A Walk Through…West London

London

Making sense of London’s boroughs and working out how they all fit together can sometimes be a challenge. The western part of central London always gets overlooked, partly because there’s no special reason to visit a mainly residential area, partly because of the bewildering roads and bridges that mark out the territories from Paddington to Kilburn.

The mystery starts with the nomenclature; it’s not really West at all – that term should be reserved for Hammersmith, Chiswick and beyond. There’s more confusion at Paddington Station, which has two tube station entrances a considerable distance from each other, and although they look the same they go to different places. The signposts both read the same too, but if you look at the small writing on them you’ll see that they use the same lines going in different directions, marked ‘Victoria’ and ‘King’s Cross’. Wouldn’t have it been easier to label them East and West?

Then there are all the odd spots you vaguely know but couldn’t point to on a map, like Lisson Grove, Royal Oak, Brook Green and Westbourne Park. Paddington recreational ground isn’t in Paddington but in Maida Vale – obviously – and the whole area darts back and forth across its most major barriers, the Westway flyover and the railway lines heading out of London to the South-West.

So I decided to take an easier route and simply follow the Regent Canal, starting in King’s Cross and passing through St John’s Wood. On a sunny Sunday the first obstacle is predictable: Camden. Unbearably crowded, chaotic and reeking of skunk. Happily you soon emerge into the graceful section that goes through the London Zoo and Regent’s Park, where you pass beneath Lord Snowden’s aviary and the backs of the rather grand grace and favour houses of the park.

After this you hit two obstacles; private moorings. The first is open to the public but the tenants of houseboats have made it as tricky as possible to walk through by co-opting the towpath as gardens. The second is completely closed, which means you have to go up and round. The biggest closed section is at Little Venice, a picturesque spot at this time of year, especially where the canal splits around an island, one arm forming an attractive cul-de-sac.

In June London is almost absurdly fecund, and in the wealthy neighbourhoods of St John’s Wood and Maida Vale, the mature trees almost obscure the houses. Plants, grasses and trees seem to spring up everywhere. Maida Vale, bisected by the Edgware Road, has always struck me as rather characterless but on a sunny day you notice how so many of the houses look more like Mediterranean villas, and even terraces appear to belong in Dorset or Devon rather than London. I was taken with the row of shops below with stepped frontages, but they’re not neighbourhood shops anymore – this is prime real estate; they’re houses now.

The Prince Alfred pub is one of two with the same name in the same area – obviously – so there’s more confusion. The one we fetch up in, now that the eccentric Windsor Castle has closed its doors, is West London’s best kept secret. It’s a listed building because it has a feature most pubs once had, but which were torn out in the anything-goes seventies, back when people thought it was a good idea to drink Watneys Red Barrel.

Class. It was all about keeping the classes separate. Pubs were split into the saloon, public, snug and private bars. Sometimes they had boxing rings at the back. The areas were physically divided with partitions but often had ‘snob screens’ which turned on a central spindle and allowed one to spy on the lower orders. Complicating matters was the fact that you could more from one bar to the next only by opening a very small door in the partition and climbing through. The Alfred has all of these still intact.

Chelsea, Hampstead, Belgravia and Mayfair were affluent residential neighbourhoods housing diplomats, civil servants and bankers but also artists and writers. Now they’re too expensive to house Londoners at all. The West London area is also affluent but more mixed, so for grubby Kilburn there’s fancy St John’s Wood (the home of Sephardic Jews for two centuries) and for Paddington there’s elegant Maida Vale, named – obviously – after a boozer, the Hero of Maida inn, which used to be on Edgware Road near the canal.

Paddington Basin was regenerated elaborately and expensively, but the developers got the mix wrong. Whereas the King’s Cross development put infrastructure in first, adding art colleges, recreation areas and families, Paddington allowed corporations into glass office boxes first then tried to make it look habitable. The result is disastrous and deserted.

These wards remain less explored by visitors, and although there are pubs and cafes lining the waterways, they seem to attract a fairly local crowd. It’s an amorphous, puzzling chunk of the city that’s worth taking more time to explore.

37 comments on “A Walk Through…West London”

  1. Jan says:

    If you think for a bit about the West London boroughs specifically the borders between Westminster and the Royal Borough of Kensington + Chelsea what you are looking at really is a line drawn for much of the way by the presence of the River Westbourne.

    The Westbourne is one of the most important of the Thames tributaries. Now often referred to as one of “The Lost Rivers of London” after the famous Nicholas Barton book.

