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Archive for December, 2018

As 2018 draws to a close, here’s a snapshot of some of the things we got up to. Quite a lot when laid out like this. Even I’m surprised.

MEMBERS’ MONTHLY NEWSLETTER
These provided the usual superb range of original articles throughout the year from our members, in chronological order as follows:
Caroline Rance on the anatomist Thomas Cooke.
David Long on London Docks.
Anne Carwardine on Suffragette demonstrations in London.
Ian Castle on German air raids in WW1.
Laurence Scales on the Royal Society of Arts.
Lucy Inglis on the history of ethnic cuisine in London.
Drew Gray on Police Magistrates and the Poor.
Stanley Slaughter on the Temple Coffee House Botany Club.
Brian Cookson on Kingston Bridge.
Rebecca Walker on Fred Tibbs, police photographer.
Martyn Cornell on London vat manufacturers.
Gary Powell on the 18C American merchant Stephen Sayre.
Lissa Chapman on Aphra Behn.
Stephen Coates on the ‘lost’ bridge of Vauxhall.
Roger Williams on London freemasonry.
Mark Mason on London ‘seconds’.
Catharine Arnold on Ruth Ellis.
Brian Buxton on William Tyndale in London.


EVENTS

Monthly pub meet-up.

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monthly2
First Wednesday of every month and open to all. Some wonderful evenings as ever, turnout anything between 20 and 40. Info and 2019 schedule here.

Here follows a selection of most of our other events in 2018. 

 

hmp wandsworth

28 Jan,  21 Oct, 2 Dec:  HMP Wandsworth prison & museum.

rcp

Friday 9 February: Royal College of Physicians.

parliamentary archives

Monday 5 March: Parliamentary Archives, Palace of Westminster.

leslie green

Tues 20 March: Leslie Green Stations Tour.

holden tour

Sat 24 March: Charles Holden Stations Tour.

apothecaries

Mon 26 March: Apothecaries’ Hall.

acton depot

27 March:  London Transport Acton Depot Poster Museum.

orleans house

Fri 20 April morning: Orleans House.

turners house

Fri 20 April afternoon: Turner’s House.

army music

Fri 27 April: Museum of Army Music.

abney

Sat 5 May: Abney Park Cemetery Tour.

guildford

Wed 23 May morning: Awayday walking tour of Guildford.

guildford brooking

Wed 23 May afternoon: Brooking Museum.

big quiz

Tue 29 May: London Historians Big Quiz, won by 50 Shades.

barboursurgeons

12 June: Barber Surgeons’ Hall.

cinema museum

Fri 22 June: Cinema Museum.

raf100

Sat 7 July: RAF 100 Walks.

sog

Thur 2 August: Society of Genealogists talk and tour.

baring

8 August: Barings Art Collection.

hitp

Tue 21 Aug, 16 Oct. History in the Pub.

layers of london

Thurs 23 August: Layers of London Workshop.

ian nairn

Friday 24: August Ian Nairn’s Birthday Pub Crawl.

annual lecture

Thur 6 September: LH Annual Lecture, Gresham College. Prof. Tim Hitchcock.

 

fleming

Thur 10 September:  Alexander Fleming Lab visit. 90 years penicillin.

 

55broadway

Thur 13 September: 55 Broadway Tour.

chelsea

20 Sept morning: Chelsea Arts Club & Historic Chelsea tour.

chelsea2

20 September afternoon: Carlyle’s House, Chelsea.

woolwich ferry

Wed 3 October: Farewell cruise on the old Woolwich Ferry.

tooting granada

Fri 5 October: Tooting Granada tour.

aphra behn

23 Oct: After Aphra featuring the Widow Ranter at Watermens’ Hall.

lord mayor's show

Sat 10 November: Lord Mayor’s Show (not a LH event strictly speaking!).

kirkaldy

Saturday 17 November: Kirkaldy Testing Museum.

battle of brentford

Sun 18 November: Battle of Brentford Walk.

tyndale carols

Mon 17 December: Tyndale Society Carol Service, St Mary Abchurch.


If you’re not yet a London Historians Member reading this and you think this sort of thing may be your bag, we’d love to welcome you on board. Please go here!

Thank you to all our Members near and far who supported us through this wonderful year. Also the dozens of London institutions whose time, treasure, knowledge and heritage they most generously share.

Thank you to all readers of this blog.

To everyone, we wish you a Happy New Year and many marvellous things and places to share and explore through 2019.

