Victorian Monopoly from Regent Street to Mayfair

 

Monopoly Overview
“Go” to “Just Visiting” | “Pall Mall” to “Free Parking” | “Strand” to “Jail” | “Regent St” to “Mayfair”

Welcome to the final part of our journey around the Monopoly Board using only images from the Crace Collection of antiquarian prints and maps held by the British Museum. Can 1850s Londoners recognise the upmarket locations on the final stretch towards ‘Go’ which have been made so familiar since the London version of this iconic board game first appeared in 1936?. We will begin at Regent Street, moving through several exclusive enclaves (and one less attractive area) before reaching our final destination in Mayfair. But would Victorian Londoners have been so familiar with the places we visit?

Regent St | Oxford St | Bond St
Liverpool St Station | Park Lane Mayfair
Conclusion

Regent Street

Proposal for the creation of ‘Regent Street’ (1813)

Regent Street was an area of London which Victorians automatically associated with modernity and retail innovation. Conceived as an essential new thoroughfare as early as the 1760s – it did not become reality until 1813 when a commission raised £600,000 to begin the work of clearing away slum properties around Swallow Street and replacing them with a new Nash-designed boulevard where the emphasis was on elegance and beauty.


All Souls Church, Regent Street, was first consecrated in November 1824

The architectural brilliance of Nash is no better demonstrated than at All Soul’s Church, Langham Place, which still stands adjacent to BBC Headquarters today. The ‘New Street’ upon which it was built was soon re-christened Regent Street in honour of its chief advocate – the Prince Regent, who had a vision for a new aesthetically pleasing London, hoping to rival and exceed Paris. ‘Regent Street’ was the perfect name given that this new road began at the Prince’s home at Carlton House and wend its way to Marylebone Park (which was simultaneously renamed Regent’s Park).

A view of the Quadrant, Regent St (1822)

As far as the Government were concerned Regent Street was a godsend, providing work during a time of great austerity, unemployment and social disorder – and cost very little thanks to the practice of selling 99-year leases to encourage private investment. The centrepiece of this boulevard-style development was the Quadrant; designed for “shops appropriated to articles of fashion and taste.” Demolition of run-down areas around Swallow Street meant that many craftsmen and traders found themselves without premises from which to trade. But only the very select were invited to relocate to Regent Street, where the emphasis was on high-end goods to rival nearby Bond Street – which was then considered the most fashionable place to shop.

Gentrifying Soho, 1819

Another vision for Regent Street was its ability to segregate London’s enclaves, dividing fashionable squares around St James’ Park from working-class Soho. This was part of the larger scheme of managing public areas, involving installation of gas lighting, introduction of savage Vagrancy Laws to clear away ‘undesirables’ – and the creation of economic barriers precluding lower class business and culture from invading elite spaces. The above report from 1818 is perhaps the first where ‘Regent Street’ is named, revealing that even whilst it was under construction Regent Street remained a perfect location for criminal activity. Within a few short years, however, the underworld were forced to retreat from the new bright lights and well-policed covered walkways which lined Regent Street.

High-Class Retailers were enticed to relocate to Regent Street

Within a very short space of time Regent Street surpassed Bond Street as London’s most important retail area. In 1850 it became the first shopping area in Britain to support late night opening, when shop-keepers agreed to remain open until the ungodly hour of 7pm. But, as we shall discover, Regent Street’s title was merely borrowed – because Oxford Street was rapidly emerging to seize the crown of ‘best shopping street’. Although Bond Street successfully retained its exclusivity and high-end reputation, Regent Street never quite surpassed its primary function as a London thoroughfare – segregating late-Georgian London into self-contained districts – most of which remain familiar to us today.

This image from 1849 shows Regent Street full of pedestrians, traffic and workmen – certainly a familiar location for Victorian Londoners. The scaffolding reveals that Nash’s wondrous Quadrant Colonnade was in the process of being removed. According to shop-owners the lack of natural light rendered their shops less attractive to customers – But, as this contemporary report suggests, knocking down the Colonnade was sadly lamented.

For more information on Regent Street – Usha Rowan has written nice potted history of some of the buildings in Regent Street whilst IanVisits laments the loss of its Colonnade. Finally, Regent Street has its very own website.

For more details about life on the streets of London try Donald Low’s interesting guide to the Regency Underworld

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Oxford Street

Since the end of nineteenth century Oxford Street has been considered to be London’s busiest shopping area, but its ancient history was much less glamorous. Around since Roman times, when it was part of Via Trinobantina – this was an important route connecting Essex and Hampshire via London. By the middle ages it was known as Tyburn Road – being the way prisoners travelled towards Tyburn Gallows (at modern day Marble Arch) for their execution. The practice of accompanying convicts to their place of death was a very important ritual right up until early modern times. It is hardly surprising that Tyburn Road paid host to a variety of service industries geared towards ‘death tourism’ as we might describe it. Street-sellers would even distribute ‘final confession’ tracts as souvenirs before the prisoner was even dead.

Tyburn Road c.1780  – A place to watch death unfold

Enormous crowds attended hangings, but whenever spectators disagreed with sentences passed the Government increasingly met with crowd disorder and riot. To quell this unrest Tyburn Gallows ceased to be used after 1783, and public hangings were moved to a yard immediately outside Newgate Prison. Around this time road surfaces were improved to form important transport routes, thus perhaps Tyburn Road became ‘Oxford Street’ to reflect its new function as the main road out from London heading northwest towards the city of Oxford.

By 1815 Oxford Street was already very gentrified

So, we know that ‘Oxford Street’ arrived in the 1780s, and that within a century it was synonymous with shopping. But what was it like in between these times? And would Oxford Street have been recognised on an early Victorian monopoly board? Well, the answer is an emphatic yes – because it was very quickly transformed by the arrival of many elegant mansion houses built to accommodate the increasingly wealthy aristocratic and mercantile classes, who were eager to own a fashionable London pied-à-terre. By 1850 one such dwelling, named Camelford House, was a long-established tourist attraction connecting curious Victorians with one of the most important events of the century – which (we shall discover) truly changed the course of British history

Half-Mad Lord Camelford (1775-1804)

Camelford House first became renowned in the early 1800s as the home of Thomas Pitt, who known to many as the ‘Half-Mad Lord’ on account of his eccentric, often aggressive lifestyle. A first cousin of Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger, Camelford was a hot-headed naval officer who could quite easily start a fight in an empty room. In March 1804 Camelford challenged Captain Best to a duel despite knowing full well that his best friend was a deadly marksman. In such an unequal contest there was only going to be one outcome, hence Best was very reluctant to oblige. Geri Walton has written an account of Lord Camelford’s fatal duel – news of which filled the public with dismay.  Before he finally died in Brighton a week after the duel, Camelford absolved Best from any blame for his demise. When his body was returned to Camelford House pending burial The Morning Post wrote

A few days later, it was reported that Camelford’s body had gone missing from the vault at St Anne’s Church, and its whereabouts are still the subject of conjecture today.

Front view of Camelford House, Oxford Street (1850)

Lord Grenville inherited the mansion and used it primarily for entertaining until 1816 – when he was made an offer he couldn’t refuse and agreed to lease Camelford House to the most talked-about couple in Regency society: namely Princess Charlotte of Wales and her new husband Leopold of Saxe-Coburg.

 

Princess Charlotte – unwilling to follow the Prince Regent’s direction (1814)

Charlotte, Princess of Wales was the product of a short and unhappy marriage, having spent her formative years neglected by her selfish father the Prince Regent, whilst granted only limited access to her mother Caroline of Brunswick – who was kept at arm’s length by her grandfather King George III. At the age of 18, in 1814, Charlotte was now de-facto heir to the British Crown, being next in line after the Prince Regent. She was then placed under enormous pressure to marry but Charlotte stood firm against her father, the press, and polite society by refusing to accept William, the Prince of Orange – who had been foisted upon her. Instead she dug her heels in and demanded marriage to Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, who was considered by many to be ‘a pauper’. Eventually she got her way, with the last obstacle to fixing a wedding date was Charlotte’s earnest desire to have Camelford House made ready as her marital London home. For Charlotte Camelford’s excellent gardens, upper rooms overlooking Hyde Park, and sumptuous ballroom were ideal, guaranteeing her place amidst the beau monde.  On May 13th 1816 the happy day arrived

Once married, Charlotte stepped out from the shadow of her unpopular father, and began to be judged in her own right. She became a refreshing antidote to the uncaring and wasteful Regent – offering Britain a genuine cause for optimism during a period of bitter social and political distress. To pinch a phrase, she became a kind of ‘people’s princess’ through her relatively down-to-earth choice of Oxford Street rather than a remote palace, away from the public gaze.

Once wed – the public took to Princess Charlotte into their hearts

Britain was agog with excitement when it was announced that Charlotte was expecting a child, and a new age seemed to be dawning. However, this proved short-lived as Oxford Street’s most glamorous couple were dealt a hammer blow by the double tragedy of Charlotte losing her baby boy in childbirth and then her own life on 6th of November 1817. She was just 21 years old; and her death triggered a nationwide torrent of grief. The country was dumbfounded, as two simultaneous deaths blew a hole in the Royal succession, endangering the very survival of the House of Hanover. Suddenly the Prince Regent’s younger brothers were called upon to produce a new legitimate heir to the throne. The Duke of Kent, aged 50, & hastily married in June 1818 was to finally came up with the goods, when his only child Victoria was born in May 1819.

Typical representation of Princess Charlotte’s death scene (1818)

It’s hard to believe that there would have been no Victorian era at all but for the untimely death of Princess Charlotte. Mid-Victorian London fully understood this tragic twist of fate and people often visited Oxford Street to take a peek at Camelford House, the place where their lost queen spent the happiest days of her brief life.

English Monarchs site has a concise biography of Princess Charlotte

The National Trust has written some articles on Princess Charlotte and the Media;

For more information: Time Out has an interesting pictorial history of Oxford Street; The Guardian succinctly reminds us that Oxford Street has not always been known for retail via an article entitled ‘death and shopping

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Bond Street

Bond Street, c.1825

Bond Street was unquestionably famous as a London landmark well before the Victorian era, having first appeared in the 1720s courtesy of developer Sir Thomas Bond, from whom it took its name. Almost from the very beginning Bond Street was synonymous with luxury, attracting the most prestigious clothiers, perfumiers, jewellers and other elite shops. For aspiring socialites Bond Street represented the apogee of trendy living. By the 1790s it was considered cool to be described as a ‘Bond Street Lounger’ for this signified a person of high fashion, whose sole purpose was to display their exquisite taste by parading the wide pavements around Bond Street in order to see and be seen.


Looking at the latest Bond Street fashions (1796)

Bond Street helped to formulate a new democratic route to fame, overturning age-old prerequisites such as family status and personal achievement, to create what we now describe as celebrity. Here it became possible to reach the summit of high society simply via exerting influence in the realm of popular culture. Ordinary men like George ‘Beau’ Brummell (who was the son of a tailor) became universally acknowledged for their insight and wit, helping Georgian England to cast off its wigs, tights and powder puff faces – in favour of a fresh clean cut trouser and cravat wearing style. Women were equally ready to shed their horrible courtly garb which demanded the wearing of ridiculously wide hooped dresses, in favour of sleeker, more ravishing attire they saw worn around Bond Street by ladies of influence such as the Duchess of Devonshire. The above satire from 1796 reflects a craze for ostrich feathers in ladies hats – which caused much chuckling in some quarters, but was widely emulated – as far as the lower orders could afford to purchase.

Bond Street could also be the road to ruin (1800)

An Irish visitor to London in 1809 reported on the phenomenon of city gents and other middling class workers flocking to Bond Street each afternoon to pass themselves off as ‘Bond Street Loungers’. He noted that the most important part of their daily routine was to read the newspapers to see if their names appeared on the list of attendees at fashionable events. Almost all luxury purchasing was carried out using an informal system of credit, usually relying on a person’s status and family connections. Because it was considered impolite to actually ask for payment from clients some shop owners and tradesmen often waited years for their accounts to be settled. Not surprisingly many an honest retailer got to the brink of ruin before they took action against non-payers. Inevitably some young bloods found to be lacking in funds ended up in debtors prison having been apprehended at their lodgings. These reckless non-payers often shared cells with bankrupted businessmen who had failed to act quickly enough to recover their debts, and whose chances of redemption were much less likely.  ‘Wicked William’ Long-Wellesley (of Wanstead House notoriety) was one such wastrel –  In 1804 his father became so fed up with writs arriving at his house in Savile Row, that he had to banish his 16-year-old lad to the wilds of Suffolk until arrangements were made repay the £600 debt ran up with various exclusive fashion outlets.  We can see why Wellesley-Pole called a halt to his boy’s extravagance, especially as an ordinary family household could live reasonably on just £50 per year at that time. But for those of us today lamenting  the untimely  loss of Wanstead House and its magnificent estate, it might have been better if Wellesley-Pole had let his son to face the consequences, and perhaps have leart his lesson, by spending time in  a debtor’s prison.

Wicked William Long-Wellesley – A Bond Street Lounger and proud of it

As the nineteenth century progressed Bond Street enhanced its high-end reputation by hosting a number of art dealers and antique shops, placing it firmly at the top end of Victorian London’s connoisseur market. Not surprisingly a clutch of specialised auction houses were established handling the sale of luxury items on behalf of clients throughout Britain. As this advertisement from 1848 confirms, Bond Street provided the best marketplace for both sellers and buyers of quality goods. Given this tradition, it is hardly surprising that Sotheby’s London headquarters was relocated in Bond Street in 1918, and remains there today.

Hedgers was one of the many niche auction houses situated in Bond Street c.1850

To discover more about Bond Street, why not look at its fashionable connection with ‘Beau Brummell’ – check out the Bond Street Association or discover London’s Bond Streets – Old and New via The Regency Redingote.

The fascinating story of Jean Louis Bazalgette (1750-1830) – who was taylor to George, Prince of Wales, has been written by his great-great-great-great grandson, Charles Bazalgette and is entitled Prinny’s Taylor –  providing a revealing insight into the private relationship between a craftsman and the heir to the British throne.

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Liverpool Street Station

Liverpool Street Station Facade c.1875 (Courtesy of Grace’s Guide)

Our intrepid Victorian-era Monopoly player would be finally stumped by the location of Liverpool Street Station. Liverpool Street was certainly familiar, but the Great Eastern Railway Station to which it gave its name was not constructed until 1875. Unlike many of London’s Monopoly destinations, however, Liverpool Street was only baptised in the late 1820s – a new thoroughfare off Bishopsgate that was named to honour the in memory of recently deceased Prime Minister Lord Liverpool (who had served between 1812 and 1827).

Prior to the coming of the railway terminus, the vicinity of Liverpool Street served as a key stagecoach hub for Londoners departing to all parts of the country. This association with travel could easily have pointed our Victorian Monopoly player in the right direction, so if we tweak this Monopoly square to Liverpool Street  ‘Coach‘ Station then perhaps our journey would not be thwarted after all.

