HIGH on the corner of Meard Street, Soho, is a large sculpted nose. It is claimed as one of seven noses that once decorated the area. Legend has it that if you find them, you are assured of eternal wealth.
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”
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”
WHERE is London’s oldest street sign? I am glad you asked, because it has been amusing me recently to track it down. Of course, short of carbon dating, it is rather hard to be exact about the age of many. … Continue reading London’s oldest street sign?
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: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iyeD7lv6xpk&fmt=18
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.
Each foundry has its own unique designs, a trademark if you like, and sometimes also the name of the firm. The designs were cast by pouring molten iron into a sand mould made by stamping with a wooden or metal master. Continue reading Coalholes
For 17 years Chunee was a familiar sight walking along the Strand every Sunday. However, suffering from a septic tusk, Chunee ran amok one Sunday in February 1826, killing a keeper. It was decided to put him down but two soldiers fired 152 musket balls into him with no effect. It took a sabre attached to an iron pole to finish him off mercifully. Continue reading The elephant who was shot 152 times
London Diaries, by Jen Farren. See the city through the eyes and experiences of those who lived here – the diaries of locals, travelers – even the royal family. Watch the Great Fire of London with Samuel Pepys in 1666, go … Continue reading London Diaries
THESE two statues of a Poor School boy and girl stand outside St. Botolph-without-Bishopsgate. They are modern replicas, although the boy’s pedestal retains the original date of 1821 – also noting these are the work of the famous Mrs Coade. … Continue reading I was just a Poor Boy…
One of the beauties of the City is the passageways that take you off the busy main roads, avoiding pedestrian traffic and making for a quicker, more pleasant journey. You also never know what you will stumble on. This war … Continue reading The Prudential War Memorial
Guest post by James Alexander Cameron St Dunstan’s, Stepney is rather a surprise in the East End of London: a medieval church sitting in an uncommonly spacious and well-kept graveyard, where you could imagine Victorian gentlemen and their ladies taking a … Continue reading Saxon sculpture in Stepney
SAID to be the oldest firm of tailors in the world, Ede & Ravenscroft have been robemakers to everyone from the royal family and the judiciary to professors and students since 1689 – the same year that William and Mary … Continue reading The world’s oldest tailors