 

 

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A Year of Turner & the Thames by Roger Williams – guest review by LH Member Jane Young.

turnerthamesIt is almost enough to simply say this little book is absolutely enchanting and you should certainly rush out and buy it.

It is a journey, but also a journal, of a year spent tracing the footsteps of Joseph Mallord William Turner. The beautiful narration draws together several threads, charting the life and times of Turner and visits made in pursuit of this, interwoven with entertaining accounts of encounters on the way.

A Tardis of a book, measuring just 15cm square, packed to brimming with inventories and insightful descriptions of collections pertaining to the work of Turner across England. The reader travels with the author, visiting the haunts of Turner and his contemporaries, taking in galleries, museums, archives, stately homes and some rather nice public houses alongside some that are no longer what they were.

An added bonus are the author’s own illustrations. Described on the frontispiece as ‘drawings are attempted’ the finely executed sketches and watercolours contained within are accomplished and delightful.

In part biography, part catalogue and part history, all meticulously researched, this story of a year is immensely readable in exquisite attention to detail enhanced with snippets of personal memories that resonate with the places visited.

turner stuff

A book for anyone interested in an introduction to JMW Turner; for anyone who already knows about Turner; for anyone interested in London History; for anyone interested in Art History; for anyone interested in art and illustration; for anyone interested in the Thames; for anyone who would just like something delightful to read and pleasing to look at: This little book is enchanting and you should certainly rush out and buy it.


A Year of Turner & the Thames (216pp) by Roger Williams is published by Bristol Book Publishing with a cover price of £15.

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Books of 2018

I hope this will help you with some late-ish Christmas gift choices.

First of all, here are our Members’ newsletter book prizes of the year. All were author-signed and many are by fellow London Historians members.

January: Convicted by Gary Powell (LH Member)
February: Up in Smoke by Peter Watts (2016)
March: London Vagabond: The Life of Henry Mayhew by Chris Anderson (LH Member)
April: Municipal Dreams by John Boughton (LH Member)
May: Sir Thomas Gresham by Valerie Shrimplin (2017)
June: London’s 100 Strangest Places & London’s 100 Most Extraordinary Buildings, both David Long (LH Member)
July: Black Tudors by Miranda Kaufmann (LH Member)
August: The Civil War in London by Robin Rowles (LH Member)
September: Mr Barry’s War by Caroline Shenton (LH Member) (2016)
October: Handel in London by Jane Glover
November: Trico, a Victory to Remember by Sally Groves and Vernon Merrick
December: London’s Docklands by Geoff Marshall (LH Member) and Guildhall, City of London by Graham Greenglass and Stephen Dinsdale (both LH Members).

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topbit2

Here are the books we reviewed this year. My thanks to LH members who kindly pitched in, the beginning of a review programme which will bloom in the coming years, I’m sure.

Miranda Kaufmann. Black Tudors: The Untold Story (OneWorld Publications 2017)
Stephen Alford. London’s Triumph: Merchant Adventurers and the Tudor City (Penguin 2018)
Tara Hamling and Catherine Richardson. A Day at Home in Early Modern England: Material Culture and Domestic Life, 1500-1700 (Yale, 2017).
All reviewed by LH Member Prof Sheila Cavanagh. 

tudors and triumph

London Docklands: An Illustrated History by Geoff Marshall.
Review by LH Member Roger Williams

The King’s Cross Story by Peter Darley (LH Member)
Review by LH Member Laurence Scales

Bus Fare: Collected Writings, edited by Travis Elborough and Joe Kerr.
Review by Mike Paterson

1st row

London Railway Stations by Chris Heather
Review by LH Member Laurence Scales

Guildhall: City of London. History Guide Companion by Graham Greenglass and Stephen Dinsdale.
Review by LH Member Mark Ackerman.

The River’s Tale: Archaeology on the Thames foreshore in Greater London by Nathalie Cohen and Eliott Wragg.
Review by Mike Paterson

A Year of Turner & the Thames by Roger Williams.
Review by Jane Young

 

second row

Finally, here are some titles which we’ve enjoyed enormously but not managed as yet to review properly. Recommended without hesitation. 