Sir William Rawlins’ tomb at st Botolph without Bishopsgate,

Not all journeys through Liverpool Street involved the living, For in 1838 Sir William Rawlins – who had a house at 44 Liverpool Street – passed away but left very detailed instructions regarding the route of his funeral procession and design for his memorial crypt in St Botolph’s Church. He died aged 84 after a chequered life that saw him imprisoned at Newgate for electoral fraud (1805) but afterwards rise to civic prominence as a successful business man (joint founder of Eagle Star Insurance Company). He was a generous benefactor, especially in regard to St Botolph’s, which is in Bishopsgate. The London Dead has written a great blog concerning Rawlin’s funeral arrangements and the very recent restoration of his tomb

 

The Four Swans Inn, Bishopsgate Street (1848)

I have written a blog recording the principal inns for departure from London (1819) but nineteenth century London was an equally busy arrival destination, receiving many troubled souls from locations, backgrounds and ages, hoping to make their fortunes, escape their woes, or occasionally just to put an end to their miserable existence. One such sad arrival occurred on December 3rd 1826 as a young man of ‘extreme gentlemanly exterior’ checked into The Four Swans Inn, which stood in the shadow of Liverpool Street.The Age reported what happened next

 He desired a bed-chamber [and] until 6 o’clock in the evening was undisturbed. At this time as it was imagined he was still asleep the waiter entered… and found the curtains of the bed closely drawn round… and the dreadful spectacle presented to his view; the unfortunate gentleman laid on the bed, completely undressed, and literally saturated in the gore of blood  [having] shot himself through the heart. In his right hand a duelling pistol was clenched. From letters found upon his person, he was found to be of highly respectable background;  William Jackson, aged 22, from Debenham in Suffolk. It is thought that he fired at the time a coach was coming into the yard.to drown out the noise of the report

This tragic story paints a picture of Liverpool Street very much part of a rather transient and deprived area during Victorian times; one serving as the backdrop to many of Charles Dickens’ novels. In this light the placement of Liverpool Street Station so far up the Monopoly board amidst the posher streets of London would certainly have confused our Victorian player. Setting aside this fact however, we do find that as early as 1850 Liverpool Street earmarked to be the site for a future railway terminus – giving us just enough grounds to admit it onto the Victorian Monopoly board

Liverpool Street and Broad Street c.1850 – designated as places for citing new railway stations

For an interesting run through Liverpool Street Station history visit Grace’s Guide or Network Rail

Alternatively The Londonist reveals seven secrets about Liverpool Street Station

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Park Lane

Turnpike at Hyde Park Corner c.1856 – southern entrance to Park Lane, London

For over two centuries Park Lane has been considered one of the London’s prime thoroughfares, so that its place on the most exclusive section of the Monopoly board is fully deserved. Running north from Hyde Park Corner to Marble Arch, Park Lane quickly evolved from being the boundary of Hyde Park into a sought after place to build or own a mansion in Georgian England. As London became increasingly urbanised the old Turnpike Gate (pictured above) was superseded by the construction of Hyde Park Corner. During the 1850s Park Lane underwent a second phase of development with many of the original mansions torn down and replaced by a combination of modern-style villas for the nouveau riche and luxury hotels or apartments serving the many visitors attracted to Town during what was known as the London Season.

The mid-Victorian visitor witnessed Park Lane was in the process of change; as older landmarks began to be superseded by newer attractions. This state of flux gave Park Lane a vibrancy that boosted its appeal, with traditional pastimes such as parading ones carriage around Rotten Row (Hyde Park) running parallel with modern retail and fashionable entertainments available nearby.

 

Mrs Fitzherbert’s old house, Tilney Street, Park Lane c.1850

The 1850s saw London begin to forget one of its most famous locations, namely No 6 Tilney Street – which was on the corner of Park Lane – one-time home to one of the Georgian era’s most famous and enduring courtesans, Maria Fitzherbert.

Maria Fitzherbert (1756-1837),

On the 17th December 1785 twice-widowed Maria Fitzherbert married her ardent young lover George, Prince of Wales, in a ceremony held in the drawing room of her house off Park Lane. Because she was a Catholic the marriage was not considered valid without the consent of King George III. But even if the King had authorised his son’s marriage claim, under the terms of the Royal Marriages Act (1772) the Prince of Wales would still have had to renounce his claim to the throne. Six anxious months of behind the scenes wrangling ensued before the Prince of Wales was persuaded to give up his love. He agreed to marry a cousin Caroline of Brunswick on condition that the King wiped away George’s £600,000 of debt. Perhaps Maria Fitzherbert was the true love of George’s life – for almost as soon as he was married the Prince resumed their liaison, continuing a relationship that was to last until the 1820s. The depth of George’s feelings for Maria can be gauged by the fact that when he drew up a will in 1796,  he stipulated that all his possessions were to go to Mrs Fitzherbert whom he described as ‘to the wife of my heart and soul’.

Prince George marries Mrs Fitzherbert at her home in Park Lane (1786)

In later years, after the Prince had became George IV, their relationship ended – yet those decades of clandestine visits to Park Lane were not easily forgotten, for in 1830 the King’s dying request was to be buried wearing Maria’s eye miniature around his neck. In her twilight years Mrs Fitzherbert split her time between Brighton and the house in Park Lane.

After her death in March 1837 the celebrated auctioneer George Robins was engaged to oversee the sale of Mrs Fitzherbert’s house. The public were granted an unprecedented glimpse into the very rooms where Maria and George played out their love affair and to appreciate why this house was so important to their relationship

The grand suite embraces 5 drawing rooms, lofty and of the best proportions, all en-suite, and terminating with a conservatory, which entirely overlooks the Park. On the ground floor as the salon à manger, library, and breakfast parlour…. nothing is wanting to render it an abode especially adapted to a family of consequence. Thereis an abundance of stabling, two double coach-houses, with servants’ rooms

Amazingly the house was owned on a renewable lease expiring in 1865 with a reserved rent of just £5 and 10 shillings – an indication of the grace and favour Mrs Fitzherbert enjoyed through her personal connection with Royalty. No 6 Tilney Street continued to pay host to high society gatherings, remaining a place of curiosity and interest to Victorian London.

Dorchester House, Park Lane, built in 1853

One of the most architecturally important new structures in London was constructed in Park Lane during the early 1850s. Dorchester House was commissioned by Robert Staynor Holford and designed for the purpose of housing his art collection. Its most famous feature was a superb central staircase into which light cascaded and made the whole structure bright and airy.

The staircase at Dorchester House

In the 1890s Dorchester House served as the American Embassy, before it too was swept away in 1929 to be replaced by the Dorchester Hotel – which is even today still remains a popular base for American tourists. This might explain why Park Lane was ranked so highly by original creators of the London Monopoly board in 1936.

The Duke of Wellington’s funeral procession through Park Lane (1852)

We cannot depart Park Lane without a nod towards one of its most famous inhabitants, namely the Duke of Wellington. His house may not have quite been in Park Lane – being at Hyde Park Corner – but the Wellington Monument can be found there, and it was past this colossal tribute to Britain’s most successful military leader, that Wellington’s funeral procession passed on November 18th 1852. This was the end of an era as the hero of Waterloo was laid to rest, and Britain with a bright young Queen was preparing for a new generation. The Times gave a flavour of how Londoners filled the streets to say farewell

British History On Line has a thorough look at the buildings and places of interest in Park Lane though Hidden London’s guide is more readable

Frances Osborne has written a novel capturing the essence of Park Lane during the Suffragette era (1914)

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Mayfair

Berkeley Square, Mayfair (1813)

Mayfair deserves its spot at the top end of the Monopoly board because it is a district rather than one street situated east of Hyde Park between Oxford Street, Regent Street, Piccadilly and Park Lane. Originally largely rural Mayfair acquired its name from an annual May Fair festival held on the site of what is now Shepherd Market, near modern-day Piccadilly. As London expanded westwards a series of elegant squares swallowed up the countryside, and the force of urbanisation eventually forced the May Fair festival to close – its final appearance being  recorded in 1764. By this date developments such as Grosvenor Square and Hanover Square had already been around for 50 years or so.  These grandiose terraces were always designed to keep the poor and needy away, so the function of Mayfair as a rich man’s enclave was commonl knowledge well before the dawn of the Victorian era.

Grosvenor Square (1830) already bereft of riff-raff

Mayfair was particularly involved in a late Georgian drive to clean up the streets of London. The Vagrancy Act of 1824 provided authorities with draconian powers against anyone deemed to be loitering or begging on the streets – Local beadles and the newly formed Metropolitan Police (1829) actively patrolled the streets of Mayfair harassing and removing undesirables. The introduction of gas lighting drove London’s underworld away, enabling the well-off began to enjoy a totally different existence to that faced by the vast majority of ordinary Londoners. Not all of the rich set agreed with this street purge. For example William Wellesley-Pole, who lived in Savile Row, went to Court to defend his right to assist a local beggar-woman but was unable to prevent her imprisonment.

Wicked William of Wanstead House notoriety was born in Mayfair and baptised St George’;s Hanover Square in July 1788

Despite its opulence, Mayfair remained a key area for employment – vital to London’s economy. Legions of servants, tradesmen, delivery and service providers were called upon to keep the wheels of luxury turning. For these less fortunate souls the dangers of Mayfair never quite receded. On February 9th 1860 Bell’s Life in London reported of a tragic accident befalling a coal man making his deliveries in Mayfair – leaving his wife and family destitute

For Victorian England the iniquity of life did not go unnoticed. In 1858 this was encapsulated by the publication of a 3-volume novel entitled The Morals of Mayfair by Anne Edwards. Certainly not good enough to be considered a classic, her tale of high society recklessness received this rather telling review:

Through this we learn that Victorian London was developing a conscience – with dissent against aristocratic selfishness and privilege becoming more vocal .Yes, Mayfair was well-known to all Victorian Londoners, but not everyone championed its virtues.

Learn more about what Mayfair has to offer today, find out about Mayfair and Belgravia’s Grosvenor Estate or visit History of London’s history of Mayfair blog

 

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Concluding Comments

So we have now reached the end of our journey into Victorian London via the Monopoly Board route. Overall it must be said that the streets and locations chosen in 1936 held the same resonance for 1850s Londoners. In fact some Monopoly squares, such as Vine Street and Coventry Street, were more familiar to the Victorian than they would be to modern players. However we have to admit that the continual evolution of London has created some sticking points that (at the very least) would have had Victorians scratching their heads. Understandably the railways stations of Marylebone and Liverpool Street were not to be found. Also we must agree that Northumberland Avenue was a later addition to the London map. However, the beauty of London has always been that buildings and landmarks change – but names often seem to endure. In the same way that ‘Kings Cross’ survived long after the monument it refers to had gone – Marleybone Station, Liverpool Street Station, and Northumberland Avenue have assumed names very much in keeping with what Victorian London would have known –  landmarks whose location they could still safely guess (even when the original places such as Northumberland House) were long gone.

Automated public transport being trialled in London (1830)

Another lesson we may learn from our trip through Victorian London is the sheer familiarity we still enjoy with that era. Who would have thought, for instance, that steam carriage omnibuses (1830), railway stations (c.1840), water works (c.1600), or an Electric Company (1852) would have been part of their lives? There is so much continuity about London – its buildings and people may change, but the distinct areas seem to maintain their traditional flavour.

If Monopoly had first been drawn up in 1850, it would contained most of the key places and thoroughfares we expect to see today. However, there were certainly some Victorian hot spots missing: for example Vauxhall (for its pleasure grounds), Chancery Lane (legal hub), Smithfield (meat and other produce markets), Covent Garden (entertainments, both legal and illicit), or Cornhill (banking district).

In conclusion I hope that the many images used within this series of Monopoly related blogs will serve to promote the British Museum’s image collection, particularly from the Crace Collection, as a fantastic resource for ALL. This has been a long journey with some lengthy sections, but I hope you have enjoyed accompanying me to the finish line…

Further Monopoly Related Links

  1. Barry Palmer, Ben Skinner and Steve Rose have published a series of interesting pub crawls round the Monopoly Board venues
  2. The Londonist has created a great real life Monopoly Board
  3. Visit Britain suggests you walk the Monopoly Board
  4. 501 Places reckons you can do the London Monopoly Board by foot in 12 hours!

I would be happy to add any further links on request

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♦♦♦

Wicked William’s blog has a special focus on London, so you may also be interested in meeting Peggy Jones, the London Mudlark or Regency Prizefighter Tom ‘The Navigator’ Shelton or the learn how multicultural East London actually was back in the Georgian era.  As for William and his dastardly deeds – you can follow him to war, join him at the Epping Hunt, or attend his wedding ceremony at St James, Piccadilly

George Behaving Badly; A drunken jape with the Prince of Wales (1788)

On July 8th 1788, George, the Prince of Wales, was involved in a bizarre incident at Newmarket Races, which almost caused a breach with the French Royal Family. Having posted this image from the British Museum on Twitter earlier today, and received a number of responses, I decided to dig a little deeper discover why George had make haste to escape a horsewhipping, and also to try to identify the protagonists.

I can now confirm that the Prince of Wales is being chased by Louis Philippe II, Duke of Orléans (1747-1793), who at that time was second in line to the French throne after Louis XVI’s younger brother the Compe d’Artois (later King Charles X, who reigned 1824-1830). In this year prior to the French Revolution Orléans was on a Royal Visit to London, and had spent the previous days inspecting troops at Blackheath and taking the waters at Cheltenham in the company of King George III and his retinue.

Today was George’s turn to entertain his French guest, so he arranged a day at Newmarket. According to the Morning Chronicle the day’s racing passed off well, until at some point in the afternoon the party retired to a coffee house for dinner and refreshments

His Royal Highness dined with the duke de Orléans, his brother the Abbé de Saint-Albin, and several other English and French nobility. After dinner, when walking in the garden, The Abbé offered a bet to the Prince of Wales that he would ‘tickle’ a fish in the pond, til it suffered him to take it out

Fish tickling, was an art traced back to Medieval times, involving rubbing the underbelly of a trout until it went into a temporary trance and could then be thrown out of the pond onto dry land. Mentioned in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night this skill was obviously also practiced in France. The Morning Chronicle continues

The bet was accepted, and the Abbé knelt down, and began tickling the fish. The exalted personage (George) then came behind, and shoved him in over his head. The Duke de Orléans immediately ran after the Prince of Wales with a horse whip, but he escaped back into the coffee room. The Abbé was taken to his lodgings and obliged to strip.

A reconstruction of the Prince of Wales kicking Abbé de Saint-Albin up the arse at Newmarket, July 8th 1788

At this point one can imagine that French tempers were high, a cleric booted into the pond and the perpetrator beyond reach inside a coffee-room. Diplomacy was urgently needed…

The Dukes of Queensberry, Grafton and Bedford undertook to settle the business, which they did by making an apology, declaring that his Royal Highness meant no harm, and was rather in liquor. The apology was accepted and the Prince and Abbé the next day rode together, and walked arm in arm through the Town.

It must have been hilarious to watch George, heir to the throne, line the Abbé up in his sights and then send him crashing into the pond, before sprinting like mad to avoid the lash of his angry brother. No wonder King George III was so worried about the future path of the English monarchy, when he has this scandalous behavior from his son and heir to contend with.

The Duke of Orléans on his way to the guillotine, Paris, November 1793

Sad to say that the Duke of Orléans, despite changing his name to Philippe Égalité and advocating constitutional monarchy as a means of embracing the French Revolution (1792), was himself guillotined in November 1793 during the Reign of Terror. His son Louis Philippe did eventually become King of France in July 1830 – ironically just a month after the death of his father’s tormentor at Newmarket Races all those years ago, George IV

The pleasure of this satire, and the story behind it, has caused me to stray from London in this post. However, if you are keen to learn more about George; who was Prince of Wales, Prince Regent and finally King George IV you might like to see how he restored his damaged reputation via Ascot Races. Alternatively if you too want to get out of London and see a bit of Regency Britain, why not consult this handy guide to coaching inns and their destinations.

For more bad behaviour during the Regency you could try Wicked William’s hunt, or read a tale of murder and intrigue set in Walthamstow

Finally, for some true stories of Regency hardship and despair you might like the story of a London tramp, or the sad life of Peggy Jones, the Blackfriars mud lark

An Account of Peggy Jones, the London Mudlark

Peggy Jones (c1765-1805)

Yesterday I posted this image of Peggy Jones on Twitter, which I obtained from the British Museum image database, and because it received a very widespread reaction, I have done a little digging of my own to add more information about the hard life and times of this renowned London character.

