Globe by Richard Wentworth

Globe is an art installation by the sculptor Richard Wentworth on a wall in West Ferry Road in London’s Docklands. The work consists of 15 clocks showing the time in countries around the world. The work is symbolic to the business district as the tower of Canary Wharf can be seen behind the time clock for London

Richard Wentworth has played a leading role in New British Sculpture since the end of the 1970s. His work uses everyday and industrial objects in unusual ways and juxtapositions .He has altered the traditional definition of sculpture as well as photography. By transforming and manipulating industrial and/or found objects into works of art, Wentworth makes us examine common objects in a different way. The sculptural arrangements play with the notion of ready-made and the juxtaposition of objects that bear no relation to each other. Whereas in his photography, as in the ongoing series Making Do and Getting By, Wentworth documents the everyday, paying attention to objects in odd situations that often go unnoticed.

Wentworth was born in Samoa, then a province of New Zealand, in 1947. The son of an executive at English Electric, he grew up in Hampstead and the Hertfordshire stockbroker belt, until the age of 13 when he was sent to Eton, where Conservative MPs Nicholas Soames and Jonathan Aitken and choreographer Richard Alston were among his contemporaries.  And While Wentworth felt “incredibly uncomfortable” there, Eton gave him a feel for social structures, webs and connections and “an interest in how things fit”

The school art room was a place where you could “act and talk differently”, and on the advice of his teachers, but against the wishes of his “Edwardian” parents, Wentworth went to art school, first Hornsey and then the Royal College of Art. While he thrived socially, meeting “all sorts of interesting grown-ups”, he felt out of place in the Royal College sculpture department, which revolved around the bronze foundry in an essentially 19th-century fashion. He eventually found common ground with a group of other young sculptors, including Tony Cragg, Richard Deacon and Bill Woodrow, whose irreverent taste for uncomfortable surfaces and trashy materials was seen as a reaction against the austere, “po-faced” minimalism that dominated Seventies art. They were branded the New British Sculpture, and attracted slightly younger talents such as Anthony Gormley and Anish Kapoor.

He served as a teenage assistant to Henry Moore in the Sixties and built sets for Roxy Music in the Seventies.

Between 1971 and 1987, Wentworth taught at Goldsmith’s College and his influence has been claimed in the work of the Young British Artists. Wentworth nurtured such talents as Damien Hirst, Sarah Lucas and Sam Taylor-Wood. From 2002 to 2010, Wentworth was ‘Master of Drawing’ at the Ruskin school of Drawing and Fine Art at Oxford University and was the head of the Sculpture department at The Royal College of Art, London from 2009 – 2011.

Richard Wentworth has lived in the Kings Cross area since the 1970s.In 2002 in conjunction with the group Artangel, he occupied a plumber’s shop at 66 York Way to stage ‘An Area of Outstanding Unnatural Beauty’ Wentworth offered tentative ways of exploring the place. There were ping-pong tables printed with fragments of the A-Z street map, video monitors showing The Ladykillers, and maps from different eras recognisable yet alien configurations of the city as well as periscopes to look at the view from the roof.

More recently his sculpture ‘False Ceiling’ a work with books suspended on rods from the roof was installed in Leadenhall Market as part of the City of London Sculpture trail in 2017.

Principal Sources Wentworth

Guardian 19/09/2002 review by Jonathan Jones



Stepney Coat of Arms

The Metropolitan Borough of Stepney – was a Metropolitan borough in the County of London created in 1900.

The borough was formed from thirteen civil parishes and extra-parochial places





            Christchurch Spitalfields           Liberty of Norton Folgate (part), 

            Mile End New Town,                   Mile End Old Town,

            Old Artillery Ground,                  Ratcliffe

            St Anne Limehouse                      St Botolph without Aldgate, 

            St George in the East,                  St John of Wapping, 

            St Mary Whitechapel,                  St Paul Shadwell and 

            Tower of London.

In 1901 Tower of London was merged with St Botolph without Aldgate.

 In 1921 Ratcliff, St John of Wapping and St Paul Shadwell were merged with St Anne Limehouse; and Christchurch Spitalfields,

Liberty of Norton Folgate, Mile End New Town, Old Artillery Ground and St Botolph without Aldgate were merged with St Mary Whitechapel.

In 1927 the remaining four civil parishes were combined into a single civil parish called Stepney, which was conterminous with the metropolitan borough.

Previous to the borough’s formation it had been administered by four separate local bodies: 

The area maps roughly to the London postcode E1.

The road sign in front of Mile End tube station and a street sign on Leman Street in Aldgate still have the wording “Borough of Stepney” just visible on them.

Borough seal and coat of arms

On the formation of the metropolitan borough the corporation adopted a seal depicting the patron saints of the parishes that made up the borough. These were 

At the top of the seal was a sailing ship, recalling the legend that all persons born on the high seas, could claim Stepney as their birthplace.

The more modern ship and quayside at the bottom of the seal was for the borough’s docks. On the left of the seal was a picture of a steam locomotive, for the London and Blackwall Railway, and on the right a loom for the historic weaving industry.

In 1931 the seal was replaced by an official coat of arms, granted by the College of Arms on August 8th. That is what we looked at.

The main item on the shield is a ship on the waves of the sea, for the various maritime interests of Stepney.