    The Westbourne arose on Hampstead Heath and made its way down SW through Kilburn through Kensal Green and down through upper reaches of Paddington where it made its way down into Bayswater. An area rich in its own small springs and streams (where market gardens which provided London with watercress existed until mid 19C) The waters flowed into what is now Kensington Gardens near its border with Hyde Park (originally defined by its own presence if you think about it! ) then down through Kensington proper and towards Chelsea and the Thames.
    Not only does the river define the borough border but also is the dividing line between two of London’s greatest estates the Cadogan and the Grosvenor. the presence of this Thames tributary has had such a profound influence on London’s development it can hardly be overstated.

    Just one example of its importance being this. In the Middle ages – perhaps beginning in the late Saxon period – the Westbourne was culverted from the the N portion of what is now Kensington Gardens into the City of London. By the 17C the conduit was no longer functioning and the waters of the Westbourne were proving to be a nuisance. A plan was formulated to dam the waters of the Westbourne and part of the Tyburn rivers to form both the Long Water and the Serpentine. Incidentally immediately North of the Long Water lay the medieval St Agnes well captured beneath the restored Italianate gardens it’s waters do still flow there.

    The Long Water and Serpentine lakes are the most important features of Hyde Park. These lakes later being copied as water features in large public parks and open spaces throughout the world. Strange how the presence of small river tributaries in the end have such profound influences!

  2. Jan says:

    Just a couple of other facts regarding the Westbourne. The presence of this river caused a bridge to be built which gave the name “Knightsbridge” to what has become a very wealthy area of W London.

    Secondly the Westbourne does still run captured within a massive green painted square pipe above the platforms of Sloane square tube station.

    Bayswater incidentally is named after a important friend and ally of William the Conqueror “Bainaraius”. This Norman Knight must have been very important to William the C who not only gifted him the lands at Bayswater still shown to be in his families possession in the Doomsday book and named as Baynards watering place in 1653. (When plans to build the Long Water were under way) it also seems that this same man built “Baynards Castle” the great fortification at the southwest tip of the City of London just by the Thames. Baynards Castle has now dissapeared lost to time.

  3. Mark Burton says:

    I disagree Jan. You seem be talking about a different city. Certainly not London.

  4. Ken Mann says:

    I wonder how far a cave diver introduced into the Sloane Square aqueduct could get?

  5. admin says:

    I’ve seen a few underground tributaries. The oddest one was in the toilet of Becky’s Dive Bar in Borough (now a wine bar). You had to step over it to reach the lavs. Gone now – Elf & Safety.

  6. Jan says:

    Mark there’s maybe a bit of confusion here between the City of London and London the City (consisting of the boroughs of Westminster, Camden, Southwark and others surrounding them.)

  7. Peter Tromans says:

    Please sign me up for the Jan and Chris walking tour.

  8. John Griffin says:

    Me and the wife too!

  9. Roger says:

    Watney’s Red Barrel was popular up to the 1960s. By the 1970s the advertising campaigns and the attempts to foist it on everybody meant it became steadily less popular and the brewery’s attempts to revive its popularity (and reduce its alcohol content, but not to make it cheaper) were counterproductive. As the first keg beer it was adopted by CAMRA as a symbol of “the Thing”, especially after Maxwell Joseph and Grand Metropolitan took over Watney Combe Reid.
    Both Maida Vale and the pub were named after the contemporary Battle of Maida – a small battle in Italy where a British army decisively defeated a French army using line vs column tactics.

  10. Ian Luck says:

    I was saddened and angered to hear today that the BBC is closing it’s Maida Vale studio complex. To people of my age, who have open minds and ears, it was the home of many classic ‘John Peel’ sessions that were featured on his long running late night show. A band, whether big, small, well known, or wilfully obscure, would record three or four songs, sometimes new material, and John would play them on his show. I think John Peel’s favourite band, ‘The mighty Fall’ (M.E.S. R.I.P.), as John would refer to them, made the most number of sessions for him. An odd thing was, that for some new bands, the session tracks were often produced to a far higher standard than their other work. A good case in point is the second album by The Smiths, ‘Hatful Of Hollow’. It consists mainly of tracks produced for John Peel and Dave ‘Kid’ Jenson sessions, which are all superior to the versions on their early singles an album tracks, and one, the astonishing, very ‘Un Smiths’ sounding ‘How Soon Is Now’, became a huge hit, despite only being recorded for a John Peel session.
    Maida Vale was also, for a long time, the home of various orchestras, big and small, and, more recently, home to the ‘BBC Radiophonic Workshop’, creators of ‘The Doctor Who Theme’, written by Ron Grainer, and ‘Realised’ (literally made real) by Delia Derbyshire, using tone generators and tape loops, with the sound literally being built up by cutting and editing single notes, all precisely timed, together. That is why it sounds so startling, even now, with a weird ghost-like quality that no conventional musicians can equal. It must have sounded, to 1963 ears, utterly shocking, when first broadcast.
    And now the BBC, in their infinite wisdom (‘Aunty knows best’), have decided to close it down, and build a new complex in the East End, despite whinging all the time about lack of money. Don’t get me wrong, I love that we have the BBC, but sometimes… (sigh).