I very quickly discovered that Peggy appears in Pierce Egan’s ground-breaking guide Real Life in London (1820-21) which describes the practice of gathering waste from the Thames:  ‘The mud-lark returns home, when his labours are ended, sorts the indiscriminate heterogeneous ” mass of matter,” and disposes of it as well as he can.’  Though she was long-dead by 1821, Peggy has gone into legend for being one of the few women entering this gruelling ‘occupation’.

View of Blackfriars Bridge c.1800 showing people foraging in the water and river bank (rear background)

The full story of Peggy Jones appeared (along with the above portrait) in Kirby’s Wonderful and Eccentric Museum of Remarkable Characters, Volume III published in London in June 1805 – an extract of which follows:

Poverty often teaches the people the most extraordinary means of getting a livelihood… Among these the class of Mud-larks is not the least extraordinary. Many of our readers may possibly be ignorant that a Mud-lark is a person, who on the ebb of the tide, repairs to the river-side, in quest of any article that the water may have left behind in the mud. To this description of people belonged Peggy Jones. She was a woman, apparently about forty years of age, with red hair, the particular object of whose researches was the coals which accidentally fell from the sides of the lighters. She was always to be seen at Blackfriars, even before the tide was down, wading into the water, nearly up to the middle, and scraping together from the bottom, the coals which she felt with her feet. Numbers of passengers who have passed by that quarter, particularly over Blackfriars Bridge, have often stopped to contemplate with astonishment a female engaged in an occupation, apparently so painful and disagreeable. She appeared dressed in very short ragged petticoats, without shoes or stockings, and with a kind of apron made of some strong substance, that folded like a bag all round her, in which she collected whatever she was so fortunate as to find. In this strange apparel, and her legs encrusted with mud, she traversed the streets of London. Sometimes she was industrious enough to pick up three, and at others even four loads a day; and as they consisted entirely of what are termed round coals, she never was at a loss for customers, whom she charged at the rate of eight pence a load. In the collection of her sable treasures, she was frequently assisted by the coal-heavers, who when she happened to approach the lighters, would, as if undesignedly, kick overboard a large coal, at the same time, bidding her, with apparent surliness, to go about her business.

The above paragraph really brings home the back-breaking graft Peggy Jones and her ilk put into merely existing on the streets of London. Its at once ghastly and touching to know that the lightermen plying their trade along the Thames were prepared to give her scraps from their boatloads – yet still expected her to wade through the mud to reach what they had donated. She had to work bare-footed so that she could detect her quarry using her toes – this must have been bone-chilling even at the best of times. Kirby’s description of Peggy Jones continues:

We are sorry to be obliged to state, that Peggy Jones was not exempt from a failing to which most individuals of the lower orders are subject, namely, inebriety. Her propensity to liquor was sometimes indulged to such a degree, that she would tumble about the streets with her load, to the no small amusement of mischievous boys, and others, who, on such occasions, never failed to collect around her. After concluding the labours of the day, she retired to a wretched lodging in Chick Lane.

Chick Lane was one of the many streets and alleys associated with nearby Smithfield market , by 1850 it was known as West Street, and was demolished soon afterwards

 

Peggy’s elevation to the status of ‘English Eccentric’ in June 1805 was probably more due to her sudden disappearance earlier that year having

carried on her extraordinary calling for many years, but about the month of February, 1805, she suddenly disappeared from her usual places of resort, and nobody can tell what is become of her. A man who has the appearance of a coal-heaver, has since stepped into her place, and adopted the profession which she so long followed. Though the facts we have been able to procure concerning Peggy Jones are but scanty, yet our readers will doubtless approve of our desire to perpetuate, by means of the annexed design, taken from life, the memory of such a singular character.

It seems probable that Peggy was taken by the river, where she spent so much of her life. Imagine scrabbling around in mud on a freezing wet February day hoping to find a few lumps of coal to carry in the folds of her dress and sell on to other equally distressed city-dwellers.

The Thames near the Tower of London c.1790 – a busy and dangerous place for wading around in the mud

It is good to learn a little more about Peggy’s life and times, even though it must have been relentlessly bleak.  because it shines a light on the awful deprivation the majority of our ancestors endured in order to survive.

A big thank you to Susan from Witness2Fashion Blog for providing the following additional image a of a Thames mudlark – seen  receiving a scrap of food from a Thames lighterman. According to Susan, Arthur Munby sketched this in 1855;and  it can be seen in Victorian Working Women, by Michael Hiley. Perhaps the sketch recalls Peggy Jones, otherwise it suggests that this type of existence was a more routine site in early-Victorian London than we might otherwise have imagined.

Image Courtesy of witness2fashion Word Press Blog

For more information on life amidst 19th Century London mud, I recommend the following essential reading

Jerry White, London in the Nineteenth Century: ‘A Human Awful Wonder of God’  (London: Cape, 2007)

Virginia Smith & others, Dirt, The Filthy Reality of Every Day Life (London: Profile, 2011)

Lee JacksonDirty Old London; The Victorian Fight Against Filth (Yale University Press, 2015)

If you liked this post, you may also be interested to learn the sad tale of a London Prizefighter – or to find out how to get away from London’s mean streets by locating her principal stagecoach inns. Finally, you could learn about one house in London with 5 layers of British history

Has Wanstead become a byword for neglect?

The grotto, Wanstead Park, a symbol of neglect stretching back two centuries

At the turn of the millennium Redbridge held the dubious honour of being the only borough not to feature any places of interest in the official Blue Guide to London. Despite the restoration of Valentines Mansion in Ilford between 2006-09, Redbridge remains missing from the Blue Guide for 2017; though at least it now shares this distinction with outlying boroughs of Bromley, Croydon, Havering, and Sutton.

Whereas other boroughs have majestic buildings of note, Redbridge just has a hole in the ground where Wanstead House once stood

This sense of neglect is no more epitomised than by Wanstead, an area of historical importance that is nonetheless too keenly associated with loss. Since the demolition of Wanstead House, Britain’s first and finest Palladian mansion (1824), it can sometimes feel that the circus has left town and that Wanstead has nothing left to offer but memories of a glorious past. Yet anyone who knows Wanstead and its environs would rightfully assert that today, even without its magnificent mansion, Wanstead Park remains a jewel in the crown not just of Redbridge, but of the whole of east London.

Wanstead Park – Loved yet unknown to most Londoners

Despite a chronic lack of investment, during which time its ornamental waters have drained and dried up, Wanstead Park remains a doggedly popular leisure amenity. It is enthusiastically championed by a dedicated group of Friends, anxious to turn back the tide of decay which is allowing this enclave of London – once favoured by Tudor Kings and Queens, to slip away without ceremony before our very eyes. The Corporation of London, current custodians of Wanstead Park have long asked us to accept that their finances have limits, yet one can’t help feeling that Wanstead is well down their list of priorities, and certainly easier to ignore than more high profile assets such as Hampstead Heath, with its richer and more powerful supporters.

News today however, that the future of St Mary the Virgin Church in Overton Drive is now under threat because its owner the Church of England are finding it too expensive to upkeep, may just be the tipping point at which we must all stand up and demand change. A church has stood on this site for 800 years, and the present version (c.1790) is the only Grade I listed building in the borough of Redbridge. A by-product of Britain’s East India Company and slave trading past, St Mary’s is both architecturally and socially significant; well worth a visit for anyone interested in London’s cultural history.

I had the good fortune to visit St Mary’s recently whilst a choir practice was in progress and it was a truly memorable experience not only for the delightful interiors but the wonderful acoustic provided by its galleried aisles – leaving me chuffed to know that we have this gem of a building in our midst

Of course buildings like St Mary’s Church are costly to maintain, and reports that the congregation has dwindled to a few dozen mass attendees, clearly contribute to the Anglican Church’s decision to review its future. But isn’t this so typically Wanstead, so typically Redbridge? Here we have the Church of England, sitting on landholdings conservatively valued at £8bn, pleading poverty and implying disinterest as a means to disengage. One must ask the obvious question – why hasn’t the Church invited proposals to increase the use of St Mary’s? Is it because they don’t want help to keep the church open – and are simply looking for excuses to bail out?

The M11 Link protest of early 1990s proves that Wanstead does not always have to take decisions lying down

In the long run listed status will conserve St Mary’s for future generations but doesn’t this whole episode smack of yet more neglect, and a rather patronising assumption that the people of Wanstead will accept another loss in their usual stoic manner? One can only hope that this news will be greeted with a call to arms (like to M11 link protest days) rather than a collective sigh passively confirming that Redbridge, and especially Wanstead, really do deserve to be overlooked by the London guidebooks.

For news and other information about Wanstead why not visit

Victorian Monopoly – From ‘The Strand’ to ‘Jail’

Overview
“Go” to “Just Visiting” | “Pall Mall” to “Free Parking” | “Strand” to “Jail” | “Regent St” to “Mayfair”

In this third segment we press on with our journey around the Monopoly Board using only images from the Crace Collection of antiquarian prints and maps held by the British Museum. Our 1850s Londoners are tasked with traversing streets and locations immortalised since the London version of this iconic board game first appeared in 1936. We will begin in The Strand but shall inevitably end up in Jail, before our final turn homewards. But will the places we visit be familiar to Victorian eyes?

The Strand | Fleet St | Trafalgar Sq | Fenchurch St Station
Leicester SqCoventry StWater Works | PiccadillyGo To Jail

The Strand

The Strand (1781) by Thomas Malton

From the Middle Ages the Strand served as the principal route between the twin Cities of London and Westminster, deriving its name from its close proximity to the River Thames – which made it a thoroughfare liable to flooding right up until the construction of Victoria Embankment in 1870. For many centuries one of London’s best-known roads, the Strand might have had a still a greater claim upon the map of modern London: – Not once but twice stations that were called ‘The Strand’ have been subsequently renamed (Aldwych and Charing Cross). ‘Strand Bridge’ too was nearing completion, when the Duke of Wellington’s famous victory over Napoleon in 1815 caused it to be re-titled ‘Waterloo’ Bridge. Bordered to the west by Trafalgar Square, and to the east by Fleet Street., the Strand was a thriving commercial thoroughfare, instantly recognisable to Victorian Londoners

Exeter Change, The Strand

We are going to alight at Exeter Change, or Exchange as it was also known, on the north side of the Strand – where the Strand Palace Hotel now stands. The Change was built in 1676 on the site of the London mansion of the Earls of Exeter. Despite being demolished in 1829, this building retained a very special place in the memories of older generation Victorians. It was designed and built by a Dr Barbon as a kind of bazaar – similar to a modern-day shopping mall –  with various outlets, entertainment, and retail spaces. At the front was an arcade extending forwards right into the Strand. Initially Exeter Change housed a number of fine tailors, milliners, hosier and other fashionable shops – with an auction room (that also occasionally served as a Court room) on the upper floors. These were prime units, for it was recorded that one Thomas Clark, a cutler, accumulated a vast fortune via trade from the Change – enabling him to purchase the upper parts in 1773 as an investment – and thereafter to establish the first of a series of menageries, or private zoos – for which Exeter Change became most truly renowned

The Exeter Change menagerie at various times included lions, tigers, monkeys, and other exotic species, all confined in iron cages in small rooms. The roaring of the big cats could be heard outside, often frightening horses passing in the street below. Gilbert Pidcock bought the menagerie in 1793, and it later subsequently passed into the hands of Stephani Polito. Both Pidcock and Polito operated of travelling circuses, using the Exeter Change as winter quarters for their animals, which was a neat way of earning revenue off-season. The menagerie was extremely popular across all sections of society, and was well-advertised as a tourist attraction.

Pidcock’s Royal Menagerie Brochure

A few years before Exeter Change was swept away as part of a grander scheme to improve The Strand, it was the scene of a tragic and sensational event – revealing the cruelty and barbarity of Georgian society towards animal welfare; namely the death of Chunee in 1826. Chunee was an Indian elephant brought to London around 1809 and put to work at Covent Garden Theatre. His acting career got off to a bad start because ‘the tremendous noise of his reception deprived him of sense’ causing Chunee to refuse to allow ‘the Sultan of Cashmire’ to dismount him during an important scene,. Instead of following the script, Chunee scarpered off-stage into the wings knocking all around him asunder. Fortunately no one was injured in the ensuing melee, and the sensation caused by his impromptu ad-libbing added boosted ticket sales. Chunee soon overcame his stage-fright to complete a 40-day pantomime season in front of packed houses, and then had the honour of appearing alongside Edmund Keane at Drury Lane. By 1812 Chunee was in retirement at Exeter Change, where he was placed in an oak and hammered-iron cage, and rapidly became one of London’s most iconic tourist attractions. This must have been a miserable existence for such a huge beast – as he was almost permanently locked up for human entertainment.

Chunee ate his keeper’s clothing in 1819

As Chunee grew older the sheer tedium and loneliness of his existence made him angry and hostile. By the mid-1820s there were entire seasons when he was considered ungovernable. Eventually on March 1st 1826, Chunee became extremely agitated and began violently striking his den.  His exasperated owner and keeper, Mr Cross took the heartless decision to poison him. But this failed, so he sent for his gun, ignoring the pleas of his staff, declaring ‘no pecuniary loss could induce me to endanger the lives of other humans’ by keeping Chunee alive. Thirty bullets were fired from close range but the Chunee continued to struggle and actually succeeded in smashing the front section of his cage open. As the case was now desperate, soldiers bearing muskets were called upon from Somerset House and a further hundred musket balls were fired.  When Chunee eventually sunk to his knees – the firing continued. In fact it took another 90 minutes for this poor elephant to die. A grotesque crowd of onlookers witnessed the appalling spectacle of Cross finishing his off his prize exhibit with a sabre. Afterwards the newspapers commiserated with Cross over the loss of such a valuable asset (said to be in the region of £1000) – but there was barely a mention of the horrific ordeal suffered by Chunee.

The barbaric slaughter of Chunee the elephant (1826)

Yet Chunee’s demise may be seen as a parable for changes underway in British society as the Georgian era reached its end. Most people relished the cruelty of blood sports – indeed hundreds of people paid a shilling to watch Chunee’s dissection at the Royal College of Surgeons (where his bullet-ridden hide was sold off for £50). But there were also some green shoots of Victorian respectability arriving, and the emergence of sense of feeling towards animals. -This can be seen via a letter sent to The Times a few days afterwards

To place an elephant, or any beast, without a mate, and in a box bearing no greater proportion to his bulk than a coffin does to a corpse, is inhuman; and there can be no doubt that confinement and the want of a mate caused the frenzy… If a very small part of the money voted for the Royal Palace were applied to the purchase of a few acres of ground, we might [be able to exhibit] Nature’s wonderful works in the style worthy of a great city…

This correspondent’s wishes would not be realised for another three decades (with the opening of Regent’s Park Zoo). As for the menagerie – when Exeter Change was finally demolished, it was re-opened further down the Strand, in a building near Charing Cross. Exeter Change may have been no more for Victorians, but legend says that Chunee can still be found in the Strand – inspiring this 1829 poem by Thomas Hood

Lines from Chunee’s Ghost (1829)

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Fleet Street

Fleet Street has for centuries been a major street in the City of London, extremely well-known to Victorians, especially because it was the site of Temple Bar, an ancient landmark serving as the principle ceremonial entrance on the royal route between the St Paul’s Cathedral and Tower of London on one side, and the Palace of Westminster on the other. Temple Bar was intended as a barrier regulating trade passing into the City, but it became a symbol of the rule of law because it was situated close to the Inns of Chancery. After 1800 the Royal Courts Of Justice, transferred to Fleet Street from Westminster Hall, adding to Fleet Street’s status as a legal quarter. So, while Fleet Street’s historic connection with newspapers and the press has come and gone, it remains today very much associated with the law.

Temple Bar c.1700

The baroque version of Temple Bar erected c.1680 was designed by Sir Christopher Wren, and as can be seen above was still used as a place for displaying the severed heads of executed prisoners, as a warning to others. Temple Bar spanned Fleet Street right up until 1878, when it was removed because it caused too much of a bottleneck for passing traffic. After many years away from London, Wren’s arch can nowadays be found in Paternoster Square, adjacent to St Paul’s Cathedral.