Death, Disease and Dissection. The Life of a Surgeon Apothecary 1750 – 1850 (2017) by LH Member Suzie Grogan.
Trailblazing Women of the Georgian Era by LH Member Mike Rendell.
Trading in War. London’ Maritime World in the age of Cook and Nelson by Margarette Lincoln.
Zeppelin Onslaught: The Forgotten Blitz 1914-1915 by LH Member Ian Castle (review pending!)
The Ravenmaster. My Life with the Ravens at the Tower of London by Christopher Skalfe.
Behind the Throne. A Domestic History of the Royal Household by LH Member Adrian Tinniswood. (already shaping up to be a bestseller, this one).

lastgroup

gunnersburyFinally (I think), earlier this year Gunnersbury Park and Mansion re-opened following several years of HLF-funded extensive restoration work. LH Members and leading spirits of the Friends of Gunnersbury Val Bott and James Wisdom produced the official house history, Gunnersbury. It’s excellently researched and beautifully illustrated. You don’t have to visit the house (but do!) to buy a copy.

 

city jaggerStop Press: And how’s this for a stocking filler if you’re really quick? City of London: Secrets of the Square Mile by LH Member Paul Jagger, a man who know the ins and outs of City institutions like no other. Also an expert on heraldry, incidentally. A mere fiver!

 

 

 

 

Plenty there to sink  your teeth into. If there are any glaring omissions, particularly by authors who are LH members, please let me know.

Happy shopping!

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The River’s Tale: Archaeology on the Thames foreshore in Greater London by Nathalie Cohen and Eliott Wragg.


MoL Docklands One Colour LogoI am somewhat late with this. A year late, to be precise. In mitigation, a year ago I wasn’t a trained FROG (Foreshore Recording and Observation Group) operative, hadn’t been on several related outings, nor joined in the Thames Discovery Programme‘s 10th anniversary celebrations in October.

The Thames Discovery Programme is the organisation primarily responsible for observing, measuring and recording the archaeology of the foreshore of the tidal Thames. Put simply, this runs from Teddington in the west to well into the estuary in the east. Hence it is a massive site, managed by a mere four full-time staff at the most (it has often been just two or three). Through most of TDP’s  short but already illustrious history, two of those have been the authors of this book. The group’s additional responsibility involves – among other things – public outreach and engagement with schools and children’s groups. An impossible task for so few, you may think, except for the aforementioned FROGs – trained volunteers – of whom there are around 500, with about 35 new additions each year.

But interest in exploring the foreshore is not a recent thing. Famously, the Victorian mudlarkers of Henry Mayhew’s acquaintance searched for anything sellable for a living. Their better-off near contemporaries – antiquaries like Sir Montagu Sharp and collectors such as Thomas Layton – paid close attention to the clues which Thames shared with them. But the father and early guiding spirit of modern Thames archaeology has to be Ivor Noel Hume, who from the early 1950s and off his own bat began systematically to observe, survey and map the foreshore, albeit on a short piece of it in the City. ‘Proper’ archaeology of the Thames sites began in the 1990s by the Thames Archaeological Survey (TAS) which ran from 1996 to 1999. After this various organisations, including UCL and the Richmond Archaeological Society, kept the flame alive until the advent of the TDP in 2008.

It’s important to note – as the authors do – that there are other organisations involved in related activity, notably the Thames Explorer Trust ; also a huge and constant presence in the person of Dr Gustav Milne who has been intimately involved in riverside archaeological projects for over three decades, written, broadcast and talked about them and to this day spread the good word with infectious enthusiasm.

Since its genesis a decade ago, TDP has organised hundreds of field trips and guided walks. The discoveries, finds and observations have added immeasurably to our understanding of the historic peoples of London – their buildings, their diet, their lifestyles and habits. Samples and objects include human and animal remains, building materials, clay pipes, domestic objects, tools, nails, wire, crockery, coins etc.

The book continues, chapter by chapter, examining the many different roles of the river. Nathalie Cohen covers fish and fishing; also the Thames as a vast sacred site, both of burial and ritual deposits. Eliot Wragg addresses the river’s industrial role as both a busy port and a centre for shipbuilding, ship repair, chandlery etc. Both writers address the historical topography of the Thames: embankments, bridges, wharves, stairs, jetties and slipways.

The book is richly illustrated with photos of sites, site activities, objects, maps old and new, aerial photos as well as maritime paintings and engravings. There is a good list at the back of Sources and Further Reading.

Thanks to organisations such as MOLA and the TDP, London’s ‘liquid highway’ is giving up some of its secrets. Acquaint yourself with these vitally important programmes through this excellent introduction.


