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Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Policing Georgian London and the Bow Street Runners - guest post by Julie Tetel Andresen

I am delighted to welcome author Julie Tetel Andresen to the Regency History blog today with a guest post on policing Georgian London and the Bow Street Runners.

Bow Street from The Microcosm of London Vol 1 by R Ackermann and WH Pyne (1808)
Bow Street from The Microcosm of London Vol 1 by R Ackermann and WH Pyne (1808)
Number 4 Bow Street

In the early 1750s, magistrate and novelist Sir Henry Fielding persuaded the government to provide funds to hire men who would have the capacity to track down the highwaymen and footpads who were terrorizing the roads in and around London. He lived at Number 4 Bow Street, Covent Garden. A few months after receiving the funds, Henry Fielding died, leaving the Bow Street residence to John Fielding, his younger half-brother. Although John had been blind since the age of nineteen, he turned out to be the most imaginative magistrate of the eighteenth century, and created a force of policemen who were popularly called Bow Street Runners.

Since the thirteenth century, London had unpaid night watchmen. However, a troubling spike in crime occurred in the late seventeenth century, likely caused by the demobilization of armed forces after William III won the war for the throne in 1689. In response to this increase in violence, two things had come about by the middle of the eighteenth century: first, the lighting of the streets had been improved; and, second, the night watchmen had become a paid force. They had established beats at set times, called out the time throughout the night, and made an arrest if they happened upon a crime. However, they were not expected to search out offenders.

Parish Constables

The parish constables were largely private citizens who served for part of a year as their civic duty. They were expected to clear the streets of vagrants and prostitutes, and they could arrest petty criminals if, like the night watchmen, they happened upon them. They were also supposed to keep crowds under control on days of celebration or when crowds assembled for unlawful purposes. The constables were under no obligation to do anything beyond the boundaries of their jurisdiction, and they were not expected to investigate crimes or find criminals.

Thief-takers

Occasionally a magistrate would take an interest in a particular case and follow through on it. However, it was mostly left to the victim to find the perpetrator or to pay someone to do so. In the early eighteenth century, one could hire a private ‘thief-taker’, as they were called. The men Sir John Fielding hired became the first professional public thief-takers, although the term they came to be known by, namely Runners, was surely derogatory since it associated them with the bailiffs who arrested debtors or escorted men to jail.

Sir John Fielding and the Bow Street Runners

Sir John Fielding by Nathaniel Hone  Oil on canvas (1762) NPG 3834 (1)
Sir John Fielding by Nathaniel Hone
Oil on canvas (1762) NPG 3834 (1)
The Runners, whom Sir John often recruited from the ranks of ex-constables, helped victims at no cost, followed investigations wherever they went, and had the authority to arrest the criminals anywhere. By bringing to justice those guilty of highway robbery and murder, and by increasing the geographical range of pursuit, the Runners formed the very beginnings of a national police force.

Since 1748, Sir Henry Fielding had made his house on Bow Street the centre of his work. When Sir John took over in 1754, he made it a centre for information gathering, which went beyond the clerical requirements of ordinary magistrates at the time. He hired extra staff to collect information about crimes and criminals and believed informers should be paid. He also used advertising as fundamental to his policing strategy. For crimes of theft, he sent information to appear in the next day’s newspapers and had handbills printed and distributed to pawnbrokers and other likely places, under the belief that rapid dispersal of information was necessary if goods were going to be found and the thieves arrested. The office seemed to have been open for business for long hours most days of the week, and people came to assume they could go to Bow Street at any time of the day, and well into the evening, to see a magistrate (or at least someone who could take and perhaps act on their complaint).

On occasion, a Runner might take an alleged criminal to the Brown Bear, a pub across the street from the office, which served as a temporary lock-up and a place where suspects could be interrogated before being taken before the magistrate. Conveniently, Sir John often ate at the Brown Bear, and so was on hand if fresh business came up during his meal.

The Brown Bear from Chronicles of Bow Street   Police-Office by Percy Fitzgerald (1888)
The Brown Bear from Chronicles of Bow Street 
Police-Office by Percy Fitzgerald (1888)
The effectiveness of the Runners can be illustrated with an example. In 1767, John Griffiths and three other men were returning to London by coach when a gang of armed men stopped them and demanded their money. One of the men in the coach jumped out in an effort to escape and was knocked down and badly beaten. Griffiths refused to give up his purse and was shot dead. The other two did not resist. Within hours of the incident, seven Runners went in search of the robbers, gathering information from pubs and a variety of informers. Two days later, the Runners arrested five men, four of whom were convicted. Three days later, the fifth man who had killed Griffiths, was hanged.

Covent Garden, home to Bow Street, was notorious for its bawdy houses, unlicensed alehouses, and gambling houses – precisely the kind of businesses that drew men into crime. Although at first Sir John did not think regulating morality was part of his job as magistrate, he eventually turned his and his Runners’ attention into policing immoral behaviours involving hard alcohol, gambling, and prostitution. Sir John drew censure when his moral policing widened to include popular dancing.

Beer Street and Gin Alley by William Hogarth (1751) via Wikimedia Commons
Beer Street and Gin Alley by William Hogarth (1751) via Wikimedia Commons
This policing activity came at a price. Sir John’s office expenses for the year 1767 came to nearly £600 and paid for: investigations and arrests, patrolling, maintenance of ‘pursuit horses’, rewards to shopkeepers, support of witnesses, payments to informers, salary of the ‘register clerk’, maintenance of the criminal records, transport of prisoners, coach hire, printing and distributing of handbills, advertisements, correspondence with country magistrates, office expenses and, finally, Runners’ arrest of prostitutes, gamblers, and beggars.

In 1829, Sir Robert Peel created the Metropolitan Police, and Bow Street disbanded in 1839. The first professional detective department was formed in 1842.

Sources:
Cox, David, A Certain Share of Low Cunning: A History of the Bow Street Runners, 1792 – 1839 (Willen Publishing, 2010)
Beattie, JM, The First English Detectives: The Bow Street Runners and the Policing of London, 1750 – 1840 (Oxford University Press, 2012)

About the author: Julie Tetel Andresen has written more than twenty-five romance novels, one of her most recent being John Carter’s Conundrum, a Georgian-era novella whose hero, John Carter, is a Bow Street Runner. Visit Julie's website here where you can download John Carter’s Conundrum for free.

