Boy and Girl with Dolphin


detail dolphin

In an earlier post, I explained that the ‘dolphin’ lampposts did not really represent true dolphins, or even porpoises, but sturgeons, although most people – including me – persist in calling them dolphin lampposts. But this blog post is all about true dolphins. The two evocative sculptures of dolphins with acrobatic children were designed in 1973 and 1975 by David Wynne (1926-2014). Wynne made numerous sculptures of animals and he knew what he was doing. He had read zoology at Trinity College, Cambridge, and for the dolphin sculptures he spent hours under water studying the movements of dolphins. That is not to say that his work was favourably received by all; some considered him an upstart who ‘never even went to art school’. Personally, I could not care less whether anyone follows the accepted educational route, or manages to get to the end result by a circuitous or unlikely route; it is the result that counts and Wynne certainly manages to impress me with his work. A lot has been written about him and his work, so I will just post the photos I took of his two dolphin sculptures: the boy at Cheyne Walk and the girl near the Tower. The weather was not all that brilliant, although the raindrops on the boy’s body suggest even more the watery dolphin environment than sunshine would do. You can find better quality pictures online, but these will have to do for this post. If you want to read more about Wynne or his work, some links can be found at the bottom of this post.









Obituary Guardian
Obituary Telegraph
View from the Mirror
Small silver version of Boy with Dolphin
Book: Jonathan Stone, The Sculpture of David Wynne 1974-1992 (1993)
Book: David Elliott, Boy with a Dolphin: The Life and Work of David Wynne (2010)


Crown Court, Cheapside


On the south side of Cheapside, a little way beyond Bow Church, is a narrow opening leading to Crown Court. It is said that the passageway was once the private entrance for the king to Crown Fields where “joustings and other shows” took place.(1) The open field has long since disappeared and became the busy Cheapside area, but Crown Court is still there.

1799 Horwood map

1799 Horwood map

Crown Court was (and still is) situated between numbers 64 and 65. In the Horwood map, the passage does not seem to be covered over, but by 1839, when John Tallis brought out his Street Views, number 64 had been extended over the passageway. Number 64 was occupied by Mary Eddels and number 65, first by Rigge, a perfumer, but by 1847 by John Bennett, the famous clock maker. In 1859, Bennett extended his business to include number 64, so that his business straddled Crown Court. Nowadays, the passage is closed at night by a fence, but in 1870, that was not the case and to allow passers-by to see the stock in the watch and jewellery shop, gratings had been inserted in the shutters. One night, the watchman in the shop heard a noise, but thought it was a drunk who had fallen against the shutter and he went to sleep again – some watchman! The thieves bent two of the bars and cut a hole in the glass of the shop window through which they reached in and pulled out some gold chains that were hanging nearby. One of the chains caught on something and fell between the glass and the shutter. That noise woke the watchman again and he rushed out to catch the thieves, but he was too late and they had disappeared. The newspaper report suggested that there were three of them; one to keep an eye out for the police, one to watch the sleeping guard and one to do the actual theft.(2) As far as I know, they were never caught.

Ordnance Survey map 1893 with Crown Court and its covered passageway

Ordnance Survey map 1893 with Crown Court and its covered passageway

Entrance to Kennan's Hotel (Source: Collage, ©City of London)

Entrance to Kennan’s Hotel (Source: Collage, ©City of London)

In Crown Court itself, the Golden Fleece Hotel could be found, which later became Kennan’s Hotel (sometimes spelled Keenan’s). It was completely rebuilt in 1885 and all the furniture, beds, carpets, chimney pieces, washstands, and pianos were sold by auction on the premises on 5 March 1885.(3) In an advertisement for the Limited Company that was formed to run the hotel after the rebuilding, it was stated that the hotel “had been established for upwards of half a century”.(4) The advertisement – meant to generate interest in the new company’s shares – also said that the hotel had outgrown its original building and guests had to be turned away, especially since the closure of the Queen’s Hotel at St. Martin-le-Grand which had been bought by the government to house the Post Office. How much of that is true and how much bluff to lure the shareholders is hard to say, but Kennan’s seems to have been a popular hotel.