At the top of the shield are shown a version of the arms of the City of London, but with an anchor replacing the sword in the city’s arms.

On either side of this were placed smith’s tongs, symbol of St Dunstan, patron saint of Stepney.

The crest on the top of the helm featured a mural crown, representing the battlements of the Tower of London.

Atop the crown were two crossed gold anchors.

The Latin motto: A magnis ad maiora, can be translated as from great things to greater.

In 1965 Bethnal Green, Poplar, Stepney merged into TOWER HAMLETS

The arms were officially granted on September 1, 1965, are based on those of Stepney, the only one of the three merging Boroughs to have official arms.

The ship symbolises the Borough’s seafaring traditions.

The chief is charged with a pair of tongs, emblem of St. Dunstan. He is the patron saint of Stepney. This ancient parish contained most of the modern borough. Next to the tongs is a sprig of mulberry. This represents the silk industry, mulberry trees being grown as food for the silk worms.

The final charge on the chief is a shuttle, for the weaving that once took place in the area.

The crossed golden anchors stand for the Port of London, and they stand in front of a representation of the White Tower of the Tower of London, which gives its name to the Borough.

The dexter supporter is a seahorse, appropriate for a maritime district.

The sinister supporter is a talbot dog, for the Isle of Dogs, which makes up much of the Borough.

The motto is an English translation of that formerly used by Stepney

Official blazon

Arms : Argent on Water in base proper a Lymphad sail furled Sable on a Chief Azure between two Fire-Tongs erect a Pale of the field charged with a Cross Gules and in the first quarter with an Anchor of the second.

Crest : On a Wreath Argent and Azure upon the Battlements of a Tower proper two Anchors in saltire Or.

Motto : ‘A MAGNIS AD MAIORA’ – From great things to greater.


The arms were granted on August 8, 1931.

The arms express the history of Stepney. Shipping has been the major industry, thus the ship. The fire-tongs are the symbol of St. Dunstan, the patron saint of the town, who used fire-tongs to pinch the Devil’s nose. The St. Georges cross is derived from the arms of the Greater London Council and the arms of London. The anchors again symbolise the port.

Official blazon

Arms : Argent out of a Base wavy Azure thereon two Bars wavy Argent a Lymphad sail furled Sable pennon and flags flying Gules on a Chief Azure between a pair of Fire Tongs and a Weaver’s Shuttle a Pale Argent charged with a sprig of Mulberry fructed proper.

Crest : On a Wreath of the Colours in front of a representation of the White Tower of the Tower of London proper two Anchors in saltire Or.

Supporters : On the dexter side a Seahorse (Hippocampus) and on the sinister side a Talbot proper

Motto : From great things to greater.


image from ebay




John Cabot

During Tudor times Italian explorer John Cabot (Giovanni Caboto to give him his Italian name) led English ships on voyages of discovery and is credited with prompting transatlantic trade between England and the Americas. In an attempt to find a direct route to the markets of the orient, the Italian seafarer became the first early modern European to discover North America when he claimed Newfoundland for England, mistaking it for Asia.

The son of a spice merchant, Giovanni Caboto (meaning either coastal seaman or ‘big head’, depending on who you ask) was probably born in Genoa about 1450/1, although he may have been from a Venetian family. At the age of 11, his family moved to Venice where Cabot became a respected member of the community and started learning sailing and navigation from the Italian seamen and merchants. The family passed business and property dealings to him early. He later married a girl named Mattea (the female version of Matthew) and eventually became the father of three sons: Ludovico, Sancto and Sebastiano. (Following in his father’s footsteps Sebastiano later became an explorer in his own right and went on to the Governor of The Muscovy Company).

In 1476 Cabot officially became a Venetian citizen and, now eligible to engage in maritime trade, began trading in the eastern Mediterranean. It is whilst working as merchant trader that Cabot may have developed the idea of sailing westward to reach the rich markets of Asia. Venetian sources also contain references to Cabot being involved in house building in the city around this time.

By the late 1480s, however, Cabot appears to have gotten into financial trouble and he left Venice as an insolvent debtor. Although little is known about Cabot’s exact activities over the next few years it is believed he travelled to Valencia, where he proposed plans for improvements to the harbour; commissioned by King Ferdinand;  and Seville, where he was contracted to build a stone bridge but both projects was later abandoned.

Having continued his studies in map-making and navigation and, inspired by the discoveries of Bartolomeu Dias and Christopher Columbus, Cabot attempted and failed to persuade the royal courts of Europe to pay for a planned voyage west across the Atlantic. Did he meet Columbus while he travelled through Barcelona?  Still expecting to reach China, his idea was to depart to the west from a northerly latitude where the longitudes are much closer together on a shorter, alternative route.

After hearing of opportunities in England, Cabot and his family arrived there around 1495 to seek funding and political support for his planned voyage. Cabot immediately set about trying to persuade merchants in the major maritime centres of London and Bristol (the second-largest seaport in England and the only to have served as a point for previous English Atlantic expeditions) to help. Bristol merchants were concerned to find fishing grounds to compensate for their exclusion from the Iceland Cod Fishery by the Hanseatic League.

