Dickens's Dictionary of London, by Charles Dickens, Jr., 1879
Compiled by Lee Jackson
Used with permission
Mansion House - This official palace of the City sovereign is only about 120 years old and was built by Dance on the site of the old stocks market. Its principal feature is a Corinthian portico with six fluted columns, but the broad staircase which should lead up to them is missing- and the portico approached by two little side flights, has a slightly inconsequent air perched up some dozen feet or so over the heads of passers-by. The building itself has something of the general air of a Roman palazzo, and had originally a central courtyard; this, how-ever, has now been roofed in, and so converted into what is known as the Egyptian Hall; not on account of anything particularly Egyptian about it, but as a delicate compliment to Vitruvius. It contains some statues by British artists-Foley, Bailey, Marshall, and others-and affords a fine dining-hall for the great City banquets. It is also frequently used for large charitable and other meetings in furtherance of objects taken under the special patronage of the Lord Mayor for the time being. NEAREST Railway Stations, Mansion House (Dist.) and Cannon-Street (SE.); Omnibus Routes, Cheapside, Queen Victoria-street, King William-st, Cornhill, Thread. needle-street, and Moorgate-street; Cab Rank, King William-street.
Monument, Fish-street-hill- was erected by Wren to commemorate the Great Fire. It is of Portland stone, and 202 ft. high. On the pedestal there was at one time an inscription attributing the fire of 1666 to "the treachery and malice of the Popish faction, in order to carry out their horrid plot for extirpating the Protestant religion and old English liberty, and the introducing Popery and slavery," but this absurdity has been very properly cancelled. The top is reached by 345 stairs. The charge of admission is 3d. It will be remembered that, according "Martin Chuzzlewit," the man in charge considered it quite worth twice the money not to make the ascent. NEAREST Railway Station Cannon-street; Omnibus Routes Cannon-street, King William St, Gracechurch-st, and Fenchurch-st; Cab Rank, Opposite.
Newgate,-A solid and gloomy building of granite, constructed, after the old style, with a single eye to the security of its prisoners. Improvements have been made of late in its sanitary arrangements, but modern requirements can never be satisfied in the present building. The present structure dates from 1782, having been attacked and partly burned by the Gordon rioters in 1780, whilst still incomplete. Shortly after, the execution of capital sentences, which till then had taken place at or in the immediate neighbourhood of Tyburn-gate, about fifty yards West of the present Marble Arch (see TYBURN-GATE), was transferred to the open space in front of Newgate, the scaffold being erected before the low door, called the Debtors-door, which may still be seen. Since 1868 executions have taken place within the prison. Only the officials and the representatives of the press are admitted, unless by special order. The prison itself may be seen by order from the House Secretary, the Lord Mayor, or one of the sheriffs. The nearest station is Holborn-viaduct, in direct communication with the L. C. & D. and the Metropolitan systems. All omnibuses between the Bank and the \Vest-end pass; those for the Holborn routes alone the north side of the prison itself, those via Fleet-street from Lud-gate-hill at the south end of the Old Bailey, about 100 yards off. Blackfriars and St. Paul's piers are each something less than half a mile distant.
Newgate-street -Few streets have been more improved of late years than this, which fifteen years ago was little better than a lane running by the side of the dreary wall of Newgate Prison, and the greasy neighbour-hood of Newgate Market. The impediment to traffic was, however, so great that it was determined to widen the street, and the whole of the north side has been thrown back some 20 feet. At the point where Holborn-viaduct ends and Newgate-street begins, the street called Old Bailey runs in front of Newgate Prison. Giltspur-street, which is a continuation of the Old Bailey leads to Smithfield Market. On the north of Newgate--street is Christ's Hospital, or the Blue-coat School; the play-ground of the school facing the street. Many propositions have been made for the removal of the school into the country, as the land upon which it stands is of great value, and no doubt ere long the change will be brought about. On the northern corner, where Newgate--street runs into the end of St. Martins-le-Grand, is the new Post-office, an imposing pile of buildings. To the south of Newgate-street, behind Newgate Prison, was Newgate Market, which has for some years been abolished, although many butchers still retain shops in their old premises.
Oxford Street (De Quincey's stony-hearted step-mother) ought to be, if it is not, the finest as well as the longest and straightest of the main arteries of London. With one end reaching, through its extensions-Holborn, Newgate-street, and Cheapside-to the City -with the other continued by the Bayswater-road by the side of Hyde Park through Notting-hill, and out with scarce a curve to the far west, it ought to be the finest thoroughfare in the world. Although it is, like all the other thoroughfares, improving rapidly, it still contains many houses which even in a third-rate street would be considered mean and unworthy of the place. Rickety, tumble-down, one-storey houses stand next to modern mansions, and in no other street in London is there such incongruity and diversity of architecture and appearance. A considerable portion of the southern side of the west-end of the street is the property of the Duke of Westminster, and, as the leases fall in, the houses in old red brick with stone adornments are taking the place of the wretched shops which are disappearing. At present, however, the improvement only extends a third of the distance between the Marble Arch and the Circus, and the side upon which they stand is still comparatively little frequented by those who go to look at the shops and perhaps to purchase.