Part of the advertisement in The Morning Post of 11 November 1886

Part of the advertisement in The Morning Post of 11 November 1886

The Philatelic Record, 1896

The Philatelic Record, 1896

Many functions organised at the hotel made it into the papers and journals, such as meetings of The City of London Philatelic Club and a luncheon provided for the Annual sales of the Middle Park Yearlings by Messrs. Tattersall. In 1872, Mr. Townend, the proprietor of the hotel “who had been so long and favourably known for his excellent catering”, had “a trying time” providing the food for the yearling salesmen “owing to the intense heat of the weather”, “but he fully maintained his well-earned reputation”.(5)

The Sunday Times, 7 October 1917

The Sunday Times, 7 October 1917

In 1917, Kennan’s Hotel reached the end of its life and the freehold, along with the leasehold of the extension, was sold by Toplis and Harding. The Sketch: A Journal of Art and Actuality said that there “must be very few City men, or friends of City men, who have not lunched at Kennan’s Hotel, in Crown Court, Cheapside, and wide interest will be taken in the announcement that this historic freehold is to be offered under the hammer”. A few weeks before the advertisement of the sale was published, The Sunday Times had written about the hotel’s demise and in that article they noted the “calm, monastic seclusion” once you entered the Court and that is still a valid observation today. Turn from busy Cheapside into Crown Court and you could be in another place altogether; shady and still. You will no longer find a hotel at the end of the passageway, but a multi-business office building. However, with a bit of imagination, you can see the 19th-century guests arrive with their trunks, being greeted by a liveried porter. The paper reported that, although the hotel had “temporarily closed, the licence is being maintained” and they thought that it was likely that a new proprietor could easily make it into a profitable business again, although they conceded that it could also “be put to more profitable use as offices, for which purpose it is admirably adapted without any considerable alteration”.(6)

And offices it became. Nothing now reminds one of the hotel, but the passageway is still there. According to the National Recording Project, the metalwork grill above the Court’s entrance and the fencework in the passageway, were designed by the architects M.E. & O.H. Collins and added in 1992.(7) The photo I took of the grill on the outside of the building did not turn out very well, so I have borrowed one from Datwyler, but the other photos are mine.

Source: Datwyler

Source: Datwyler

Crown Court on Cheapside 1

Crown Court on Cheapside 7

Crown Court on Cheapside 3

Crown Court on Cheapside 5

(1) David Long, Hidden City: The Secret Alleys, Courts and Yards of London’s Square Mile (2011), pp. 56-57.
(2) The Sheffield & Rotherham Independent, 1 July 1870.
(3) The Standard, 21 February 1885.
(4) The Morning Post, 11 November 1886.
(5) The Oriental Sporting Magazine, ns.v.5 (1872). Richard Hamilton Townend had been the proprietor since at least 1861 when the census found him there, along with his wife, daughter, 14 servants and 12 guests. Townend died in 1888.
(6) The Sunday Times, 16 September 1917.

Kicked by a horse



detail plaque

When Joseph Boxall, a tallow chandler, and Jane, a tailoress, got married on 8 March 1857, her address was given as 14 Wageners Buildings (also spelled Wagners or Wagoners). They remained at that address as their children (Charles Henry Joseph, Joseph James, Louisa, Amelia, Sarah Anne, Charles Edwin Henry, Elizabeth Mary, James and John Federick) were all baptised from 14 Wageners Buildings at St. Mark’s Goodman’s Fields, and they were still there when the 1881 census was taken. Wageners Buildings could be found on Gower’s Walk. In 1883, the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway Company built a goods depot off Commercial Street, obliterating the east side of Gower’s Walk. I do not know whether Wageners Building was on the east side, but in 1891, the Boxall family could be found at 27 Tagg Street, so it is likely that they had to move because of the depot.

1894 Ordance Survey map

1894 Ordance Survey map

For this post we are concerned with daughter Elizabeth Mary, baptised on 15 January 1871. We do not know anything about her youth, but she may have attended the Free School in Gower’s Walk, which also had to relocate to make way for the goods depot. Elizabeth would in the normal course of her life have been unlikely to make the newspapers, but she jumped into the path of a runaway horse which threatened to harm a small child and the injuries she received unfortunately led to her death and an angry letter from the governor of London Hospital.

William J. Nixon, Governor of the hospital wrote to the editor of “Lloyd’s News” that his attention had been drawn to the report in the paper of the inquest into the death of Elizabeth Boxall where the allegation was made that she “was butchered in the London Hospital”. That was, according to Mr. Nixon, not true and he felt obliged to state the case from the point of view of the hospital.

The patient was admitted on the 9th of October last year for “contused thigh”. The history being that she had some time before been kloked by a horse and that the injured limb had been further damaged by a fall occurring on the day she was admitted to the hospital. The examination showed the previously unsuspected presence of cancerous disease. The swelling was full of blood, the thighbone was broken, and its ends destroyed by the disorder, and practically the only chance of stopping the spread of the malady was to perform amputation above the knee; and although the consent of the patient or the friends is always, as a rule, obtained in advance, it was decided, after consultation among those present, that immediate amputation was necessary. The case went on fairly well for some time; but by January 31st last there were evidences of the recurrence of the cancer, and it was deemed essential that the operation of amputation at the hip-joint should be performed. With the consent of the patient and her friends this was done. She then improved, and was sent to Folkestone at the expense of our Samaritan society, in charge of a special attendant. Here, however, symptoms were shown of the cancerous malady spreading to the lungs, and we were required to remove her, as being unsuited for residence in a convalescent home. The patient’s stay at Folkestone lasted from the 24th May to the 11th June. On the father’s return he came, I find, to the hospital, and, at his request, some strengthening medicine was given him for his daughter. We heard no more respecting the case until the account of the inquest appeared in the papers. Had any intimation of the coming inquest reached us the hospital would have been represented. The facts I have stated above would then have been in evidence, and the jury would have been able to form a clear opinion whether there was any ground for imputations of ill-treatment in the hospital, and whether a verdict of “Death from shock” after an operation performed upwards of four months previously, and followed by comparative convalescence, could possibly be a corrrect verdict.(1)