In Tudor times Cathay and Cipangu (China and Japan) were believed to be rich in silks, spices, gold and gems. If Cabot’s predictions about a new route were right and Asia was where Cabot thought it was, then the whole country stood to profit as it would have made England the greatest trading centre in the world for goods from the east. On 5 March 1496 Tudor King Henry VII issued letters patent to John Cabot and his sons, authorising them to explore unknown lands, with the charge to find lands east, west and north. This excluded Spanish colonies to the south

After a first, aborted, attempt, Cabot sailed out of Bristol on a small 70-foot long ship named Matthew on 20th May1497 with a crew of 18 men, sailing past Ireland and across the Atlantic. On 24 June  Cabot sighted land and called it ‘New-found-land’, believing it to be Asia and claiming it in the name of King Henry VII, (about 1,800 miles).Although the logs for Matthew are incomplete, it is believed that John Cabot went ashore with a small party. The exact location of the landfall has long been disputed, but most believe it to be one of the northern capes of modern-day Newfoundland off the coast of Canada; Cape Decaat or Cape Bauld in the straight of Belle Isle. Only remaining on land long enough to claim the land and fetch some fresh water, the crew did not meet any natives during their brief visit but apparently they came across some tools, nets and the remnants of a fire and were able to catch huge numbers of cod just by lowering baskets into the seawater.

In the following weeks Cabot and his crew continued to explore and chart the Canadian coastline, before turning back and sailing for England in July.

Matthew and its crew arrived back in Bristol on 6 August 1497 to the welcome of church bells ringing out across the harbour. Cabot then rode to London to report to the King, where he was initially rewarded with the sum of £10 (equivalent to around two years’ pay for an ordinary labourer or craftsman) for discovering a new island off the coast of China. Cabot had laid the way for Bristol Fishing who brought home large catches in 1502 and 1504

At that point the king’s attention was increasingly being occupied by the Cornish Uprising led by Perkin Warbeck. Once his throne was secure, the king gave more thought to Cabot, who was already planning his next expedition. In September the King made an award of £2 to Cabot, followed by a pension of £20 a year in the December. The following February Cabot was given new letters patent for the voyage and to help him prepare for a second expedition. Although promises were made the King only gave him 1 ship so he was reliant on Bristol merchants.

In May 1498 Cabot set out with a fleet of four or five ships and 300 men aiming to discover Japan. Carrying ample provisions for a year’s worth of sailing, the fate of the expedition is uncertain as there is no further record of Cabot and his crews, except for one storm-damaged ship which is believed to have sought anchorage in Ireland. It is most widely thought that either the expedition perished at sea or that Cabot eventually reached North America but was unable to make the return voyage across the Atlantic. However his pension was paid for two years and some say he made it back or at least one of the ship`s did. Current research is ongoing about this.

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John Henry Newman

Was born near here on 21st February 1801, the eldest of a family of three sons and three daughters. His father, John Newman, was a banker with Ramsbottom, Newman and Company in Lombard Street. His mother, Jemima (née Fourdrinier), was descended from a notable family of Huguenot refugees in England, founded by the engraver, printer and stationer Paul Fourdrinier.

He grew up as a member of the Church of England. As a teenager he experienced a deep religious conversion and resolved to spend the rest of his life in the pursuit of holiness.

In 1822 he was elected a fellow of Oriel College, Oxford, was ordained as an Anglican priest in 1825, and in 1828 became the Vicar of the University church of St Mary’s. He became a leading light in the Oxford Movement, seeking to recover elements of catholicity within Anglicanism.

In 1843 he resigned his living at St Mary’s and retired to a converted stable block at Littlemore just outside Oxford, to think and pray. He was joined there by a number of his young followers and together they lived an austere semi-monastic life. Late in the evening on 8th October 1845, an Italian priest, Father Dominic Barberi (now Blessed), came to Littlemore. For several hours he heard Newman’s first confession, and the next day he was received into the Catholic Church.

In 1846 Newman went to Rome to study for the priesthood and was ordained priest there on Trinity Sunday 1847, at the age of forty-six. He then returned to England and the English Oratory was founded in February 1848 in Birmingham. Meanwhile Father Wilfrid Faber had also converted from Anglicanism and he and several other converts joined Newman’s new Oratory. Faber was then sent to establish the Oratory in London in May 1849.

Newman was a prolific writer of letters, sermons and articles, and this continued throughout his life. His work was sometimes misunderstood, and a number of projects that he was asked to lead or support seemed to come to nothing. At one stage he was even wrongly suspected of doctrinal unorthodoxy. At times he must have felt that he was living under a cloud of disapproval.

In 1879 the cloud was lifted. At the age of seventy-eight Pope Leo XIII made him a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church. Newman chose as his cardinalatial motto the words “Cor ad cor loquitur” (heart speaks to heart). He lived out the rest of his days, quietly and prayerfully, and still writing, at the Birmingham Oratory. He was taken to his eternal reward on 11th August 1890. His funeral procession from the Birmingham Oratory to Rednal attracted crowds of 15-20,000 onlookers, and he was lauded in the national press both in England and abroad.

In 1958 the cause for his canonisation was opened. In 1991 the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints declared that John Henry Newman had practised the virtues to an heroic degree and he was proclaimed ‘Venerable’. In October 2005 the postulator of the cause announced a potential miracle; Jack Sullivan, a Catholic deacon in Massachusetts, USA, attributed his recovery from a crippling spinal cord disorder to Newman’s intercession in heaven.