The River’s Tale, (116pp) by Natalie Cohen and Eliott Wragg is published by Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) has a cover price of £15. You can buy it online at MOLA,

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Guildhall: City of London. History Guide Companion by Graham Greenglass and Stephen Dinsdale. Guest review by LH Member Mark Ackerman.  

ghThe authors, both LH members and City of London guides, have produced a detailed and comprehensive book on the central area of the City of London and its seat of governance, Guildhall, oddly never ‘the Guildhall’ when used in this context. The introduction says the work’s aim is to provide ‘a history, a guide and a companion’ and it ticks all those boxes admirably.

It is full of fascinating facts and stories and I’m ashamed to say, as a Londoner born and bred, I was ignorant of many of them, so it also serves as an educational tool for the likes of me.

The oldest part of the building we still see today, the Great Hall of the Guildhall itself, was begun by master mason John Croxtone in 1411 and largely completed by 1430. It was probably the third such building on the site, a central area first used in Saxon times as a ‘folkmoot’ where citizens gathered.

Croxtone designed his hall in the English Perpendicular Gothic style and it is the oldest non-ecclesiastical building in the City of London. It owed its cathedral-like appearance to Croxtone’s own master, Henry Yevele, with whom he had worked previously on the rebuilding of Westminster Hall. A pitched timber roof topped off the stone fabric but the building was not finally completed until 1499 with the addition of turrets. It also contained the Mayor’s Court and Court of Aldermen but it was felt necessary, even before final completion, to include two cells to restrain unruly apprentices.

049 Guildhall 15C

15C Guildhall. Artist’s impression.

This was a huge and costly construction project for the early fifteenth century with the guilds putting up the money. However, just as today the City is (and is likely to remain) the international centre for many financial dealings, so its earlier counterpart wanted to demonstrate to its continental rivals that it too was a major commercial capital.

051 Ogilby & Morgan1677

Post-fire Ogilby and Morgan map of the area, 1677.

The Great Fire of 1666 spared the stone fabric of Guildhall but, as Pepys wrote, ‘the horrid, malicious, bloody flame’ destroyed the roof. A ‘temporary’ flat wooden roof replaced it for the next two hundred years until Sir Horace Jones, Surveyor to the City, began renovation work in 1860. As the favoured style of his day was Gothic revivalism, Jones could get to work on a building which had been overlaid with Baroque and neo-classical elements by Wren and others after the Great Fire and, as the authors have it, he set about ‘re-Gothicising’ the edifice.

005 Porch, Chapel & Blackwell Hall 1820

Porch, chapel and Blackwell Hall, 1820. 

Today, only the old museum and library buildings remain from Jones’s renovation work and Guildhall Yard would have to wait until after the Second World War for the next major rebuild when Giles Gilbert Scott, of the famous architectural dynasty, began the task he had hoped to start before the war when he had advised on renovations to the area. Now the job was a major rebuild including that of the Great Hall itself, badly damaged in a 1940 air raid. It was repaired by October 1954 and welcomed the new Lord Mayor for his banquet the following month.

Sir Giles’s son Richard continued his father’s work in the ’60s and, as the book states, ‘led the way for a contemporary Guildhall Yard and proposed five new construction projects which externally dominate the Guildhall we see today.’ These were an enlarged yard, a new West Wing office complex, a new library and art gallery and the restoration of the crypts below the hall.

The book offers an excellent résumé of the monuments and statuary both outside and within the Great Hall. Of the latter, many are dedicated to obvious heroes such as Nelson, Wellington and Churchill and it is perhaps no surprise to see Pitt the Younger there, our youngest Prime Minster at the age of only 24. Mercury, representing commerce, stands over him but perhaps the Winged Messenger, who also oversaw good fortune, could have kept better watch during Pitt’s lifetime as the alcoholic gambler racked up debts of £40,000 by the time he died. The government eventually paid these off but it is difficult to see that ever happening now as the amount is the equivalent of £3.5 million today.

Another memorial commemorates former Lord Mayor William Beckford, who twice held the post and was MP for the City of London. The son of a Jamaican plantation and slave owner he himself became one of the wealthiest men in the country through these activities. In fact, it was said of him that ‘to see a slave he could not bear….unless it was his own’ and, given the current anti-Colston campaign, one wonders if the activists will next turn their attention to Beckford. Being less prominent, he may be spared.