Fleet Ditch (1841) – a true Dickensian slum

Fleet Street gained its name from the River Fleet which crossed the roadway at Fleet Bridge – nowadays known as Ludgate Circus, and for many years whilst there was an open ditch north of Fleet Street, surrounded by ramshackle housing, prone to flooding and cholera. Not surprisingly crime proliferated – and by the 1826 it was so bad that a drastic reform of policing was necessary.

The nuisance, by the assemblage of groups of dissolute girls and men of notorious character, in the vicinity of Temple Bar, Fleet Street, and the Strand, is now likely to be abolished, as it is in contemplation to establish an effective street police… [ensuring] ‘free passage’ and ‘safe walking’ to the public in these great thoroughfares… to break the almost impassable file of pickpockets and women of the lowest description, who plant themselves in this most crowded… and most convenient thoroughfare for their plunder.

The Metropolitan Police Act 1829 rescued Fleet Street from becoming a no-go area but Victorian Monopoly player’s would have looked for Fleet Street at the cheapest section of section of their game, rather than the upper-middling red area it was allotted by 1936.

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Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square c.1852

By choosing Trafalgar Square to complete their red section, the original creators of the London Monopoly board displayed a sensible and logical understanding of this City’s topography; for Trafalgar Square stands at the western end of the Strand, which in turn leads on to Fleet Street. Trafalgar Square owes its existence to an Act of Parliament (1826) enabling the redevelopment of Charing Cross. This area had been an important meeting place for Londoners since the 13th Century, so it was very suitable for renewal on a grand scale, and perfect to receive a name synonymous with Britain’s new sense of her own power and patriotism. Began by John Nash, Trafalgar Square was finally completed in 1844, though it’s new name, recalling Horatio Nelson’s famous victory over the French (1805), was routinely in use as early as 1833.

When its iconic fountains were added in 1841 at a cost of £11,000, the earth removed was used to level off Green Park. The centrepiece – Nelson’s Column was erected in 1843.

 

Queen Victoria’s Coronation

As we know it today, Trafalgar Square is closely associated with public gatherings, protests, and pageantry. For the Victorian monopoly player this tradition would have reminded them of a very important day – the coronation of their Queen on June 28th 1838. The Standard reported that the mob were ‘never so well behaved’ as they lined the streets to witness the Queen’s ceremonial procession

From the earliest dawn… Charing Cross was presented with a scene of unusual bustle and interest. Many persons, it is understood, passed the night in the open space in Trafalgar Square in order to  be in good time for a good view of the procession. Others took up their positions in the taverns and public-houses in the neighbouring streets, from which they sallied forth as early as 5 o’clock, who joined their counterparts in front of the National Gallery. By 6 o’clock the space between the statue of Charles I, and the front of the National Gallery, was filled as far as it could be and by nine it was crowded to such a degree as to make ingress or egress impossible… The appearance of the whole area was one of the most imposing kind. At the west side of Trafalgar Square the Union Club had erected two galleries, which were filled with an elegant assemblage of beauty and fashion. In the distance on weither side were other galleries as attractively occupied. Every  front storey of every house in the whole line teemed with well-dressed spectators, chiefly ladies. Even the house-tops to the chimney-pots were crowded at every place which could command a view… At seven o’clock there was a sharp shower… but after a short time the weather became fair, and for the remainder of the day was as favourable as could be desired… cloudy, without rain. Precisely at ten o’clock the firing of the guns in the Park announced the procession had commenced its movement from the Palace. At this moment the crowd in the vicinity of Trafalgar Square was immense… we do not exaggerate when we say… there were not less than 200,000 persons assembled. Considering the immense assemblage, the order and decorum observed were on the whole highly creditable to the people, to the solemn occasion… and to the civil and military authorities.

What a spectacle it must have been to stand in Trafalgar Square watching young Princess Victoria pass by on her way to become the monarch that gave her name to a golden age in British history – but it’s time to move on to our next destination…

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Fenchurch Street Station

Fenchurch Street Station (1854)

Fenchurch Street Station was opened in 1841 by the London & Blackwall Railway Company, and then rebuilt as per Thomas Hosmer Shepherd‘s painting above. Let us go back to the 5th of July 1840, where we shall learn that Fenchurch Street began its life as a massive pulley-operated terminus running ‘trains’ down and back from the river Thames at Blackwall. The Times recorded its opening day

At an early hour in the morning carriages began to draw up at the terminus, filled with Members of Parliament, merchants, and private gentlemen, accompanied by their ladies… by 12 noon being the hour at which it was arranged the first train should start, there must have been 1500 elegantly-dressed persons in the waiting room

This was to be an exclusive event, and only those with special invitations were admitted into the new station. This did not stop the gathering of an immense but good-natured crowd outside, hoping for a glimpse of Royalty and yelling ‘Where’s the Queen!’ In this they were to be disappointed as Victoria was not present. The distinguished guests were ushered onto the platform, and entertained by an orchestra as they boarded the train. For the passengers there was plenty of incredible engineering to behold

The trains are propelled to Blackwall by means of two stationary engines of 120 horse power each, which are worked in shafts sunk into the earth on each side of the railway lines. To these engines fly-wheels are attached, each of which weighs 43 tons, and is 22 feet in diameter. A tail rope is fasted to the fly-wheels which is wound and unwound at each end by the stationary engines… as the train proceeds to Blackwall the fly-wheels at Fenchurch unwind the rope… and to prevent the rope becoming entangled… a break is placed on the edge of the platform… at which a man is employed to regulate the unwinding of the rope. The ropes (one for each direction) cost upwards of £1200 and the fly-wheel drums take 30 turns to every mile of rope, each of which are three and a half miles long…

Perhaps the greatest source of wonderment was the electric telegraph, invented by Cook and Wheatstone enabling ‘parties at each end of the railway to hold conversation with each other in the most perfect facility’ – with telegraphs placed at each station on the line – meaning that staff and engineers could communicate with one another instantaneously. Given that the telephone was not patented until 1876 – this is truly a remarkable feat that Fenchurch Street had a near-perfect phone system at its disposal in 1840!

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Leicester Square

The Monster Globe at Leicester Square

Leicester Square was laid out in 1670 and was named after nearby mansion Leicester House. Originally intended to be residential, the Square soon became popular with eighteenth century trendy types – and home to perhaps the two most celebrated painters of the eighteenth century – William Hogarth and Sir Joshua Reynolds. Reynolds was a prolific portrait painter, founder and first president of the Royal Academy of Arts (1768) – and he exploited his fame by using his house in Leicester Square as a kind of gallery – and was rewarded by many sophisticated visitors who subsequently became clients. The artistic connection has never left Leicester Square, for it has remained a popular site for public entertainment. Nowadays Leicester Square is THE place for film premieres, but in the Victorian age its star attraction was theatre. Then (as now) the central garden area served as an arena for singers musicians and performers to entertain the many visitors. No Victorian monopoly player could fail to recognise this place. especially in 1851 because Leicester Square acquired a new kind of attraction, namely the Monster Globe – seen above (1854) in a print by Thomas Hosmer Shepherd.

A cross-section of Wyld’s Monster Globe

The Monster Globe was the brain-child of James Wyld, an MP, and map-maker from Charing Cross. Early in 1851 he took out a ten-year lease on the Leicester Square Gardens to construct a visitor attraction showcasing his cartographic talents. The full story of Wyld’s Monster Globe is succinctly described by the Guildhall Library – suffice to say it didn’t end well, and his huge and costly structure was unceremoniously demolished in 1861. However, let us go back and see what the fuss was about, courtesy of The Standard, May 30th 1851

Yesterday a private view of this most interesting work of art was given to the press previous to the opening to the public. A globe having a surface of 10,000 feet is a novelty in geographical science… only after many failures has Mr Wyld succeeded and the Great Model Globe will probably take its place in the public estimation as one of our greatest national works of art…Within the structure are 4 galleries… modelled on a colossal scale are Europe, North America, and North Asia, with the expanse of the oceans…

Though Wyld tried hard to keep his attraction fresh, by organising exhibitions and inviting distinguished lecturers – he could not sustain the project long-term – and perhaps it was too much of a vanity project to succeed. Victorians shed no tears because they knew that Leicester Square would soon regenerate as a visitor attraction

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Coventry Street

View from Coventry Street

Coventry Street is one of the more obscure addresses to be found on the Monopoly Board, given that it is merely a side-road off Haymarket. Built in 1681 and named after a Henry Coventry secretary of Charles II and one-time ambassador to Sweden, whose house once stood on the north side of Panton Street, adjacent to what is now Leicester Square. Although Coventry Street has always stood in a location filled with bars, restaurants, theatres and entertainment – in the Victorian era it was better known as an industrial area, housing a number of tradesmen and factories. Amongst the various workshops stood some very good coffee houses and dining rooms, making Coventry Street a capable supporting act to its better-known rivals.

However, one type of entertainment did thrive in Coventry Street, and that was prostitution. On March 24th 1841 The Times reported

We some months ago called the attention of the police to the shameful scenes exhibited every night in the Haymarket and Coventry Street by the prostitutes who infest that neighbourhood… and are herded during the day time in the infamous brothels in Coventry-court…

This campaign had for a time been successful, until a local police magistrate, inundated by cases of fallen women brought before him for sentence, declared ‘prostitutes must walk somewhere’. To celebrate their victory the local prostitutes then took to ringing doorbells of local houses at all hours of the night and shouting obscenities at their owners. This new development caused The Times to request

It is the duty of the police to see that [prostitutes] walk in such a manner so as not to annoy and insult peacable persons and modest women, and that their ‘walking’ does not extend to the knockers and bell-handles of the householders

If you had the time, Coventry Street was the place

The catalyst for change in Coventry Street came in 1850, as it so usually does in London, when an act of God swept away many of the factories and workshops allowing the area to be rebuilt. On January 3rd at 11pm a very serious fire broke out in the premises of Creese & Co, boot and shoe-makers. Within a very few minutes the whole factory was ablaze and the fire spread to adjacent properties. Despite the efforts of St Ann’s parish fire brigade, who were able to use brand new mains water provided by the New River Company, the fire raged for 13 hours. The following businesses were affected

  • 3 Coventry Street – Mrs Mary Taylor, stationer, burned down
  • 4 Coventry Street – Creese & Company, bootmakers, burned down
  • 5 Coventry Street – Samuel Walters, a tailor, back of building destroyed
  • 6 Coventry Street – Mr Reid, hosier, back of building destroyed

Properties in Rupert Street and Princes Street were also both fire and water damaged – including three bootmakers, a gunsmith, poulterer and a carpet-maker. Coventry Street was redeveloped to become an asset rather than a liability to London’s amenities. Attractive new buildings replaced the old shops and tenements, and London’s oldest trade was forced to find refuge elsewhere in Soho, but still remained close enough to maintain this area’s modern-day seedy backdrop. In 1907 the first Lyons Corner House was built in Coventry Street, hence its reputation would have improved enough to justify inclusion in the 1936 monopoly board line-up

After 1850 Coventry Street became gentrified

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Water Works

York Buildings Water Works

The spectre of death and disease was never far from the streets of Georgian London, and though it was not then known to be the cause of cholera outbreaks, Londoners were fully aware of the importance of clean drinking water.  As early as 1671 the Thames Water Company was established at York Buildings, at the end of Villiers Street, near Charing Cross. It utilised early steam technology to distill water and provide it at a cost to local residents. But the process was slow, and its machinery soon rendered obsolete by rivals such as Chelsea Water Company to the extent that by the 1730s it was no longer a viable concern. Despite this lack of business success, York Waterworks became a significant London landmark – principally on account of its 70 feet tall wooden tower, which was erected around 1698. A heavy weight was pushed to the top of the tower by steam power in order to create sufficient pressure to pump clean water into nearby houses. With its distinctive shape and curious windows, York Water Tower went on to become a very familiar sight, not least for the many artists who have included it in their Thames landscapes.

Canaletto’s view of York Water Tower c.1750

Thomas Malton’s York Water Tower c.1792

The Shard Building, London Bridge (2009)

It is not known exactly when York Tower was removed, but it must have been gone by the time the Victoria Embankment was constructed the early 1860s. York Water Gate (seen in Thomas Malton’s image above) still stands in the park. York Water Tower may be lost but its one-time dominance of the Thames panorama is thought to have influenced architect Renzo Piano’s design for the Shard building at London Bridge. Piano has credited Canaletto’s painting seen above for formulating his idea. Not only can we see that the Water Works was a familiar landmark during the Victorian era, but we still have a super-sized reminder of its existence.

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Piccadilly

Devonshire House, Piccadilly (1844)

Piccadilly spent the early years of its life deciding whether or not it ought to be called Portugal Street, an issue that was finally resolved in its favour around 1750. It came to prominence after the old road between Charing Cross and Hyde Park Corner was closed to enable the creation of Green Park in 1668. Continual development meant that by 1800 there were many elegant mansion houses, such as Devonshire House , coaching inns, clubs, hotels, and shops all the way to Hyde Park Corner, and within a few decades the fabulous Nash facades were added to its junction with Regent Street. By Victorian times Piccadilly certainly was a very exclusive neighbourhood.

St James’ Church came into existence primarily because of the rapid expansion of Piccadilly. In the 1660s local residents put forward a Bill to create a new parish separate from St Martin in the Fields, and eventually obtained permission to construct. Built by Sir Christopher Wren for a cost of £5000, it was first consecrated in 1684 – and lent its name to the area which became known as St James’ Parish (or St James’ as it is today).

St James Piccadilly

St James Piccadilly played a very important role in the life of ‘Wicked William’ Long-Wellesley, for it was the scene of his marriage to Wanstead House heiress Catherine Tylney-Long in March 1812. But it has other more noble claims to fame such as the poet William Blake‘s (baptised there 1757) or the burial place of legendary Georgian caricaturist James Gillray.

White Bear Yard, Piccadilly c.1850

The White Bear situated in Piccadilly was one of London’s foremost coaching inns. Despite the decline in coach travel by the 1840s it was still a thriving inn – though this report from The Times shows that you had to chose the right time to enter its yard, without incurring the wrath of Ann Bond

A foreign person, Mr Paul Decone, was passing through White Bear Yard a few evenings ago, about half past seven o’clock, when he was suddenly deluged by the contents of a pail thrown from the first floor window… a very short time afterwards he discovered that his clothes were turning red, and parets of his hat were burnt off. The defendant Ann Bond admitted throwing the water out of her window into the drain below, but denied that it was contaminated… [but] the defendant had for a length of time been in the habit of throwing water over people passing through the yard at dusk… and the police had been called several times before. It being a public thoroughfare tests were carried out on the water, which was found to contain vitriol. [The Judge] was willing to give the defendant the benefit of the doubt, but in order to put a stop to a most unjustifiable proceeding, that of throwing water out of a window, by accident or design, so as to cause an assault, he should inflict a fine of 50 shillings and costs. The money was duly paid…

Its appropriate to leave Piccadilly on a criminal note as we are now off to prison

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Go To Jail!!

Fleet Prison 1840 – relying on charity to survive

Prisons were very familiar buildings in Victorian London, the spectre of which hung wide sections of the population. Alongside the traditional prisons such as Newgate, were a plethora of debtors prisons and asylums which were to all intents and purposes also places of permanent incarceration, plus some decaying hulk ships housing alien prisoners and those awaiting transportation. My own research subject ‘Wicked William’ spent time in Fleet Prison for contempt of court, and in the Tower of London for abduction. His ordeal would have been nothing compared to the vast number of desperate and destitute souls finding themselves behind bars in Victorian London, and hoping for the kindness of strangers

Millbank Prison  c1829

Millbank was a new type of prison built on marshland west of Westminster between 1813 and 1823. The works were beset with problems not least because Millbank was traditionally a bit of a swamp liable to flooding from the Thames, hence its construction became a very challenging task. The idea was to create a prison purely for those whom it was considered capable of reform – and sentences between 5 and 10 years were given as an alternative to transportation.