On 3rd July 2009 His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI approved the authenticity of the miracle, thus opening the way for Newman’s beatification. Beatification is the solemn affirmation by the Church that the servant of God may rightly be counted as being among the ranks of the Blessed, and that his prayers in heaven may laudably be sought by the faithful on earth.

The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, beatified Cardinal Newman on September 19th, 2010 in Birmingham, during His State Visit to Great Britain.

His canonisation was officially approved by Pope Francis on February 12, 2019, and is expected to take place later this year. 

Newman was a literary figure of note: his major writings including

He wrote the popular hymns “Lead, Kindly Light” and “Praise to the Holiest in the Height” (taken from Gerontius).

wiki  / Judy

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John Lambe

John Lambe (or Lamb) (c. 1545 – 13 June 1628) was an English astrologer and quack physician who, by around 1625, served George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham as his personal advisor. Accused of black magic and rape, he was stoned to death by an unruly mob.

Little is known about Lambe’s early life, aside from the fact he was a writing tutor for children in Worcestershire Sometime after around 1600 Lambe established a reputation as a “cunning man” – that is, someone well-versed in astrology and magic. Calling himself “Doctor Lambe” (though he was not a licensed physician), he claimed that he could read fortunes, identify diseases, repel witchcraft, and locate missing or stolen items with his crystal ball. Rumors also emerged that he was skilled in the dark art of conjuration, (summoning spirits and super natural agents). Records indicate that he charged approximately 40 to 50 pounds for his services, and he was active in the London-area from approximately 1608 until his death.

Sometime before 1625, Lambe attracted the attention of George Villiers, a favourite of King Charles 1, and he eventually became the Duke’s personal adviser. Public opinion of Lambe was roughly split into two camps: those who thought the “doctor” was a nothing more than a quack, and those who believed he actually had magical abilities. The latter referred to Lambe as “the Duke’s Devil,” and they suspected he was exerting a supernatural influence over Villiers, who in turn influenced King Charles. At the time, Charles was particularly unpopular for his questionable military campaigns and absolutist policies.

Over time, many Londoners came forward with their own unusual anecdotes attesting to Lambe’s “demonic” or “devilish” nature. Some claimed that he had struck political foes with impotence, and others blamed him for a 1626 whirlwind along the Thames which allegedly unearthed corpses in a churchyard. One of the strangest accounts is recorded in Richard Baxter’s 1691 Certainty of the World of Spirits. According to this story, Lambe once invited an audience into an inner room of his house, where he demonstrated his powers by conjuring a miniature tree and three miniature woodsmen, who chopped it down. One man allegedly gathered wood chips from the tree as evidence, but the pieces attracted violent storms to his house, and he soon disposed of them. Skeptics continued to scoff at such accounts, dismissing Lambe as “a notable mountebank and impostor”, but many others were firmly convinced that Lambe was a dangerous magician.

Frightened Londoners made several attempts to punish Lambe for black magic, but due to the influence of the King and Villiers, their campaigns were mostly ineffective.

In 1622 he had been arrested on the historic charge of attempting  to “disable, make infirm and consume the body and strength of a young pupil”. Remanded in Worcester Castle awaiting trial 40 fellow inmates subsequently died under mysterious circumstances! Transferred back to London he was in the Kings Bench where a relaxed regime allowed him to set up in practise as a medic and fortune teller, attracting a string of visitors, some of the them being high ranking women. This financed a lavish lifestyle but he was then indicted for the rape of an eleven-year-old girl named Joan Seager, who had been sent to the prison with a basket of herbs. Tried he received the death penalty but the Lord Chief Justice intervened, apparently on behalf of the King. The evidence was reviewed and on the basis of perceived weaknesses in the case he received a royal pardon. He set up home in a house next to Parliament and was closely linked with Buckingham more than ever. Eventually, though, angry and fearful Londoners became tired of Lambe’s special treatment, and on 13 June 1628, an unruly mob stoned him to death as he exited a theatre.

In 1653, four years after Charles I died, Lambe’s ex-servant Anne Bodenham was also hanged for witchcraft. According to rumours at the time, she could summon demons and transform herself into a dog, lion, bear, wolf, or monkey.

Lambe’s life and death inspired a fair amount of literary output. Also accounts of Lambe’s life would also appear in later writings, by Isaac D’israeli’ and Sir Walter Scott.

The murder itself was gruesome. Lambe, now in his 80’s, attended a play at The Fortune Theatre. Recognised he was, after the play, followed by a small group along Chiswell Street towards Moorfields. Concerned for his safety Lambe took refuge in a tavern near the City walls, hoping to stay low till the crowd dispersed. Coming out about 9pm he found the crowd were still there so he hired a group of sailors for protection. He went through Moorgate and down Coleman Street reaching Lothbury. The crowd had grown so he took refuge in the Windmill tavern, an old converted synagogue on the corner of Old Jewry. The building came under attack so the landlord forced him back out onto the street where he found his escort of sailors had gone. Now terrified for his life, he set off down Old Jewry and briefly managed to take refuge in the house of a lawyer.The, by now mob, threatened to tear down the building unless he was ejected so he found himself again on the street. There the crowd set upon him “with stones, cudgels and other weapons”. Constables had by then been alerted, but either chose not to intervene or arrived too late. He was found lying unconscious on the cobbles, his skull broken; one of his eyes hanging out of his head and “all parties of his body bruised and wounded so much, that no part was left to receive a wound. He was carried to the Poultry Compter, the sheriffs prison, where he died next morning. The official response was outrage. Charles 1 summoned the Lord Mayor to Whitehall and demanded those responsible be punished. When the authorities failed to produce the culprits, several constables were arrested and gaoled for neglect of duty, but quickly bailed so they could take part in the hunt for the ringleaders. Nobody was apprehended!