Note
1. This image is being shared under a Creative Commons Licence (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

The Asylum for female orphans in Regency London

The Dining Room at the Asylum  from Ackermann's The Microcosm of London (1808-10)
The Dining Room at the Asylum
from Ackermann's The Microcosm of London (1808-10)
What was the Asylum?

The Asylum was a refuge for female orphans established by Sir John Fielding, a philanthropic magistrate, in 1758, and incorporated by Act of Parliament in 1800. 

Its aim was to house and educate orphaned girls. Orphans were the responsibility of the parish where their parents had resided. If this parish or settlement could not be established, they theoretically became the responsibility of the parish in which they lived. In the case of orphans of soldiers, sailors and other indigent persons, the settlement of their parents could often not be found, and the orphans could be left destitute and far away from any relations. The charity aimed to relieve this suffering and protect young girls who might otherwise be drawn into prostitution.

The Asylum for Female Orphans 1823 from The History   and Antiquities of the Parish of Lambeth by T Allen (1827)
The Asylum for Female Orphans 1823 from The History
 and Antiquities of the Parish of Lambeth by T Allen (1827)
Where was the Asylum?

The Asylum was situated south of the River Thames in St George’s Fields, Lambeth, 'directly opposite the road which leads from Westminster Bridge to Vauxhall.'1

The charity took out a lease on the premises of the Hercules Inn from the Corporation of the City of London in 1754 at a rent of £8 10s a year. When the lease expired in around 1823, they bought the freehold for about £16,000 and demolished the old building, with the exception of the chapel and the residences for the officers and matron. They replaced it with a neat, low building with wings on the design of Mr Lloyd.

The New Asylum for Female Orphans 1826 from The History   and Antiquities of the Parish of Lambeth by T Allen (1827)
The New Asylum for Female Orphans 1826 from The History
 and Antiquities of the Parish of Lambeth by T Allen (1827)
How was it run?

Her Majesty Queen Charlotte was the patroness of the Asylum and Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge, was President. The charity was governed by a committee of 19 gentlemen, elected annually, who met at the Asylum every Thursday at 11 o’clock in the morning.

The Asylum received an income from stocks and consols and was supported by annual subscriptions amounting to about £500 a year and by collections taken at the chapel doors each Sunday amounting to some £2,000 a year more.2

A gentleman could become an annual guardian of the charity by subscribing at least three guineas a year. Alternatively, he could become a perpetual guardian by a donation of thirty guineas or more, or by being the first named executor on a legacy of £100 or more. A guardian could recommend a girl for admission when a vacancy arose.

According to Allen in The History and Antiquities of the Parish of Lambeth (1827): 'Ladies subscribing certain specified sums are entitled to vote by proxy.'3

The charity employed various staff to run the asylum and chapel. In 1827, their annual salaries were as follows:
Chaplain and secretary £200
Alternate morning preachers £100 each
Evening preacher £126
Organist £63
Writing master £50
Apothecary (including supply of medicine) £70
Messenger £52
Matron £60
Assistant matron £20
First school-mistress £40
Two assistant mistresses £15 15s each
Nurse £20
Chapel clerk £21
Four chapel keepers £12 each4
Life in the Asylum

Girls were admitted between the ages of nine and twelve, housed and educated, and then apprenticed as a domestic servant or into a trade from the age of about fifteen.

The Microcosm of London described the education of the girls:
Carefully instructed in the principles of religion; in reading, writing, needlework, and household business, they are trained to habits of industry and regularity, by which means there is a supply of diligent and sober domestics for the use of that public, which, by its contributions, has so nobly acquired a right to their services.5
The girls were required
... to make and mend their own linen; make shirts, shifts, and table-linen; to do all kinds of plain needle-work, and to perform the business of the house and kitchen; to which latter twelve are appointed weekly, according to their age and abilities, to assist the cook, to wash, iron, and get up all the linen. They are likewise taught to read the Bible, write a legible hand, and understand the first four rules in arithmetic.6
The girls helped support the Asylum with their work:
All kinds of plain needle-work are taken in at the Asylum, and performed by the children at certain rates, which are regulated by the committee.7
Visits by gentlewomen

According to The Microcosm of London, the guardians
... earnestly solicit the ladies, who are particularly qualified for that purpose, frequently to visit the charity, inspect the management of the house, and particularly the employment of the children; also to see that they are properly instructed in housewifery, so as to be qualified for useful domestic servants; and from time to time communicate to the committee, by letter or otherwise, such observations as they shall deem proper to make.8
The chapel
A very neat chapel is included in the plan, in which some respectable minister officiates as preacher on Sundays. The girls also sing, accompanied by a good organ.

A number of the nobility and gentry frequent this place of worship, and at the same time become contributors to a noble charity, which preserves from probable destruction a great number of indigent female orphans, and makes them at the same time a comfort to their remaining relations, and a benefit to the community.9
What happened to the girls?

When the girls were about fifteen years of age, they were apprenticed:
They are to be bound apprentices for seven years, at the age of fifteen, or sooner, as domestic servants to reputable families in Great Britain.10
When a girl was old enough to be apprenticed, the guardian who presented her was asked if he had a placement for her in mind. If this was not the case, the girl could be sent to any respectable person who applied for an apprentice, once the committee had approved their character.

If a girl completed her apprenticeship and their master or mistress vouched for their good behaviour, she was given five guineas by the committee.

If the committee deemed that the girl was unfit for domestic service, they could apprentice her into any trade they thought proper. The maximum they would pay to secure this apprenticeship was £10.

