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Christopher Fowler
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London
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This was taken in 1933 but feels a century older. The villagers are receiving their Maundy peas - 20 bushels of peas and 2 bushels of wheat were given to the poor of the parish every Maundy Thursday, in a ritual dating back to 1572. Maundy money is still handed out today at a service, where a monarch or a royal official ceremonially distributes small silver coins known as Maundy money as symbolic…
27 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
London
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This doesn't exist. The immense Doric Arch that used to herald the entrance to Euston Station was torn down in 1961 against the wishes of the public and architectural experts, and was dumped to save money, but its pediments still exist and have been turned - inevitably - into pubs. The buildings that replaced it were disastrous and ugly. The government was accused of of philistinism and apathy…
12 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
London
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Ploughing through far too many books on London and trying to work out which ones to take with me to Barcelona, where I'll be working in seclusion next week, I can't help but stare at photographs that touch me in some way. A lot of people complain that we have an idealised view of London past. I'm not so sure I do, as I remember the racism, sexism and homophobia, the stiflingly dull Sundays, the…
19 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
London
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A friend of mine recently moved into Petticoat Lane without realising it. It's not her fault; the lane doesn't technically exist. Petticoat Lane Market was started over 400 years ago by the French Huguenots who sold petticoats and lace from the stalls (there are still lace sellers there). The prudish Victorians changed the name of the lane and market to avoid referring to woman's underclothes…
18 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
London
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Still poking about in old London photographs, I've a few more choice shots from the city's past. Alfred Gilbert's statue of Anteros (god of requited love) has been moved about a lot since it arrived on top of the fountain in Piccadilly Circus in 1893. Eros is Anteros's twin brother, and that's the name chosen for him by the public, who generally decide what all buildings and statues are called…
15 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
London
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While I was researching today I came across some peculiar photographs of Londoners worth sharing. In East London in 1934 there was concern that babies weren't getting enough fresh air and sunshine, so south-facing 'baby balconies' were installed until the London County Council (LCC) stopped them on safety grounds. The UK has a long, strong link with Spain. At the Festival of Britain in 1951 there…
30 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
London
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An author who has written a biography of Joseph Merrick, the so-called 'Elephant Man', has tracked down his final resting place. Jo Vigor-Mungovin consulted cemetery records around the time of Joseph Merrick's death and found he had been interred at the City of London Cemetery & Crematorium, near Epping Forest. The problem had always been that although Merrick's deformed skeleton had been…
3 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
London
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In 'Bryant & May: The Lonely Hour' I've punctuated the chapters with chunks of the speeches Arthur Bryant gives as a London tour guide, and it made me wonder if I should write a 'Bryant & May Guide to London' at some point. It would have to include lots of pointless, peculiar and abstruse information of course, and could well turn out to be more exhausting to write than the average B&M novel, but…
32 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
London
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It's a disreputable name, is Jack, a scallywag nomenclature from Ripper to Spring-Heeled, but Jack Sheppard (b.1702) is the best one. He's buried in St Martin-in-the-Fields now, a lad who never stood a chance, but went down in London history. Raised in a workhouse and promisingly apprenticed to a carpenter, he switched to robbery and was very good at it. In 1724 he escaped from Newgate jail four…
5 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
London
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After I had major eye surgery I was supposed to be collected from the hospital but my ride fell through and it was raining so hard that there were no cabs, so I did a dumb thing. I went by tube. In the rush hour. With only 20% sight. And to make matters worse, I had to use the Baker Street interchange. This might have been fit for purpose in 1888, but now you have to be a mind-reader to find your…
9 comments

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