Almost as soon as Millbank Penitentiary was opened the Morning Chronicle commented 

It is seated in a marsh, beneath the bed of a river, through which the vapours of stagnant water are constantly exhaling. The effluvia from the mass of human beings confined within its walls cannot dissipate from deficient ventilation… lingering confinement cannot fail to produce all the diseases which take place…  One would be almost tempted to think that the mind of the person who contrived this prison had been influenced by the diabolical idea of saving the expense of conveying convicts to distant settlements, by a commutation that would end all their earthly troubles… There is but one remedy – to place as much gun-powder under the foundation as may suffice to blow the whole fabric into the air.

This savage indictment did not prevent Millbank from continuing to operate until a new prison was opened at Pentonville in 1842; and thereafter it became a holding prison for transportees.

The Governors Report for 1842 makes grim reading:

For the year 1842 there were 707 prisoners, of which 408 were males, 157 females, and 142 soldiers… twenty prisoners died [including] 11 from dysentery, 5 from consumption… 18 were released on medical grounds including 5 to a lunatic asylum… the Committee stated that the distressing increase in the number of insane prisoners had been arrested by a new regime imposed in July 1841… limiting inrercourse between prisoners for the first three months after their admission, and then to be placed on a modified system of intercourse, consisting of permission to converse, during the hours of exercise, with tow or more fellow-prisoners. This privilege is liable to be suspended for misconduct… this new system has cut cases of insanity by a third…

What a horrific place Millbank must have been. To think that only those most likely to reform and be rehabilitated into society were sent to this hell-hole. There was absolutely nothing to encourage improvement, just daily exposure to disease, and Governors imposing a minimum of three months isolation as the means to control mental health. Thankfully the sheer cost of this brutal regime prevented it carrying on any longer, and the prison was downgraded shortly afterwards. Millbank Prison closed in the 1880s, and was fully demolished by the end of the Victorian era.

Pentonville Prison c.1850

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In conclusion we can see that your average Victorian would have felt well at home making his way across the top part of a modern Monopoly board. Though he would have wondered how places like Fleet Street and the Strand could ever be considered so appealing given their proximity to slum housing, disease and crime. Given this fact our trip to prison at the end of this journey would hardly have been unexpected. Please join me for the final segment as we get released from our cell to examine London’s elite areas from Regent Street to Mayfair.  What were these exclusive areas like for Victorian-age Londoners? Find out next time!

For a blog post of this scope, I have struggled for brevity. Despite its ridiculous length, I hope you will have enjoyed the stopping points we have made on our Victorian Monopoly odyssey, learning a little about each place on the way. There are a myriad of internet resources available for those interested in the history of London’s streets and enclaves. You may like the following further reading resources:

The Strand – British History On Line, Rachel Knowles visits Exeter Change, Know Your London: Exeter Change, Mike Rendell’s Sad Story of Chunee the elephant, or Jane Austen’s London

Fleet Street – A history of Temple Bar, British History of Fleet River and Ditch, The Londonist looks at Fleet Ditch today, or Charles Dickens and Fleet Street

Trafalgar Square – Trafalgar Square Website, The Londonist asks: How much do you really know about Trafalgar Square?, Londontopia has some great random facts, or click here for a fuller description of Queen Victoria’s coronation day

Fenchurch Street Station – Black Cab London looks at its history, and Isle of Dogs Life looks at the London & Blackwall Railway

Leicester Square –  Hidden London’s brief history, The Guildhall Library looks at Wyld’s Monster Globe, and David Morrell has used the Monster Globe as a setting for his novel Ruler of the Night

Coventry Street – British History Online, or the strange tale of the Coventry Street Vampire & the role of Lyon’s Corner House in Gay History

Waterworks – For an excellent history of the York Watergate click here, Leslie Tomory has written a book about London’s water companies 1580-1820, and IanVisits has unearthed some great info on York Water Tower

Piccadilly – St James Piccadilly Website has an excellent history section, or read about the early history of Piccadilly

Victorian Prisons – London for Free has a great guide to Historic Prisons, Old Police Cells Museum looks at life in a Victorian Prison, and London Lives looks at the rebuilding of Georgian prisons

If you are interested in London’s history you might also like to read about Walthamstow Murderess Elizabeth Jefferies, or know the sad story of Regency Prizefighter Tom Shelton. If buildings interest you then read the multi-layered history of 3 Savile Row, or follow Regency artist Anne Rushout on Tour

Thanks for reading my blogs, and for all your feedback. I have written around 80 original posts in the past three years, and hope to continue adding to this on a more regular basis, as time permits.

All comments and feedback are welcome!

 

‘Wicked’ William & Catherine: Society Wedding of the Regency Era

Wicked William takes the hand (and purse) of his bride

On 14th March 1812, ‘Wicked’ William Wellesley-Pole married his fabulously rich bride Catherine Tylney-Long at St James’ Church, Piccadilly. The tragic outcome of their marriage has been thoroughly described in Geraldine Roberts‘ best-selling book The Angel and The Cad (Macmillan, 2015) – including the fascinating account of how such a penniless wastrel could have succeed in winning the heart of Britain’s richest woman.

This blog takes us back to March 1812,  shedding a bit more light on the wedding itself, and how it was reported in the press.

William’s courtship of Catherine Tylney-Long began in the summer of 1810, and it took almost 18 months for him to fend off a plethora of rivals including the Duke of Clarence (future King William IV), before the chase was won. The above satire from January 1812 likens William and Catherine’s courtship to that of Romeo and Juliet – a kind of ‘against the odds’ love affair – which it certainly was. Though at this stage they were already betrothed, the battle was still raging – Not only was Catherine under attack from stalkers, such as John Scott (pictured being chased away above) but there were also hundreds of legal documents to wade through as Catherine’s alarmed and concerned family sought to devise a marriage agreement that would keep as much control as possible away from the Wellesley bridegroom.

William could now be called ‘Long Pole’ and not without reason

Over the next two months a sometimes tense and occasionally hostile negotiation continued – meaning that the wedding arrangements were continually postponed. William did not waste time, however, to cement his destiny. On January 14th 1812 – even before he was married – William changed his name by Royal Licence and added his wife’s ancestral surnames – to become fabulously quadruple-barreled William Pole-Tylney-Long-Wellesley. If you were looking for an omen here – then William certainly gave one by placing ‘Wellesley’ at the end of his newly acquired monicker. It was always traditional for men marrying into money to adopt their wife’s title or surname upon marriage. William instead chose to foreground his politically well-connected Wellesley family name – one which had up to this point been merely a middle name for him – but now, thanks to the endeavours of his famous uncles (including the Duke of Wellington) – William was suddenly making a claim to be Pretender to their legacy. A marvellous piece of self-marketing that really ought to have been pulled up by Catherine and her family. As for the combination of Long and Pole – this gave endless opportunities for punsters to allude to his renowned masculinity – which certainly would have flattered William still further.

St James, Piccadilly – The ultimate fashionable wedding venue

Another knock-on effect of the delay with legalities meant that Catherine’s original intention to ‘get married without ostentation’ was completely over-ridden as William chose THE most fashionable church in London, St James, Piccadilly – in the heart of his stomping grounds amidst the dandies and beau monde of Piccadilly. This beautiful Wren church is still the same, lying just north of St James Square, and its interiors are exactly as they would have been on the day when William and Catherine walked the aisle

Eventually, in early March, Catherine’s legal advisor sent over his final draft of the marriage agreement, but cautioned her as to the amount of property being placed under William’s control

I can only say that if I saw anything improper or that was inconsistent with your honourable character, I should lake the liberty of pressing it to your notice. Nothing of that kind will, I dare say, occur; and as to the general case of the arrangements, they must be entirely governed by your own feelings & judgement as they concern the dispensation of the property which must be entirely subject to your ideas of what is best to be done relatively to all other claims upon it

Once the news was out that the wedding date was finally fixed for Saturday 14th, the Morning Chronicle recorded

The rolls of parchment employed in preparing the marriage articles, conveyances, and other deeds, in preparation for the expected union of Miss Tilney Long and Mr. Wellesley Pole, are sufficiently numerous and bulky to load a cart. The settlement for the separate use of the lady is said to be £11,000, for pin money, with additions of £6000 in case of a separation

Anticipation for the big event was a fever-point by this stage. It was widely reported that huge numbers of ladies queued for hours on end for the change to view Miss Tylney-Longs nuptial garments, which were on display at her robe-makers – ‘it excites much female curiosity to learn why each snow-white chemise should be decorated with the finest Brussels lace all down the back’. Indeed Catherine’s choice of white for her wedding gown is nowadays attributed with establishing that tradition – one that was copied by Queen Victoria at her own wedding, to great acclaim.

The Newspapers describes events of the wedding day – including William’s appalling failure to provide a wedding ring – another omen perhaps, and that led to a lengthy delay whilst a local jeweller was sent for.

The ceremonial of the Wellesley marriage was as private as possible. Marquis Wellesley acted as Master of the Ceremonies, and conducted the bride through Dr. Andrews house to the altar. Miss Diana and Miss Emma Long followed as bridesmaids. During the service, tears were plentifully shed by Lady Catherine, who was present, and all the daughters; it is to be hoped that they may prove the last on this trying occasion! The ceremony over, a new equipage was at the church door in Jermyn Street to receive the happy pair; it was a singularly elegant chariot, painted a bright yellow, and highly emblazoned drawn by four beautiful Arabian grey horses, attended by two postillons in brown jackets, with superbly embroidered jackets in gold, emblematic of the united arms of the Wellesley and Tylney families. The new married pair drove off at great speed for Blackheath, intending to pass the night at the tasteful chateau, belonging to the bridegroom’s father, and thence proceed to Wanstead, in Essex, on the following day to pass the honeymoon.

The dress of the present bride consisted of a robe of real Brussels point lace; the device a sigle sprig; it was placed over white satin. The head was ornamented with a cottage bonnet, of the same material; viz. Brussels lace, with two ostrich feathers. She likewise wore a deep lace veil, and a white satin pelisse, trimmed with Swansdown. The dress cost 700 guineas, the bonnet 150, and the veil 200. Mr Pole wore a plain blue coat, with yellow buttons, a white waistcoat, and buff breeches, and white silk stockings. The Lady looked very pretty and interesting.

It was to elude the eager curiosity of the crowd that they returned from the church at the door opposite to the one at which they entered.

On Sunday the wedding favours were distributed among their numerous friends; the number exceeded eight hundred, composed wholly of silver, and unique in form – those for Ladies having an acorn in the centre, and the Gentleman’s a star; each cost a guinea and a half. The inferior ones, for their domestics and others, were made of white satin ribbon, with silver stars and silver balls and fringe. The Lady’s jewels consisted principally of a brilliant necklace and ear-rings; the former cost twenty five thousand guineas. Every domestic in the family of Lady Catherine Long  has been liberally provided for; they all have had annuities settled upon them for life; and Mrs Pole Tylney Long Wellesley’s own waiting woman, who was nurse to her in her infancy, has been liberally considered. The fortune remaining to Mrs Pole Tylney Long Wellesley (after allowing for considerable sums given as an additional portion to each of the Misses Long, and an annuity to Lady Catherine Long), may be raised to eighty thousand pounds per annum.

A singular circumstance is said to have attended the wedding on the arrival of the happy pair at the Hymeneal altar, the bridegroom was applied to by Dr. Glasse for the ring; but he had forgotten to procure the necessary testimonial. A messenger was in consequence dispatched to Mr. Brown, a jeweller, in Piccadilly, opposite the Church, who immediately attended with an assortment, and then the ceremony proceeded without further interruption.

Not all of the press were enamoured with this incredibly splendid occasion. Several papers intimated that William’s decision to leave the church via the back route owed as much to the need to avoid writs from creditors as the desire to avoid the crowds outside. The Liverpool Mercury acknowledged the ‘admiration and envy excited by the costly bridal dress and jewels’ but questioned the extravagance of spending ‘a sum of money equal to a year’s maintenance of at least 500 poor families’.

So the deed was done and the Long-Wellesleys were off to spend their married life at Wanstead House. Perthaps for this day then, I will wish them well – and hope that, despite the signs, William Long-Wellesley will prove to be a dutiful husband, who will take his Wanstead estate to new heights of brilliance. Fat chance though….

Wanstead House and Gardens, the 'English Versailles,' - England's finest Palladian mansion

Catherine’s marriage was to prove beginning of the end for Wanstead House

The story of William and Catherine’s marriage, and their ups and (mainly) downs at Wanstead House can be fully appreciated by reading The Angel and The Cad – but there is so much more besides to ‘Wicked William’ Long-Wellesley – which has been researched but was not needed for that project. I will return to other episodes from William’s life in future posts

If you want to learn about William’s shambolic military career why not follow him to war, or you might like to see an example of his expensive lifestyle by attending Wicked William’s Hunt. A black sheep indeed, but to appreciate the achievements of his father and brothers, you might like to celebrate 200 years of the splendid shilling, or to see why the Duke of Wellington ought to be celebrated more by the French nation.

My blogs tend to be Londoncentric, and if you are of a similar persuasion why not read the sad tale of a Walthamstow Murderess, the death of a prizefighter, or learn about the days when vagrancy meant prison

Finally, I would like to reiterate that my blog is entirely my own work, but that I do rely heavily upon the fantastic image resources of the British Museum  without which I couldn’t hope to properly illuminate my subjects. I am always happy to answer questions and receive feedback on any of these postings, and would like to thank the 25000+ unique visitors that I have welcomed to my blog site since I first started to post.

Murder in Walthamstow! – Elizabeth Jeffries: Killer or Victim?

Elizabeth Jeffries (1727-1752)

During my rambles around Georgian London I came across the story of Elizabeth Jeffries – said to be one of Walthamstow’s most notorious murderers. Superficially her crime seems to have been driven by a combination of stupidity, greed and ingratitude. But a re-examination of the circumstances reveals that much deeper, darker, concerns – going a long way to explain why a financially secure and well-educated young lady should resort to murder.

In the early hours of Saturday July 3rd 1751 Mr Buckle of Wood Street Walthamstow was awaken from his slumber by the sound of screaming coming from his neighbour’s property, and upon going to his window he saw 21-year-old Elizabeth Jeffries standing outside her house, wearing only a night shift, in some state of distress. Upon going down to investigate Elizabeth told Buckle ‘Oh! They have killed him! They have killed him, I fear!’ and she directed him into her uncle’s house.

Joseph Jeffries lived in the vicinity of Wood Street, Walthamstow

Buckle was admitted to the crime scene by man-servant John Swann, and found Joseph Jeffries was lying on his side with three gaping wounds in his head. He was not yet dead and was able to grasp Buckle’s hand with some force. A doctor was sent for and Buckle was then informed that a botched robbery had taken place – after which the culprits escaped carrying various items of value. Mr Forbes a surgeon from Woodford attended the scene, observing the congealed blood in the room, finding that Jeffries had been both shot and stabbed, with a very serious wound behind one ear, that would likely prove fatal – Poor Jeffries had to endure another day in great agony before his death, and was unable to shed any light upon the perpetrators. However, other attendees at the house began to sense that all was not as it seemed. It was noted there did not seem to be any evidence of strangers having been in the house, and the dew on the grass around the building did not appear to be disturbed.John Swann appeared to be in a state of agitation, unable to account for his movements during the commotion, and repeatedly stating that he wished he died with his master.