Pall Mall is a street of pa-laces. Happily it lies out of the din and bustle of traffic, and there is nothing to vulgarise the quiet splendour of its appearance. Hansom cabs in number come and go, dropping their occupants at the doors of one or other of the great club houses, and about din-ner-time quite a stream of quiet well-dressed men stroll down the street and are absorbed in these immense buildings. Among them will be the greater portion of the rank and wealth of the country. Every political celebrity belongs to one or other of these clubs, either to the Carlton, the Reform, the Junior Carlton, or the recently established Beaconsfield. The Army and Navy, and the United Service, embrace all the men illustrious in arms; while, the Church and learning are represented by the Athenaeum, and the Oxford and Cambridge. Fond as are the people of this country of Gothic architecture, that style has no representative in Pall Mall. Here everything is classical, although the degree to which the classical architecture is adhered to differ widely between the chaste Italian of the Reform and the florid display of its next-door neighbour, the Carlton. The one blot in the Street is the property of the nation. The War Office is altogether out of keeping with the clubs upon the same side of the way. The building is already doomed and some day when times are better, a building more worthy of its purpose and surroundings will no doubt rise in its place. Marlborough House the residence of the Prince of Wales, is not visible from the street. It stands within the wall at the corner of the road into the park, facing St. James's Palace The following is the order in which the clubs on the south side an situated beginning from Marlborough House. The Guards and the Oxford and Cambridge. Next to the War Office comes the Carlton, then the Reform, the Travellers, and the Athenaeum, opposite to which, across Waterloo-place, stands the Senior United Service. On the north side the Wanderers' Club is at the corner of Watenloo-place; the Kennel is next door to the offices of the Cunard Mail Company. The Junior Carlton is next to George Street, and the Army and Navy stands at the opposite corner, its entrance being in George-street and the Marlborough next door to the Institute of Painters in Water Colours.
Paternoster Row - The head-quarters of the book trade is by no means such in the sense in which the phrase is commonly "understanded of the people." In the latter part of the last and the first part of the present century, "the Row" was the literary heart of London, and its history is bound up with that of the great publishing firms and the great literary enterprises of that period. Here was issued the "public Advertiser," with the famous letters of Junius, and here, too, among a host of other well-known ventures, the "London Magazine," the "Annual Register," and the "Encyclopaedia" of Ephraim Chambers. But nowadays the publishing stream has worn for itself fresh channels. The Row is still the head-quarters of the trade to the trade, but not to the public at large. In point of fact only two or three of the leading publishing firms have their establishments here - one of these being really a Scotch house, with its head-quarters in Edinburgh. The bulk of the great publishers are to be found in or about Picca-dilly, Regent-street, or the Strand. As a rule, however, these only deal directly with their authors the greater portion of their sales being carried on through the medium of two or three great book merchants who supply the retail trade, and whose location in "the Row" makes it in truth the great book-market of London.
Piccadilly, the great thoroughfare leading from the Haymarket and Regent-street west-ward to Hyde Park-corner, is the nearest approach to the Parisian boulevard of which London can boast. From Hyde-park-corner to Devonshire House the houses are confined to the north side, the Green-park forming, to that point, the southern side, which, for a considerable distance, is lined by foliage trees of some antiquity, and of great beauty. Being the high road to the most fashionable quarters in the west and south-west of London, Piccadilly, during a great portion of the year, presents a bright and lively, not to say kaleidoscopic, appearance; and even when the great stream of "West-end" Lon-don life seems to have nearly run dry elsewhere it is still to be found, though perhaps but a rivulet, in Piccadilly. Few streets in town have so many associations. Here, or hard by, at one time or another, have lived such people as Byron, Scott, Sir Wm. Petty, Lord Eldon, Nelson's Lady Hamilton, Verrio, Sir Francis Burdett, Lord Palmerston, and "Old Q." Piccadilly is one of the few streets left in London which are remarkable both from a commercial and from a "society" point of view. Eastward the double row of houses is almost entirely devoted to trade, and westward a few shops are still dotted among the stately abodes which overlook the Green-park. From the "White Horse Cellar" to the mansion of the Rothschilds, and Apsley House; from the butcher's shop to Devonshire House; from the tavern to the club-house, every kind of edifice is represented. On a fine summer's morning the departure of the coaches from the "White Horse Cellar" is an amusing and interesting sight, unique of its kind, in these railway times. (See -COACHES). Among the principal public buildings are Sir Christopher Wren's brick church, dedicated to St. James, certainly not one of the master's happiest efforts so far as its exterior is concerned; the Geological Museum, which abuts on the southern side; and Burlington House, the home of the Royal Academy, and of many learned societies.
Regent's Park is a large open space nearly three miles round, but a good deal taken up by the grounds of the Zoological and Botanical Societies, the Baptist College, and sundry private villas. It affords a pretty drive, and is surrounded by terraces of good but rather expensive houses. It is a great place for skating. A band plays near the broad walk on Sunday in the summer, and a vast amount of cricket of a homely class enlivens the north-eastern portion of the park on Saturday afternoons. NEAREST Railway Stations, Portland-road and St. John's Wood-rd; Omnibus Routes, Marylebone-road, Albany-street, and Park-road.