The success of the Asylum

According to The Microcosm of London:
Two hundred deserted females are daily sheltered and protected from vice and want, supplied with food and raiment, and taught what-ever can render them useful in their situation, or comfortable and happy in themselves.11
Notes
(1) From Feltham, John, The Picture of London for 1809 (1809).
(2) These amounts are taken from Allen, Thomas, The History and Antiquities of the Parish of Lambeth (1827).
(3) From Allen, Thomas, The History and Antiquities of the Parish of Lambeth (1827).
(4) Ibid.
(5) From Ackermann, Rudolph and Pyne, William Henry, The Microcosm of London or London in miniature Volume 1 (Rudolph Ackermann 1808-1810, reprinted 1904).
(6) Ibid.
(7) Ibid.
(8) Ibid.
(9) Allen op cit.
(10) Ackermann op cit.
(11) Ibid.

Sources used include:
Ackermann, Rudolph and Pyne, William Henry, The Microcosm of London or London in miniature Volume 1 (Rudolph Ackermann 1808-1810, reprinted 1904)
Allen, Thomas, The History and Antiquities of the Parish of Lambeth (1827)
Feltham, John, The Picture of London for 1809 (1809)

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

The Real Persuasion by Peter James Bowman – a review

Front cover of The Real Persuasion by Peter James Bowman

Did Anne Elliot live happily ever after?

Are you a fan of Jane Austen’s Persuasion? Have you ever wondered what happened to Anne Elliot after she married Captain Wentworth? Judging by the huge popularity of Austen variations, it would seem that many people have. The Real Persuasion is not an Austen variation, but it does describe what Anne’s life might have looked like after her marriage by telling the true story of Katherine Bisshopp, a real-life Regency heroine whose life bore remarkable similarities to that of Anne Elliot.

Anne Elliott was the daughter of Sir Walter Elliot of Kellynch Hall, an impoverished baronet. Katherine was the daughter of Sir Cecil Bisshopp of Parham in Sussex and like Anne, she too was forced to quit her home because of lack of money. Katherine’s father squandered great sums of money proving his lineage in order to claim the barony of Zouche, which he did successfully in 1815, only to run out of money two years later. Sir Cecil sold the contents of Parham and shut it up; Sir Walter was forced to rent out Kellynch Hall and go to Bath.

Parham Park, Sussex from Excursions in the County of Sussex (1822)
Parham Park, Sussex from Excursions in the County of Sussex (1822)
Both Anne and Katherine fell in love with naval officers but were unable to marry. Lady Russell believed Captain Wentworth was unworthy of Anne and persuaded her to break off her engagement. Katherine sought in vain for her parents’ consent to her marriage to George Pechell.

Both Anne and Katherine had to wait a long time to marry the man of their choice. Anne waited eight and a half years; Katherine three years longer. Despite George’s promotion to captain and his improved fortunes since he first sought Katherine’s hand, it seems that her family still did not think him good enough. It was not until Katherine was in her early 30s that her parents finally caved in on the grounds that otherwise she would end up marrying no one.

A Captain in the Navy from A book explaining
the ranks and dignitaries of British Society
(1809)
Both women also had invalid sisters, though Anne’s sister Mary Musgrove was more querulous than Katherine’s sister Harriet. I also think that Harriet was more genuinely unwell than Mary ever was. I wondered from the accounts of her illness whether she might have suffered from chronic fatigue.

Did Katherine’s story end happily? Mostly. Katherine and George loved each other for the rest of their lives. George was made a vice-admiral and inherited a baronetcy. They leased and then bought Castle Goring as their home and had three children. But their lives were not without sadness. Katherine and George were devastated by the death of their only son, Captain William Pechell, who was killed in Sebastopol whilst serving his country.

An engaging story

This is a well-written story that draws heavily on original sources – letters and journals – which are widely quoted in the text. I love primary sources and this makes the book very exciting reading for me, even without the story that goes with it.

There is a handy timeline at the back and some lovely plates in the middle. A family tree might have been useful for keeping track of the different family members.

For me personally, I found the passages at the end of each section detailing the correspondences with Persuasion detracted from the story. As someone who knows Persuasion well, I had no difficulty in seeing the similarities as the narrative progressed and stopping to spell them out spoilt the flow of the story a little. I would have preferred it if they had been gathered up into a single comparison section at the end, but for someone who is less familiar with Persuasion, the ongoing comparison might be more helpful.

A true-life Austen continuation

If you love Persuasion like I do, I am sure that you will be fascinated by the amazing similarities between the stories of Katherine Bisshopp and Anne Elliot and see Katherine’s story as one way that Anne’s might have worked out.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

The Green Park in Regency London

Horse guards parading past the Canade Gate, The Green Park
Horse guards parading past the Canade Gate, the Green Park
The history of the Green Park

The Green Park was an area of meadowland enclosed by Charles II after the restoration of the monarchy in 1660. Lying between St James’s Park and Hyde Park, it was formed to link up the royal parks, and was known as Little or Upper St James’s Park until 1746. Charles II built icehouses in the middle of the park. 

Rocque's Map of London of 1741-5 showing the Green Park  in London in the Eighteenth Century by Sir Walter Besant (1902)
Rocque's Map of London of 1741-5 showing the Green Park
in London in the Eighteenth Century by Sir Walter Besant (1902)
During the 1730s, George II’s wife, Queen Caroline, developed the park. She built a reservoir called the Queen’s Basin which provided water for St James’s Palace, and commissioned a path to the reservoir known as the Queen’s Walk which became a fashionable place to promenade. She also built a pavilion in the park known as the Queen’s Library. It was after a walk to her library that Queen Caroline was taken ill with the complaint from which she never recovered:
On the 9th [November 1737], her majesty [Queen Caroline] having walked to her library in the park, and break fasted there, was taken suddenly ill on her return to the Palace of St. James, with a complaint that was erroneously believed to be the gout in her stomach.1
The Queen's Library  from The History of he Royal Residences by WH Pyne (1819)
The Queen's Library
from The History of he Royal Residences by WH Pyne (1819)
In 1767, George III reduced the size of the Green Park to enlarge the gardens of Buckingham House.

The peace celebrations of 1749

On 27 April 1749, a huge firework display was held in the Green Park to celebrate the end of the War of the Austrian Succession and the signing of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle. George II commissioned Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks to accompany the display. An enormous pavilion, known as The Temple of Peace, was built in the park for the event and caught fire during the firework display.