  11. Ian Luck says:

    I was saddened and angered to hear today that the BBC is closing it’s Maida Vale studio complex. To people of my age, who have open minds and ears, it was the home of many classic ‘John Peel’ sessions that were featured on his long running late night show. A band, whether big, small, well known, or wilfully obscure, would record three or four songs, sometimes new material, and John would play them on his show. I think John Peel’s favourite band, ‘The mighty Fall’ (M.E.S. R.I.P.), as John would refer to them, made the most number of sessions for him. An odd thing was, that for some new bands, the session tracks were often produced to a far higher standard than their other work. A good case in point is the second album by The Smiths, ‘Hatful Of Hollow’. It consists mainly of tracks produced for John Peel and Dave ‘Kid’ Jenson sessions, which are all superior to the versions on their early singles and album tracks, and one, the astonishing, very ‘Un Smiths’ sounding ‘How Soon Is Now’, became a huge hit, despite only being recorded for a John Peel session.
    Maida Vale was also, for a long time, the home of various orchestras, big and small, and, more recently, home to the ‘BBC Radiophonic Workshop’, creators of ‘The Doctor Who Theme’, written by Ron Grainer, and ‘Realised’ (literally made real) by Delia Derbyshire, using tone generators and tape loops, with the sound literally being built up by cutting and editing single notes, all precisely timed, together. That is why it sounds so startling, even now, with a weird ghost-like quality that no conventional musicians can equal. It must have sounded, to 1963 ears, utterly shocking, when first broadcast.
    And now the BBC, in their infinite wisdom (‘Aunty knows best’), have decided to close it down, and build a new complex in the East End, despite whinging all the time about lack of money. Don’t get me wrong, I love that we have the BBC, but sometimes… (sigh).

  12. Ian Luck says:

    Hmm. For some reason, my last entry appears twice. Ah, technology. As the late, great Douglas Adams once said: “Technology is stuff we’ve invented, that doesn’t work yet.” How true.

  13. Graham says:

    Is there a London guidebook that has the style and sensibility of our host? If not, then please, PLEASE Mr. Fowler, write us “Bryant and May Do London”, and not any of these dinky 400-page installments you’ve been putting out.

  14. Jan says:

    The Tyburn river used to regularly flood the basements of buildings in its path in Mayfair. Peter Ackroyd featured the presence of the Tyburn now ( if Ackroyd is correct) a small section of it is contained within a large fish tank / pond in the basement of an antiques market in Mayfairs N quarter. If I could just find my A-Z amongst my souvenirs I would tell you exactly where it is!! Hang on A-Z found its in Upper Brook Street.. I should have remembered that cos you are aware Brook Street sloping downward reflecting the rivers course as you walk along it. And of course it is literally a “brook” a stream or river.

    Interestingly the Tyburn runs along through the depths beneath Grosvenor Square. I have been to functions in the TA centre on W side of Grosvenor square and in the basement and sub basement you can hear the Tyburns waters running along beneath the building.

    Interestingly the “most haunted house in London” is supposed to be within Grosvenor Square it might be number 50 but I can’t really remember for sure. I reckon the phenomenon we term “haunting” is something to do with the energy field created by underground water and it’s effects on the nervous system / brain. (Yep water on the brain!) Many hauntings are on sites of underground stream /rivers or in more modern times electricity substations. Sorry rambling off track again.

    A branch of the Tyburn runs just immediately N of the Park Lane Hilton the tower block hotel with the Windows on the World Bar and restaurant on its top floors. There is a semi cobbled mews running parallel between Hertford Street W1 and Curzon Street at the rear of the hotel This Mews very obviously “dips” in the centre of its course and rises toward its Curzon Street edge. This is either the Tyburn or one if IT’s larger tributary streams. Seems mad that in the 21C this stream and river water still moves along beneath our streets. Pretty much contained within drains now. No wonder that guy Mark thought I was writing about some other town and not the city he was aware of – he’s not on his own.