Within months Buckingham was assassinated. Charles found new feelings for his Queen Henrietta Marie and the country lurched toward the Civil War.


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The Black Friar Public House

The narrow wedge-shaped pub is jammed against the railway line at Blackfriars. It was built in 1875 near the site of a thirteenth century Dominican Priory, which gives the area its name and was the inspiration for the pubs design.

It is now an historic Art Nouveau Grade II masterpiece of a pub remodelled in the Arts and Crafts style in1905.

The building was designed by architect H. Fuller-Clark and artist Henry Poole, both committed to the freethinking of the Arts and Crafts Movement.

Jolly friars appear everywhere in the pub in sculptures, mosaics and reliefs.

In the 60’s the pub was saved from demolition by a campaign led by Sir John Betjeman. Former Poet Laureate who was also instrumental in saving the Duke of Cornwall Hotel in Plymouth.

Now a Nicholson’s Pub, its bright panes, intricate friezes and carved slogans (‘Industry is Ale’, ‘Haste is Slow’) still make a work of art out of the main saloon, adjoined by a prosaic one linked by a marble-topped bar.


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Henry Fitz Ailwin

The role of the Mayor of the City of London is an ancient one. The first mayor, chosen in 1189 from amongst a small group of leading citizens, was Henry FitzAilwin who remained in office until his death in 1212. For over twenty years he presided over the city, apparently unchallenged in his role, through turbulent times of near-civil war and riots. He must have been a remarkable man, acceptable to both Prince (later King) John and King Richard (‘the Lionheart’) as well as the leading citizens of London, with strong diplomatic skills and a firm grip on power. The exact circumstances of FitzAilwin’s appointment are a mystery but it is probably unlikely he was elected and simply emerged as the best-suited of a small group of men. The post may well have initially been an informal one, with some documents in the early 1190s failing to give his title.

Fitz-Ailwin came to power at a time of unrest between Richard 1 and the City. Richard demanded increased taxes and took out several loans from London’s merchants to pay for his foreign wars. In return for this finance, the aldermen and merchants of London were granted a degree of autonomy which resulted in the creation of the post of Mayor. Previously, the City had been governed by a porrtreeve, who was an officer of the crown. The City was granted more powers to self-rule in a charter issued by Richard’s successor John, Willaim de Hardel, the Mayor in 1215, was the only commoner to witness the Magna Carta.

London was much afflicted by fire in the eleventh and twelfth century. According to City tradition, in 1189 Fitz-Ailwin introduced regulations that provided for settling boundary disputes between neighbours and for encouraging the use of stone in building.

Fitz-Ailwin was succeeded as Mayor by Roger Fitzalan. Fitz-Ailwin married, in 1164, a woman believed to have been named Margaret. He had at least four sons –

Despite his place in London’s history much about FitzAilwin is unknown or uncertain. He was born into a well-to-do London family. His name is English, not Norman, and tells us that he is the son of Ailwin (derived from the Saxon ‘Aethelwine’). It was in Ailwin’s house that the husting court was held in the early 12th century. An alderman by 1168, FitzAilwin would certainly have been a man of some wealth and of high regard. As further evidence we know that three years before his appointment he, together with the Bishop of London, was one of those entrusted with handling the funds to pay King Richard’s ransom after the King was taken captive near Vienna while returning from a crusade.

FitzAilwin is known to have had large business premises at Candlewick (Cannon) Street close to the London Stone (and he is sometimes referred to as Henry FitzAilwin de Londonestone). He also had a quay at London Bridge and properties in the eastern part of the city. Although not certain, it is most probable that his main trade was in the production of cloth. He and his brother Alan inherited Watton manor in Hertfordshire but he also held land in Surrey, at Edmonton in Middlesex and on the Thames in Kent. His London home was adjacent to St.Swithin’s church, of which he was a patron. He was married to Margaret, with four sons, of whom Peter FitzHenry (who predeceased his father) was a benefactor of Bermondsey Priory. Peter’s wife Isabel, daughter of Bartholomew de Chennay was buried there.

The best-known regulation introduced during the time of FitzAilwin’s mayoralty is the Assize of Buildings. It followed a major fire in 1212 that caused a number of deaths, as well as serious and widespread damage in Southwark and across London Bridge. The by-law stipulated the materials of which any new buildings should be constructed in order to minimise the future danger.

As was expected of a wealthy citizen of his time FitzAilwin was a benefactor of several religious institutions, including Holy Trinity, Aldgate, St.Bartholomew’s hospital, and Westminster Abbey. He contributed to the foundation of St.Mary Spital and founded the chapel at Watton. When FitzAilwin died in September 1212 he was buried at the entrance to the chapter house of Holy Trinity.