Unfortunately, I have not been able to find the original report on the inquest that so enraged Mr. Nixon, but if he is correct in saying that the hospital knew nothing of the inquest, it is indeed strange that they were not asked to give evidence at the inquest. Whoever conducted the inquest should at least have given them the opportunity to state their case as they were accused of “butchering” a patient, a serious charge indeed. Poor Elizabeth may have died of cancer even if she had not jumped in front of a horse, but her brave act to save a child has given her a lasting memorial in Postman’s Park.

Boxall - Postman's Park

Postman's Park

Postman’s Park

(1) Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper 1 July 1888.

The Plimsoll Line


Plimsoll 1

This peculiar symbol that looks like some sort of secret code, is in fact the symbol painted on the hull of a ship to ensure the ship is not overloaded. The line through the middle of the circle is known as the International Load Line, Plimsoll line or water line, and that line is not to disappear under water when the ship is loaded up. When Samuell Plimsoll (1824-1898) came up with the scheme, the circle and the horizontal line where all that was required, but over time the additional symbol on the right was added to allow for different water conditions and hence different water densities.

Plimsoll was not the first to come up with the idea; there were already loading regulations in Crete 2,500 BC and in the Venetian Republic, and the city of Genoa and the Hanseatic League required ships to show a load line. In the case of Venice this was a cross marked on the side of the ship, and for Genoa three horizontal lines. In the 1860s, losses of ships through overloading increased dramatically and Samuel Plimsoll set out to find a solution. In 1867, he tried to get a bill passed through Parliament dealing with the load line question, but in vain as there were too many shipowning MPs who feared for their profits. Subsequently, Plimsoll published Our Seamen. An Appeal in which he set out his concerns and solution. Following the publication, a Royal Commission on unseaworthy ships was set up. In 1876, the United Kingdom Merchant Shipping Act made the load line mark compulsory.
Our Seamen
On 14 February 1928, almost 30 years after Plimsoll’s death, a notice appeared in The Times, announcing plans to erect a statue to honour Plimsoll.

Permission is being sought from the Office of Works to set up, at the Westminster end of the Embankment, a statue of Samuel Plimsoll, known as “the Sailors’ Friend”, and the originator of the load line for British shipping. The statue which weighs three tons, is of bronze on a granite base, and is the work of Mr. P.V. Blundstone, of Kensington. The Seamen’s Union decided, instead of endeavouring to raise money for the memorial by public subscription, to defray the cost themselves. Mr. J. Havelock Wilson, the president of the National Union of Seamen, said that the idea of a memorial to Plimsoll had been in the minds of those associated with the seamen’s movement for some time. Seafarers from all parts of the world would attend the ceremony.

It took a year and a half to sort out the permission and logistics, but the Daily Mail of 21 August, 1929, could announce in their ‘To-day’s events’ column that “Sir Walter Runciman unveils memorial to Samuel Plimsoll, Victoria Embankment Gardens”. A very short announcement, but one with a lasting result as we can still walk past the gardens (on the outside, at the Embankment side) to see the statue.

Plimsoll 3

Plimsoll 2

Plimsoll 4

Plimsoll 5

Although plimsoll or plimsole shoes, that is shoes with canvas uppers and a rubber sole, had been known since the 1830s, they only had a name change from ‘sand shoe’ to ‘plimsole’ in the 1870s, because the horizontal line on the rubber resembled the plimsoll line on ships. And as with ships, if the water came above the line, you got wet.


More information on the Plimsoll Line and on Samuel Plimsoll himself on the Wikipedia-pages here and here.

The statue of Béla Bartók


In 1922, the Hungarian composer Béla Viktor János Bartók (1881-1945) came to London for the first time. He stayed at the home of Sir Duncan and Lady Wilson at 7 Sydney Place in South Kensington, as he was to do on all his later visits. The house now bears a blue plaque to commemorate Bartók’s visits (see here).