Regent Street is one of the finest thoroughfares in London, which is mainly attributable to the fact that it owes its design to one architect instead of to half-a-dozen. It was planned and built by Nash in 1813. Starting from the south end of Portland-place it crosses Oxford-street, and runs for some distance in an almost straight line until it reaches Vigo-street. Here begins the bold curve known as the Quadrant, each side of which in its early days formed an arcade. The interception of light caused by this arrangement, and the too convenient shelter it afforded for undesirable company, caused the removal of these structures many years ago, clearly to the gain of the architectural effect. At the end of the Quadrant, a short turn to the right opens a fine view of the towers of the new Palace at Westminster, broken by the Guards' Memorial and the Duke of York's Column; and Regent-street, crossing Piccadilly and the Circus, is continued by Waterloo-place past Pall Mall to the steps leading to St. James's. park. No thoroughfare in London is more thronged during the season, or presents a gayer aspect. In the busiest time of the after-noon, from four to six, two great tides of carriages ebb and flow, north and south, east and west, along and across the broad track of Regent-street. Pedestrians of every class, from the fashionable lounger to the street Arab; from the duchess to the work-girl; from the bewigged and padded roué to the bright and rosy boy fresh from school; from the quietly-dressed English gentleman to the flashily-arrayed foreign count of doubtful antecedents; from the prima donna assoluta to the "lion comique" from the county mag-nate to the shoddy millionaire, surge and jostle along the crowded footway. As is the case with the other great thoroughfares in Lon-don, Regent-street has its favourite side, and although some of the handsomest and most attractive shops, even in this street of trades-men's palaces, are on the western side; it is comparatively deserted by passengers, as are the southern sides of Oxford-street and Picca-dilly, the western side of St. James's-street, and the sunny side of Pall Mall. Regent-street is not distinguished for public buildings. Langham Church, with its extinguisher spire, at the extreme north end; Hanover Chapel, close to Hanover-street; and Archbishop Tenison's Chapel, opposite New Burlington-street, are all that it is necessary to mention. The principal places of public amusement are the Polytechnic Institution, St. George's Hall, and St. James's Hall.
Royal Exchange (The) was opened by Queen Victoria on January 1st, 1845. It was built after the designs of Sir W. Tite, and cost no less than £150,000. The old exchange, which occupied the present site, was built after the Great Fire, and again suffered from the same element in 1838. The first Exchange was opened by Queen Elizabeth in 1570, who, by her herald, declared the house to be "The Royal Exchange." Sir Thomas Gresham introduced ex-changes into England, but they had been popular in most of the commercial cities of Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands, many years previous to their adoption here. The present edifice is al-most an oblong, and encloses a courtyard open to the sky, round which is an ambulatory 170 ft. long by 113 ft. In the centre of the open space is a marble statue of Her Majesty, and about this image of the Queen merchants and traders meet at certain hours to transact business and discuss matters affecting finance and commerce. The ceiling of the ambulatory is worth looking at. It is divided by beams and panelling, and lavishly deco-rated. In the four angles are the arms of Edward the Confessor, Edward III., Queen Elizabeth, and Charles II. Busts and ar-morial bearings of eminent persons abound including those of Whit-tington and Gresham. The west front, which is the principal entrance, is by far the most impressive. It consists of a Corinthian portico, with columns upwards of 40 ft high. On the frieze is an inscription in Latin, explaining that the Exchange was founded in the thirteenth year of Queen Elizabeth, and restored in the seventh of Queen Victoria. The apartments above the ambulatory are occupied, for the most part, by large insurance companies, and by "Lloyds" rooms. (See LLOYD'S.) NEAREST Railway Station, Mansion House (Dist) Moorgate-st (Metrop.), and Cannon-st (S.E.); Omnibus Route, Bank; Cab Rank, Bartholomew-lane.
St. James's Palace is the oldest of the royal establishments in London, but has long since ceased to be used by royalty for any but ceremonial purposes. Of late years its cramped and inconvenient rooms have been found highly impracticable for the more important of those functions, and Her Majesty's drawing-rooms have been removed to Buckingham Palace, where the fight for priority of admission to the royal presence is not embittered by quite such close packing, and Her Majesty's lieges are enabled to preserve their toilettes in comparatively sound condition even to the exit. Levees, however, still continue to be held at St. James's, and this is the only use to which the palace as such is now put, though custom still recognizes it as the head-quarters of English royalty, and the English court is always diplomatically referred to as the court of St. James's. A considerable portion of the palace is now appropriated to the use of various persons to whom Her Majesty has been pleased to assign accommodation. NEAREST Railway Station, St. James's-park; Omnibus Routes, Piccadilly, Regent-street, and Strand; Cab Rank, St. James's-street.
St. James's Park joins the southeast corner of the Green-park, and is little more than an enclosed garden, nearly half of which is occupied by a shallow piece of ornamental water, probably the safest for skating in London. The Mall, a broad walk planted with elms, limes, and planes, runs along the north side, and gets its name from the game formerly played there. On the east side is the parade-ground of the Horse Guards, where the guard is trooped daily at 11 a.m. One of the oddest sights in London is afforded by the colony of gingerbread and sweetstuff stalls in the north-east corner of the park, at the back of Carlton House-terrace. There is a large consumption of curds and whey, and of milk fresh from the cow, at these primitive restaurants, and the cows which are tethered to the stalls give an air of reality to the promises of their proprietors. NEAREST Railway Station, St. James's-pk; Omnibus Route Regent-street, Parliament-street, and Victoria-street.
