Posts Tagged ‘Geffrye Museum’

Another lovely evening online pub meeting last night. We kicked off with a short presentation by Joanna Moncrieff on Charles William Alcock – The Forgotten Father of English Sport. A wonderful story about a remarkable man whom few have even heard of.  Thanks, Jo!

Following from our last post, the topic for yesterday evening’s lockdown online pub meet-up was favourite London historic images. These could be paintings, illustrations, cartoons and even maps. Here I copy-paste from our Chat panel and today’s emails from participants and my own recollection. Apologies for any errors or omissions.

I’ll kick of with my choice which was William Hogarth’s engraving of the South Sea Bubble, 1720, the 300th anniversary of which is this year. The artist was about 23 at the time of the crash and made this engraving just a year later, a very early example of his satirical work. I’ll be writing a whole post on the bubble later.


One of our members chose another of my absolute Hogarth favourites. the March of the Guards to Finchley (1750), which lives at the Foundling Museum.


Other choices:

The Lord Mayor’s Show by Logsdail, in the Guildhall Art Gallery
Madness – Anybody for Tea, Vicar and Topolski
A street in Bermondsey with cottages
The Gipkyn diptych of Old St Paul’s (Society of Antiquaries), below
The Dust Heap at Kings Cross (Wellcome Institute), below

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(thanks, Margaret!)

Anne Ramon chose Bury St Edmund by Sybil Andrews a linocut 1930s Dulwich Picture Gallery
Paul Blake: Work by Ford Madox Brown
Daniella King: Bus Stop by Doreen Fletcher

Diana Swinfield’s Group: “St Pancras Station (Rob Smith), Pisarro’s Lordship Lane Station (Diana), Demolition of Old London Bridge (Jen P) Blackfriars Bridge (Tina), Merrion’s 1638 Panorama (Doug H).

Stephen Coates chipped in with the only known map/illustration of a temporary bridge at Vauxhall from the very early 20C. It’s from the Museum of London.

aerial view of temporary bridge

Marilyn Green: ‘Constable Branch Hill Pond 1828 in the V&A ( and sketch from 1819).

Diane Burstein nominated The Arrival of the Jarrow Marchers in London, Viewed from an Interior by Thomas Cantrell Dugdale from the Geffrye Museum which is pointedly political, showing a very well-heeled man and woman observing the unemployed, hungry marchers from the comfort of a town house window.
Dugdale, Thomas Cantrell, 1880-1952; The Arrival of the Jarrow Marchers in London, Viewed from an Interior

Tina Baxter nominated a remarkable painting from the Guildhall Art Gallery: Blackfriars Bridge & St Paul’s London by Anthony Lowe b 1957
blackfriars bridge

Probably my favourite of the evening was nominated by Claire Randall: The Royal George at Deptford Showing the Launch of The Cambridge, (1757), by John Cleverley the Elder from the National Maritime Museum. It’s gorgeous and when everything is open again I shall seek it out.

Another very lively and fascinating session. My thanks to all who attended, spoke, contributed and sent feedback. Apologies if I forgot stuff.

Special salaams to Dave Brown, our Zoom admin, or in this context, Landlord!

Our next online pub meet-up is Wednesday 3 June at 6.30 pm. The break-out discussion topic will be name three historical Londoners you’d invite to dinner (or dine out with). Our introductory speaker will be LH Member Peter Kennedy on Thames foreshore bomb damage during World War 2.


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A guest post by London Historians Member, Jane Young.

Geffrye Union board250For anyone that is familiar with the Geffrye Museum it will be no surprise to find another skillfully executed exhibition there which displays the usual beautifully finished attention to detail that the Geffrye does so well.

Included in the exhibition are some spectacular original paintings. The centrepiece used for the exhibition literature, ‘The Pinch of Poverty’ by Thomas Benjamin Kennington 1891 is exquisite and Gustave Doré’s ‘A Poor House’ 1869 simply magnificent to mention just two of many.

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The Pinch of Poverty by Thomas Benjamin Kennington, 1891. (detail)

It is very refreshing to find that the curator has not restricted the exhibition to the tried and trusted method of using exclusively the East End of London as the only exemplar of all that denotes slums and poverty within this period. As a result the exhibition is well balanced, covering all of London from Bloomsbury to Greenwich and Deptford along with the lesser known ‘Potteries’ of Notting Dale in the west, one of the blackest spots to be found on the Booth Map.

All aspects of the conditions of life on the streets are illustrated, in addition to abject poverty and destitution, the human side of what it meant to be homeless is explored with documents, photographs and everyday objects, showing the camaraderie and humour amongst real people and their accounts of the time. Incorporating lodging houses and charity the response to social intervention and paternalism is demonstrated.

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Accommodation available to the homeless was spartan indeed. Interior of a workhouse.


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Street poor queueing.

Opened in 1914 in the buildings and grounds of almshouses built two centuries earlier in 1714 by the Ironmongers Company, the Geffrye is well worth a visit at any time if you do not already know it. For those travelling any distance to see the exhibition it might be useful to note that the restored almshouse which is open for visitors on certain days is superb and a good reason to time a visit to coincide with the open days. Also the permanent collection, which transports you through four centuries of detailed domestic interiors and houses further beautiful original paintings; an herb garden; garden reading room and beautiful grounds and gardens within the setting of the original almshouses; a little oasis off the Kingsland Road where it is very easy to forget you are in 21st Century East London.

‘Homes of the Homeless’ manages to achieve that rare thing, an exhibition which has in no way been ‘dumbed down’ but is still perfectly accessible and understandable for children too. Engaging and thoughtfully constructed it succeeds in having appeal for a wide audience. Now open and running until 12 July 2015 with a very reasonable admission price of £5. In conjunction with this runs a display in collaboration with the New Horizon Youth Centre: ‘Home and hope: Young people’s experience of homelessness today’ raising awareness of the contemporary experience of homelessness.

Homes of the Homeless: Seeking Shelter in Victorian London runs until 12 July. 

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