Folk music had always influenced Bartók’s music and he travelled extensively to study the music of other countries. In 1913, for instance, he went to North Africa to study Arabic folk music and in 1936, he went to Turkey, but his own backyard, so to speak, was not forgotten and he toured Hungary, Romania and Slovakia to collect folk songs. His collections are now kept at the Ethnographical Museum of Budapest and in the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.(1) But music was not his only interest. He collected shells, plants, insects and Hungarian furniture.(2)

Watercolour of Bartók by Ervin Voit c. 1900

Watercolour of Bartók by Ervin Voit c. 1900

Bartók was strongly opposed to the ideas of the Nazis and abhorred Hungary’s siding with Germany. From the early 1930s, he refused to perform in Germany and after the outbreak of World War II, his anti-fascist views caused him more and more problems. In October 1940, he and his wife decided to flee to America, first sending his manuscripts on and following later themselves. Bartók died in New York in September 1945 of leukemia at the age of 64. His body was interred in Ferncliff Cemetery, Hartsdale, New York, and it was only in the late 1980s that the political situation had changed enough for a request to transfer his body to Budapest for re-burial became possible. Hungary gave him a state funeral on July 7, 1988. He was then finally laid to rest alongside his wife Ditta who had died in 1982.


There were already statues for Bartók in Budapest, Brussels, and Paris before the one in London was unveiled on 2 October 2004 on a traffic island in South Kensington. It shows Bartók nattily dressed in coat and hat. The statue was designed by Imre Varga (1923-), one of Hungary’s most important living artists, who came to London to see the statue unveiled. The whole schedule for the festive day can be seen on the website of the Peter Warlock Society (see here). Peter Warlock had been instrumental in bringing Bartók to London in 1922 and his own music was greatly influenced by the way folk music was incorporated into Bartók’s. Unfortunately, the statue had to make way in April 2009 for road redevelopments and it was not until 24 September 2011 that it was repositioned and unveiled for a second time; quite close to where it was before. See for the old situation here (look for number 46) and for the second unveiling here. It is to be hoped that the statue does not have to be moved again and Bartók’s likeness in bronze with the little bird on the base of stainless steel leaves will remain where it is for anyone to see coming out of the Underground station.


(1) Man, January 1947, p. 14; Sylvia B. Parker, “Béla Bartók’s Arab Music Research and Composition” in Studia Musicologica, 49/3-4 (2008), pp. 407-458.
(2) Hugh D. Loxdale and Adalbert Balog, “Béla Bartók Musician, Musicologist, Composer … and Entomologist!” in Antenna, 33/4 (2009).

The Knight of the Cnihtengild


Take the east exit of Liverpool Street station, cross Bishopsgate Street, walk south along Bishopsgate Street for perhaps fifty yards, and turn left into Devonshire Row. This leads to Devonshire Square, also known as Cutlers Gardens, which is the private property of the Standard Life Insurance Company, but during the day, you may walk there and admire the enormous sculpture of a knight in shiny armour. He is a representation of one of the thirteen knights (the Cnihtengild) who were granted the land lying to the east of the line Aldgate – Bishopsgate in the 10th century by King Edgar. The land was also know as Portsoken, but it was to have various names in the following centuries. In 1108, the knights gave the land to the Austin friars of Holy Trinity Priory at Aldgate; the monks used part of the land as their convent garden, but in 1532, the land reverted to the Crown and was parcelled out to courtiers and merchants. By 1700, Cutlers Garden was covered in houses and workshops.(1)

Cnihtengild info

One of the houses built in the area on the east side of Bishopsgate Street was Fisher’s Folly. Jasper Fisher, a Clerk in Chancery, built the house in the late 16th century. Stow said that it had large pleasure gardens and a bowling alley at the back. Fisher had, however, rather overreached himself with his grand house and owed quite a few people money, hence Fisher’s Folly and that name stuck. Even after several other owners, the house was still referred to as Fisher’s Folly with mocking rhymes from the locals at Fisher’s expense.(2) The Dukes of Devonshire took over the house in the later 17th century and it became Devonshire House. The Ordnance Survey map below shows Devonshire Square, with Devonshire Street (now Row) leading to Bishopsgate Street; “Site of Fisher’s Folly” is written in faint lettering on the houses to the north of Devonshire Street.

Ordnance Survey map of the area 1893-95

Ordnance Survey map of the area 1893-95

In 1768, the East India Company built their first warehouse in the area south of New Street and they kept adding to their property, so that by the 1830s, they owned over 2,000 hectares and had replaced most of the houses on the site by warehouses. The warehouses can be seen on the Ordnance Survey map on the right-hand side. When the monopoly the East India Company had on the trade with China ended, the warehouses became surplus to requirements and the St. Katherine Docks Company bought them, later relinguishing them to the Port of London Authority who used them till 1976. The Standard Life Insurance Company bought the site in 1978 and rebuilt and redeveloped the area.