St. James's Street - Although of late years the splendour of the clubs of Pall Mall has eclipsed those of St. James's-street, yet the latter can boast an historical interest all their own. The political history of the last century centres in the club-houses of St. James's. White's was founded in 1730, the Cocoa Tree in 1746 Brooks's in 1764, Arthur's a year later, while of the Pall Mall clubs the oldest, the Guards, did not come into existence until fifty years afterwards, namely in 1813. The club life of the last century was a faster, wilder life than club life is now. Men played higher, and drank more deeply and even the leading men of the day drank as deeply and played as high as the rest. The bow-window of White's is historical. From it generations of statesmen have calmly surveyed the passing world; and though coat-collars are not worn high, filled shirts have been abandoned, and the general style of dress is easier and more comfortable nowadays, yet in other respects the quiet elderly gentlemen who still gaze from the windows of the St. ,James's club-house can differ but little from those who looked out a hundred years ago. The house at the corner of Piccadilly, now the Devonshire, was once Crockford's, where the men of the Regency gambled away fortunes, and whose name occurs over and over again in the histories of that time. There is still a marked difference between the old clubs of St. James's, and what their habitues consider the mushroom clubs of Pall Mall. Men drive up in hansoms, and run up the steps of the Pall Mall clubs; they stroll leisurely at St. James's, stop to chat to a friend on the doorstep, and then go in as if haste or hurry had never been an element in their existence. There are comparatively new clubs in St. James's, but these belong to the new régime, and have nothing in common with the quiet and the fogydom of the old clubs.
St. Paul's Cathedral, the most conspicuous building in the metropolis, is also the largest Protestant church in the world. Tradition has it that the original building was erected in the second-century, that it was destroyed during the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, rebuilt subsequently and desecrated by the Saxons, who held impious revelry within its walls. William the Conqueror gave a charter which conferred the property in perpetuity upon the cathedral, and solemnly cursed all persons who should attempt to diminish the property. In 1083, and again 1137, St. Paul's suffered from fire and in the Great Fire the cathedral was totally destroyed. In 1673 Sir Christopher Wren was employed to build a new edifice, and years later the present St. Paul was completed. Looked at from the outside the cathedral is truly imposing. The upper portion of a composite order of architecture; the lower one Corinthian. Built in the form of a cross, an immense dome rises on eight arches over the centre. Over the dome is a gallery, and above the gallery is the ball and the gilded cross, the top of which is 404 feet from the pavement beneath. The most attractive view of the cathedral is obtained from the west front, in Ludgate-hill, whence admission is to be gained after ascending a flight of stone steps. The west front opens at once into the nave. Immediately on right is a recess, not unlike the private chapels in Westminster-Abbey, containing a monument to the great Duke of Wellington. A figure representing Arthur Wellesley lies under a canopy of bronze, and the names of his many victories are sculptured below. On the other side of the nave, to the left, is a military memorial; the colours of the 58th Regiment hang over it, and a marble bas relief in commemoration of the members of the Cavalry Brigade who fell in the Crimea. A little farther on are two brass tablets, one on each side of the black doors, which are sacred to the memory of the two Viscounts Melbourne. These tablets bear the details of the loss of H.M.S. Captain, September 7, 1870. An illustration of the ship is engraved on the brass, and the names of the officers and men who perished with her. Although there is no dearth of "storied urn and animated bust" in St. Paul's, it must be confessed that the general impression produced by the inside of the cathedral is a gloomy one. The interior is almost conspicuous in its dearth of stained glass, and the few frescoes which decorate the supporting arches of the dome only serve to illustrate the poverty of the cathedral in artistic effort. It is impossible, too, to forget that St. Paul's is a show, despite the notices displayed everywhere which beseech the visitor to remember the sacred character of the edifice. Nothing of any passing interest is to be seen in the nave, but the active visitor may, after paying a fee of 6d., ascend a winding staircase to the whispering gallery, which runs round the base of the dome. As this is perfectly circular, a whisper may be heard round the wall from one side to the other, and an intelligent attendant will explain certain experiences of his own anent this curiosity in architecture. On a level with the whispering gallery will be found the clock and the canon's library. The latter is not particularly interesting, but the clock is worth a visit, though we do not advise persons with delicate ears to approach it about the time of its striking the hour. Above is a stone gallery, whence, if the day be clear, a fair view of London and the Thames may be obtained; but if the visitor be still more ambitious, he may ascend more winding stairs, and reach the golden gallery far away above the dome. Thence upwards he may climb more steps until he reach the ball, an expedition which maybe undertaken once in youth, but hardly ever again. The ball is hollow, is large enough to hold several people, and a visit to it entails the payment of another fee. As fine a view, however, as is necessary for ordinary people may be obtained from the golden gallery, which is, by-the-way, no inconsiderable journey from the nave. Another fee of sixpence will admit the visitor to the