View of the peace celebrations in Green Park in 1748  from Old and New London by E Walford (1878)
View of the peace celebrations in Green Park in 1748
from Old and New London by E Walford (1878)
Another party in the park

On 1 August 1814, another grand firework display took place in the Green Park, to celebrate 100 years since the Hanoverian Succession and peace with France. Another huge building – The Temple of Concord – was built in the park for the event.

The Temple of Concord in Green Park on 1 August 1814   from An Historical Memento by E Orme (1814)
The Temple of Concord in the Green Park on 1 August 1814
from An Historical Memento by E Orme (1814)
An Historical Memento (1814) recorded:
At ten o'clock, a loud and long continued discharge of artillery announced the commencement of the fireworks; which were, certainly, if not the most tasteful, yet on the grandest and most extensive scale that we have ever witnessed. From the battlements of the castle, at one moment, ascended the most brilliant rockets: presently, the walls disclosed all the rarest and most complicated ornaments of which the art is susceptible: the senses were next astonished and enchanted with a pacific exhibition of those tremendous instruments of destruction invented by Colonel Congreve. Some notion even of their terrible power might be formed from this display, and their exceeding beauty could be contemplated, divested of its usual awful associations. Each rocket contains in itself a world of smaller rockets: as soon as it is discharged from the gun, it bursts and flings aloft into the air innumerable parcels of flame, brilliant as the brightest stars: the whole atmosphere is illuminated by a delicate blue light, which threw an air of enchantment over the trees and lawns, and made even the motley groups of universal London become interesting, as an assembly in romance. These several smaller rockets then burst again, and a shower of fiery light descends to the earth, and extends over many yards. Such was one of the beautiful fireworks, which, during the space of two hours, amused and astonished the people.
But the public, who had been on their legs all day, and were not sufficiently accommodated with seats, began at length to be tired with the endless repetition even of the most striking beauties, and became impatient for the grand metamorphosis of the castle into a temple. This was now the principal object to which the attention of the spectators was awake—the conversion of a fabric, designed for the purposes of war, into a temple of peace, and an illuminated monument of victory. The metamorphosis took place with somewhat less than the celerity generally witnessed in our theatrical pantomines: it resembled the cautious removal of a screen, rather than the sudden leap into a new shape. When fully developed, however, it presented a spectacle, which, for extent of splendour, and not less for tastefulness of arrangement, deserved the admiration, and satisfied the hopes which it had inspired.2
According to some sources, The Temple of Concord met the same fate as the Temple of Peace and was destroyed during a firework display, but Old and New London wrote:
Near Constitution Hill a building was erected from the design of Sir William Congreve (of rocket celebrity), which, with all its palings, and the cordon of sentries round it, covered one-third of the Green Park. This building received the name of the Temple of Concord. The materials of this structure, and of the other erections set up on that occasion, were sold afterwards by auction, and fetched only about £200.3
The Times of 12 October 1814 recorded that The Temple of Concord:
… after having been ineffectually offered for sale by private contract, with all its remaining magnificence, fell yesterday, ingloriously, under the hammer of the auctioneer … It was doubtless the subject of regret to its admirers, that this temple, after shining in all its brilliancy but for one night, should be doomed to such speedy destruction.4
The Green Park in the Regency

The Fountain in the Green Park in 1808  from Old and New London by E Walford (1878)
The Fountain in the Green Park in 1808
from Old and New London by E Walford (1878)
The Picture of London for 1813 described the Green Park:
An inclosure, called the Green Park, is a beautiful spot, gradually ascending from St. James's Park, which it immediately joins to Piccadilly, being separated from it by a wall in some parts, and an iron railing in others, and this park is now become the fashionable evening promenade. The lodge of the ranger of Hyde Park stands at the top of this ascent, near the centre, facing Piccadilly and, with its gardens and pleasure-ground, is a very picturesque spot.5
The entrance to the Ranger's Lodge  from The story of the London Parks by J Larwood (1874)
The entrance to the Ranger's Lodge
from The story of the London Parks by J Larwood (1874)
The Green Park was a popular place to walk, especially on Sundays:
In spring and summer the eastern side of the Green Park forms a favourite promenade for the genteel inhabitants of the metropolis; and in fine weather, on every evening, and on Sundays in particular, it is always crowded with well-dressed company. At the north-east corner of this park there is a fine piece of water, which is supplied by the water-works of Chelsea, and forms at once a beautiful embellishment and a useful reservoir.6
Green Park today

Green Park was opened to the general public in 1826. During the reign of Queen Victoria, the Queen’s Basin was filled in and all the buildings were demolished. Several war memorials have since been erected in Green Park, which is open all day, all year round.

View down Constitution Hill from the top of the Wellington Arch  showing the Green Park on the left  and Buckingham Palace gardens on the right
View down Constitution Hill from the top of the Wellington Arch
showing the Green Park on the left
and Buckingham Palace gardens on the right
Notes
(1) Pyne, WH, The History of the Royal Residences of Windsor Castle, St James's Palace, Carlton House, Kensington Palace, Hampton Court, Buckingham House and Frogmore (1819).
(2) Orme, Edward (ed), An Historical Memento (1814).
(3) Walford, Edward, Old and New London: A narrative of its history, its people, and its places (Cassell, Petter & Galpin, 1878, London) Vol 5
(4) The Times Digital Archive: "Temple of Concord, in the Green Park." Times [London, England] 12 Oct. 1814: 3. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 5 Sept. 2017.
(5) Feltham, John, The Picture of London for 1813 (1813).
(6) Ibid.