Devonshire square 1

The artist, Denys Mitchell (1939-2015), had previously made some railings for the Edinburgh office of the Standard Life Insurance Company and he was asked to do something with the space in Cutlers Gardens. The Cnihtengild knight in shiny armour is his interpretation of the site’s history. The knight is made entirely from beaten bronze and not from a mould as most other sculptures are. The horse’s caparison – blanket to you and me – is covered in stylized birds with a blue crystal in their tail. When I took the photographs, the horse was looking towards the central piazza, but apparently it stands on a turntable that revolves one degree per day, so the horse and knight turn full circle in a year. The New View journal interviewed Denys Mitchell and the Cnihtengild knight stands proudly on the magazine’s cover (Autumn 2003 issue).(3) The sculpture was unveiled on 21 November 1990.

Devonshire square 4

Photo used for the Cover of New View, vol. 29 (Source: New View website)

Photo used for the Cover of New View, vol. 29 (Source: New View website)

Website on Mitchell built and maintained by his family here.

(1) More on the area in P. Hunting, Cutlers Gardens (1984). Commissioned by the Standard Life Insurance Company.
(2) B. Maxwell, chapter X, “Nice Valour, or the Passionate Madman” in Studies in Beaumont Fletcher and Massinger (1966) and H.B. Wheatley, London Past and Present (2011), pp. 47-48 (online here).
(3) Grateful acknowledgements go to Tom Raines for helping me locate a copy of the New View issue and the Rudolf Steiner House Library for letting a friend of mine copy the relevant pages.

Green oasis 2 – St. Dunstan’s



When looking for a quiet spot to eat my lunch one Saturday morning in November, I decided on St. Dunstan’s in the East. The whole half hour I was there, I was the only soul wandering around. During the week, and especially during lunch hour, it is a different matter, but that day, St. Dunstan’s proved to be one of those unexpected islands in the middle of London where time seems to have stood still. Not true of course, busy Lower Thames Street is close by and hoards of tourists mill around the Tower just a few minutes away from this green oasis on St. Dunstan’s Hill.

The church was originally built in about 1100 with a new south aisle added in 1391. The church was severely damaged in the Great Fire of London, but rather than being rebuilt, as many of the City churches were, St. Dunstan’s was repaired. A steeple, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, was added thirty years later. In 1817 it was decided to rebuild the church from scratch as the weight of the roof had thrust the walls out and the building was becoming unstable. The new design, retaining Wren’s tower, was by William Tite and David Laing, the architect to the Board of Customs. The church was severely damaged in the Blitz with just the north and south walls remaining, but Wren’s tower and steeple miraculously survived. The church was not rebuilt, but left to stand as it was. The ruin is now a Grade I listed building.(1)

The City of London Corporation decided to turn the ruins of the church into a public garden. It opened in 1971 (you can see the year on the rainwater head) and we can now all enjoy its tranquil green space, but not all the planting is from the 70s. The fig tree against one of the walls (bottom picture) has its own plaque, describing it as the tree planted in 1937 to commemorate the coronation of George VI, so it must have survived the Blitz and everything else history and the elements decided to throw at it.

Rather than telling you lots more about the history of the building – and there is lots more – I leave you with some of my pictures. After all, this post is about a green space, not about the building.











Looking for a another green space to get away from the hustle and bustle of London? Have a look here.

Most of the information in this post was derived from the Wikipedia article on the church, see here. If you want to see more pictures, have a look at The Secret Garden Atlas here.

(1) English Heritage ID 199522 (see here).

The tomb of William Rawlins


In the churchyard of St. Botolph, Bishopsgate stands a rather grand funeral monument for Sir William Rawlins. On the various inscriptions we read that he died 26 March 1838 at the age of 83 (in fact, he was 84), that he had been a sheriff of London in 1801-02 and a great benefactor to the parish of St. Botolph’s. So who was this William Rawlins? He was born on 24 July 1753, the son of farmer Samuel and Ann Rawlins of Bridgecomb, Berkshire. In 1770, he was apprenticed to a London weaver, but turned over in 1773 to Samuel Swaine, an upholder(1) of 9 Broker’s Row(2) and in 1778 he received his freedom of the Upholders’ Company. Whether Rawlins worked for someone else in the first ten years after his apprenticeship or whether he had a place of his own is unclear, but in 1790, he certainly had his own business, “The Royal Bed and Star” at 12 Broker’s Row, a street full of furniture dealers.(3) The street was later renamed Blomfield Street (often referred to as Bloomfield Street) in honour of Charles James Blomfield, bishop of London (1828-1857) who had been rector of St. Botolph’s earlier in his career.(4)

