A huge outpouring of London History books this year, as ever. Here is a shortlist of our favourites. Lady Bette and the Murder of Mr Thynne by Nigel Pickford tells the story of an audacious drive-by assassination in the Haymarket in 1682. Scheming, intrigue, marriage- and power-broking in late-Stuart England. Men of Letters by Duncan Barrett tells of the exploits of the Post Office Rifles during World War One. Dirty Old London by Lee Jackson is all about squalor and filth among the living and even the dead in 19C London and how the Victorians attempted to combat a huge catalogue of blights, with only partial success. You will love all of these books, no question.
But our book of the year for 2014 is Played in London: charting the heritage of a city at play by Simon Inglis. Quite simply an exceptional work of social and architectural history. Deeply researched, superbly written, beautifully designed and printed with hundreds of photos, illustrations and maps. Our review.
2011: Mr Briggs’ Hat by Kate Colquhoun
2012: Mr Foote’s Other Leg by Ian Kelly
2013: Beastly London by Hannah Velten
All our reviews for 2014.
Book round-up for 2013.
Posted in Architecture, Book Reviews, Sport | Tagged 2014, book of the year, Books, history, london, reviews | 6 Comments »
Okay, let’s jump on the bandwagon. Instead of getting bruised in the ribs by the sharp elbows of the hordes of Christmas shoppers, why not stay right where you are and purchase your loved one(s) a year’s Membership to London Historians? Or a present to yourself even. We all do that, don’t we?
Here’s the scoop.
First go to our Join page here. Join them to London Historians using their details. Email me separately to let me know what message to put on the card and whether we should send the welcome pack directly to them or to you so you can do the grand handover (furnish your address that being the case). Also, we’ll only send their welcome email and initial Member’s monthly newsletter after 25 December.
That’s it. But please do this by 3rd December so we can get the Member card made up and turned around in time. Any questions, please email me or call on 07980 623 750.
If you’re an existing Member reading this, you’ll know that you can do this with a £10 discount per November Members’ newsletter.
London Historians welcome pack includes personalised Member card and the popular wax-sealed envelope.
Posted in London Historians | Tagged Christmas, london historians, membership | Leave a Comment »
I was taking a stroll down to Brentford High Road yesterday and noticed that the old cop shop is for sale: it’s been closed for years. A typically charmless 60s commercial building, purpose-built for the boys in blue, it replaced the rather fetching Vestry Hall of 1900. The hall was designed by local architect Nowell Parr, many of whose pretty buildings (mainly Fullers pubs!) still decorate Brentford, Ealing and Chiswick. The old hall could host meetings and talks of over 600 attendees and also housed Brentford County Court. But in 1963, the bulldozers and wrecking-ball moved in. Progress!
I hope to do more on Nowell Parr in the near future. Meantime, enquiries regarding the lovely police station should be directed to Messrs Frank Knight.
Posted in 20th Century, Architecture, Local History, People | Tagged Architecture, brentford, buildings, conservation, heritage, Nowell Parr, vestry hall | 2 Comments »
Wellington by Thos. Lawrence
This day in 1852, Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, was laid to rest in St Paul’s, having died on 14 September, aged 83. Nearly half a century after Nelson’s ceremony and almost four decades of relative peace across land and sea following Waterloo, Wellington’s state funeral was the most extraordinary street procession that Londoners could remember. It even caused the Lord Mayor’s parade to be cancelled for the only time ever.
Prior to tranquil semi-retirement in Kent, the Iron Duke had become a deeply unpopular politician and Prime Minister. During a period characterised by Reform, Wellington – deeply conservative – set is face against the inexorable tide of popular emancipation. He genuinely felt that the existing settlement could not be further perfected and famously was stoned in his house and in his carriage. Even the equestrian statue of the hero of Waterloo for the Wellington Arch had been laughed at by the public and mocked in the newspapers.
But now all was forgiven and forgotten as over a million lined the route of Wellington’s funeral cortege which ran through the City to St Paul’s. It seemed to extend forever; in its midst was the extraordinary 12 ton, six wheeled funeral car. One can only imagine the racket it made over London’s old cobbles. The car has survived and is at Stratfield-Saye House.
Contemporary post card of Duke of Wellington’s funeral car.
To get some idea of the sheer size of this parade, have a look at the British Library’s full-length colour diagram.
1844 daguerreotype of Wellington
The preparation of St Paul’s took six weeks. Scaffold-borne tiered seating increased its capacity to over 13,000 as the cathedral was festooned in black crepe. The service was delayed by an hour owing to the slow progress of the vast cortege through the streets of London. Eventually, the Duke’s coffin was lowered into the crypt of the cathedral where it remains to this day in a Cornish porphyry sarcophagus.
A most extraordinary eye-witness account of Wellington’s funeral was recorded in 1940. An elderly retired magistrate, Frederick Mead, recalls attending the event as a young boy accompanied by his parents.
The Victorian Web
finally, Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington. Not Tennyson’s finest hour, I’m thinking!
Posted in Events, People, Victorian period, War | Tagged Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, Funeral, St Paul's, Waterloo | 1 Comment »
A guest post by London Historians Member, Laurence Scales
It is said that J.M.W. Turner’s painting was influenced by the work of meteorologist Luke Howard (1772-1864) who, by classifying the clouds into species such as cirrus (fibrous) and cumulus (heaped), drew public attention to their forms.
The formative experience in Howard’s life was perhaps the Laki haze of 1783, result of a substantially greater Icelandic eruption than Eyjafjallajökull which recently grounded Europe’s aircraft. It blanketed much of the northern hemisphere and perturbed the weather for many months, bringing famine and remarkable electrical storms. Being a Quaker was for him no escape route from the dire schooling of the time which consisted mainly of Latin and flogging. He became a pharmacist. At least the Latin would come in useful for naming clouds.
Perhaps to make up for an appalling education, he became a member of a philosophical society, the Askesian, which met in the City at Plough Court. It was here that he read his influential paper ‘On the Modifications of Clouds’ in 1802. Modification meant identifying different modes or states. (He had no delusion of changing the weather.) He was not the first to attempt a classification, but his was the system that stuck. He included in his observations the atmospheric conditions when each type was likely to appear, and how they were likely to transform.
He maintained his interest in meteorology and for years he kept readings of pressure, temperature, rainfall, evaporation and wind direction. At the end of the Frost Fair of 1814 on the Thames he noted rather delightfully that:
‘We are happy to see the lately perturbed bosom of Father Thames resume its former serenity. The busy oar is now plied with its wonted alacrity, and the sons of Commerce are pursuing their avocations with re doubled energy.’
He died at Bruce Grove, Tottenham, in a house which now stands with a blue plaque, but derelict.
Unlike the great art galleries and sculptural collections it can sometimes seem that the Science Museum is lacking in humanity. But to me the objects in its collection are heavily invested with humanity. One such is Luke Howard’s own recording barometer which can be seen there beside the George III collection.
The text of ‘On the Modifications of Clouds’ is here.
By Laurence Scales, www.laurenceswalks.co.uk @LWalksLondon
Posted in Georgian period, People, Science, Uncategorized, Victorian period | Tagged Clouds, history, london, Luke Howard, Meteorology, Weather | Leave a Comment »