The banners of the Great Twelve City Guilds hang below the roof of the Great Hall with the Mercers taking pre-eminence as they had provided the most Lord Mayors when the ranking system was decided upon in 1515 after many disagreements, some of which even resulted in fighting and the deaths of guild members. The Merchant Taylors and Skinners were among the most disputatious, fighting over sixth and seventh place, which probably led to the phrase ‘at sixes and sevens’.

The Great Hall was also used for ‘show’ trials such as that of Lady Jane Grey, the Nine Day Queen, who was unwillingly manoeuvred into place by her devious father-in-law, the Duke of Northumberland. She and her husband were executed for high treason in 1554 with the devious duke, who also coerced her into marrying his son in the first place, soon suffering the same fate.

guildhall

Guildhall today. Pic: M Paterson.

The book covers the Lord Mayor’s office in detail and relates how little the true story of Richard Whittington, who held the office four times, has in common with his panto counterpart. But as the fable has it, he did indeed marry an Alice, Alice Fitzwarin, and in reality performed many charitable works including the provision of a large public lavatory, flushed by the Thames. His seventeenth century successor, however, Sir Thomas Bloodworth, would live on in infamy. He it was who, when arriving in Pudding Lane to see the start of the conflagration in 1666, said it was not serious and ‘a maid might piss it out’. He also refused to demolish neighbouring buildings to create a firebreak in case he became personally liable. Pepys described seeing him later that night ‘like a man spent, with a hankercher about his neck’ and bemoaning the fact that he had been up all night although he apparently went back to bed after first being called out. He was an object of public vilification ever after, even while continuing to sit as an MP.

Everything you might wish to know about Guildhall and its environs is here, including chapters on the City parish church, St Lawrence Jewry; the Roman Amphitheatre below the art gallery; the City of London Police Museum and public events held in Guildhall Yard such as the Cart Marking Ceremony every July and the Pearly Kings and Queens Harvest Parade in September.

The book has now inspired me to revisit the whole precinct under its expert guidance. It also makes a thoughtful gift for any LH member and for friends and family, and all in good time for the festive season.


GUILDHALL: CITY OF LONDON, A History Guide Companion
Authors: Graham Greenglass and Stephen Dinsdale
Publisher: Pen and Sword
Price: £16.99ISBN: 9781526715418

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London Railway Stations by Chris Heather. A guest review by Laurence Scales @LWalksLondon.

rsA softly spoken subtext of this book is to show off some of the holdings of The National Archives on the theme of London’s thirteen mainline railway passenger termini and their associated hotels. So, importantly, for most of London’s wayside railway stations you will look here in vain. The history of each terminus is surveyed in order of opening. Did you know that London Bridge was the first in 1836? Of course you did.
The fact that ‘The British Government saw no need to provide an overall plan for the railway network’ will strike a chord with every experienced traveler, but it makes for a rich history and diversity in infrastructure. The author continues. ‘Each [terminus] has its own personality, and its own charm and idiosyncrasies.’ You can explore some of them in these pages.

This is not a book that is intended to be full of pictures of trains, although there are many. Some of the termini are better served by photographs than others, Liverpool Street and Marylebone being particularly light on images. There are maps, posters, letters, illustrations and advertisements here, some of which are in colour, and many are pleasingly unusual.

I regard myself as a softcore railway enthusiast. You folk who just think that trains are sometimes useful for taking you from Alvechurch to Barnstable probably have no conception what that means! The hardcore, for example, would probably want to know how the Great Western Railway’s points and crossing work was enhanced over the years since Paddington Station’s temporary predecessor was opened in 1838. What this book does, and it suits me, is to explain that the food court at Paddington, mysteriously known as The Lawn, was formerly a plot for the cultivation of rhubarb and that flowers might be picked there, though that would likely land you in trouble with the railway constabulary. If you want to know about the design of trackwork, then I am sure that there is a hardcore tome out there, not this one, that will enlighten you.

This book could well be enjoyed by the railway history completist, but would principally inform and entertain the curious Londoner who either commutes through one of these termini, or occasionally exits London for diverse points of the compass through one of its grand Victorian gateways. It aims to be interesting not encyclopaedic. Chris Heather cherry-picks historical incidents to feature. He provides a brief history of each main line and he (thankfully) highlights human interest rather than, say, the shareholdings of the principal proprietors (hardcore). George Landmann engineered the 878 brick arches which formed the London and Greenwich Railway. But whom did he buy for six bottles of rum? Enquire within.


London Railway Stations by Chris Heather (The National Archives), 160 pages, hardback, illustrated, with index.

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