised the children as being the sons of Dutch oboe player Jean Christian Kytch who had recently died. The latter was known as ‘Handel’s oboist’ as he had inspired the composer’s use of a solo oboe in many of his works.
They raised money for the children, thus laying the foundation of The Fund for the Support of Decayed Musicians and their Families, a charity which later became known as the Royal Society of Musicians. The Fund received patronage from George III and it was incorporated by Royal Charter in 1790. Young Franz Liszt gave his first concert in England for the benefit of the Society in 1824.