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The Bluecoats

Bluecoat boy, St Andrew’s Holborn

HOW DID you advertise your shop in the days when most of the population could not read? With a hanging sign, of course, the most common remnant of that practice being the red and white striped pole you see outside a barber shop. (The red representing blood, as barbers also used their razors to let blood, once a common cure-all.) Continue reading “The Bluecoats”

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The first female surgeon in Britain

LIKE memorial stones in graveyards, there are many statues around London that meant a lot to the people who put them up, but little to us now after the passage of time. Hopefully, they will remain in place, like gravestones, for many generations so as not to disturb the souls of those who have gone before, and a reassurance that our own heroes will in turn be treated with respect. Continue reading “The first female surgeon in Britain”

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A ‘Nazi’ funeral in London, 1936

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At 9 Carlton House Terrace, to the right of the top of the Duke of York steps, there is a small patch of garden and in it is a tiny gravestone. It reads: ‘Giro, ein treuer Begleiter! London, im Februar 1934, Hoesch.’ Hoesch was German Ambassador Leopold von Hoesch and Giro his pet terrier dog (‘ein treuer Begleiter‘ = ‘a true friend’), accidentally electrocuted in 1934 when he chewed through a cable.

Von Hoesch himself died from a stroke only two years later at the age of 55 and his funeral cortege left Carlton Terrace to an impressive send-off. Led by two companies of Grenadier Guards, and with a 19-gun salute from St James’s Park, his Swastika-draped coffin was taken to Victoria Station and then to Germany on board Royal Navy destroyer HMS Scout. A remarkable piece of film shows the Nazi flag being escorted by bearskin-wearing British guardsmen, several high-ranking ministers and the diplomatic corps, while Embassy staff give the Nazi salute:

Continue reading “A ‘Nazi’ funeral in London, 1936”

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The politest statue in London

Doffing his hat to the cars whirring around Holborn Circus, and regally isolated from pedestrians by them, Prince Albert’s statue is ignored by all. It’s a bit of a comedown for the man Queen Victoria mourned for 40 years and whose efforts gave us the Albert Hall and the Science, Natural History and V&A museums.

Continue reading “The politest statue in London”