crypt, which lies underneath the nave and chapel. Behind an iron railing, which, however, may be entered, stands a porphyry sarcophagus, in which are the mortal remains of the Duke of Wellington. Farther on is the sarcophagus containing the body of Nelson, and this lies exactly under the dome. To the left of Nelson is , and to the right is Corn-wallis. At the end of the crypt is the funeral car on which Wel-lingtonWellington's carried to its last resting-place. The car is made of the cannon taken by the Duke from the French, and cost some £13,000 to construct. Just outside the railing is a granite tomb, under which is buried Picton, who fell at Waterloo, and on the south side of the altar is the painters' corner. Here are buried Dance, West, Wren, Sir T. Law-rence, Lawrenceames Barry, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Opie, J. Dawe, Fuseli, Rennie, Cockerell, and, Sir Edwin Landseer. Services are held daily in the cathedral, to which the public are ad. muted; but during these hours no one is allowed to visit the sights. NEAREST Railway Stations, Mansion House or Blackfriars (Dist.), and Ludgate-hill (L. C. & D.); Omnibus Routes, Newgate-street, Ludgate-hill, and Aldersgate-st; Cab Rank, St. Paul's Churchyard
St. Paul's Churchyard- In olden times St. Paul's-church-yard was one of the great business centres of London. About the church men met to discuss the doings of the day, the last piece of news from Flanders, France, or Spain,or the rumours from the country. Here the citizens gathered angrily when there was any talk of an invasion of their cherished liberties, grumbled over the benevolence demanded by his majesty for the pay of the troops engaged in the French war, or jeered at some poor wretch nailed by his ears in the pillory. Here the heralds would proclaim the news of our victories by sea and land; here the public newsmen would read out their budgets; vendors of infallible nostrums would wax eloquent as to the virtues of their wares; and the wives and daughters of the citizens would gather to gossip and flirt. It was at once the exchange, the club, and the meeting-place of London. Paul's Cross was the heart of the City; here men threw up their bonnets when they heard of Crecy and of Agincourt; here they listened to the preachings of the first followers of Wycliffe; here they erected their choicest pageants when a new sovereign visited the City for the first time, or brought his new-made spouse to show her to his lieges; and gathered with frowning brows beneath iron caps when London threw in its lot with the Parliament, and the train-bands marched off to fight the king's forces. The business mart of the City lies now in front of the Mansion House, but a great deal of business is still done under the shadow of the Cathedral. On the south side are several very large and important warehouses while on the north are some of the largest drapers and silk-mercers in the metropolis. St. Paul's-church-yard is the only spot inside the City in which establishments of this kind are gathered, and it is almost singular, turning out of Cheapside and other thorough-fares in which very few women are to be met with, to find so large a number before the shops in the narrow footway north of St. Paul's.
Seven Dials,-This locality is celebrated as the heart of one of the poorest districts in London. Of late years various improvements have been made in the neighbourhood, and the Dials are now traversed by omnibuses, and have made considerable progress towards civilisation. The locality is still a singular one, and as it lies in close proximity to the West-end, it can be easily visited by those curious to see the inner life of London. The readiest approach to it is from St. Martin's-lane, crossing between Cranborne-street and Long-acre. Turning up northwards here, the stranger finds himself in a street altogether unique in its way. It is the abode of bird-fanciers. Every variety of pigeon, fowl, and rabbit can be found here, together with rare birds, such as hawks and owls, parrots, love-birds, and other species native and foreign. Then is a shop for specimens for aquaria, with its tanks of water-beetles, newts, water-spiders, and other aquatic creatures. Others are devoted to British song-birds, larks, thrushes bull-finch-es, starlings, blackbirds, &c. Here and there are shops filled with cages of all kinds and sorts, and one or two dog-fanciers have also settled here. Passing through this lane we are in the Dials, a point where seven streets meet. If it is desired to see poor London it is better not to go straight on, to turn up any of the side streets. Here poverty is to be seen in its most painful features. The shops sell nothing but second or third hand articles-old dresses, old clothes, old hats, and at the top of the stairs of little underground cellars, old shoes, so patched and mended that it is questionable whether one particle of the original material remains in them. These streets swarm with children of all ages, engaged in any kind of game which childhood is capable of enjoying without the addition of expensive apparatus. Tip-cat, battledore and shuttlecock, are great favourites about the Dials, and the passer-by must guard his face or take the consequences. Children sit on door-steps and on the pavement, they play in the gutter, they chase each other in the road ,and dodge in and out of houses. It is evident that the School Board has not much power in the neighbourhood of the Dials. Public-houses abound, and it is evident that whatever there may be a lack of in the Dials there is no lack of money to pay for drink. At night the public-houses are ablaze with light, and on Saturday evenings there is a great sound of shouting and singing through the windows, while the women stand outside and wait hoping against hope that their husband, will come out before the week's money is all spent. Nowhere within reach of the West-end of London can such a glimpse of the life of the poorer classes be obtained as on a Saturday evening at the Dials.