Sources used include:
Crosby, B, A View of London; or the Stranger's Guide through the British Metropolis (Printed for B Crosby, London, 1803-4)
Feltham, John, The Picture of London for 1810 (1810)
Feltham, John, The Picture of London for 1813 (1813)
Feltham, John, The Picture of London for 1818 (1818)
Orme, Edward (ed), An Historical Memento representing the different scenes of public rejoicing, which took place the first of August, in St James's and Hyde Parks, London, in celebration of the Glorious Peace of 1814, and of the Centenary of the Accession of the Illustrious House of Brunswick (1814)
Phillips, Richard, Modern London; being the history and present state of the British Metropolis (1804)
Pyne, WH, The history of the Royal Residences of Windsor Castle, St James's Palace, Carlton House, Kensington Palace, Hampton Court, Buckingham House and Frogmore (1819)
Walford, Edward, Old and New London: A narrative of its history, its people, and its places (Cassell, Petter & Galpin, 1878, London) Vol 5

Times Digital Archive

Photos © regencyhistory.net

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

St James's Park in Regency London

View across the water in St James's Park to Buckingham Palace (2014)
View across the water in St James's Park to Buckingham Palace
The history of St James’s Park

St James’s Park is the oldest royal park in London, with St James’s Palace to the north and Buckingham Palace to the west.

The Picture of London for 1810 said:
St James’s Palace and Park are situated near the western extremity of the town, on the side next the river, from which, at a small distance, it is separated by Parliament-street, and the site of Whitehall Palace.1
Rocque's Map of London of 1741-5 showing St James's Park  in London in the Eighteenth Century by Sir Walter Besant (1902)
Rocque's Map of London of 1741-5 showing St James's Park
in London in the Eighteenth Century by Sir Walter Besant (1902)
It was originally a swampy meadow belonging to the lepers’ hospital which previously stood on the site of St James’s Palace. Henry VIII acquired the land in 1531, built St James’s Palace, and enclosed the meadow, turning it into a deer park.

After the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660, Charles II redesigned the park. The Picture of London for 1810 wrote:
King Charles II … planted the avenues, made the Canal and the Aviary adjacent to the Bird-cage Walk, which took its name from the cages hung in the trees; but the present fine effect of the small spot of ground within the railing is the fruit of the genius of the celebrated Mr Brown.2
The Mall

Old and New London wrote:
St James's Park must have been a rural and pleasant enclosure in the reign of Charles II, when the avenues of trees were first planted along the northern side of the park, where now is the gravel walk known as ‘The Mall’, under the direction of Le Notre, the French landscape gardener, who was also commissioned to lay out and improve the whole.3
Royal Palace of St James's next the park from The story of the London Parks by J Larwood (1874)
Royal Palace of St James's next the park
from The story of the London Parks by J Larwood (1874)
Charles II created courts to play the new game of ‘Pele Mele’ after which Pall Mall and The Mall are named:
Under date of April 2, 1661, there is an entry in Pepys' ‘Diary’ which implies that the ‘Pell Mell’ was then newly finished: “To St James's Park, where I saw the Duke of York playing at Pellmell, the first time that ever I saw the sport.”4
Playing at Pall Mall from a contemporary print from Old and New London by E Walford (1878)
Playing at Pall Mall from a contemporary print
from Old and New London by E Walford (1878)
The milk fair
At the end of the Mall, in the shade of the tall trees, near the Spring Gardens entrance, is an ‘institution’ – if we may so call it – of considerable date, and a proof of the former rural character of the spot, which has flourished here perhaps almost since the formation of the Mall. It is known as ‘Milk Fair’, and is held by a privilege granted form royalty to the gatekeepers.5
Milk fair, St James's Park  from Old and New London by E Walford (1878)
Milk fair, St James's Park
from Old and New London by E Walford (1878)
The canal

The canal stretched the whole length of St James’s Park. The Microcosm of London wrote that St James’s Park:
… was very much improved by Charles II who added to it several fields, planted it with rows of lime trees, laid out the Mall (which is a vista nearly half a mile in length), and formed the canal, which is 100 feet broad and 2,800 feet long.6
The Picture of London for 1810 said:
In time of frost, the Canal in St James's park, and the Serpentine River in Hyde-park, are covered with skaiters; here a stranger will find much amusement.7
The duck decoy and Duck Island

According to the Royal Parks website, there have been pelicans living in St James’s Park since the time of Charles II, who was given some pelicans as a gift from the Russian Ambassador.

The pelicans in St James's Park
The pelicans in St James's Park
Old and New London wrote:
Close by, at the west end of the water, which was in those days straight, and generally known as the ‘Canal’, was a small decoy and an island, called ‘Duck Island’.
The ‘decoy’ … consisted of five or six straight pieces of water all running parallel to each other and to the canal itself, with which they communicated by narrow openings.8
By 1790, Charles II’s Duck Island had disappeared.

Birdcage Walk

Old and New London wrote:
The birds, which were among the most innocent toys and amusements of the ‘merry monarch’, were kept in aviaries ranged in order along the road which bounds the south side of the Park, and extends to Buckingham Palace, and which is still known by the significative name of ‘Birdcage Walk’.9
Rosamond’s Pond
In the south-west corner, near Birdcage Walk, and opposite to James Street and Buckingham Gate, was formerly a small sheet of water, known as ‘Rosamond's Pond’, to which reference is constantly made in the comedies of the time as a place of assignation for married ladies with fashionable roués … It was filled up in 1770, soon after the purchase of Buckingham House.10
Rosamond's Pond, St James's Park, in 1758  from Old and New London by E Walford (1878)
Rosamond's Pond, St James's Park, in 1758
from Old and New London by E Walford (1878)
Horse Guards Parade

