Archive for January, 2011

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union (book #93)

3 January 2011

Michael Chabon, 2007.

Bina [the wife of the protagonist, who is a policeman in the alternate reality of a Jewish, Yiddish-speaking state in Alaska] never stopped wanting to redeem the world. She just let the world she was trying to redeem get smaller and smaller until, at one point, it could be bounded in the hat of a hopeless policeman.

Nemesis (book #92)

3 January 2011

Lindsay Davis, 2010.

“For a workable escape you need a plan, a budget, detailed road maps, a stout stick, proper footwear and a good hat.”

Great British Bus Journeys: Travels Through Unfamous Places (book #91)

3 January 2011

David McKie, 2006.

Mentions memorial in Uttoxeter to Mary Howitt, who wrote “The Spider and the Fly”. Wikipedia. The Fossil Elephant.

James VI of Scotland “took such a fancy to Royston that he built what was called a palace (though it was really not much more than a hunting lodge), knocking down at least two pubs in the process. … an account of the king’s devotion to Royston: ‘King James finds such felicity in the hunting life that he hath written to the council that it is the only means to maintain his health, which being the health and welfare of us all, he desires them to take the charge and burden of affairs, and see that he be not interrupted or troubled with too much business.’ This must be one of the grandest sick notes in history. But not everyone wanted him there. In 1604 a petition was prepared by people ‘adjacent to the town of Royston’ telling him, in effect, to behave himself better. The king sent the petitioners away, but he allowed them to present their address to his council. Later the king’s favourite dog disappeared, and when it returned a message was found attached to its collar. ‘Good Mr Jowler,’ it said (that was the name of the dog), ‘we pray you speak to the King (for he hears you every day, and so he doth not us) that it will please His Majesty to go back to London, for else the country will be undone; all our provision is spent, and we are not able to entertain him any longer.’

Also in Royston he mentions a cave with mysterious carvings, found in 1742. Here’s the home page with a panoramic video. The Guardian said

Dug out by hand – probably in the 13th century (the chalk can’t be carbon dated) – it’s like being inside a huge underground bell.

However, it’s the astonishing array of carvings that send a shiver down the spine: St Katherine, holding the wheel on which she was martyred; St Lawrence grasping the gridiron on which he was allegedly burned alive; multiple crucifixion scenes. But look closer and there’s something odd going on. Is that the Grand Master of the Knights Templar being burned at the stake? Why does a queen have a crown hovering above her head? And what’s a brazen sheela-na-gig doing there?

The cave may have been anything from a storage place to do with the market to a religious site. This later article is about the caves being at risk. This article is interesting about the reaction in the eighteenth century to the cave.

Lost London 1870-1945 (book #90)

2 January 2011

Philip Davies, 2009.

With author comments.
Review by John Carey.

Short clips of television interview with Davies.

Blog entry in Russian about the exhibition that accompanied the book, with more of the images. Google translation.

I wasn’t clear from the book what the source of the photographs was – the reviews give different versions. At times it seems to be some sort of attempted comprehensive survey – pictures of adjoining buildings as if they are doing the whole street. Some of the pictures are certainly from the London County Council Photograph Archive, wch is online.

Arch, Shepherd’s Place, off White’s Row, now Tenter Ground, Spitalfields, 10th May 1909. Tenter Ground was bought by Tracey Emin in 2008. This planning application made by her says “at the start of the 20th century much of the housing around Tenter Ground was destroyed to allow the construction of social housing by the LCC”.

Arch of Shepherd's Place, 1909, with local people.

Evans and Witt, Stationers and Bookbinders, Booksellers and Tobacconists. I didn’t note the date of this image, but think it is 190x. There is still an Evans and Witt going, in Long Lane. This may be the same site – I didn’t note that either, but will check.

Evans and Witt, Stationers and Bookbinders, Booksellers and Tobacconists

Cloth Fair, Smithfield, 16th May 1906.
The view from Schoolden Street showing a small 17th century house against the walls of St Bartholomew’s Church. Cloth Fair in this context is a street name, not an event. Schoolden Street doesn’t seem to exist now.

The view from Schoolden Street depicting a small 17th century dwelling against the walls of St Bartholomew’s Church.

I like the little girl with her doll and wearing what looks like an adult’s hat. What are the things that look like cables and an aerial on the roof?

There is a photograph in the BL archive of 1880 of nearby streets. And if you have £6 million you could buy the oldest house in London, round the corner in Cloth Fair.

House with shop. Neglected to note date and location of this one too. 190x again I think.

House with shop

8 Bow Churchyard, Cheapside, 30th August 1908 – near St Paul’s.
17th century house. Someone can be seen peering through the second floor windows on the right (not very visible on scan).

17th century house

The Foundling Hospital, c 1912
The Boys’ Dining Room with bench seating.

Foundling Hospital, boys' dining room

The chapel.

Foundling Hospital chapel

Trafalgar Square, 31st July 1896.
Looking south from the National Gallery. Panoramic photograph on two pages in book.

Trafalgar Square

Printing press, 20-22 Millbank Street, 21st May 1906.

Printing Press

34 Albury Street, Deptford, 30th April 1911.
Nursery in ground floor rear room. Note wooden horse at end of table and copy of Goosey Gander on mantelpiece.

Nursery, Deptford

This one is fascinating. Deptford was a very poor area at the time. I wonder what this nursery was – a private enterprise for working parents (Wikipedia says that girls and women were employed at the butchery in the docks, but I don’t know if this would have included women with children) or some kind of municipal or charitable enterprise (possibly a residential nursery / children’s home). This article from 1934 says that the building is being used as a “baby hospital”, wch I guess could mean almost anything. This site, wch in passing trashes the Nelson myth in the 1934 link, says

In the early twentieth century, nursery pioneers the McMillan sisters held a Boys’ Night Camp at number 24. It provided poor children with the opportunity to wash and get clean nightclothes (the girls’ camp was in Evelyn Street).

The McMillan sisters (and more detailed link about one of the sisters) worked in Deptford from 1910, so the image could be of a nursery run by them, though I can’t see confirmation anywhere online.

The same house in 1935, looking pretty poverty-stricken, and the street in 1906 (scroll down).

Bear Yard, c 1906.
In 1850 Bear Yard was a slaughterhouse. In 1889 the last of the trades connected with this closed. The child appears to be removing a stone sheep, a symbol of its former use. (Caption by Davies.)

Bear Yard - child with stone sheep

Bear Yard, 11th June 1906.
Family outside their home.

Bear Yard - family of chimneysweeper

13 and 14 Archer Street, 20th May 1908.
The upper floors of many Soho houses were given over to workshops, often for the larger West End stores, particularly the rag trade. In this case the women are engaged in upholstery and trimming for the furniture trade. (Caption by Davies.)

Archer St  - inside

This seems odd to me as in fact the women are spinning – despite the sign on the houses that, as Davies says, suggests it’s upholstery work.

Outside of the building, 15th March 1908
Two artisans’ cottages of 1700.

Archer St - outside