Jeffries’ man-servant John Swann

Despite these misgivings, a few days later Elizabeth was examined by two magistrates, and no evidence could be found to incriminate her. So she was enabled to prove her uncle’s will at the Doctors Commons and take possession of the estate. However, she did make the fatal mistake of implicating a former servant Thomas Matthews, and therefore set in train a line of investigation which was to prove her undoing. The subsequent Coroner’s inquest ruled that Matthews could be a material witness, and committed Elizabeth and Swann to prison in Chelmsford until this could be ascertained. Not surprisingly both sides were anxious to dispose of the matter quickly, but the search for Matthews meant that this case was had to await until Chelmsford Assizes reopened in March 1752.

Chelmsford Assizes (courtesy Essex Record Office)

When events were reported in the London newspapers they came to the attention of a Mr Gall, landlord of the Green Man and Bell public house in Whitechapel, who had cause to remember both Swann and Matthews since they had been extremely drunk at his establishment just a few days previously. Whilst trying to eject them Gall found two pistols in Matthews’ great coat, and had both men arrested. The following morning they were remanded to Bridewell prison. Shortly afterwards Matthews and Swann were bailed by none other than Elizabeth Jeffries, who actually visited Gall’s house with both men afterwards in order to apologise and compensate him for his trouble. She told Gall that the pistols belonged to her uncle and that she had ‘borrowed’ them to put down as security for a debt she owed to a family friend – and implored him to keep the matter private ‘as the disclosure of it to her uncle might lead to her ruin’.

Matthews was more of a reveller than a hit-man

Gall determined to find Matthews, and (in typical East End style) put the word out on the streets to track down his man. Sure enough, Matthews was seen coming out of India House, where it was discovered that he had secured an engagement overseas in the service of the East India Company – and he was soon found in lodgings in Rosemary Lane. This arrest proved pivotal; for Matthews story shed light on the whole murky affair. Matthews was a needy and poverty-stricken Yorkshireman who had met Swann by chance while travelling through Epping Forest on his way to London. Swann took Matthews home with him and engaged him in the gardens of his master’s house – without wages – with only his food and lodgings provided.

According to Matthews, Elizabeth called him into the house after just 4 days service, asking him ‘What will you do if a person would give you £100?’ This was a colossal sum of money – perhaps five times what Matthews could earn annually through hard labour – hence his reply ‘Anything, in an honest way’. Elizabeth then sent him to see Swann, who took him to a garden out-house and declared ‘I will give you £700 if you would knock the old miser, my master, on the head’. Matthews refused to comply, but just two days afterwards found himself on the wrong side of old Jeffries, who dismissed him from his service, with just a shilling to send him on his way. Swan intercepted Matthews on his departure with a guinea – asking him to buy a brace of pistols to murder their master. Matthews was a simple man, but not a bad one, and he soon wasted his booty at the Green Man pub in Leytonstone, before deciding to continue his journey into London. However,  Matthews was soon intercepted by Swann – who took him to Whitechapel, bought the pistols, and proceeded to get them both drunk in front of landlord Mr Gall.

The Green Man, Leytonstone – scene of mischief for centuries

Matthews admitted visiting Gall with Elizabeth and Swan the day after their committal to Bridewell, and testified that he afterwards travelled to the Buck Inn, Epping Forest to partake in the murder plot. On the night of Friday 2nd July Matthews arrived at Jeffries house in Wood Street, let himself in the back door,  and hid in the pantry. At midnight Elizabeth and Swann came to him stating ‘now is the time to knock the old miser on the head’. They had already hidden some plate and other valuables in a sack in the cellar so as to make it look like a robbery. Faced with the enormity his task, Matthews declared ‘I cannot find it in my heart to do it’. Swann threatened to blow his brains out for the refusal, but left him cowering in the pantry, after first forcing Matthews to swear an oath of secrecy. Not long afterwards Matthews heard the sound of pistol shots, and escaped from the house, towards the ferry on the River Lea, crossing over to Enfield Chace.

On 10th March 1752 at 6am Elizabeth and Swann appeared before Justice Wright and a jury at Chelmsford. The Court was packed with spectators eager to see justice done. Swann was charged with ‘Petty Treason’ for the ‘wicked murder of his late master’ and Elizabeth for aiding and abetting the said murder. It was quickly established that Elizabeth and Swann were involved in a relationship, which had caused a breach with her late uncle. Old Jeffries had repeatedly threatened to alter his will ‘if she did not alter her conduct’ – and this threat was put forward as her primary motivation for arranging his death. It was said that Swann and Elizabeth had been together for at least two years, during which time old Jeffries, a previously kind employer, had become increasingly hostile towards Swann – meaning that the lovers must have plotted his downfall for a very long time. Witnesses came forward to complete the picture of events. For example the local barber testified that he had been offered financial inducements to get the old man drunk in a pub on the evening of his murder, and servants revealed the increasingly sour atmosphere within the house. Richard Clarke, a servant at the house, testified that six months previously he had been taken for a walk by Swann into the grounds of nearby Wanstead House where he was asked about his prowess with a gun, to which he replied ‘I’m no sportsman’ – though Swann offered him £50 if he was willing to use a gun. On the night of the murder, however,  it was recorded that no bloodstains were seen on Elizabeth or Swann – and several testified that Elizabeth was very kind and attentive to her uncle.

Inside Chelmsford Court (courtesy Essex Record Office)

The trial lasted 19 hours, including one hour in which the jury deliberated – which is actually quite a long time for that era. Elizabeth fainted repeatedly throughout, at one point delayed proceedings for half an hour. The pair were found guilty, and a few days afterwards a sentence of death was passed upon them both. On the evening of her conviction Elizabeth made a full confession in which she accepted joint-responsibility alongside Swann, and totally exonerated Matthews of any involvement. Swann was furious and refused to corroborate Elizabeth’s version of events until after his death sentence was pronounced.

The Procession to Elizabeth’s Execution

Consequently, in the early hours of 28th March 1752 an execution procession set out from Chelmsford towards the site of execution, which was to be six-mile stone in Epping Forest – somewhere near modern-day Whipps Cross roundabout. Elizabeth was taken by cart, sitting upon her own coffin, but Swann was dragged behind by sledge as a consequence of his conviction for Petty Treason. When they reached the gallows, Swan was forced to stand on the cart while Elizabeth, being only 5’1″, stood on a chair alongside him. Their legs were not tied and they were not blindfolded. A crowd of 7,000 people gathered to watch them hang. Neither Elizabeth nor John acknowledged one another, while the hangman cracked his whip and drove the cart out from under them. John died in less than five minutes. Elizabeth, however, being lighter than Swan, took over fifteen minutes to die, struggling to the end. It must have been a ghastly spectacle. Elizabeth’s body was released to relatives for burial, but Swann’s indignity was to continue – for his body was chained  up and placed in a gibbet and hung up in the forest to serve as a deterrent to any domestic servant thinking of betraying their master.

Elizabeth sat on her own coffin on the way to her execution

Swann’s body was strung up as a warning to others

Despite their confessions this case leaves many unanswered questions, such as, why didn’t old Jeffries simply dismiss Swann if he knew the man-servant was carrying on with his niece? And why indeed did Elizabeth need to kill Jeffries at all? OK, he had been threatening to disinherit her – but this had already been hanging over Elizabeth for at least two years  – so what changed that forced her to take action now? The answers can be partly found via letters Elizabeth exchanged with another lady, also found guilty of murder in March 1752 and incarcerated in prison awaiting execution. Mary Blandy was found guilty of poisoning her father, and – like Elizabeth – was middle-class and well-educated. Her case has been excellently presented on the Capital Punishment UK website – revealing the sensation aroused by these concurrent trials. Not one but two supposedly devious female killers were the hot topic of conversation in 1752.

Mary Blandy was hanged on April 6th 1752

Elizabeth’s letters reveal that her life with old Jeffries was far from idyllic. It appears that she was the victim of sexual assault at the hands of her uncle from a very young age, culminating in her first rape at the age of 15. Given these circumstances it is easy to see why Jeffries continually threatened his niece with disinheritance, for he knew that her refusal to submit to his perversions – would leave her on the streets and destitute. Far from being an ‘instance of the most unnatural barbarity’  Elizabeth’s murder of her uncle may have been a last resort to protect her from ruin. The timing of Jeffries murder was interesting – for Elizabeth had long since come of age, perhaps entitling her to a greater degree of freedom. It was claimed at the trial that Elizabeth was pregnant carrying Swann’s child and knew that once her uncle became aware of this situation, they would both be turned out. But her pregnancy would clearly have been impossible to hide, and there is no mention of Elizabeth’s subsequent childbirth, so we must assume this was untrue.

Contrary to classical art – there is nothing noble about rape

However,  Elizabeth’s motherhood status is less certain. Not only via her letters to Mary Blandy, but also locally it was known that Elizabeth already two children by her abusive uncle – one of whom was described as ‘a fine boy’ in some versions, and in other accounts had not survived childbirth. Many people believed that old Jeffries had caused Elizabeth to abort both children, and so it would seem that incest was the main factor of this tragic case. The colossal power retained by men in Georgian society, meant that Elizabeth was in almost every respect just another one of Jeffries’ goods and chattels. It is therefore difficult to imagine how she could have put an end to years of control and abuse without resorting to killing her uncle.

Elizabeth’s trial transcripts were published less than a week after her death

So the question must remain as to whether Elizabeth Jeffries really belongs in the canon of cold-blooded calculating killers, or if indeed she was really the victim – left with no other avenue to take – willing to forsake her inheritance – to escape the clutches of an evil monster.

I must acknowledge some great existing resources examining this case, including

  1. Bill Bayliss’ very good summation of events via Walthamstow Memories
  2. Caroline Gonda’s chapter  in Women, Writing and the Public Sphere, 1700-1830, edited by Elizabeth Eger and Charlotte Grant (Cambridge University Press, 2001), Gonda draws an excellent summary of both the Blandy and Jeffries cases, and rightly identifies incest as the primary motive in the Walthamstow case.
  3. Capital Punishment UK website – which has excellent and in-depth analyses on a great many cases including the one referred to in this blog
  4. The image above of six mile stone is taken from the very brilliant Spitalfields Life website, in an article written by Julian Woodford

 

I have strayed beyond the boundaries of Wanstead a little for this blog, but Wanstead House still made a guest appearance in the evidence presented. However, there are some very good internet resources available for Walthamstow including

If you are interested in London’s history and traditions you may like a brief history of the Epping Hunt – or  to find out just how multicultural Georgian Wanstead might have been – via the writings of Thomas Hood. Learn to find your way round Regency London’s departure points, or pay a visit to one mansion with 6 layers of history

My next blog will return to the Victorian Monopoly Board – If you have not yet joined me on this journey, there is still time to catch up!

Victorian Monopoly – From ‘Pall Mall’ to ‘Free Parking’

Overview
“Go” to “Just Visiting” | “Pall Mall” to “Free Parking” | “Strand” to “Jail” | “Regent St” to “Mayfair”

In this second section we continue our quest to navigate the Monopoly Board using only images held in the Crace Collection of antiquarian prints and maps held by the British Museum. By doing so we will find out whether an 1850s Londoner could have made sense of the streets and enclaves immortalised when this iconic board game first appeared in its London format in 1936. We shall wend our way from Pall Mall up to Free Parking, constituting the half-way point – but will our journey founder upon the altar of modernity? Highlights include a fond farewell to Carlton House, a fruitless search for Marylebone Station and a daring escape from Bow Street Police Station:

Pall Mall

This scene looking east down Pall Mall -with Carlton House immediately on the right and the colonnade to the opera house on the left, was published in Ackerman’s Repository of the Arts magazine in 1822. It shows Pall Mall during a time of great change. Carlton House was entering its last days, but the Royal Opera Arcade (built in 1818 and still here today) was the shape of things to come – for Pall Mall was to be an integral part of George IV’s vision of a new London – which was made real over a decade of great change for this locality.

Pall Mall was originally built in 1661, though a thoroughfare existed here since Saxon times – and its adoption as a roadway in 1662 made it the official route between St James’ Palace and the Mall. Just a few years earlier this strip of land had been fenced off and used as a ‘pelemele court’ by Charles II  – but this early version of croquet was often spoiled by dust blown over by carriages passing on the adjacent lane-way – so the loss of this sporting venue was largely unlamented. Almost as soon as it was paved over, this new street became known as ‘Pall Mall’, a name it retains to this day.

South Front of Carlton House (1819)

When the Prince Regent became King George IV in 1820 he was living at Carlton House, and this continued to operate as his principal London residence until 1826 when he moved to newly refurbished and extended Buckingham Palace. His association with Carlton House began in 1783, and within a few years the then Prince of Wales transformed the mansion along French neoclassical lines. During its lifetime Carlton House’s ambition was only constricted by the size of the Prince’s debts – meaning that it endured bursts of intense re-modelling sandwiched between periods of relative calm. Over time this mansion became one of the most important venues for entertainment and pleasure amongst the ruling elite. Consequently Carlton House’s fall from grace in just 5 years seems drastic – but it was quite typical of George to switch the focus of his creative attention elsewhere. Once he decided upon Buckingham Palace, and appointed Nash to undertake its rebuilding, Carlton House was living on borrowed time. George IV’s other great passion was the development of London along classical lines – and his desire to link Regent Street with the Mall meant that Carlton House needed to go. On March 30th 1826 The Times reported

Carlton House will be taken down at the latter end of the ensuing summer, and preparations are now being made for the temporary reception of the furniture belonging to that royal residence, till the new palace at Buckingham House is completed. On the ground opened by the removal of Carlton House, many noble edifices are to be erected, all of which are to be occupied by our first Nobility… It is also likely that a Club House, for the United Service Club, enlarged and on a much greater scale than heretobefore, will stand in this area. There is to be an opening into [St James’] Park which will be a striking improvement: from this (turning to the right) will be a noble row of architectural houses facing the canal. These will stand on a terrace, and stretch from the opening (at Waterloo Place) to the Ordnance Office… occupying the present gardens of Carlton House – now bounded by the dead wall towards the ride in the Park.

United Service Club, Pall Mall

The United Services Club was completed by 1829 (when this Thomas Hosmer Shepherd image was drawn), surviving until the late 1970s, and the building is still there today as part of the Institute of Directors. As for Carlton House – its famous front facade – reused for the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, is still a pleasing sight today.

For my final word on Carlton House, I must defer to His Majesty George IV, and a newspaper clipping from The Age March 9th 1828, demonstrating the King’s emotional attachment to his old home

Adieu to Carlton House – by George IV (Allegedly)

We are informed that his Majesty, since his arrival in Town, made a pilgrimage to the ruins of his old Palace, scarcely a vestige of which now remains. On his return to St James’, his spirits were much depressed, when he retired to his own apartment. The above elegy was found upon the table

The Lothians Blogspot has written a very detailed and interesting history of the rise and fall of Carlton House

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Electric Company

Finding an electric company in 1850s London was, not surprisingly, a difficult task. For this I was fortunate to locate just one suitable print from the 5000+ held in the Crace Collection – to enable us to progress further

This particular scene from 1852 shows two views of the time-ball on top of a turret in the Strand; the view on the left including the Electric Telegraph Company’s offices, and on the right a close-up of the time-ball on top of the turret. Clearly, electrical power was in its infancy by the 1850s. A quick trawl of the newspapers shows that the Electrical Telegraph Company spent a great deal of its early existence dealing with court cases relating to patents for its new technology. It claimed to own no less than 40 of its own patents, but I think this indicates that electrical power was being developed by a wide number of groups simultaneously. For, as early as 1838 London hosted a meeting of the Electrical Society at which Mr Crosse gave a full account of his electrical experiments. The Society itself was formed to ‘for the purpose of explaining and making public the mysteries’ of electricity, so we can imagine this encouraged more widespread interest and investment in this nascent technology. Thus, a Victorian landing upon Electric Company may be ignorant of what it entailed, but not unaware that electrical power was in the process of development

Thus, on August 19th 1852, The Times reported on the new electric time ball installed in the Strand (pictured above)

After a satisfactory completion of the requisite arrangements which had for some time been pending between the Electric Telegraph Company and the Astronomer Royal at Greenwich, Mr Edwin Clark [was entrusted for] the construction of the ingenious apparatus for the development of the electric telegraph system, as applied to the regulation of time on a plan for distributing and correcting mean Greenwich time in London and… throughout the UK every day at 1 o’clock

Perhaps the most important outcome of this new development was the standardisation of time throughout the UK – which would have been of massive benefit to the railways – ensuring that timetables would be accurate to a specific location, namely Greenwich mean time. For Victorian Britain, this was to be a significant shift towards modernity

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Whitehall

One of the most frequent images found in the Crace Collection is that of the Banqueting House at Whitehall – famous for being the place where Charles I was beheaded in 1649  – when Britain entered a period of commonwealth under Oliver Cromwell (who coincidentally took up residence in Whitehall thereafter). There has been a roadway at Whitehall since the 12th century, but it most likely adopted its name from the Palace of Whitehall, which was the residence of English Kings from Henry VIII to William III. The building burned down in 1698 – apart from the before-mentioned Banqueting House which is still with us today. The above image shows Whitehall and the Horse Guards circa 1811, and we can see that at that time is was still little more than a dirt track

As is is today, Whitehall was synonymous with the heart of Government in Victorian times – housing numerous Departments of State including the Admiralty, the Horse Guards and the Treasury.