Somerset House, Strand is the one memento left of the long succession of palaces which formerly lined the Middlesex bank of the Thames between London and Westminster. It is only a memento, not a relic; the old Somerset House, built in the middle of the sixteenth century for the Protector Somerset, by John of Padua, having been pulled down in 1775 when Buckingham House was settled upon Queen Charlotte in its stead. The resent building is the work of Sir W. Chambers, and was erected with an express view to the purpose to which it has ever since been devoted, viz, the accommodation of various Government and semi-public offices. It is a fine work of its kind, though the effect of the river front, which is its finest visible façade, is naturally not improved by the removal of the river. It is in the Italian style, with capitals of various Grecian orders copied from original antiques. Bacon, Banks, Carlini, Flaxman, Geracei, Nollekens, and Wilton had all a hand in the ornamental portion of the work. NEAREST Railway Station, Temple (Dist.); Omnibus Routes, Strand and Waterloo-bridge; Cab Rank, Catherine-st.
Southwark Bridge has of late years been much improved by the introduction of a little colour into the painting of its ironwork arches which were formerly all in solemn black, and had a very heavy appearance. The credit of being the handsomest iron bridge across the river rests between it and Blackfriars Bridge; and on the whole though the latter is the more gorgeous, the former is perhaps the more striking. The length is 708 ft.,or little more than half that of Waterloo. The arches, three in number, rest on stone piers; the centre arch having a span of 402 ft. - the longest ever attempted until the adoption of the tubular prin-ciple-and the two shore arches 210o ft. each. From the inconvenience of its approaches this handsome bridge has been from the first comparatively valueless.
Strand - The Strand is one of the historical streets of London. It was formerly the water-side road, whence its name between the cities of London anti Westminster. Between it and the river lay the palaces of the great nobles, and on the other side the green fields stretched away without a break to the north. The road was bad then, and people who could afford it took boat for the City at Westminster-stairs, in preference to picking their way along the ill-paved streets, with the chance of being pushed aside into the deep holes that abounded by the numerous lackeys and retainers. As the steamers have driven the watermen from the river, so the growth of London has swept away the palaces, and the names of the streets alone mark where they stood. The Strand is a great thoroughfare still, and the connecting link between the City and the West. Fashion seldom goes east of Charing-cross, and the great drapery shops of the West-end are consequently conspicuous by their absence; nor upon the other hand does business in the City man's sense of the word, come west of Temple-bar. Hence the Strand is a compromise. There is somehow an air of greater lightness and gaiety than is apparent in the City. There are more women among the foot passengers, more looking into shop windows, and an absence of that hurried walk and preoccupied look which prevail in the City proper. The difference will at once strike the observer, and is the main characteristic -of the street. The stranger will probably be disappointed at his first visit to the Strand, and in truth the houses which line it are for the most part unworthy of its position as a portion of the greatest thoroughfare in London. Nor, with the exception of the New Law Courts at its eastern end, the Charing-cross Hotel, and a few private shops, has much been done in the way of improvement in the Strand. When the two churches of St. Clement Danes and St. Mary-le-Strand are swept away, and Booksellers'-row disappears, the Strand may be-come a noble thoroughfare; but at present there is no street of equal importance in any capital of Europe so unworthy of its position. The Strand is essentially the home of theatres. The Adelphi, Lyceum, Gaiety, Vaudeville, Strand, and Opera Comique are in the street itself, while hard by are the Globe, the Olympic, and the Folly. Exeter Hall is also in the Strand.
Tower of London- once a fortress, a royal residence, a court of justice, and a prison, is now a government storehouse and armoury, and an interesting show place for visitors. The most conspicuous part of the series of buildings enclosed by the moat is the White Tower, whose founder, tradition has it, was Julius Caesar. William the Conqueror was the authentic builder of the structure, which was subsequently improved upon by Henry III. Inside is the chapel of St. John, the most perfect specimen of Norman architecture in the kingdom. Surrounding the White Tower is a series of battlements now used for government purposes, flanked by a number of smaller towers, many of which are celebrated for the captives who have been imprisoned in them. For instance, in the Well Tower Queen Elizabeth was immured; in the Devereux Tower the Earl of Essex was confined; and in the White Tower Sir Walter Raleigh. In the Bloody Tower the two Sons of Edward IV. were murdered; and in Bowyer's Tower Clarence is supposed to have been drowned in a butt of malmsey wine. The Beauchamp Tower was built probably by Henry III. The last executions took place after the rebellion of 1745, when Lords Lovat, Balmerino, and Kilmarnock were be-headed for high treason. The latest occupants of the Tower as state prisoners were Sir Francis Burdett, and the gang of ruffians known as the Cato-street Conspirators. The regalia or jewel-house is a show place, and contains the royal crowns and sceptres and other jewels, whilst in the armoury is as magnificent a collection of armour and weapons as there is extant. A gun out-side the White Tower is worth notice. It is nearly eighteen feet long, and was cast by the Sultan Solyman the Magnificent for his intended invasion of India. The Tower is open free to the public on Mondays and Saturdays. On other days a fee of a shilling will pass the visitor to the regalia, the armoury, the Beauchamp Tower, and other points of interest. NEAREST Railway Stations, Aldgate (Metrop.) and Cannon-street (S. E.); Omnibus Routes, Fen-church-street and Aldgate High-street; Cab Rank, Great Tower Street.
