Tag Archives: social history

The Albert Palace in Battersea

Those first sight, scents and sound of the building were augmented by the music of a military band striking up a march tune in the transept of the building to the visitor’s right. When the sound of the brass band died away, it was replaced the distant rumble of a gigantic pipe organ – possibly the largest in the world – at the concert hall at the very farthest end of the building.
Above them, the newcomer could see other visitors gazing down on them from the gallery through a series of Romanesque round arches that punctuated the first floor. That gallery ran all around the building. Looking above the gallery, through the amber-coloured glass panes of the vaulted roof, you could see the sky, everywhere the sky. The amber tinted glass was not just aesthetically pleasing. It was there to ‘obviate the use of unsightly awnings or blinds’, according to The Builder.
Before the Palace was opened, the gallery had been safety tested. In fine Victorian tradition, troops had been marched around the balcony. As it had not maimed any hapless soldiers of the Queen, it was thus pronounced safe enough for the public.
The interior of the Palace had been designed by none other than the most renowned aesthetic movement designer, Christopher Dresser. The Builder approved of Dresser’s restrained use of colour in the general scheme for the Palace. His colours were modernist and avoided following dull municipal themes or railway colour schemes of monotonous blue, white and chocolate that graced Crystal Palace. Everywhere were rich yellows, green and reds surmounted by elaborate stencilling in Dresser’s keynote botanical style.
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Injudicious and erroneous education

1837 -2018; Spot the difference.  I tend not to become exercised at the wilder fringes of this debate, but hey, give me a break — the discrimination in this photograph (below), is just wrong. But first, to set the context, … Continue reading

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This time it’s the gabby cabby

By coincidence another cab-related case from 1862 that I just had to share. This time it seems as if the boot is on the other foot. There is more than a hint of irony that after driving like a crazy … Continue reading

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It’s the rich wot gets the pleasure

And the poor knew their place. This is the story from the Bow St Magistrate’s Court in 1862. It’s the tale of a cheapo toff who was embarrassed when a short-changed cabby chased him and shouted at him in the … Continue reading

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  You have to wonder what was the eventual fate of this unfortunate baby girl — though perhaps being given up was the best that could have happened to her, given the alternative that parents often chose. Infanticide followed by … Continue reading

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Body shaming is not new

A poignant tale from 1798…

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The piratical eyes of the magnetic healer

Leamington is a quiet little spa town in Warwickshire near Stratford upon Avon. In the late 1880s it is not difficult to envisage how very Jane Austen it still must have been, with its Pump Room and all, though visitor … Continue reading

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Lock Up Your Daughters

I’d like to introduce you to Thomas Napper and his nemesis, Ferdinand Philip Fischel Strousberg. Their story is at the creepier end of plots labelled ‘psychological drama,’ but it was real life and publicly played out in England during the … Continue reading

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Looking for a new hobby?

There’s a Brit named Tom Jackson who buys picture postcards — mostly from the sixties and seventies — from garage sales, thrift shops and car boot events. He then puts the picture postcards into the ether via Facebook with just … Continue reading

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Jemmy Wood the banker’s banker

He was not what you’d call a looker. In profile Jemmy Wood bore a passing resemblance to Mr Punch following a good lunch – but James Wood esq, ‘the eccentric banker, merchant and draper’ of the city of Gloucester, England … Continue reading

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