    Just a few wayward nutters are aware of this half hidden forgotten aspect of subterranean London. A place as old as it’s Holy Wells Springs and streams. It’s forgotten borders of hawthorn hedgerows and marker trees (Gospel Oak, Burnt Oak, Royal Oak.) Beneath almost all of our modern towns and cities lies this forgotten network. Still there.

  15. Helen Martin says:

    Bayswater always says Smiley to me. I didn’t try to find where George’s place was but I did walk in part of Bayswater and found it a very quiet, sort of smug kind of place.
    I doubt if I will ever understand London. I’m too far away and there is so much of it. All I can do is gather little pieces that have meaning for me.
    Odd things do: I watched the second of two parts on The Oak tonight. It was interesting but the best part was the display of the type of oak gall from which ink was made for so many centuries. It’s important stuff. I’ve always wanted to make some of that ink but we have so very few oaks here and probably not the particular gall fly that creates the particular round gall that is used to make ink. I wonder if we import oak galls. Must ask my favourite teacher.

  16. admin says:

    The Maida Vale studio has strong memories for me. I wrote a live Hallowe’en drama for Radio One and we recorded it in there one midnight – it’s labyrinthine and creepy.

  17. Jan says:

    Helen Bayswater – well Queensway itself – is quite lively. The ice rink has now gone( -although worth noting the ice there was originally made with water from its own underground springs. I am presently obsessed with water sources)

    There’s a wide variety of odd local places London’s first department store Whiteleys was based there( also gone) but lots of unexpected things a Russian Orthodox cathedral, those weird pretend houses in Leinster Gardens which concealed outlets for the smoke and steam from the original trains on the underground.

    The housing around there is a real mixture of social housing and the remnants of bed sit land. Good hotels and transient hotels. Really good quality mansions and mansion flats. A complete cross section. Originally it was “on the wrong side of the Park” (Hyde Park )but now is highly sought after. Many wealthy residents are from the middle east. Hubba bubba pipes parked up in awnings outside many of the restaurants. Cosmopolitan place. Diplomatic premises and residences

    Maida vale again has some massively expensive property. Little Venice is beautiful. I think one the nicest bits is that lovely entrance to the tube – Bakerloo line if I remember correctly. You would think you were on the Paris Metro.

  18. Martin Tolley says:

    Helen – I think you’ll find George Smiley’s house is not in Bayswater. It’s actually in Chelsea in Bywater Street (number 9) which is off the Kings Road in Chelsea. It’s about a five to ten-minute walk away from the wonderful John Sandoe Books in Blacklands Terrace. And that IS a must to go to.

  19. David says:

    Helen,

    I think you may be referring to the cheap hotel Smiley used as a base in the BBC verson of Tinker, Tailor, …. It was, I think in Sussex Gardens, Paddington, certainly close to Bayswater.

    Jan,

    Good news, the ice rink is still there, but the Russian Orthodox Cathedral is actually Greek. The Whitley’s shopping centre is in the process of closing, and although the interior of the building with staircases and balconies is still elegant the overall feel is quite sad, even sadder is that it is to be turned into flats as soon as the last shop closes.

  20. Jan says:

    Cheers David it’s over a decade since I have mooched around there regularly I have been gone from London since 2006 and when I last went in to the ice rink for a look round was told it was closing for good. That would have been in about 2004

    Now I was absolutely sure it was a Russian cathedral I don’t doubt your word but I always thought that it was a Russian place….. which had been created after an expo or some other celebration of all things Russian. ( Unless I am getting two venues mixed up which is entirely possible. )

    I remember there was an almighty (!) To Do there late one evening after they had been celebrating some saints day. Those orthodox lads seemed as keen on Saints days as the Catholic church was back in medieval times. There’s a big celebration about once a fortnight.

    Some of these saints seem a bit short on away supporters though and things could kick off in a quite surprising fashion.