A view of the Admiralty, 1818

This view from the street of the Admiralty in Whitehall comes from Ackermann’s Repository of the Arts , showing the arched entrance to the forecourt and screen wall. This three-sided building (not to be confused with the Admiralty Arch at Trafalgar Square) was constructed in 1726 to a design by Thomas Ripley, but was instantly criticised for its baroque-style which was thought out-moded by the new fashion for Palladianism. However it has endured until today, and it is thought to be the first ever purpose-built office. Thoughtfully renamed the Ripley Building, this property is now used by the Department for International Development

Unlike us, the Victorians would have also associated Whitehall with the River Thames. Its piers were important departure points for both Government and Royalty – most notably serving as the main exit route for important personages fleeing London during the Great Plague in 1665. By the 1830s Whitehall even had its own annual regatta – traditionally held in July – a contest for double scullers, offering various prizes put forward by noblemen and gentry. On July 17th 1843 The Morning Post reported

Amongst the nobility and gentry who subscribed to the regatta for men plying at Whitehall stairs, were his Grace the Duke of Buccleuch and Sir Robert Peel… the race was contested on Friday, with six pairs of sculls in two heats. At an early hour in the afternoon the whole of the men started… at half past six the final was held, four were afloat to race from the Duke of Buccleuch’s, down round the Thames… up round Westminster Bridge, and finish at Whitehall. T Piner junior retained the lead and won by a length and a half… his father finished in third.

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Northumberland Avenue

This is the first serious stumbling block on our journey around the early Victorian monopoly board, because Northumberland Avenue was not built until 1876, following the demolition of Northumberland House near Charing Cross. This image from 1826 shows Northumberland House in the background with an equestrian statue of Charles I on the right and the Golden Cross Coaching Inn on the left. However, we must recall that Northumberland Street (to the rear of the mansion) already existed in 1850 – and the House itself was a well-known landmark  to the south of Trafalgar Square – meaning that most Victorians would have known where to go to locate ‘Northumberland Avenue’ on their Monopoly Board.

Northumberland House – James Green (1761)

Northumberland House, built in 1605 to a Jacobean style, lay on a roadway down to the busy wharfs of the Thames serving Charing Cross and Westminster. But as Northumberland Street became increasingly commercialised this mansion eventually became the last bastion of residential homes which once lined that street. After the 1820s the Duke of Northumberland came under increasing pressure to sell his mansion to the Metropolitan Board of Works, who wished to build a new, wider road down to the river. But the Duke was unwilling to leave his ancestral home and resisted all overtures – until disaster forced his hand. On August 22nd 1868 Bell’s Life in London reported

Shortly before midnight on Thursday last the town residence of the Duke of Northumberland was discovered to be on fire. Five steam engines were quickly on the spot, but the flames were not extinguished until the roof of the south-west wing, used as a ball-room, was burned off, paintings, furniture, and decorations partly destroyed… with confectionery rooms underneath damaged by fire and water. Fortunately the drawing room, dining room, marble staircase, and upper suite of saloons and valuable paintings have escaped destruction. though some splendid friezes have been more of less injured… but these are insured… Workmen employed at the house are supposed to have caused the fire.

As a consequence of this carnage, the Duke of Northumberland agreed to sell his mansion for £500,000 – a colossal sum by today’s standards (perhaps £50M) – paving the way for Northumberland Avenue to appear on the London map

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Marylebone Station

The only station serving the parish of Marylebone in the 1850s was at King’s Cross, so a Victorian would have scratched his head at the thought of another station in that area. However, such was the craze for railroads in mid-Victorian times, that no Victorian would have been entirely surprised at the thought of one springing up in the heart of Marylebone. But no such station appeared – and until the 1890s Euston, King’s Cross and Paddington became the key transport hubs for that area.

A trawl of the Crace collection finds just one image of a railway in Marylebone – which is an 1837 view from beneath the Hampstead Road Bridge looking towards Euston Station, as a steam train comes into view. It looks like the rush hour that day for we can see a queue carriages and waggons on the bridge – though we also have a hot air balloon high in the sky above – so not everyone is at work. There is so much to see in this 180-year-old scene – which convinces me to go on from this setback and see what else confounds us on our journey.

Never a real London landmark – Marylebone Station

As for Marylebone Station, we must halt a while to question why that poorest relation of all London mainline stations should ever have been included in the 1936 Monopoly board game. This station only opened in 1899 as the London terminus of the Great Central Main Line, being the last major railway to open in Britain in over 100 years, linking the capital to Nottingham, Sheffield and Manchester. Marylebone was always too small to compete with its rivals, poorly conceived in relation to connection with tube stations already in operation nearby – and must be considered a failed vanity-project. It never really had a heyday and was lucky to survive complete closure in the 1980s.- ironically saved by public appeal.

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Bow Street

We’ve had a real wobble on our last two stops round our Victorian monopoly board, so its great to land back on more secure ground at Bow Street, a roadway situated just south of Covent Garden, parallel to the Strand – which has been around since the 1630s. Once a home for London’s aristocrats, by the 1750s Bow Street had declined into a seedy area frequented by journalists and prostitutes (rather fittingly), as well as lodgings for actors serving theatres in Covent Garden and Drury Lane. But its decline was halted after a magistrates court was built there in 1740, and a decade later the novelist Henry Fielding established the Bow Street Runners – a kind of embryonic vigilante group – paid to catch and convict miscreants. This 1825 view by James Winston shows the old police office used by the Bow Street Runners. Even after the newly-founded Metropolitan Police built their own station at Bow Street in 1832 – the Runners continued to operate – but they disbanded in 1839 as proper policing became established.

On September 5th 1825 The Times reported upon a daring escape attempt made from the Bow Street Police Office:

Mary Anne Smith, a woman of about 25 years of age, was committed to the House of Correction, for an assault upon a watchman. Previously to her removal she was locked up in the gaol yard [which is] about 20 or 30 feet square and surrounded by a brick wall about 20 feet in height, and it was over this formidable barrier that the prisoner Smith resolved to effect her liberation. Taking advantage of the temporary absence of the gaoler she placed a wooden bench, upon which the prisoners it, upright, and using this as a ladder… thence to gain the top of the wall. From here she made her way over house and chimney-top until she entered a window at Mr Day, boot-maker in Russell Street. From the window she made a dangerous leap over an interval descending the whole depth of that building – had she missed her footing instant death would have bee the consequence. The gaoler followed close behind fell and for some time hung on for his life at the ledge of the window… The woman got to the street door where she met Mr Day – to him she confessed her purpose and he told her the best place for concealment was the cellar – but officers then arrived at the house and secured the prisoner… The poor creature stated that she had been driven to risk her life on account of two infants who depended upon her, their father having died three weeks ago.

This desperately sad story has a compassionate ending for the chief officer at Bow Street, Mr Minshull ‘with a suitable admonition, humanely ordered her to be discharged. He considered the terror at the situation which her hazardous enterprise evinced, would operate to deter any future offence.’  We don’t know what became of Mary Anne Smith, but she went into the record books as the first person to successfully effect an escape from Bow Street police station.

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Marlborough Street

Our next port of call is Marlborough Street, where we find our subject remains police-related. This Thomas Hosmer Shepherd painting from 1854 shows the front of a Police Office on the north side of Marlborough Street, with a few police officers standing by the entrance. These police certainly look pretty much how we would imagine  Victorian ‘Peelers’ would be. Marlborough Street first made an appearance on 1704 and lies in Soho just south of Oxford Street. Perhaps its most famous building nowadays is Liberty Store which stands on the junction with Regent Street.

Marlborough Street has a Police Office from around 1800, which also served as a magistrates court. Quite often the court dealt with the very lowest section of society – committing to prison petty thieves, drunks and beggars. These cases often attracted little attention – it was only when the rich or powerful got involved, that press coverage was guaranteed. One such occasion was in 1826 when a case was brought on by the Mendacity Society, against an 80-year-old tramp. She was defended by Lord Maryborough  ‘with a zeal, feeling, and good sense, which would be a credit and ornament to any man’. Ellen Goodall’s crime was to stand with her hand out near Hanover Square – considered as begging – and despite Maryborough’s involvement she was sentenced to a fortnight in prison.

The idle rich had no respect for the police

Marlborough Street also had a long and chequered history of dealing with badly behaved aristocrats, whose lenient treatment proved a stark contrast to the often savage sentences meted out upon the poor.  Young bucks enjoyed nights out on the Town, usually getting drunk, and then proceeding to beat or attack person positions in authority. It was almost a right-of-passage for young Lords to misbehave and behave antisocially on London’s streets –  knowing full well they would escape the consequences. For example, on June 22nd 1825 the Morning Post reported

Yesterday Lord Harborough was charged by a watchman with having violently assaulted him at Steven’s Hotel in Bond Street…. striking him several times with a poker… and his fists… to wound him most severely. [He] was very noisy in the street… On the other hand, a Gentleman, who was looking out of the window at the time, deposed that no such noise had been made… the the Gentleman had been willing to come forward to answer any charge… and that he was only resisting attacks by the watchman, who outrageously rushed into the Coffee Room upon him, and then the alleged assault had been committed. 

Not surprisingly the (probably paid) witness swayed the case and the Magistrate bailed Lord Harborough pending further investigation. Given that the watchman would not have had the means to proceed, we must assume that this arrogant toff went unpunished – reinforcing the ingrained injustice of our legal system at that time.

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Vine Street  – (Lambeth not Piccadilly)

This is a peculiar step on our journey because Vine Street is probably the most obscure location to be found on the Monopoly board – being a very tiny cul-de-sac to the rear of Piccadilly. In the days before Regent Street this was a much longer road, and it would certainly have been well-known to Victorians on account of Vine Street Police Station, founded around 1750, which grew from a watch-house into one of the busiest police stations in the world, and sat alongside a court-house which was active throughout the Victorian era. Bow Street, Marlborough Street and Vine Street share an association with law courts – and this explains why they were grouped together in the orange section of a Monopoly board.

There is no question that Vine Street was recognisable to Victorian Londoners – but they would have instantly asked: Which One? For London had a second Vine Street just south of the river in Lambeth and was the main thoroughfare towards Hungerford Bridge, which was opened in 1845. This Vine Street was engulfed by a natural disaster which occurred on January 29th 1850

The tide rose so extraordinarily high as to overflow the walls of the river and inundate the various thoroughfares along either shore. So unexpected was the high tide that no one had made any preparation to preserve their property, and the consequence was that mischief to an incalculable amount was done… The first notice the inhabitants received of this fearful visitation was shortly after three o’clock – about half an hour before high water. At that period water began to flow over the banks.. and in the space of ten minutes it became apparent that a fearful destruction of property, if not human life, was inevitable. The various wharfs along the river soon presented immense sheets of water, timber, and other articles being forced about with the strength of the tide in terrible confusion… The property destroyed in Lambeth Parish must reach many thousand pounds… The whole of Vine Street was one great expanse of water, and the only means for the residents to leave their habitations were in boats… The water travelled as far as the terminus of the South Western Railway, in York Road. In Vine Street it rushed into kitchens, and forced the furniture up to the ceilings. In one house three children nearly perished; their mother being upstairs… hearing them scream, she rushed downstairs and found the water half way to the ceiling, and the children up to their necks in water…

The great flood as seen from Lambeth Stairs (1850)

This upper Thames flood was recorded as the worst for 50 years, and helped to accelerate two major improvements – firstly the construction of embankments on either side of the Thames, which vastly improved flood defences; and secondly; the improvement in London’s sewage management. Just a few weeks before this flood, MPs debated the awful problem of pollution on the Thames and how it could be alleviated. To have that dank and deadly water overspill into homes and businesses so soon afterwards must have been a catalyst for change, and began London’s long road towards environmental recovery

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Free Parking

Free Parking was probably a bit of a bonus in 1936 as London was already well accustomed to traffic gridlock. Today it is just a pipe-dream for London’s motorists, used to Congestion Charging, Residential Parking Permits, Red Routes, and Pay-by-Phone extortion – should they ever decide to travel in by car. For the Victorians parking was never an issue, but they would have been accustomed to knowing where to find parked hansom cabs in order to travel from A to B – and these would have commonly been found outside hotels and inns, stations, shops and businesses. Above we see a view of Oxford Street in 1831 – with carriages waiting outside Stafford House – ready for hire.

Let’s wait until the next segment before we catch our taxi onwards to cross the Victorian Monopoly Board, and conclude this second part by reflecting upon a difficult journey,  which began at Pall Mall and had us lost for a while in Northumberland Avenue and Marylebone Station, before putting us back on surer, more familiar territory amongst the orange enclave – which last delivered us safely to ‘Free Parking’.

I hope you will join me for Part 3 of our trip, which sets out from The Strand but almost inevitably will put us all in ‘Jail’.

If you are interested in London history, you may like to learn about 3 Savile Row or find out how to catch a stagecoach (1819-style)

Beyond my own pages, I would recommended the following excellent London-related blogs:

 

Victorian Monopoly – From ‘Go’ to ‘Just Visiting’ Prison

Overview
“Go” to “Just Visiting” | “Pall Mall” to “Free Parking” | “Strand” to “Jail” | “Regent St” to “Mayfair”

In this section we set off from ‘Go’ on our quest to navigate the Monopoly Board using only images held in the Crace Collection of antiquarian prints and maps held by the British Museum. How far can we get before modernity prevents our progress?

Old Kent Road

Here is a view for the Deaf and Dumb Society Asylum which was built around 1807 in Old Kent Road, with the original stone being laid by the Duke of Gloucester – whom was their patron. Originally founded by Reverend John Townsend in 1792, just around the corner in Grange Street Southwark, the Society met half-yearly to raise funds for the assistance of those unable to meet the fees required to attend the asylum.

On July 19th 1808 The Times reported on the Society’s General Meeting at which a list containing 69 child candidates had been voted upon by its members. As the new building in Old Kent Road was not yet ready, it fell upon the committee to report on a ballot involving its membership – which was to decide who they could make room for at that time. William Hayler topped the poll with 2128 votes and everyone down to 8th placed John Nicholls (896) were awarded a place. Just one girl, Elizabeth Campion, made the cut. Selecting children in this kind of incapacity competition was a very difficult operation:

This election… made a distressing impression upon the minds of those who witnessed the sorrowful and effecting disappointment felt by the unsuccessful candidates. The melancholy met these 61 unhappy children, for want of room in the present house, necessarily remained excluded from the benefit of the Institution, impressed more strongly than any language could do, the necessity of endeavouring to procure, with all possible speed, the means of completing the new building

A total of almost £350 was raised that night including 20 Guineas from the Duke of Gloucester, and we now know that their building in Old Kent Road did open in October 1809 – hopefully putting an end to the awfully high rejection rate experienced the previous year. The Deaf and Dumb Society are a very important milestone in the history of deaf education – and they were to remain at this site until the late 1960s. The patients would be taught how to speak, read, write and cipher so that they were capable of finding work after they were discharged from the institution.