Tower Subway - A curious feat of engineering skill, in the shape of an iron tube seven feet in diameter driven through the bed of the Thames between Great Tower-hill and Vine-street. The original intention was to have passengers drawn backwards and forwards in a small tram omnibus. This, however, was found unremunerative, and the rails having been taken up the tunnel has since been open as a footway. Unfortunately, however, after subtracting from its diameter the amount necessary to afford a sufficient width of platform, there is not much head-room left, and it is not advisable for any but the very briefest of Her Majesty's lieges to attempt the passage in high-heeled boots, or with a hat to which he attaches any particular value. It has, however, one admirable quality, that of having cost remarkably little in construction. NEAREST Railway Stations, Aldgate (Metrop.) and Cannon-street (S.E.); Omnibus Routes, Aldgate High-street and Fenchurch-street; Cab Rank, Great Tower-street.
Trafalgar Square has been called the finest site in Europe, but, however this may be, it is very far from having been utilised to the extent of its possibilities. A short but broad approach to the park should be driven through Spring-gardens, so as to afford an effective view. If from this new street the houses at present standing were pulled down, as far as the corner of Parliament-street, and an appropriate building erected on their site, much would have been done to render Trafalgar-square worthy of its position as the centre of London. The National Gallery has long been condemned, but no Government has yet felt itself financially strung enough to ask the nation for the money sufficient for an entirely new building, worthy of the national art collection of the country. The National Gallery and St. George's Barracks occupy the whole of the upper or northern side of the square; the church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields stands in the north-east corner; on the eastern side are the premises occupied by the Royal Humane Society, and Mor-ley's Hotel; on the western side are the Royal College of Physicians, and the Union Club; on the south side of the square are the grand hotel now building on the site of Northumberland House, and the plot between Northumberland-avenue and Parliament-street still vacant; while west of Parliament-street are some shops and insurance offices as far at the entrance to Spring-gardens. Nelson's monument, with its four lions, is the most conspicuous feature of the square, which contains, moreover, statues of Napier, Havelock, and other worthies. The fountains, which ought to add to the appearance of the place, in reality detract from it, by the ridiculous insufficiency of their jets of water.
Vauxhall Bridge is an iron structure of the Southwark type, of five spans, and presents no very special features. It was built in 1811-1816 from the designs of Mr. J. Walker. NEAREST Railway Stations, Vauxhall (S.W.) and Victoria (Dist. & L. & B. and L.C.& D); Omnibus Routes, Vauxhall-bridge-road and Albert Embankment; Cab Rank, Grosvenor-road.
Waterloo Bridge, the earliest of John Rennie's three, and beyond measure the cheapest, is also commonly considered the finest. As to this there may perhaps be a question, some critics preferring London Bridge, or even Southwark, as grander if less ornate. The perfect level, too, of the roadway in the case of Waterloo, whilst the first of all merits from a practical point of view, somewhat narrows its artistic opportunities; whilst the uniformity of the arches is considered by some to give it too much the air of "a length out of a via-duct." In all other respects it is the handsomest bridge across the Thames; consisting of nine elliptical arches 120 ft. in span and 35ft. in height, supported on piers 20 ft. wide at the spring of the arches, and surmounted by an open balustrade. It is not so wide as London Bridge by 11 ft., but is very nearly half as long again- 1,380 ft.-without the approaches, which are on the Middlesex side 370 ft, and on the Surrey side 766 ft. in length. It was opened in great state on the second anniversary of Waterloo, 18th June, 1817. NEAREST Railway Station, Temple; Omnibus Route, Strand; Cab Rank, Wellington-street.
Westminster Abbey, from its historical associations the most famous of all English buildings with the exception of the Tower, was originally founded by Edward the Confessor between the years 1055 and 1065. Previously, how-ever, it is believed that Sebart, king of the East Saxons, built a church upon the present site some time during the seventh century. The name Westminster was used to distinguish the abbey from the cathedral church of St. Paul, which. was once known, as East--minster. Of the Confessor's work but little remains saving the pyx--house, which lies to the south of the present abbey adjoining the chapter-house, and that part of the cloister which Westminster school-boys now use as a gymnasium. Henry III, who exhibited a rare taste in building, erected the principal portion of the existing edifice; he pulled down the greater part of Edward the Confessor's work, and built a chapel to the Virgin at the east end. Henry VII. in his turn demolished Henry III.'s work, and immortalised him-self by his chapel, which now stands behind the head of the cross in the form of which the abbey has been constructed. With the exception of the two towers, the upper parts of which were built by Wren, at the western entrance- the foot of the cross - which faces the Aquarium and the Hotel Westminster Abbey as regards it outward aspect is very much what Henry VII. left it. Inside, the abbey is at once imposing and inspiring. The height of the building, the symmetry of its proportions, the solemn grandeur of "the long-drawn aisles," the fact that the sightseer is at every step treading upon the graves of England's wisest and noblest, cannot but render a visit to Westminster-abbey a thing to remember and to respect. Possibly to some minds this house of God may have been made, through an over-zealous desire to pay due regard to the worthy, a too conspicuous monument of man's achievement; at all events, most liberal-minded men will allow that the abbey is overcrowded with sculptural designs which have not always been executed with the artistic sense which is in favour today. An attempt to