Coat of Arms of the Worshipful Company of Upholders

Coat of Arms of the Worshipful Company of Upholders

Salt given to the Company of Upholders by Rawlins in 18

William III silver gilt salt given in 1832 by Rawlins to the Company of Upholders (Source: website Upholders; more information here)

The Land Tax records show Rawlins from 1791 onwards in Old Bethlem, just round the corner from Broker’s Row. Old Bethlem was to be widened in 1829 and henceforth called Liverpool Steet. Rawlins lived at number 13, but whether he also had a shop there, or whether he just lived there and still traded from Blomfield Street is unclear. We do not really know very much about his upholstery, but much more about his public life. As said above, he became sheriff of London in 1801-02, together with Robert Albion Cox, a goldsmith. Sheriffs were always chosen in pairs from the Liverymen of the City Companies (more here). After his term in office, a knighthood was conferred on Rawlins by the King, and he was hence properly referred to as Sir William Rawlins. A glorious career lay before him, one may surmise, but in 1805, both Cox and Rawlins were put in Newgate prison by order of the House of Commons for election fraud during their time of office as sheriffs. They were in prison for about two months and were then gravely spoken to by the Speaker of the House,

For the purpose of giving one of the candidates in the Middlesex election a colourable majority upon the poll, you wilfully, knowingly, and corruptly admitted the reception of fictitious votes, thereby encouraging persons to commit perjury; and that, in pursuance of the same intent, you refused to examine their competency by the books of the land tax. A higher offence than this could not be committed; and in so conducting yourselves, you betrayed the most important duties of your high office, for which you were committed to Newgate, the common receptable of malefactors, and over which you before presided over as the proper Magistrates, to your own indelible disgrace, and for the example of all others. In consequence, however, of your long imprisonment, and your expression of humble contrition, you are now discharged, on payment of your fees.(5)

Indelible disgrace or not, Rawlins’ further career does not seem to have been hampered by his stint in prison and he went on to hold important posts in the Company of Upholsters, the Bishopsgate Ward, and other civic bodies, although you never know to what other posts he may have been elected if he had not been charged with fraud.

Morning Chronicle, 5 November 1807

Morning Chronicle, 5 November 1807


On 23 October 1807, Rawlins arranged a meeting of a group of City merchants, bankers and traders in Cole´s Coffee House, Cornhill, to discuss the formation of an association “for fire and life assurance and for granting annuities”. The Eagle Insurance Company (later The Eagle Star) was formed of which Rawlins remained the chairman until his death in 1838.(6)

In his will he outlined how he wanted his burial to take place,

I desire that my body may be buried at the direction of my executors hereafter named after the following manner: that my body may be placed in a lead coffin and that it be interred in the vault belonging to me in Bishopsgate Churchyard and wherein is already deposited the remains of the late Mrs Mary Rawlins, widow of the late William Rawlins Esquire. That my funeral may be a walking procession and that it commence from my own house down Liverpool Street to the Catholic Chapel to turn on the lefthand up Bloomfield Street to the end of New Broad Street then through the Iron Gates up the said street to Bishopsgate Church Yard. I also desire that the entrance to my vault may be enclosed with good sound and solid brick work so as to prevent the further use thereof by any person whatever, and I also desire that a respectable mausoleum or tomb may be erected over the said vault of well manufactured polished Haytor Granite with designs of scientific excellence which may do honor to the artist whom my said executors hereafter named may think proper to employ. It is also my wish that a cast iron railing may be erected round my said tomb and to be at least five feet ten inches high and to be well painted four times in oil.(7)

Route of Rawlins' funeral cortege plotted on an 1893 Ordnance Survey map

Route of Rawlins’ funeral cortege plotted on the 1893 Ordnance Survey map

The will is dated 22 March 1837, but there is a second codicil of 2 January 1838 in which Rawlins writes that he has already agreed a design for his tomb and the adjoining railings with Samuel Grimsdell (a builder from Sun Street). The railings and the tomb are certainly replete with the “designs of scientific excellence” Rawlins had specified in his will and which he presumably agreed upon when discussing the design of the tomb with Grimsdell. The executors just needed to make sure the tomb was maintained properly, for which he left them – he thought – ample funds. And maintained it was; that is, up till now, as the fund is sadly depleted. All contributions gladly excepted, see here.

