Once again, a full house at The Bell in Spitalfields were subjected to – I think it’s safe to say – a superb evening’s historical entertainment. Nigel Jones, author of a new book on the Tower of London, kicked off proceedings with some highly amusing anecdotes about escapees over the centuries from what most people don’t realise was a somewhat leaky prison. Ruairidh Anderson reprised his appearance from History in the Pub I with a set of brilliant songs and stories from London’s old East End. Ruairidh is also doing a series for Londonist about the Olympic boroughs under the Folk Olympics strand. Here’s an example. We were treated with not one, but two balladeers. For then Henry Skewes gave us a song about an appalling death in the 18C St Giles workhouse. This was by way of introduction to Professor Tim Hitchcock‘s talk: The Workhouse Cruelty: Death and outrage in early 18th century St Giles all about the introduction and social impact of this peculiarly British institution. A deeply absorbing topic.
The evening was spiced with Matt Brown’s speed quiz, whose topic was the history of Christmas in London. Challenging questions which our audience rose to magnificently. The winner received a signed copy of Nigel Jones’ above-mentioned book. The runners-up got snazzy t-shirts, kindly provided by Londonist. We also had two prize draws: a signed copy of Tales from the Hanging Court by Tim Hitchcock and Robert Shoemaker; and a year’s membership to London Historians, won by Christina Torres. Welcome, Christina!
Proceedings were brought to a close when landlord Glyn had to beg the remaining hard-liners to vacate his pub at about 11:30! A splendid evening. Many thanks to our speakers and singers, all superb; a big thank you to Matt Brown for being MC and preventing anarchy; but thanks most of all to all who came and supported our event. I hope you had as great a time as I did and we look forward to the next one, we’re thinking February 2012.
Here are some pictures. I don’t think the light in The Bell and my camera get on very well, but you get the idea.