FitzAilwin was closely associated with Roger FitzAlan who may have been related or a business associate. There are well over one hundred existing documents that bear the signature of FitzAilwin as mayor and around seventy of those also include FitzAlan’s signature. After FitzAilwin’s death FitzAlan succeeded him as mayor and may have been his chosen successor. No mayor since FitzAilwin has held the post of Mayor of the City of London for life, or for so long.

His statue is on Holborn Viaduct


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Derby Lodge

Derby Lodge (originally Derby Buildings) is a grade 2 listed block amongst a small development of six similar blocks between Britannia St and Wicklow St. They were built in 1865 by The Improved Industrial Dwellings Company to house artisans and are an interesting response to the challenge of housing the urban poor in a rapidly expanding industrial city. A number of similar developments were carried out in London at this time and they are probably one of the earliest large scale attempts at providing ‘Social Housing’. These were, in fact, built by private companies but their investors came to be known as ‘Five Percent Philanthropists’. The reason for this was that the companies usually paid a 5% dividend to investors and reinvested any excess profits into the company; there were also some companies who only paid a 4% dividend.

The industrial revolution was a period of enormous social upheaval as England changed from a predominantly rural society to an urban one. The population of London doubled in the 19th century with people coming in from the countryside to find work as well as a substantial number of people coming from Ireland. Cheap private housing was quickly built. The houses had no foundations or amenities and were often built around a small court. The court would contain a standpipe and a privy. The privy was often no more than a seat over a cesspit. The landlord was responsible for having the cesspit emptied but as this cost £1 a time this obligation was often neglected. Despite the lack of amenity and the privations these homes were seen as superior to cellar dwellings, lodging houses or the workhouse which was the alternative for  many poor people.

Victorians were concerned about slum clearance and many notorious slums were destroyed. Unfortunately this often made the problems worse in the remaining areas of affordable housing. Poor quality houses were let out room by room to poor families causing appalling overcrowding. The coming of the railways had made it possible for middle class families and the wealthier artisans to move to the new suburbs but poor workers had to live within walking distance of their employment.

The Improved Industrial Dwelling Company Limited was founded by Sir Sydney Waterlow (1822 -1906) who’s family were the owners of the printing firm, Waterlow & Sons. Sir Sydney was a noted businessman, politician and philanthropist. He was a member of parliament for a number of different constituencies as well as being Lord Mayor of London at one time. He proclaimed of his Improved Industrial Dwelling Company that:-
We build for the future and look forward to the time when no family need be compelled to live in a single room. It is impossible that either sanitary or moral conditions can ever be satisfied under such a system. No proper feeling of decency or self-respect can be cultivated in families living in a single room”.
The Industrial Dwelling Company, in common with most of the other philanthropic companies, built small two and three room apartments with good standards of day lighting, running water and sanitary accommodation. It is worth noting that, in common with many Victorian philanthropists, Sir Sydney seemed to be as much concerned with the moral welfare of his tenants as he was with their physical welfare. His dwellings were for respectable workers who would pay their rents and obey the numerous and prohibitive conditions in tenancy agreements.  No taking in of laundry, lodgers, no drunken behaviour at any time for example.

Sir Sydney took a fairly pragmatic approach to the designing and building of his dwellings and borrowed to a certain extent from the designs of the Peabody Trust which was a much larger provider of social housing. Sir Sydney worked with a builder called Matthew Allen on a number of his developments and did not use the services of an architect. The buildings at Derby Lodge were simple in their design and construction. In their appearance they are fairly typical of the Victorian Period with brick and render facades and symmetrical elevations, the only slightly unusual feature being the use of large, outward opening timber casement windows rather than the more traditional Victorian sliding sash windows.
Derby Lodge has stood the test of time fairly well and still fulfils its original promise of providing good quality low cost homes. The flats have obviously been modernised to meet current standards including the provision of modern kitchens and bathrooms and central heating.


Mary Queen of Scots


is perhaps the best known figure in Scotland’s history. Her life provided tragedy and romance, more dramatic than any legend.

Here at 143-4 Fleet Street is the only statue of her in the City. The building was put up in 1905 and the architect was R. M.Roe. The Queen’s` statue was a romantic idea commissioned by Sir John Tollemache Sinclair, Liberal MP for Caithness from 1869 to 1885.He was born in Edinburgh in 1825 and was a Page of Honour to Queen Adelaide. He served as a lieutenant in the Scots Fusilier Guards and was Vice-Lieutenant for Caithness. Sinclair was the earliest born person to to have made a gramophone disc recording. He made titles for Columbia, Gramophone and Typewriter Ltd. and Odeon, all in 1906.

What about Mary herself? We tend to side with her or Elizabeth. We all know the basic facts but let us put a bit of flesh on her life. She was born in 1542 a week before her father, King James V of Scotland, died. Her mother was the French Mary of Guise and she was the only legitimate child of James to survive him. She was the great-niece of Henry V111 as her paternal grandmother, Margaret Tudor, was Henry VIII’s elder sister. Henry on the death of Mary’s father took the opportunity of a Scottish regency to propose marriage between Mary and his own son and heir, Edward, hoping for a union of Scotland and England. On 1 July 1543, when Mary was six months old, the Treaty of Greenwich was signed, which promised that, at the age of ten, Mary would marry Edward and move to England, where Henry could oversee her upbringing. However a pro-Catholic pro-French agenda arose and The Treaty of Greenwich was rejected by the Scottish Parliament.