The Horse Guards was built at the eastern extremity of St James’s Park. The Microcosm of London wrote:
The building of the Horse Guards began in the year 1751, and was very expeditiously completed. It is certainly a neat and compact piece of architecture, and appears to the greatest advantage when viewed at a distance, from the park.
The noble edifice of the Horse Guards stands upon part of the site of the vast palace of Whitehall, occupying that spot which was formerly the Tilt-yard; a place set apart by Henry VIII and afterwards by Elizabeth, for military exercises.
In the center is an arched way into St James's Park, the building over which has a pediment, with the king's arms in bass-relief.
That part of St James's Park immediately behind the building, is the parade, and is so called from being the place where the reliefs for the different guards about the palace are every morning paraded and inspected.11
Crosby wrote in A View of London (1802-3) that in April and May:
Every morning, about ten o’clock, a pleasing military spectacle is to be seen in the parade, in the rear of the Horse Guards, St James’s Park, in the change of the guard. A detachment proceeds from thence, in military pomp, to the square of St James’s Palace, where the guard is changed, and a stranger will be entertained with a charming concert of martial music.12
Mounting guard, St James's Park  from The Microcosm of London by R Ackermann and W Combe (1808-10)
Mounting guard, St James's Park from The Microcosm of London 
 by R Ackermann and W Combe (1808-10)
The Picture of London for 1810 wrote:
On the north side of the parade is placed a Turkish piece of Ordnance of uncommon length, which was brought from Alexandria in Egypt, by the British army. It is mounted on a carriage of English construction, and is ornamented with several appropriate Egyptian devices, executed with great taste.13
During the Gordon Riots of 1780, the park was used as a military base:
The park, in 1780, was occupied as a camp by several regiments of militia, during the alarm and panic caused by the Gordon riots.14
In 1852, the extensive funeral procession for the Duke of Wellington formed on Horse Guards Parade:
Upon the Parade was marshalled the state funeral procession of the great Duke of Wellington, on the 18th of November, 1852. The body was removed from Chelsea Hospital on the previous midnight, and deposited in the audience-chamber at the Horse Guards. Beneath a tent erected on the parade-ground was stationed the funeral car, whereon the coffin being placed, and the command given, the cortége, in a slow and solemn manner, moved down the Mall, past Buckingham Palace, whence the procession was seen by Her Majesty and the Royal Family, before it made its way to St Paul's.15
Wellington's funeral coach, Stratfield Saye
Wellington's funeral coach, Stratfield Saye
St James’s Park in the Regency

The Picture of London for 1813 wrote:
The whole of the northern side of St James’s Park, and the western extremity, are very pleasing to the eye; it is of an oblong form, and nearly two miles in circuit. The eastern extremity is occupied by the Horse-guards, the Treasury, and other edifices, that do not produce an ill effect. But the south side, in which is the Bird-cage Walk, is deplorable in its appearance. There is a species of barracks in that quarter, and a general air of misery and meanness, that should be removed, or obscured by planting. One nuisance disgraces the queen’s palace; it is the small guard-room, lately erected on the south side of the house, near Buckingham-gate.16
Queen's Palace  from The Microcosm of London by R Ackermann and W Combe (1808-10)
Queen's Palace from The Microcosm of London
by R Ackermann and W Combe (1808-10)
Phillips wrote in Modern London (1804):
In summer, the avenues on the northern side of St James’s park form a favourite promenade for the inhabitants of the metropolis; which, in fine weather, on Sundays in the afternoon and evening, is always extremely crowded with well-dressed company. But, though a favourite, this is not a very fashionable walk, people of rank preferring Kensington gardens and the Green-park.17
Promenade in St James's Park  from Modern London by R Phillips (1804)
Promenade in St James's Park
from Modern London by R Phillips (1804)
The 1814 peace celebrations

On 1 August 1814, there were huge celebrations in London to celebrate 100 years of the Hanoverian Succession and peace (albeit temporary) with France. A grand Chinese bridge was built across the canal in St James’s Park, topped with a magnificent pagoda, covered with fireworks for a grand firework display. Old and New London wrote that:
… an official programme was issued, in which the public were informed that a beautiful Chinese bridge had been thrown over the canal, upon the centre of which had been constructed an elegant and lofty pagoda, consisting of seven pyramidal storeys. ‘The pagoda to be illuminated with gas lights; and brilliant fireworks, both fixed and missile, to be displayed from every division of the lofty Chinese structure.’18
Unfortunately, the pagoda caught fire and was destroyed, but the Chinese bridge survived until 1825. According to Orme's An Historical Memento:
At length, about midnight, while the last discharges of artillery were firing, and many hundreds of persons were leaving the Parks, their attention was arrested by a lamentable accident. The pagoda exhibited an appearance that excited much doubt. Its upper towers seemed enveloped in flame; and it was soon learned, that it had actually caught fire by some accident in the management of the machinery. The fire increased rapidly. Several engines were procured, and played upon it; but it continued burning, till, in a short time, the five upper towers were destroyed, or fell over the eastern side of the bridge: the lower ones were in a state little better, and some part of the substructure was much deteriorated. There was a kind of awful magnificence during the progress of the flames, that exceeded the former appearance of the edifice; but, at last, it presented only the melancholy remains of temporary splendour.19

Chinese Bridge, St James's Park, in 1814  from An Historical Memento by E Orme (1814)
Chinese Bridge and Pagoda, St James's Park, in 1814
from An Historical Memento by E Orme (1814)
Chinese Bridge and Pagoda illuminated, St James's Park,   on 1 August 1814 from An Historical Memento by E Orme (1814)
Chinese Bridge and Pagoda illuminated, St James's Park,
on 1 August 1814 from An Historical Memento by E Orme (1814)
George IV’s park improvements

During the 1820s, George IV commissioned John Nash to remodel St James’s Park. Nash transformed the canal into a more natural looking lake, created a processional route down the Mall, and built a huge marble arch at the entrance to Buckingham Palace. Old and New London wrote:
The most beautiful parts of St James's Park are the walks beside the Ornamental Water, which is still called ‘the canal’, in memory of its former unsightly shape. The water is alive with waterfowl, for whose comfort and protection a quiet and secluded island, with the Swiss cottage of the Ornithological Society, is reserved, at the southeastern extremity, nearly on the site of the old ‘decoy’.20
According to Old and New London, the ‘Swiss cottage’ was erected in 1841. The Marble Arch was moved to the intersection of Oxford Street and Park Lane in 1851.

Buckingham Palace and St James's Park  from Illustrated London by WI Bicknell (1847)
Buckingham Palace and St James's Park
from Illustrated London by WI Bicknell (1847)
St James’s Park today

St James’s Park is open to the public every day, from 5 am to midnight.

