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Old London – Page 5 – Celebrating London's rich history

The old Adelphi Theatre, London

Scanned from ‘Old and New London – Its History, its people and its places’, published by Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Co. 1878.

The Adelphi Theatre is a popular London West End theatre, located on the Strand in the City of Westminster. The present building is the fourth on the site. The theatre has specialised in comedy and musical theatre, and today it is a receiving house for a variety of productions, including many musicals. The theatre was Grade II listed for historical preservation on 1 December 1987.

It was founded in 1806 as the Sans Pareil (“Without Compare”), by merchant John Scott, and his daughter Jane. Jane was a British theatre manager, performer, and playwright. Together, they gathered a theatrical company and by 1809 the theatre was licensed for musical entertainments, pantomime, and burletta. She wrote more than fifty stage pieces in an array of genres: melodramas, pantomimes, farces, comic operettas, historical dramas, and adaptations, as well as translations. Jane Scott retired to Surrey in 1819, marrying John Davies Middleton.

The new Law Courts, London

Scanned from ‘Old and New London – Its History, its people and its places’, published by Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Co. 1878.

The Royal Courts of Justice, commonly called the Law Courts, is a building in London which houses both the High Court and Court of Appeal of England and Wales. Designed by George Edmund Street, who died before it was completed, it is a large grey stone edifice in the Victorian Gothic style built in the 1870s and opened by Queen Victoria in 1882. It is located on the Strand within the City of Westminster, near the border with the City of London (Temple Bar). It is surrounded by the four Inns of Court, King’s College London and the London School of Economics. The nearest London Underground stations are Chancery Lane and Temple.

The courts within the building are open to the public, although there may be some restrictions depending upon the nature of the cases being heard. Those in court who do not have legal representation may receive some assistance within the building. There is a citizens’ advice bureau based within the Main Hall which provides free, confidential and impartial advice by appointment to anyone who is a litigant in person in the courts. There is also a Personal Support Unit where litigants in person can receive emotional support and practical information about what court proceedings.

The Central Criminal Court, widely known as the Old Bailey after the road on which it is located, is situated about half a mile to the east of the Royal Courts of Justice, though it has no connection with the Royal Courts of Justice.

The King’s Mews, London, 1750

Scanned from ‘Old and New London – Its History, its people and its places’, published by Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Co. 1878.

The first set of stables to be referred to as a mews was at Charing Cross at the western end of The Strand. The royal hawks were kept at this site from 1377 and the name derives from the fact that they were confined there at moulting (or “mew”) time.

The building was destroyed by fire in 1534 and rebuilt as a stables, keeping its former name when it acquired this new function. On old maps of Westminster, such as those by Ralph Agas (also known as Aggas), the Mews can be seen extending back onto the site of today’s Leicester Square.

This building was usually known as the King’s Mews, but was also sometimes referred to as the Royal Mews, the Royal Stables, or as the Queen’s Mews when there was a woman on the throne. It was rebuilt again in 1732 to the designs of William Kent, and in the early 19th century it was open to the public. It was an impressive classical building, and there was an open space in front of it which ranked among the larger ones in central London at a time when the Royal Parks were on the fringes of the city and the gardens of London’s squares were open only to the residents of the surrounding houses.

Titus Oates in the Pillory

Scanned directly from ‘Old and New London – Its History, its people and its places’, published by Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Co. 1878.

Illustration of Titus Oates in the Pillory. The Popish Plot was a fictitious conspiracy concocted by Titus Oates (1649–1705) that gripped England, Wales and Scotland in Anti-Catholic hysteria between 1678 and 1681. Oates alleged that there existed an extensive Catholic conspiracy to assassinate Charles II, accusations that led to the execution of at least 15 men and precipitated the Exclusion Bill Crisis. Eventually Oates’ intricate web of accusations fell apart, leading to his arrest and conviction for perjury, to be stripped of clerical dress, imprisoned for life and to be “whipped through the streets of London five days a year for the remainder of his life.” Oates was taken out of his cell wearing a hat with the text “Titus Oates, convicted upon full evidence of two horrid perjuries” and put into the pillory at the gate of Westminster Hall where passers-by pelted him with eggs. The next day he was pilloried in London and the third day was stripped, tied to a cart, and whipped from Aldgate to Newgate. The next day, the whipping resumed.

Mrs Salmon’s Waxwork

Scanned directly from ‘Old and New London – Its History, its people and its places’, published by Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Co. 1878.

Illustration of Mrs Salmon’s Waxwork, Fleet Street, London – “Palace of Henry VIII and Cardinal Wolsey”. This is where Mrs. Salmon (the Madame Tussaud of early times) exhibited her waxwork Kings and Queens. There was a figure on crutches at the door, and Old Mother Shipton, the witch, kicked the astonished visitor as he left. Mrs. Salmon died in 1812.

The “Bolt-in-Tun” 1859

Scanned directly from ‘Old and New London – Its History, its people and its places’, published by Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Co. 1878.

Illustration of The “Bolt-in-Tun” London in 1859.

The Bolt-in-Tun was a Royal Mail and Coach Establishment, Fleet Street, London.

Over London by rail

Over London by rail by Gustave Doré. View of the London slums by Gustave Dore from ‘Londre a Pilgrimage’, first published in 1872. This illustration is a bird’s eye view of the slums of London, it shows the poor and overcrowed conditions in which the poor lived in Victorian times, where “There is a desperate, ferocious levity in the air… they (the poor) are the workless of a work-a day London – born in idleness to die in the workhouse, or upon bare boards.”

Location: Unknown (probably fictional).

Beer Street and Gin Lane

Set in the parish of St Giles, a notorious slum district, Gin Lane depicts the squalor and despair of a community raised on gin. Desperation, death and decay pervade the scene. The only businesses that flourish are those which serve the gin industry: gin sellers; distillers; the pawnbroker and the undertaker, for whom Hogarth implies at least a handful of new customers from this scene alone.

In comparison to the hopeless denizens of Gin Lane, the happy people of Beer Street sparkle with robust health. The only business that is in trouble is the pawnbroker: Mr Pinch lives in the one poorly-maintained, crumbling building in the picture. In contrast to his Gin Lane counterpart, the prosperous Gripe, who displays expensive-looking cups in his upper window (a sign of his flourishing business), Pinch displays only a wooden contraption, perhaps a mousetrap, in his upper window, while he is forced to take his beer through a window in the door, which suggests his business is so unprofitable as to put the man in fear of being seized for debt.

William Hogarth (1697–1764) was a major English painter, printmaker, pictorial satirist, social critic and editorial cartoonist. His work ranged from excellent realistic portraiture to comic strip-like series of pictures called “modern moral subjects”. Much of his work, though at times vicious, poked fun at contemporary politics and customs.