Mission accomplished. As explained in the previous post, the final public opening (until 2018) of Pitzhanger Manor in Ealing last Saturday rendered imperative my long-delayed Sir John Soane walk from Sir John Soane’s Museum in Lincoln’s Inn Fields to Ealing. Soane bought Pitzhanger in 1800, re-built it until 1804, then sold it in 1810. Below is an 1800 map and the current route from Google. It is very little changed, the Oxford Street-Bayswater Road – Uxbridge Road axis being a major westerly trunk road today as then.
I love the idea of doing long walks. It’s good exercise for a start if you can tolerate the traffic pollution (I can). It is essential to give the historian a sense of what life was like before trains and buses. There were carriages, of course, but even successful men like Soane, John Quincy Adams and William Hogarth often chose to take a bracing walk between town and country, or vice-versa. Most of all, you see things that you never would by car or by bus and, obviously, on the Underground. Apart from the map work, I do very little research beforehand. The surprises are all the better that way. There were lots. I particularly enjoyed seeing two Passmore Edwards libraries, in Shepherd’s Bush and Acton (my admiration for the Edwardians and all their works increases every time I explore like this). It was nice properly to inspect the old milestone in Ealing rather than to squint at it stuck in a traffic jam. Below are some photos. Check the much larger set on Flickr here. Next we’ll do a Hogarth walk from Leicester Square to Chiswick.
My thanks to fellow London Historians member Deborah Metters (@rosamundi) for her excellent company on this odyssey.