Mary was sent to France, aged 5, to be the bride of the Dauphin, the young French prince, in order to secure a Catholic alliance against England. In 1561, after the Dauphin, still in his teens, died, Mary returned to Scotland, a young and beautiful widow and not yet 20. As a devout Catholic, she was regarded with suspicion by many of her subjects, as well as by the Elizabeth. Scotland was torn between Catholic and Protestant factions, and Mary’s illegitimate half-brother, the Earl of Moray, was a leader of the Protestants. The Protestant reformer John Knox preached against Mary, condemning her for hearing Mass, dancing, and dressing too elaborately.

A Protestant husband for Mary seemed the best chance for stability. Mary fell passionately in love with Henry, Lord Darnley especially after nursing him through a bout of measles which could well have been syphilis. Darnley was the eldest son of Matthew Stewart, Earl of Lennox and Lady Margaret Douglas. Via his mother he was a great-grandson of the English King Henry VII; he and Mary, Queen of Scotsshared Margaret Tudor as a grandmother. This placed him close to the succession to the Crown of England after Queen Elizabeth, though not quite as close as Mary, Queen of Scots. The subsequent marriage was not a success. Darnley was a weak man, spoilt, headstrong and ambitious. He soon became a drunkard as Mary ruled entirely alone and gave him no real authority in the country. Darnley demanded the Crown Matrimonial, which would have made him a co-sovereign of Scotland with the right to keep the Scottish throne for himself if he outlived his wife. Mary refused.  

Darnley became jealous of Mary’s secretary and favourite, David Riccio. He, together with others, murdered Riccio in front of Mary in Holyrood House. The secretary was pulled away from Mary’s skirts and stabbed over 50 times. She was six months pregnant at the time and this child became her son, the future King James VI of Scotland and I of England. He was baptised in the Catholic faith which caused alarm amongst the Protestants.

Lord Darnley, Mary’s husband, later died in mysterious circumstances in Edinburgh, when the house he was lodging in was blown up one night in February 1567. His body was found in the garden of the house after the explosion, but he had been strangled! Was Mary complicit in this death? Mary had now become attracted to James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, and rumours abounded at Court that she was pregnant by him. Bothwell had taken the Queen to his castle and raped her. Bothwell was accused of Darnley’s murder but was found not guilty. Shortly after he was acquitted, Mary and Bothwell were married. The Lords of Congregation did not approve of Mary’s liaison with Bothwell and she was imprisoned in Leven Castle where she gave birth to still-born twins.

Bothwell meanwhile had bid Mary goodbye and fled to Dunbar. She never saw him again. He died in Denmark,chained to a pillar for ten years. He died insane and surrounded by his own filth.

In May 1568 Mary escaped from Leven Castle. She gathered together a small army but was defeated at Langside by the Protestant faction. Mary then fled to England apparently expecting Elizabeth to help her regain her throne but shebecame a political pawn and was imprisoned for 19 years in various castles in England.  Mary was placed in the custody of the Earl of Shrewsbury and his formidable wife Bess of Hardwick. Elizabeth considered Mary’s designs on the English throne to be a serious threat and so confined her to Shrewsbury’s properties, including Tutbury, Sheffield Castle, Wingfield Manor and Chatsworth House all located in the interior of England halfway between Scotland and London and distant from the sea. Mary was permitted her own domestic staff, which never numbered fewer than sixteen She was occasionally allowed outside under strict supervision and[spent seven summers at the spa town of Buxton, and spent much of her time doing embroidery. Her health declined, perhaps through porphyria or lack of exercise, and by the 1580s she had severe rheumatism in her limbs, rendering her lame.

In May 1569, Elizabeth attempted to mediate the restoration of Mary in return for guarantees of the Protestant religion, but the Scots rejected the deal overwhelmingly. The Duke of  Norfolk continued to scheme for a marriage with Mary.Elizabeth imprisoned him in the Tower between October 1569 and August 1570. Early the following year, Moray was assassinated; one of the first people to be so by the use of a firearm. And his death coincided with a rebellion in the North of England, led by Catholic earls, which persuaded Elizabeth that Mary was a threat. English troops intervened in the Scottish civil war, consolidating the power of the anti-Marian forces. Elizabeth’s principal secretaries Walsingham and Cecil, watched Mary carefully with the aid of spies placed in Mary’s household.

In1571, Cecil and Walsingham uncovered the Ridolfi Plot, which was a plan to replace Elizabeth with Mary with the help of Spanish troops and the Duke of Norfolk. Norfolk was executed, and the English Parliament introduced a bill barring Mary from the throne, to which Elizabeth refused to give royal assent. To discredit Mary, the casket letters were published in London. Plots centred on Mary continued. The Pope Gregory X111 endorsed one plan to marry her to the governor of the Low Countries with an invasion of England from the Spanish Netherlands. The Throckmorton Plot and a further plot by William Parry led to Mary being placed in stricter custody. There was the Ridolfi and the Babingdon  plots which led in 1586 to Mary being arrested. She was found to be plotting against Elizabeth by letters in code, from her to others and deemed guilty of treason. Imprisoned for such a long time she had lost touch with reality and spies monitored her every move.