  21. Ian Luck says:

    Jan – Sorry – wrong square. 50 Berkeley Square, for many years, the home of antiquarian book dealers Maggs & Co. They always maintain that they’ve heard nothing, but who doesn’t enjoy the idea of a squelchy, shapeless thing that creeps slowly up on you, and suddenly launches itself at you out of the dark? If there is no ghost, then maybe it was a ploy by people to drive down the price of the buildings in the square, or perhaps invented to cover up forgers who were working in the cellars of the deserted building? Whatever, it’s my second favourite shapeless London ghost. My favourite is the ‘Thing’ that crawls along the top of the wall in Amen Court, near St. Paul’s Cathedral. The ground on the other side of the wall used to be Newgate Gaol’s lime pits, where dozens of executed criminals ended up. I’m sure that ‘Quatermass’ creator Nigel Kneale knew of this story, as, towards the end of ‘The Quatermass Experiment’, a drunk reports seeing something (the mutated remains of Victor Caroon), crawling along the top of a wall. In the Hammer Films version (The Quatermass Xperiment), the drunk was played, memorably, by Thora Hird (who, interestingly, had a nasty experience with a haunted jacket many years before).

  22. Ian Luck says:

    Helen – if you want Oak galls, then last year, my Oak tree, which is a bog-standard ‘Quercus robur’, was covered in the damn things. The actual wasp that causes them is tiny, and not the stripy, bad tempered bastards that exist solely to ruin picnics. How anyone would think that these ugly, warty lumps on a tree could be of use, is beyond me. But no. Ink, as you say, because of the high tannin content, and use as various medicinal compounds, which modern science has proved exist. We got some Rose galls, too – a structure called a ‘Devil’s Pin-cushion’. Different wasp, but similar properties to Aleppo Galls.

  23. Roger says:

    Jan: the really unexpected Russian Orthodox Cathedral in London is in Gunnersbury, next to the A4 in a suburban street, built by the Russian Orthodox Church in Exile and dedicated to the Romanov tsars, who they regard as martyrs.

  24. Helen Martin says:

    Well! Helpful info as usual. It’s been a while since I read Tinker Tailor, et al and it was Bywater St. I was thinking of – and thinking of when I walked in an area that had signs saying Bayswater, too.
    Galls. Ian, were your galls completely round and smooth? If so, think of those scribes grinding them and adding iron sulphate (I think) and water to make a most long lasting and dark ink. I haven’t talked to my teacher yet but I’d love to let my students have a go at making it, just as they had a chance to try grinding stick ink. When they saw how long that process took they decided that it had been developed by Zen Buddhists to aid monks in meditation.

  25. Jan says:

    Ian yes you are quite right I tumbled on my drive home I had got the number right and the square wrong! As it goes the Tyburn does create the same effect as it runs beneath 50 Berkeley Square. If you leave Grosvenor Square via Grosvenor Street ie leave from its SE corner if you make the first right into Davies Street you end up in the NW corner of Berkeley Square.
    The Tyburn takes this route down through Mayfair I think the last road it touches is Half Moon street (which in PG Wodehouses work was the location of Bertie Woosters mansion flat) Then it’s passes under Piccadilly( the thoroughfare not the circus). When there’s a period of very wet weather you can actually see the route of the old Tyburn river in sections of waterlogged grass in Green Park the trail heads off toward Buck House.

    Think I have written before about this on Chris Fowlers blog.

    Very strange that you mention Amen corner near St Paul’s if you refer to “BENEATH THE CITY STREETS” mention is made of the fact that during WW2 there were plans for a deep shelter close to this location. Prevented by water inundation at the site each time they tried to dig. So here we have again a connection with fast flowing underground water and a haunting. As it goes each floor of 50 Berkeley Square allegedly has different ghosts sightings! Therefore getting its title the most haunted house in London.

  26. Jan says:

    David have puzzled and puzzled over how I got mixed up ‘re Greek Orhodox and Russian Orhodox church in Bayswater I finally twigged it’s cos it’s in Moscow Road Bayswater.
    Now it makes a bit more sense I see what tripped me up.
    Now I reckon Moscow Road was named as such because there was an exhibition held around there which was to do with Russia. I don’t think it had anything to do with the Great Exhibition in Hyde park( later Crystal Palace) if anyone has any knowledge if this or it just me becoming even more delusional I dunno.

  27. Ian Luck says:

    Helen, Galls indeed! No, the ones on my tree weren’t the classic ‘Oak Apples’, but were knobbly. Cut open, they did reveal the space where the larva would have been. Thinking about it, galls are a kind of arborean pearl – something irritates the host, and it surrounds that irritant with a shell.

  28. snowy says:

    Jan, I have posted an answer to your question, but it seems to be stuck in a filter at the moment.