St James's Park today
St James's Park today
Notes
(1) Feltham, John, The Picture of London for 1810 (1810).
(2) Ibid.
(3) Walford, Edward, Old and New London: A narrative of its history, its people, and its places (Cassell, Petter & Galpin, 1878, London) Vol 5.
(4) Ibid.
(5) Ibid.
(6) Ackermann, Rudolph and Pyne, William Henry, The Microcosm of London or London in miniature Volume 2 (Rudolph Ackermann 1808-1810, reprinted 1904).
(7) Feltham op cit.
(8) Walford op cit.
(9) Walford op cit.
(10) Walford op cit.
(11) Ackermann and Pyne op cit.
(12) Crosby, B, A View of London; or the Stranger's Guide through the British Metropolis (Printed for B Crosby, London, 1803-4).
(13) Feltham op cit.
(14) Walford op cit.
(15) Walford op cit.
(16) Feltham, John, The Picture of London for 1813 (1813).
(17) Phillips, Richard, Modern London; being the history and present state of the British Metropolis (1804).
(18) Walford op cit.
(19) Orme, Edward (ed), An Historical Memento (1814).
(20) Walford op cit.

Sources used include:
Ackermann, Rudolph and Pyne, William Henry, The Microcosm of London or London in miniature Volume 2 (Rudolph Ackermann 1808-1810, reprinted 1904)
Bicknell, WI, Illustrated London, or, a series of views in the British metropolis and its vicinity engraved by Albert Henry Payne, from original drawings volume 1 (1847)
Crosby, B, A View of London; or the Stranger's Guide through the British Metropolis (Printed for B Crosby, London, 1803-4)
Feltham, John, The Picture of London for 1810 (1810)
Feltham, John, The Picture of London for 1813 (1813)
Larwood, Jacob, The story of the London parks (1874)
Orme, Edward (ed), An Historical Memento representing the different scenes of public rejoicing, which took place the first of August, in St James's and Hyde Parks, London, in celebration of the Glorious Peace of 1814, and of the Centenary of the Accession of the Illustrious House of Brunswick (1814)
Phillips, Richard, Modern London; being the history and present state of the British Metropolis (1804)
Walford, Edward, Old and New London: A narrative of its history, its people, and its places (Cassell, Petter & Galpin, 1878, London) Vol 5

Photos © regencyhistory.net

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Kensington Gardens in Regency London

View of Kensington Palace from Kensington Gardens
View of Kensington Palace from Kensington Gardens
The history of Kensington Gardens

Kensington Gardens were originally part of Hyde Park. They were created when, in 1689, William and Mary bought Nottingham House and made it their London residence, renaming it Kensington Palace. The palace gardens were formed out of the western edge of Hyde Park and consisted of a mere 26 acres which Mary planted with formal flower beds and ‘closely-cropped yews, and prim holly hedges’.1

Queen Anne enlarged the gardens by another 30 acres and created an English garden. She also added the orangery and built a hermitage in the gardens.

Map of Kensington Gardens in 1764  from Old and New London by E Walford (1878)
Map of Kensington Gardens in 1764
from Old and New London by E Walford (1878)
In 1728, Queen Caroline, wife of George II, took another 200 acres out of Hyde Park to further enlarge Kensington Gardens. She employed Charles Bridgeman to redesign the gardens. He dug the Round Pond in front of Kensington Palace and dammed the River Westbourne to create the Serpentine, which spanned both Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park. The part of the Serpentine in Kensington Gardens became known as the Long Water.

The round pond, Kensington Gardens  from Old and New London by E Walford (1878)
The round pond, Kensington Gardens
from Old and New London by E Walford (1878)
Queen Caroline’s Temple was built in the gardens, not far from the Long Water.

Queen Caroline's Temple, Kensington Gardens
Queen Caroline's Temple, Kensington Gardens
Kensington Gardens were separated from Hyde Park by a long ditch, known as a ha-ha, which divided the two parks without interrupting the view of the landscape with a high wall or fence. Ha-has were widely copied around the country. 

According to Old and New London, ‘the principal embellishments were entrusted to Mr Kent, and subsequently carried out by a gentleman well known by the familiar appellation of "Capability" Brown.’2

Kensington Palace, Kensington Gardens  from Old and New London by E Walford (1878)
Kensington Palace, Kensington Gardens
from Old and New London by E Walford (1878)
In his Views in Kensington Gardens (1831), John Sargeant wrote:
These grounds appear to have been a favourite resort of the high-born and fair, as far back as the reign of George II. though they were then only open to the public on Saturdays, when the court was at Richmond.3
Queen Caroline’s gardens were opened to the public on Saturdays when the king and his court were at Richmond, but presumably only those of the highest classes of society came, as visitors were required to wear full dress.

Flower walks, Kensington Gardens  from Old and New London by E Walford (1878)
Flower walks, Kensington Gardens
from Old and New London by E Walford (1878)
Kensington Gardens in the reign of George III

An article in the Monthly Register for September 1802 remarked:
All the views from the south and east facades of the edifice suffer from the absurdity of the early inspectors of these grounds. The three vistas opening from the latter, without a single wave in the outline, without a clump or a few insulated trees to soften the glare of the champagne, or diminish the oppressive weight of the incumbent grove, are among the greatest deformities. The most exquisite view in the Gardens is near the north-east angle; at the ingress of the Serpentine river, which takes an easy wind towards the park, and is ornamented on either side by sloping banks, with scenery of a different character. To the left the wood presses boldly on the water, whose polished bosom seems timidly to recede from the dark intruder; to the right, a few truant foresters interrupt the uniformity of the parent grove, which rises at some distance on the more elevated part of the shore; and through the boles of the trees are discovered minute tracts of landscape, in which the eye of taste can observe sufficient variety of light and shade of vegetable and animal life to gratify the imagination, and disappoint the torpor, which the more sombre scenery to the east is accustomed to invite.4
Kensington Gardens  from Views in Kensington Gardens by J Sargeant (1831)
Kensington Gardens
from Views in Kensington Gardens by J Sargeant (1831)
The Picture of London for 1810 stated:
These gardens join the western extremity of Hyde Park, to which they give a very fine effect; as the park on that side appears, from the noble foliage of the gardens, to terminate in an extensive wood. The disposition of the grounds, though far from the present refinement in gardening, abounds too much with strait walks and lines, yet it possesses great beauty and grandeur. These gardens were improved by the celebrated Brown.
Near the palace, within the pleasure-grounds, is a very noble green-house, and adjoining are excellent kitchen and fruit gardens.5
Kensington Palace from Kensington Gardens  from Old and New London by E Walford (1878)
Kensington Palace from Kensington Gardens
from Old and New London by E Walford (1878)
In his Views in Kensington Gardens (1831), John Sargeant wrote:
Few spots have attained so universal, and deserved a reputation as these delightful grounds. Their convenient situation, immediately on the western border of the metropolis, united to the beauty and sequestered nature of the scenery, have made them the favourite promenade, and resort, during favourable weather, of the high born and fair, as well as the more humble classes of our ‘modern Babylon’. Thus, affording so pleasing, and healthful a source of recreation to the inhabitants of a great capital, we can scarcely regret that the palace has so long been abandoned by the court.6
The fashionable promenade