describe the statues, the bas-reliefs, the busts, and the allegorical illustrations in marble of departed prowess and virtue, would occupy more space than is permitted us. A few of the must prominent relics we may, however, refer to. The chapel of Edward the Confessor, which lies behind the present altar-screen, contains the shrine of that monarch, besides which devout persons used to sit in order to cure themselves of earthly disorders. The remains of Henry III. are also supposed to rest here; also what is left of Edward I., Edward III and Henry V., whose saddle and helmet, used at Agincourt, are fixed to a rail over the gallant monarch's tomb. Against the a1tar-screen stand the coronation chairs, two highly uncomfortable receptacles made of wood, disfigured with the initials and names of ambitious persons who have years ago eluded the vigilance of the abbey's officials. Under the seat of the king's chair is the identical stone which Edward brought from Scone, and on which the Scottish kings were crowned. The second chair was made for the coronation of Mary the much beloved consort of William III. Round the Confessor's chapel are a number of smaller chapels filled with the tombs and emblazoned eulogies delicately expressed in Latin, of bygone peers and peeresses. Immediately behind the sarcophagus of Henry V. is the chapel built by Henry VII., intended as a place of sepulture for himself and his successors, as fine a specimen of what is called florid Gothic architecture as exists. The exterior was restored by Wyatt. The gates aret brass, cunningly wrought, but are now dingy and look more like iron. Knights of the Bath are installed in this chapel, and at some distance above the stalls hang the tattered banners of many famous members of the order. On the left of the chapel, which contains the tomb of Henry VII. and Edward VI., is the burial place of Queen Elizabeth; on the right lies Mary Queen of Scots. At the south-east corner is the slab which rests over the remains of Lady Augusta Stanley, wife of the present Dean of Westminster, and the intimate friend of Queen Victoria. Fresh flowers and chaplets lie over the grave of a lady whose memory is cherished, not only by her sovereign, but by hundreds of poor and suffering creatures whom she was wont to relieve. To the left of Lady Augusta Stanley is the marble tomb of time Duc de Montpensier, brother of Louis Philippe, King of the French. The last distinguished Briton buried in the abbey was Sir Gilbert Scott, the architect, whore slab in the nave is decorated with a cross of flowers constantly renewed by loving hands. A few yards from Scott is the grave of Livingstone. Poet's Corner, which forms the most southern portion of the arm of the cross, is by no means the least imposing portion of the building. Here is the grave of Charles Dickens, by whose side is Cumberland, the dramatist. At his feet is Sheridan, and above is Handel, the composer; close by are Tom Campbell, David Garrick, and Samuel Johnson; marble busts of Thackeray and Macaulay are placed on brackets within a few feet of these illustrious dead. Close to Edward the Confessor's shrine, and up a winding flight of steps, is a collection of waxen effigies to which the general public are not admitted. The figures are life size, and are enclosed in glass cases, on which the vulgar have scratched their names with persistent enthusiasm. They are eleven in number, and are considered remarkable as portraits. Charles II. stands in ordinary costume, with, however, an undignified smut on his nose. Next to his merry majesty is the Duke of Buckingham, lying in state, a coronet upon his head. Queen Anne, looking uncomfortable, in her state robes and crown, is sitting on her throne, and holds with some difficulty her orb and sceptre. The Duchess of Buckingham and her little son, and the Duchess of Richmond (1702), are standing immediately opposite the dead Duke; and the Earl of Chatham, in his robes of office, does not look quite the energetic statesman we would fain regard him. William and Mary are in a glass case together, and by their side is Queen Elizabeth, with a magnificent ruff of real lace, and next to her is a life-like effigy of Nelson. Admission to see the wax-work may be obtained from the Dean or a member of the chapter.
At the south of the abbey are the cloisters, which contain some of the oldest graves in the country; one inscribed with the name of Gervasius de Blois, Abbas, 1106, is in excellent preservation. From the çloisters admission is gained to the chapter-house, which was built by Henry III., in 1250, and restored by Sir Gilbert Scott in 1865. The building is an octagon, with a central pillar rising some 35 ft. composed of Purbeck marble. Former1y the chapter-house was used as a council chamber for the monks and the abbot, and we are assured that offending recluses were flogged at the central pillar. The House of Commons subsequently met here until the days of Henry VIII., after which the house was used as a depository for public records.
When the documents were removed to Fetter-lane, it was considered desirable that the chapter-house should be restored, and accordingly Sir Gilbert Scott was employed, with results which the public may see without charge to-day. The illustrations of the on the walls were executed by one of the monks attached to the abbey in the fifteenth century. The chapter-house also possesses a modern picture representing a fifteenth century lady taking sanctuary in the Abbey, painted by Mr. William Holyoake. In the vestibule is a Roman sarcophagus, discovered in the North Green ten years ago. Services are held every day in the abbey to which the public are admitted free. Admission fee to the smaller chapels, including that of Henry VII., is 6d.
Westminster Bridge varies very much in appearance with the state of the tide. It is always rather a cardboardy-looking affair, but when the river is full, and the height of the structure reduced as much as possible, there is a certain grace about it. When, however, the water is low, and the flat arches are exposed at the full height of their long lanky piers, the effect is almost mean. Except, however, for the excessive vibration arising from lightness of construction, it is one of the best, from a practical point of view, in London, the roadway being wide and the rise very slight.