    If it hasn’t wriggled itself free by this evening I’ll post it again.

  29. Jan says:

    Cheers Snowy.

  30. snowy says:

    “Orme Square, which abuts upon the Uxbridge Road, overlooking Kensington Gardens, is named after a Mr. Orme, formerly a printseller in Bond Street, who purchased a considerable space of ground lying to the west of Craven Hill, upon which the Square is built. Bayswater House, an isolated mansion in the Bayswater Road, between Lancaster Gate and Orme Square, was the residence of Fauntleroy, the forger. A new range of buildings, to the north-east of Orme Square, was erected about 1815, called St. Petersburg Place, Moscow Road, Coburg Place, &c. These names commemorate the visit of the Allied Sovereigns*, in 1814. In the centre of Petersburg Place, Mr. Orme erected in 1818 a private chapel, to serve as a chapel of ease to Paddington. It appears to have been the first private speculation of the kind in the suburbs, and not to have been built till the growth of the population rendered it necessary.”

    Edward Walford, ‘Notting Hill and Bayswater’, in Old and New London: Volume 5 (London, 1878), pp. 177-188

    [ *Background for the curious

    Alexander I, King William III of Prussia, Marshal Blucher, Prince Metternich, Prince of Liechtenstein, and Prince Leopold arrived in London in June 1814, to participate in:

    “A Grand Jubilee in celebration of the recent victory over Napoleon culminating in the present Glorious Peace and in honor of the Centennial of Hanoverian rule”

    They really went all out, re-enactments of the Battle of Trafalgar on the Serpentine, firework displays, but it all went a bit wrong when they burnt down the pagoda in St. James Park.]

  31. Helen Martin says:

    I really enjoy all the background info available randomly on this site, the best sort of post grad learning. (whether that graduation was from elementary, high school, or university) (I know, I know, you can’t graduate from elementary school)

    I have discussed the oak gall question with someone who knows and I’ve been referred to a possible source. I then have to find some ferrous sulphate, which shouldn’t be too hard and I could just pour hydrochloric acid over some rusty nails if all else fails. The result would be of uncertain quality, of course. I then have to determine the recipe amounts, but I’ve been encouraged to try.

  32. Jan says:

    No that’s really interesting Snowy thanks for that. I probably read about those celebrations and remembered it as being an expo rather than the “Jubilation over the victory over Napoleon.”

    They obviously made a bit of an night of it managing to burn down the Pagoda in St James Park. At least they entered wholeheartedly into the spirit of the thing.

  33. Jan says:

    Would that have been THE Marshall Blucher who put in such a memorable appearance at Waterloo?

    Suppose it must have been! How weird that he’s turning up in London to participate in/watch some massive reenactment. I mean what’s that all about? Maybe that was what they did before newsreels “Let’s reenact it then lads that’ll be a laugh! We’ll throw in a few fireworks”

    Just think less than a decade after this lively shindig parliament passed The Vagrancy Act 1824 one of the UKs most draconian pieces of legislation to limit and criminalize the activities of the thousands of crippled destitute British soldiers injured in the Napoleonic wars. To criminalize begging, prevent properly being ‘squatted’ – outlining and defining “offensive consequences” and defining the offence of being a “suspected person” the “sus” law. Which was widely used until the late 20C. Unbelievable really.

  34. Helen Martin says:

    I think Kipling commented succinctly on that situation, Jan, and I can only conclude that ‘them in power’ would only have been happy if there were no veterans of that (or any later) war so no one could ask them to do anything to alleviate the men’s situation.
    My husband has just been prescribed ferrous sulphate! He’s going to have to keep his eye on his supplies.

  35. Jan says:

    No you are right Helen…..just think if we had lost to Napoleon which could easily have happened (Nap being one of finest military strategists in history) We would have had even more destitute and crippled men. Britain would have been a much poorer conquered country. The Vagrancy Act would still have been passed into law( possibly as an even stronger piece legislation.) and there would have been some version if the code Napoleon in place in the UK. The code Napoleon means suspects are not presumed innocent – within French law the “enshrined presumption” is one of guilt rather than innocence. Now put all those factors together especially that particular piece of legislation and the Code Napoleon and it would have been a scary old scenario….

  36. Dawn says:

    This conversation is so interesting. Helen, instructables.com has a iron gall ink recipe from 1770, and there is a link to pair the lesson with making quill pens.
    So refreshing to read all the comments.

  37. Dawn says:

    “An ” iron gall ink.

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