There are numerous excellent resources for learning more about the history of London’s Deaf and Dumb Society – of which here are just a few

Community Chest

‘Community Chest’ is a phrase inherited from the original American version of Monopoly and refers to fund-raising organisations which sprang up throughout in the United States and Canada after 1914, who sought to raise money from local businesses and workers in order to donate it to community projects. Charitable organisations have been around London since Medieval times, and the Crace Collection has numerous examples of buildings and organisations dedicated to helping those less well-off in the community – such as that we just passed in Old Kent Road.

Above is a picture of Mrs Hillier’s almshouses which stood between 119 and 120 Curtain Road, in what is now Shoreditch – also listed as Holywell Street (which may have been at the rear). These eight small houses were built in 1812 and sat behind a dwarf wall and railings. Each dwelling housed two poor women and the project was endowed by Elizabeth Hillier, who lived in Pancras Lane. I have been unable to find out what became of this building

Whitechapel Road

Here is a view of Whitechapel Road in 1851, a watercolour by Thomas Hosmer Shepherd. We are  looking west towards Aldgate; with a line of carriages visible on the right side of the road; and a coach approaching in the foreground. My favourite detail has to be the man on left carrying what looks like a box of fruit on his head – perhaps he’s been to Spitalfields Market. This mid-century scene of Whitechapel seems a million miles away from the days of Jack the Ripper, which were almost four decades later – and seem to have permanently associated the area with

In a strange way the elegance of Whitechapel then seems much more in tune with how this area is today – a very chic and sought after location just on the cusp of the City.

Income Tax

On your standard Monopoly board death may be avoidable, but sadly taxation is not. However, it was not always so inevitable that your wages were subject to income tax – for it was only introduced in December 1798 by Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger. Intended to fund Britain’s war effort, this first iteration of income tax was abolished in 1816 (after a brief sojourn in 1802) as it was considered unnecessary for peace-time Britain. It was only in 1842 that incoming Prime Minister Robert Peel, alarmed by the country’s budget deficit, decided to drop his opposition to income tax – and legislate for its restoration.The above image from 1854 depicts newly the opened Inland Revenue Office, which adjoined Somerset House, in the Strand – more or less permanently establishing this form of tax.

 

Kings Cross

Here is a view of the south front of the Great Northern Station at King’s Cross, as it was in 1852 by artist unknown.

The Smallpox Hospital, which was demolished to to build King’s Cross Station

The station took its name from the King’s Cross area of London, itself named after a monument to King George IV that was demolished in 1845 Construction was on the site of a fever and smallpox hospital and it replaced a temporary terminus at Maiden Lane that had opened on 7 August 1850, but was already considered inadequate. Built to a design by Lewis Cubitt, a lesser-known brother of two other more renowned Cubitt family members, his design was based on two great arched train sheds, with a brick structure at the south end designed to reflect the main arches behind. The loggia beneanth the arches and clocktower was a nod to classical architecture. One of the great advantages of railway transportation was speed of travel and goods, but it also very quickly led to the now common practice of fare evasion. For example, on July 10th 1852 the Morning Post reported

Mark Johnson, aged 18, dressed as a sailor, came before the bar at Clerkenwell charged on the following circumstances: On thursday last, on the arrival of the train from Doncaster into the King’s Cross Station, Mr Garnett, an officer in the company’s service, went to collect tickets… when he found the prisoner concealed in one of the third-class carriages… without a ticket… He said he had run away from his ship, at Newcastle [and] travelled on foot without food or money until his feet were blistered and bleeding… arriving at Doncaster exhausted and got into one of the carriages to come to London… He was given into custody when the judge asked if non-payment was a regular occurrence and was told that [fare evasion] had been a big problem during the Great Exhibition, but not so frequent of late

Despite a plea from Johnson’s mother, who had made the journey to support her lad, the judge decided that it was necessary to deter others from such a practice, especially as it was still a problem for the railways. Therefore he fined Johnson 20 shillings, or 14 days imprisonment – the latter of which was imposed because the family were unable to make the payment.

Before we leave our first Monopoly board station, I’m taking a small detour to look at why this area of London acquired its name, as the station above was actually built in a hamlet called Battle Bridge, which was the site of an ancient crossing of the Fleet river. In Crace’s collection I found the answer. King’s Cross has its origin in a monument to King George IV which stood in the area from 1830 to 1845. Built at the crossroads of Gray’s Inn Road, Pentonville Road and New Road, which later became Euston Road. It was sixty feet high and topped by an eleven-foot-high statue of the king, and was described by Walter Thornbury as “a ridiculous octagonal structure crowned by an absurd statue”. It may have only lasted 15 years but this failed monument was around long enough to ensure its name was adopted for the new railway terminus, thus the hamlet of Battle Bridge was consigned to history – usurped by King’s Cross. An item in the Crace collection records the removal of King’s Cross and is less than complimentary about its existence.

King’s Cross – the real one, graced London from 1830-1845

                                                                                                                                                                                            What strange mutations does the hand of ‘public improvement’ work in our metropolis. Less than a score of years have rolled away since a very anomalous pile was reared at the point where meet the New-road, Maiden Lane, Pentonville-hill, the Gray’s Inn-Road &c.; the spot receiving the somewhat grandiloquent name of ‘King’s Cross’. The building boasted, however, of correspondent pretension; the lower story was classically embellished, as the portion in our engraving shows; the upper stories were less ornate; but, if the expression be allowable, the structure was crowned with a composition statue of the Fourth George – and a very sorry representative of one who was every inch a king…  people [soon realised the above was a very uncomplimentary effigy of majesty; even the very cabmen grew critical; the watermen jeered; and the omnibus drivers ridiculed royalty in so parious a state, at length the statue was removed in toto, or rather by piecemeal. / We cannot tax our memory with the uses to which the building itself has been appropriated; now a placeof exhibition, then a police-station, and last of all (to come to the dregs of the subject) a beer shop. Happily, our artist seized upton the modern antique just in time for rescue from oblivion; and his sketch is far more picturesque than would be’a proper house and home’. The ‘time to pull down’ at length arrived; the strange pile has been cleared away.

The Angel, Islington

The Angel Inn is thought to have existed since around 1614, built on the site of an old monastery and over time associated with Islington, though it was actually in the parish of Clerkenwell. An important stagecoach Inn, the Angel was for many years seen as an outpost for London – beyond which lay dangerous and bandit-ridden country. This scene by C R Matthews is from 1842 when London’s reach had gone far beyond Islington, and looks down the City Road from the Angel Inn; which is shown on the left  By 1831 a topographical guide to Britain recorded

The Angel Inn at Islington presents a busy scene. A road called the New Road, comes up from the ‘west end’ and just where this inn stands, joins the city road. Here between the ‘west end’ and the bank, ply fifty-four omnibuses. Through Islington too, pass a great number of vehicles to Holloway, Highbury, Hornsey &c

In the early 1920s the Angel Inn became a Lyons Tea Room, and the building still stands today as a bank with offices above.

Chance?

In 1806 London started a brief craze for House Lottery ticket sales- this became possible after an Act of Parliament that year gave permission for such raffles. Purchasing a ticket afforded you the chance to own a splendid new London townhouse and contemporary newspaper reports indicate that participants came from throughout the UK. One winner was from Suffolk and the other from Sussex and their prizewas valued at £300 per annum just to rent out, which was a considerable amount when you consider that most families lived on less than £50.

You could win this house in Pickett Street

What a lovely house this lottery offered – hard to think what it would be worth today. The other prize house in Skinner Street, was very close to the East India Company offices – redeveloped in 1803, Skinner Street was demolished in 1860 to make way for the Holborn viaduct.

 

Euston Road

Here is a view of Euston Road c.1825 by Charles T Heath, with the St Pancras New Church on the right. We can see that it was a wide road lined with elegant houses visible in the distance. Built in 1756 as London’s very first by-pass – Euston Road was originally called New Road. It enabled farmers to take their livestock to Smithfield from the west of London without having to drove them into Oxford Street. In 1837 it was chosen as a site for a new railway station.

St Pancras New Church (so-named to distinguish itself from the old one) was built in 1822 to the designs of William and Henry William Inwood. It has a long and fascinating history and is today one of London’s most popular landmarks. The Independent has written a good article upon the politics of St Pancras Church’ construction, which also reveals that its pulpit was carved from the very famous Fairlop Oak, which blew down in 1820 – the loss of Wicked William Long-Wellesley (then Warden of Epping Forest) was blamed

Pentonville Road

I tried hard to avoid putting a picture of the prison when looking for Pentonville in the Crace collection, since we are about to go visiting there in the next picture. Hence I have opted for a picture drawn by Charle H Matthews in 1840, but which recalls a view of Busby’s Folly, in Pentonville, as it appeared in 1731; complete with a rustic wooden fence, a barn to the right.

From the 1660s this area of Pentonville became renowned as a place of entertainment and received many travellers from the City. Busby’s folly was a house of entertainment with an adjacent bowling green, set in the fields. It was names after Christopher Busby who was the landlord of the White Lion in Islington and built his folly to attract day-trippers. From 1664 it became the meeting place of the Society of Bull Feathers Hall, which seems to have been a drinking and revelling club – as it had manners, rites and customs which included a musical parade from Busbys Folly to Highgate. In 1710 one visitor left Busby’s Folly decidedly poorer for his journey

Busbys Folly for a time appeared as a landmark on 18th century maps, but by the 1750s it was renamed Penny’s Folly, eventually demolished to make way for a pub called the Belvedere Tavern, which was built around 1780 and still stands at 96-98 Pentonville Road.

Jail – Just Visiting

Fleet Prison was founded as early as 1197 and was to blight London’s landscape until its demolition in 1846. Largely destroyed during the Gordon Riots if 1781, the prison spent its final decades housing mainly debtors and bankrupts. Whilst some inmates had the luxury of financial support from friends and family, a great many of the inmates were entirely destitute. These desperate captives had to rely on charity which they could receive at this barred window beneath a stone arch. This image from 1840 show an unkempt prisoner accepting money from a well-dressed lady and child. This prison features in my own research project, for Wicked William Long Wellesley spent time here in the early 1830s. For him the experience was less traumatic because his celebrity status afforded him a range ‘of choice viands and wines’ from a local inn-keeper. It;s alright for some then.

So – we have managed to get to the first corner of our Victorian Monopoly board without too much trouble. But tune in for my next post to see how much further we can go on our journey, which relies entirely on prints in the Crace Collection.

I hope you are enyoying this odyssey and will join me again for the next leg from Pall Mall to Free Parking


If you are a lover of London History you may like to read about Stagecoach Inns or perhaps to see how multlcultural late Georgian society really was via the work of Thomas Hood. Also I have written about the amazing history of one London mansion

Let’s play Monopoly, early Victorian Style

Overview
“Go” to “Just Visiting” | “Pall Mall” to “Free Parking” | “Strand” to “Jail” | “Regent St” to “Mayfair”

My current fascination with the Frederick Crace collection of antiquarian prints and maps of London has led me to consider an important and hitherto unanswered historical conundrum:

Could Victorians have played Monopoly?

This question has loomed large since I discovered the extent of Crace’s portfolio kept at the British Museum – and it has me wondering if it would be possible for 1850s Londoners to traverse a traditional Monopoly Board  – without scratching their heads at the areas, streets and locations as set down by Waddington’s when they first sold this game under licence in 1936.

Trafalgar Square (1852) – that’s an easy one

So I have set myself the challenge of seeing how far we can travel around the Monopoly Board – but ONLY using images found within the Crace Collection. This gives us scenes covering the period up to 1860 – Now, now I already hear you baulk at the chances of getting past stations and waterworks, or beyond impossibly modern enclaves. Do not despair – you may be surprised how far we can go, and where we end up!

I intend to divide our journey into 4 parts – each will represent one side of a Monopoly Board. But as we all know, you can’t begin any game without having the requisite pieces and cards – so this post deals with the essentials: namely the bank and 6 playing pieces. Luckily for me the racing car was not an original playing piece in Monopoly, however the remainder have been pretty tough considering I am using a topographical archive, containing very few objects – hence on this part of my mission I will have to resort to a touch of artistic licence

Hat

Hat – for this I have opted for a very dapper image of Charles I as painted by Anthony Van Dyke in 1649 – showing our soon-to-be beheaded monarch wearing a broad rimmed black, and St James’s Palace in the background.

We have to shop for the thimble

Thimble – this was a tough one but I’m sure you’ll agree that we can pay a visit to Fadie & Co, Leather Dressers and Haberdashery in which can be found in Queen Street, an extract of a watercolour from 1852 by Thomas Hosmer Shepherd. This shop stood right next door to the business premises of Frederick Crace and Co, Decorators to the Queen, so would have been more than familiar to the man who commissioned its painting.

Where better to get an Iron than an ironworks?

Iron – This may seem is a little tenuous – but an all irons start their lives at an iron works such as Fowler’s Ironworks which stood on the Thames in Lambeth just close to Waterloo Bridge. I have not been able to ascertain exactly when the iron works was closed, but assume it would have been before the turn of the nineteenth century when heavy industry such is this moved downstream as London became increasingly urbanised.

A suitable boot – high above the crowd

Boot – I had to trek back to 1770 to find a satirical print depicting an ideal boot for Monopoly purposes. The scene is a fair outside the gate of St. James’s Palace, in which King George III’s friends are satirized as showmen; the principal booth displays the sign of a boot, which is said to represent  the 3rd Lord Bute (1713-1792) – a Scottish nobleman and former Prime Minister thought to hold too much sway over the King’s opinions.

Battleship at anchor in Greenwich

Battleship – We travel downstream to Greenwich to find this particular playing piece – and from the banks of the Isle of Dogs (William Parrott, 1842) we have an excellent view of the hospital and the Observatory. But the real action is in the water, where we find a steamship at anchor and the huge hulk of an un-named Dreadnaught battleship being prepared for return to sea.

 

The Cadiz Memorial – still found in Horse Guards Parade

Cannon – This is an image of a statue built to commemorate the Duke of Wellington’s military victory over the French near Salamanca in 1812. Now known as the Cádiz Memorial, it was originally nicknamed ‘the Prince Regent’s Bomb’  because the word ‘bomb’ used to be pronounced ‘bum’ and the cannon’s considerable size was therefore likened to George’s own huge posterior. Now a grade II listed building worth a look if you are visiting Whitehall.

Now we have our pieces, all we need is…

A 1785 view of the Bank of England

Bank – For a serious game of Monopoly I can look no further than the Bank of England, founded in the 1690s and situated in Threadneedle Street since 1734. The above structure was built by Sir Robert Taylor around 1764, but Taylor’s real legacy was in expanding the site to enable legendary architect Sir John Soane room to rebuild upon classical lines in 1788. The Crace collection has a number of alternative views of the Bank, most of which include the Royal Exchange opposite – and these old images are strikingly similar to how that area looks today.

Looks like we’re all set to go then. So why not join me in subsequent posts on our trek round the Victorian Monopoly board?


If you are a fan of London and sporting history you may be interested in the tale of Royal Ascot, the rise and fall of the Epping Hunt, or to box a few rounds with The Navigator Tom Shelton

But for a some purely financial insight, and to commemorate 200 years since the Great Re-Coinage – you may enjoy learning how we got silver sixpences, shillings and crowns

Finally, if Regency London is not your scene – find your way home via a coaching inn