Portrait of William Rawlins in A.F. Shepherd, Links with the Past (1917)

Portrait of William Rawlins in A.F. Shepherd, Links with the Past (1917)

During his lifetime, Rawlins had always been generous to good causes, such as the Bishopsgate Ward School that received a thousand pound in 1837 to be invested and used “for the clothing and education” of the schoolchildren. Rawlins does not seem to have had any children of his own – did he ever marry? – as, after bequests to various charities, friends, nephews and great-nephews, the residue of the estate was to go to two of his nephews, Robert and George. The great-nephew mentioned is William Rawlins, son of nephew William Rawlins, deceased. Are we to assume that the Mary who was already in the vault was this William’s widow and hence the mother of great nephew William? Possibly, but there are so many William Rawlinses that I have not yet found out which one is meant here. Mary was certainly buried from 13 Liverpool Street and a possibility is that she came to live with Rawlins after the death of her husband. It is sometimes suggested that Mary was Sir William’s wife, but that supposition is untenable, as he clearly mentions her as the widow of someone else in his will and the inscription on the tomb would not give Rawlins as Esq. as he was already knighted by the time Mary was buried. I will add a postscript if I find out more about the relation between Sir William and Mary.






(1) An upholder is now more frequently called an upholsterer, or is – more generally – a dealer in furniture. See Karin M. Walton, “The Worshipful Company Of Upholders Of The City Of London” in Furniture History (1973) for the origins of the word upholder and the history of the Company of Upholders.
(2) J.F. Houston, Featherbedds and Flock Bedds (2006).
(3) Elizabeth A. Fleming, “Staples for Genteel Living: The Importation of London Household Furnishings into Charleston During the 1780s” in American Furniture (1997).
(4) C. Hibbert et al, The London Encylopaedia. See also Wikipedia which tell us that he was the grandfather of Sir Reginald Blomfield, the architect of 20 Buckingham Gate.
(5) The Lancaster Gazette and General Advertiser, 18 May 1805.
(6) A.F. Shepherd, Links with the Past: A Brief Chronicle of the Public Service of a Notable Institution, London, published by The Eagle and British Dominions Insurance Co., Ltd (1917).
(7) The National Archives; Kew, England; Prerogative Court of Canterbury and Related Probate Jurisdictions: Will Registers; Class: PROB 11; Piece: 1894.

Fire at Wick Road, Hackney


detail plaque

On 4 January 1900, an inquest was held into the death of George Stephen Funnell, a 33-year old police constable.(1) Funnell and some colleagues had rushed to the scene of a fire that had broken out on 22 December 1899 at the Elephant and Castle, situated at the corner of Wick Road and Victoria Park Road. Constable Baker testified that when they rushed to the scene of the fire, the barman, William Goodridge, opened the door, causing a draught that spread the fire in all directions. In the house were, besides the barman, the landlord´s wife Mrs. Fowler, and two barmaids, Alice Maryon and Minnie Lewis. P.C. Funnell went through the flames to rescue the women. Funnell was so overcome by the smoke and fire that he fell back into the parlour where he was rescued by his colleagues. Sergeant Danzey said that the other officers were so overcome that they had to go on the sick list and one of them nearly fell into the fire from exhaustion. Mrs Fowler was so badly burnt that she could not attend the inquest.

Danzey's medalFunnel died on 2 January in hospital. Dr. Hall of Hackney Infirmary said that Funnell “had been badly burned and that death was due to pneumonia following on partial suffocation and burning”. The verdict was “accidental death”. The policemen were commended for their efforts to save the lives of those within the pub. They were later to receive a bronze medal from the Royal Society for the Protection of Life from Fire. Just last year, Danzey’s medal turned up at auction (Dix Noonan Webb Ltd, 25 March 2013) as part of a lot of 3 medals. Also included in the lot was a photograph of the five policemen with their medal.

Part of lot 582, auction 25 March 2013 (Source:

Part of lot 582, auction 25 March 2013 (Source:

So, who was P.C. Funnell? The inquest already told us that he was 33 years old and that his first names were George Stephen. A letter sent to The Times later that month by Henry Seymour Trower of 9, Bryanston Square, tells us that Funnell had a 27-year old wife and two small boys. Trower is appalled at the small yearly pension (£15 and £2 10s for each child) awarded to the widow. Although he realises that it is “presumably as liberal as official considerations permit”, it would not do and he proposes to do something about “this pittance”, so “any subscriptions for the purpose sent to Mr. A.R. Cluer, Worship Street, Police Court, or to me, will be duly acknowledged”.(2) How much money was raised by Trower is not known, but it was a kind gesture.

I found a photograph of Funnell and some more information on a website dedicated to the Funnell family, although without exact references and the sources hidden behind a password, so I do not know how reliable the information is, but apparently George’s wife’s name was Jane Lillian and the children were called George Stephen (born 1897) and Lenard A. (born 1898). The England & Wales, FreeBMD Marriage Index gives a George Funnell marrying Jane Lilian Boulton at Gravesend in the latter quarter of 1895 and the England & Wales, FreeBMD Birth Index, gives a George Stephen as born in Hackney in the third quarter of 1896, and Leonard Albert in the early months of 1898, but I have not found the parish records online, so cannot positively state that these are our hero’s boys. If they are, they lived with their widowed mother at 35 Chelmer Road, Hackney at the time of the 1901 census. Ten years later, at the time of the 1911 census, Jane has remarried Henry Arthur Blann, an electric car driver, and the two Funnell boys are living with their three half-siblings at 47 Tankerton Terrace, Mitcham Road, West Croydon.