She was taken to Fotheringhay Castle and executed in 1587.Mary was not beheaded with a single strike. The first blow missed her neck and struck the back of her head. The second blow severed the neck, except for a small bit of sinew which the executioner cut through using the axe. Afterwards, he held her head aloft and declared, “God save the Queen.” At that moment, the auburn tresses in his hand turned out to be a wig and the head fell to the ground, revealing that Mary had very short, grey hair. It is said a small dog was found under her dress and contemporary accounts state that all her clothing, the block, and everything touched by her blood was burnt in the fireplace of the Great Hall to obstruct relic-hunters.

When the news of the execution reached Elizabeth, she became indignant and asserted that her secretary Davison had disobeyed her instructions not to part with the warrant and that the Privy Council had acted without her authority.Davison was arrested, thrown into the Tower, and found guilty of misprision.. He was released nineteen months later after Cecil and Walsingham interceded on his behalf.

Mary’s request to be buried in France was refused by Elizabeth. Her body was embalmed and left in a secure lead coffin until her burial, in a Protestant service, at Peterborough Cathedral. Her entrails, removed as part of the embalming process, were buried secretly within Fotheringhay Castle. Her body was exhumed in 1612, when her son, James V1 and 1 ordered that she be reinterred in Westminster Abbey in a chapel opposite the tomb of Elizabeth.


Fraser, Historic UK, Wikipedia,


DC Thomson

DC Thomson is a Scottish publishing and television production company best known for producing The Dundee CourierThe Evening TelegraphThe Sunday PostOor WullieThe BroonsThe BeanoThe Dandy, and Commando comics. It also owns the Aberdeen Journals Group which publishes the Press and Journal.  It was a significant shareholder in the former ITV company Southern Television. Through its subsidiary DC Thomson Family History the company owns several websites including Friends Reunited and Findmypast.

The company began as a branch of the Thomson family business when William Thomson became the sole proprietor of Charles Alexander & Company,      publishers of Dundee Courier and Daily Argus.   In 1884, David Coupar Thomson took over the publishing business, and established it as D.C. Thomson in 1905.

The firm flourished, and took its place as the third J in the :-

 “Three Js”, the traditional summary of Dundee industry (‘jam, jute and journalism’). Thomson was notable for his conservatism, vigorously opposing the introduction of trade unions into his workforce, and for refusing to employ Catholics. Among historians of popular culture, the firm has “excited a good deal of interest precisely because it has always shrouded its activities in secrecy … [it] has never allowed scholars access to its archives, and has declined to participate in exhibitions of juvenile literature.”

The company produces more than 200 million comicsmagazines, & newspapers every year from offices in DundeeGlasgowManchester, and London.

In 2012 the Royal Mail issued a set of postage stamps to mark the 75th anniversary of the first edition of the Dandy The stamps incorporated illustrations from other famous of the D C Thomson comics such as Bunty, Twinkle, and Topper as well as a few other rival comics

Desperate Dan is a wild west character in the British comic magazine The Dandy and has become their mascot. He made his appearance in the first issue which was dated 4 December 1937. He is apparently the world’s strongest man, able to lift a cow with one hand. The pillow of his (reinforced) bed is filled with building rubble and his beard is so tough he shaves with a blowtorch.

The character was created by Dudley D. Watkins, originally as an outlaw or ‘desperado’ (hence his name), but evolved into a more sympathetic type, using his strength to help the underdog. After Watkins’ death in 1969, the cartoons were drawn by many other artistsThe first issue of the Dandy was printed in December 1937 and it is the world’s third longest running comic. There have been over 3,500 issues (during World War II, The Beano and The Dandy were published on alternating weeks because of paper and ink rationing). The longest running strips were Desperate Dan and Korky the Cat who both started in the comic’s first issue. Desperate Dan’s lantern jaw is said to be based on the comic’s early editor Albert Barnes. 

The Beano was first published on 30 July 1938. The Beano’s main characters over the years have been Dennis the Menace (who didn’t appear until 1951), Minnie the Minx, Bash Street Kids, Roger, the Dodger and Lord Snooty. In the 1950s sales of the Beano topped 2 million a week, distributed across the UK and although the number of copies has fallen from their peak, the Beano remains the UK’s biggest selling comic. The Beano takes its name from the English word beano which can be loosely interpreted as “a good time” (a “bean feast” was an annual feast given to workmen by their employers in 19th century England). 

Bunty was aimed at young girls and was first published in January 1958 and lasted until 2001 after 2,249 issues. It featured characters such as the Four Marys, Second-Hand Sue, (hardly a PC name in this day and age) Then there was Moira the Swimming Marvel, Moira Kent (an aspiring ballerina) and Lorna Drake. It also included letters pages, competitions, featured readers, puzzle pages, promotions, next-week previews or advertisements. The back page, initially featured a cut-out doll and paper clothes, which eventually gave way to a wall-poster. “The Four Marys” was the longest story the comic ran, appearing from its creation in 1958 to its end in 2001, centred around four young teenagers who lived in a girls-only boarding school. When the strip started, public boarding schools were common, but as time went on, they became less accessible to Bunty’s general audience.