Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘pubs’

Guest post by LH Member David Brown. Book review of the recently-published Palaces of Pleasure by Lee Jackson. 

PoPPalaces of Pleasure is the most recent book written by Lee Jackson, who is well-known to London history enthusiasts for the Dictionary of Victorian London website, and for his previous book Dirty Old London (Yale, 2014, our review here), a good history of sanitation in London. The subtitle of the book “From Music Halls to the Seaside to Football, How the Victorians Invented Mass Entertainment” lays out the ambition of the author to cover a broad range of entertainments.

The volume provides a very enjoyable read, showing how people in the 1800s spent their free time.

After an introduction, the first three chapters look at how the public house transformed into Gin Palaces, covering the evolution of club and music rooms, and in turn creating the Music Halls. Further chapters investigate dancing rooms, academies and the brief flowering of dancing casinos. Chapters on pleasure gardens and exhibitions are included. Two final chapters cover the seaside and the emergence of football as an entertainment. The conclusion brings together many of the themes and explains why there was such an extraordinary growth in mass entertainment in the Victorian period.

Throughout, the book takes a look at the entrepreneurs that emerged, and how they had to navigate the perils of newspaper sensationalism, the impact of legislation, the temperance movement and the role of the magistrate in shaping the entertainment world. One theme is how the pleasures of the everyday man were seen as threatening and in need of suppression and regulation, whilst the pleasures of the aristocrats and the well-off rarely rated the same view. While in the early period these activities were mainly male, another theme in the book explores how women were perceived, challenges some of the myths around prostitution, and demonstrates how everyday Victorian women increasingly took part in leisure activities.

The author ranges widely, and although most of the places talked about are in London, he also contrasts examples from outside London and particularly in the North of England to show broader trends. Some of the chapters include good case studies (like Samuel Thompson’s wine and spirits business on Holborn Hill and Charles Morton’s famous Canterbury Hall).

Each chapter has a detailed set of end notes. The author uses a wide range of sources (particularly strong on the press), and provides a good bibliography and index. I’d have liked to see more pictures and ideally in the sections of the book that they relate to- here the illustrations included are limited in quantity (26, mostly half page, bound together in the centre of the book).

This is a book that could benefit every London Historian who is interested in 19th Century London. It’s full of anecdotes and facts that will delight the reader. Thoroughly recommended.


Palaces of Pleasure, From Music Halls to the Seaside to Football, How the Victorians Invented Mass Entertainment (320 pp, hardback) by Lee Jackson is published by Yale University Press with a cover price of £15.99.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Many people – with a little justification, I suppose – think that London Historians spend all their time in the pub. This post focuses on this side of our activities.

We have already covered History in the Pub: Tudor London in Part 1. After that, we did one in partnership with Wellcome Library entitled Sex and the City: the STDs of Old London, presented by Dr Lesley Hall.

wellcome library, history in the pub

Ross MacFarlane introduces the talk.

History in the Pub.

Dr Lesley Hall from the Wellcome Library with Matt Brown of Londonist.

history in the pub

During open mic session, LH Member Caroline Rance introduces her new book The Quack Doctor.

Our next History in the Pub addressed the topic of the London Street Poor and featured Professor Tim Hitchcock from University of Sussex, plus Simon Fowler (latterly National Archives) and David Thomas (National Archives).

history in the pub

Tim Hitchcock

History in the Pub

David Thomas

The Coroner’s Inquest and the Petty Sessions.

Probably the best pub-based event we’ve done to date were historic re-enactments of the Georgian magistrate’s court. They were held upstairs at the George in the Strand. We presented actual cases from history, researched and scripted by historians from the University of Hertfordshire, led by Professor Owen Davies, and then presented by professional actors. A triumph! Our report, but here are a few pictures. I’m especially proud of this project.

The Petty Sessions

Picture: Patrick Loftus.

The Petty Sessions

Picture: Patrick Loftus

 

This is entirely my fault, but some people get confused between History in the Pub – an evening of talks normally held in Spitalfields – and Monthly Pub Meet, which happens every first Wednesday of every month in Victoria (at time of writing). The latter is simply a social occasion at which Members and non-Members alike are welcome. A lot of networking, collaboration, friend-making and drinking goes on. Typically, we’ll get up to 40 folks turn up for that. The full schedule for 2014 is here, although note, we’ll be doing January 8th rather than 1st, for commonsense reasons.

Here are some pictures.

History in the Pub

History in the Pub

History in the Pub

History in the Pub

History in the Pub

History in the Pub

Young Americans. History students from the USA visiting London with their Prof.

Read Full Post »

A guest post by London Historians member Anne Carwardine

blue posts, soho, london

A few weeks ago, on a sunny but chilly Sunday, I went on a walking tour of Soho’s pubs (mostly viewed from the outside!) led by London Historians member Joanna Moncrieff. Pubs, which have long been a significant feature in London life, made a good subject for a tour. However, I was also interested in the walk for its own sake and in the way guided walks today hark back to a nineteenth century literary tradition.

In Victorian Babylon (London, 2000) Linda Nead identified a genre of metropolitan travel writing which took the form of a vicarious tour through the city streets, tracing its popularity back to Pierce Egan’s 1821 account of ‘Jerry Hawthorne, Esq and his elegant friend Corinthian Tom in their Rambles and Sprees through the Metropolis’. These ‘metropolitan perambulations’ appeared throughout the 19th century in many guises, including travel guides, diaries, fiction and magazine articles.