Source: www.

Photograph of G.S. Funnell (Source:


As is usually the case, newspaper reports varied the details of the events surrounding the fire a bit, see here for the News of the World version, but in essence, the stories were the same. George Stephen Funnell lost his life after rescuing three women from a fire. A Postman’s Park plaque well deserved.

Postman's Park

Postman’s Park

(1) The Times, 5 January 1900
(2) The Times, 29 January 1900

Honey Lane


Honey Lane detail

Walking along Cheapside and having to divert slightly because of building work going on, I noticed an interesting keystone above a little alleyway. As the builders’ hoarding was blocking the entrance, I could not go through to see what lay behind, but the name of the alley and the design of the stone said it all. This was Honey Lane, once leading to Honey Lane Market – or so I thought.

Honey Lane

Honey Lane 3

But when I did some research on the old market, I noticed that the Ordnance Survey map of 1893 had the alley further to the west. The blue arrow is roughly where I saw the alley, the red arrow is where the OS-map situates Honey Lane. Although there appears to be a walkway, possible covered, on the OS-map marked by the blue arrow, it would be unlikely that both lanes were called Honey Lane. More research was obviously necessary. Let’s first look at the old market. The OS-map mentions Honey Lane Market, but just as part of a street. If you compare it with Horwood’s 1799 map, you will see that the market used to cover a far larger area. What the OS-map calls Honey Lane Market is just the southern side of the market in Horwood’s map and the whole area between Russia Row and Honey Lane Market appears to have been built upon sometime in the century that lies between the two maps, obliterating the original market.

Ordnance Survey map 1893-1895

Ordnance Survey map 1893-1895

Horwood's 1799 map

Horwood’s 1799 map

And that is exactly what happened. Honey Lane Market had been established after the 1666 Fire on the site of some private houses and the churches of All Hallows Honey Lane and the adjoining St. Mary Magdalen Milk Street. Although the name suggests that the market was primarily for selling honey, much in demand as sugar was still an expensive commodity and also used in large quantities by the apothecaries, it had a far more varied range of produce on offer. There was a market house in the centre with warehouse space in the cellar and on the first floor, and there were over a hundred butchers’ stalls in the square, besides those for the sale of fruit, vegetables and herbs. The area would also accommodate sellers who brought their wares in baskets.(1)

In 1834, an Act of Parliament established the City of London School which set its sights on the Honey Lane Market area. The neo-Gothic building was designed by the City architect James Bunstone Bunning (1802-1863). The first stone for the school was laid on 21 October 1835 by Henry Lord Brougham and Vaux and it opened its doors in 1837. The grand doorway and porch were on the western side of the building in Milk Street.

Engraving by J. Woods of the City of London School. Original steel engraving drawn by Hablot Browne after a sketch by Robert Garland, published in The History of London Illustrated by Views in London and Westminster (1838) (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

Engraving by J. Woods of the City of London School. Original steel engraving drawn by Hablot Browne after a sketch by Robert Garland, published in The History of London Illustrated by Views in London and Westminster (1838) (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

According to the British Almanac for the Diffusion of Knowledge of 1836, the school was to be “divided into seven or eight classes, and there [would] be a spacious lecture room, twenty-seven feet high, capable of containing from 400 to 500 pupils”. There would also be “a large writing room, a library, &c.” Hmmm, wonder what the &c. was. Spacious as this may all sound, the number of students soon outgrew the space available and a further Act of Parliament in 1879 allowed the school to seek larger premises which they found on the Victoria Embankment. The school moved hence in 1883.(2).

The Honey Lane site was redeveloped after the Second World War and nothing now remains of the market or the school building. A birds-eye view of the area will show one large building reaching from Cheapside to Russia Row. According to Keene and Harding, Honey Lane was moved during the reconstruction and “now lies some 140 ft. (42.67 m.) to the E. of the original lane”.3 Alright, that explains the discrepancy between my observation and the Ordnance Survey map. Mystery solved. In the Google Earth View below, Honey Lane lies between the large building fronting Cheapside and the construction site (red arrow).

Google Earth

(1) Susan R. Henderson, The Public Markets of London before and after the Great Fire of 1666 (1977), p. 74-75.
(2) More on the history of the school can be found here.
(3) D.J. Keene and V. Harding, Historical Gazetteer of London before the Great Fire: Cheapside; parishes of All Hallows Honey Lane, St Martin Pomary, St Mary le Bow, St Mary Colechurch and St Pancras Soper Lane (1987), p. 3.