Kensington Gardens  from Views in Kensington Gardens by J Sargeant (1831)
Kensington Gardens
from Views in Kensington Gardens by J Sargeant (1831)
Kensington Gardens were a very fashionable place to walk, especially on Sunday afternoons, between two and five o’clock. Many people followed a path across Hyde Park from Hyde Park Corner to reach Kensington Gardens, and at times, this path became extremely crowded. The Picture of London for 1813 wrote:
A noble walk, stretching from north to south, in Kensington Gardens, at the eastern boundary, with its gay company, completes this interesting scene. Numbers of people of fashion, mingled with a great multitude of well-dressed persons of various ranks, crowd the walk for many ours together.7
Kensington Gardens  from Views in Kensington Gardens by J Sargeant (1831)
Kensington Gardens
from Views in Kensington Gardens by J Sargeant (1831)
In his Historical and Literary Tour of a Foreigner in England and Scotland (1825), Amédée Pichot wrote:
At Kensington-gardens you are obliged to leave your horse or carriage standing at the gate. Walking through its shady alleys I observed with pleasure that the fashionable ladies pay, in regard to dress, a just tribute to our fair countrywomen. Judging from the costumes of the ladies, you might sometimes fancy yourself walking under the chestnut trees of the Tuileries.8
The Picture of London for 1813 stated:
Kensington Gardens are open to the public, only from spring till autumn; and from eight in the morning till eight at night. There are four gates belonging to these gardens: two that open into Hyde Park; one opening into the Uxbridge-road; and another opening into a road belonging to the king, and leading from the palace into Kensington. The last of these gates, called the Avenue-gate, is open till nine at night. No servant in livery, nor women with pattens, nor persons carrying bundles, are admitted into the gardens. Dogs are excluded.9
Kensington Palace from the fashionable walk in Kensington Gardens  from Views in Kensington Gardens by J Sargeant (1831)
Kensington Palace from the fashionable walk in Kensington Gardens
from Views in Kensington Gardens by J Sargeant (1831)
Jane Austen in Kensington Gardens

In a letter to her sister Cassandra dated 25 April 1811, Jane Austen wrote:
I had a pleasant walk in Kensington Gardens on Sunday with Henry, Mr Smith, and Mr Tilson; everything was fresh and beautiful.10
Kensington Gardens  from Views in Kensington Gardens by J Sargeant (1831)
Kensington Gardens from  
Views in Kensington Gardens by J Sargeant (1831)
A warning

The Picture of London for 1810 stated:
It is necessary to apprize strangers, that it is not always safe to be in Hyde Park, or Kensington Gardens, after dark. These places being so extensive, opportunities of robbery, or ill-usage, are easily given; and it is impossible to shut out public robbers, or other ill-disposed persons.11
Kensington Gardens today

When Queen Victoria established her court at Buckingham Palace, Kensington Gardens went out of fashion. The ha-ha was largely filled in and Kensington Gardens were separated from Hyde Park by the West Carriage Drive instead.

Statue of Queen Victoria in Kensington Gardens
Statue of Queen Victoria in Kensington Gardens
The gardens now contains several statues and memorials including:
• A statue of Queen Victoria, sculpted by her daughter Princess Louise, which was erected outside Kensington Palace to celebrate her golden jubilee.
• The Albert Memorial, in remembrance of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband.
• Peter Pan.
• Diana, Princess of Wales, Memorial Playground.

Kensington Gardens are open to the public throughout the year, from 6 am to dusk. More information on the Royal Parks website.

View of Kensington Palace from Kensington Gardens
View of Kensington Palace from Kensington Gardens
Notes
(1) Walford, Edward, Old and New London: A narrative of its history, its people, and its places (Cassell, Petter & Galpin, 1873, London) Vol 5.
(2) Ibid.
(3) Sargeant, John, Views in Kensington Gardens (1831).
(4) Walford op cit.
(5) Feltham, John, The Picture of London for 1810 (1810).
(6) Sargeant op cit.
(7) Feltham, John, The Picture of London for 1813 (1813).
(8) Pichot, Amédée, Historical and Literary Tour of a Foreigner in England and Scotland (1825) Vol 1
(9) Feltham, John, The Picture of London for 1813 (1813).
(10) Austen, Jane, The Letters of Jane Austen selected from the compilation of her great nephew, Edward, Lord Bradbourne ed Sarah Woolsey (1892).
(11) Feltham, John, The Picture of London for 1810 (1810).

Sources
Austen, Jane, The Letters of Jane Austen selected from the compilation of her great nephew, Edward, Lord Bradbourne ed Sarah Woolsey (1892)
Crosby, B, A View of London; or the Stranger's Guide through the British Metropolis (Printed for B Crosby, London, 1803-4)
Feltham, John, The Picture of London for 1810 (1810)
Feltham, John, The Picture of London for 1813 (1813)
Phillips, Richard, Modern London; being the history and present state of the British Metropolis (1804)
Pichot, Amédée, Historical and Literary Tour of a Foreigner in England and Scotland (1825) Vol 1
Sargeant, John, Views in Kensington Gardens (1831)
Walford, Edward, Old and New London: A narrative of its history, its people, and its places (Cassell, Petter & Galpin, 1873, London) Vol 5

Photos © regencyhistory.net