Nathaniel Hawthorne

Nathaniel Hawthorne

On our 21st century walk Joanna entertained us with a good mixture of anecdotes and information, giving us an enticing hint of what was coming next at the end of each stop. In earlier times a wide variety of writers entertained their readers by leading them through London’s streets on paper. Some accounts were fictional…. In 1842 the Preston Chronicle carried an account entitled ‘My Three days Trip to London by Timothy Twinge, gentleman’. On the train home, after a series of adventures, the country visitor reflected on London, ‘the Emporium of the World…enriched with so much splendour…busy with so much traffic, and peopled with such a vast concourse of human beings’. Other accounts described the writer’s own real-life experience……In English Notebooks American novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne gave an account of his visit to London in the 1850s. ‘Yesterday forenoon I went out alone, and plunged headlong into London, and wandered about all day, without any particular object in view, but only to lose myself for the sake of finding myself unexpectedly among things that I had always read and dreamed about’.

Joanna’s audience was varied, including a Canadian tourist, a real ale enthusiast and a trainee guide who was there to observe her in action. Nineteenth century writers wrote for a similar variety of audiences. The anonymous author of the 1842 travel guide A week In London. Or how to View the Metropolis in Seven Days wanted to inform, and even warn, visitors unfamiliar with the city. ‘Supposing a stranger to arrive in London for the first time…. he must be vigilant and circumspect in his conduct, less he become the prey of some of the swarms of knaves, swindlers, and thieves, who are constantly on the lookout for the unwary’. When Frenchwoman Flora Tristan described her experiences in her London Journal, it was to challenge evils such as prostitution.

Many of the literary London walks included encounters with colourful characters. An article headed ‘Tableau Vivants’ in the Metropolitan Magazine of 1842 followed a money lender through the streets ‘he with the blue coat and bright buttons, pepper-and-salt trousers, buff waistcoat, hat of the true city cut, thick soles, square toes, umbrella, and a white bolster by way of a cravat……..See! He hurries on, planting his umbrella firmly but carefully at every step, because he has a bottle hidden in its folds, which any imprudence might destroy’. On our walk the only encounter was with a rather dishevelled local resident who stood by Joanna’s shoulder at the first stopping point, wanting to hear what she was going to say about the street where he had lived for the last forty years. (It turned out that the pub theme did not interest him and he soon wandered off).

The Soho we walked through had traces of its distant and more recent past – from the pub named after the blue posts which indicated sedan chairs for hire in the 17th and 18th centuries, to the collection of vinyl records in the window of ‘Sounds of the Universe”. But generally it was cleaner and neater than the version walkers experienced in the 19th century (or indeed in most of the 20th century). In Household Words Charles Dickens (who walked in and wrote about London’s streets more than anyone) described ‘dingy houses teaming with that sallow cabbage-stalk and fried fish sort of population indigenous to back slums’.

Sounds of the Universe

Sounds of the Universe

intrepid fox, soho, londonA walk such as the one Joanna led presents a longitudinal view of history. She told us about Soho’s residents at various points in history, from the landlord of the Intrepid Fox in the 18th century offering free drinks to anyone who promised to vote for Whig politician Charles Fox, through to Jeffrey Barnard propping up the bar in the Coach and Horses on Greek Street in the 20th century. In my writing I have taken a more latitudinal approach, focussing on a specific year (1842) when four of my ancestors were living in the heart of London. To supplement a series of non-fiction narratives from that year, I have tried to replicate the literary format of metropolitan perambulations by following each ancestor on an imaginary walk through the streets. This has allowed me to focus on the detail of what they would have seen, heard, and even smelt, at that particular point in time – experimental wooden paving, elaborate gas-lit displays behind plate glass shop windows, an elderly Madame Tussaud taking money at the entrance to her waxworks. Both types of walk draw us back into London of the past.

Joanna Moncrieff is running this particular walk – A Soho Sunday Pub Themed Stroll – again on 7 July.

________________________________________________

Editor’s Note: Joanna Moncrieff is one of several dozen guides who are Members of London Historians. Some of them are listed here, and most will offer a discount to LH Members. We commend all of them to you.

Read Full Post »

westminster guided walk christmas

Last night we went on our final guided walk of the year, this time with Joanna Moncrieff of Westminster Walking, one of the growing number of qualified guides who are London Historians. This bodes well for 2012, because we’ll be working with them to create a programme of tailored walks for members, a very exciting prospect. Anyway, back to the business at hand. One of Jo’s specialities is the history of London’s emporia, pubs and eateries and these were the focus of this particular walk, many shops and streets being beautifully lit for Christmas. As we progressed, we were given many tips on some of the best value for money places to dine and imbibe, even in Westminster’s swankiest thoroughfares. Cream tea for £8.50? You’ll have to go on one of her excellent walks to find out!

Naturally, we ended up in a pub near Marble Arch till late, all Jo’s punters made friends with one another. Just some pictures. I hope you like them.

guided christmas walk westminster

guided christmas walk westminster

guided christmas walk westminster

guided christmas walk westminster

westminster guided walk christmas 2011

westminster guided walk christmas 2011

guided christmas walk westminster

guided christmas walk westminster

guided christmas walk westminster

guided christmas walk westminster

guided christmas walk westminster

Read Full Post »