Filed under London history

Ripper Street

Ripper Street

This is a series I came to late as I had no interest in things related to Jack the Ripper, especially in the wake of the campaign against the ripper museum in London’s East End. But the series is astounding on so many levels. For a start, it is not about the gruesome killings per … Continue reading

A Captive Owl

This is from Kilvert’s Diary, told to him by a Miss Child: She and her sister stranded in London at night went to London Bridge hotel (having missed the last train) with little money and no luggage except the owl in a basket. The owl hooted all night in spite of their putting it up … Continue reading

The Heroism of A Stranger

The Heroism of A Stranger

In the park adjoining the Museum of Childhood is a drinking fountain with an unusual and tragic history. Most marble fountains were erected by local worthies to provide refreshment for visitors, a few are memorials, but I doubt if any has such sadness associated with it. Water is essential to life. It is central to … Continue reading

St Thomas’s Old Operating Theatre

St Thomas’s Old Operating Theatre

This is a wonderful, haunting but small museum, a place that should make you fall down and give thanks to whoever you believe in that modern medicine exists. It’s in the attic to provide maximum light for operations. Everything is so small, especially the operating table which I doubt would be long enough for me. … Continue reading

Glass Art

Glass Art

Glass is one of those materials we tend to take for granted, as it is used in windows and drinking glasses, and I’ve long had a glass scrubbing board. Glass was used in religious houses to encourage people to look up, to think of higher things, but windows could create magical effects when the light … Continue reading

Newton’s Great Promoter

Newton’s Great Promoter

Most people have heard of Sir Isaac Newton, though most are vague on the details of his theories on gravity etc. But his work was written in Latin and they were incredibly complex and hard to comprehend, even by his fellow scientists. But they were understood by French born vicar John Theophilus Desaguliers who devised … Continue reading

John Gibson – A British Sculptor in Rome

John Gibson – A British Sculptor in Rome

I knew many British people did the Grand Tour to widen their education, but had no idea some artists lived and worked there. Gibson (1790-1866) was born in Conwy, Wales but settled in Rome in 1817 where he studied with Antonio Canova and set up his own studio which itself became a tourist attraction for … Continue reading

Justifying Georgian Luxury

In 1772 jeweller James Cox opened a Museum in London’s Spring Gardens which became the most popular show in the capital to the extent it became known as ‘The Museum’. It displayed ornate  jewelled automata in an opulent setting and charged a massive half a guinea (10/6d) entry. Fanny Burney mentioned it in her novel … Continue reading

A Chinese Artist at the Royal Academy, 1771

Once in a while I find mentions of exotic visitors to Britain who were honoured. I have no idea what this Mr … did, but he seems to have impressed the RA. This is from March 1771, The Leeds Intelligencer Yesterday Mr Chitqua, the celebrated Chinese Artist, embarked at Gravesend, on board the Grenvile East Indiaman, … Continue reading