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The Man Who Stole a Knighthood

One of the strangest stories in the long history of investiture must be the knighting of Francis Columbine Daniel early in the reign of George IV.  The occasion was marked with the usual pomp and ceremony, and was widely reported in the newspapers.  However, not everything was quite what it seemed, and not everyone was impressed. So who was the …

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The Poisonous Pownall Sisters of Stoke Newington

The respectable Misses Pownall—Martha and Sarah—were certain that their brother was being slowly poisoned by his wife, no doubt to get her hands on his army pension.  They had not liked Emma from the start: she was much too young at twenty-seven to make Thomas at fifty-one a good wife.  This suspicion turned to certainty when they saw her and …

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William Turner & Son, or, The Barber of Maiden Lane

We at London Overlooked see it as our raison d’être to search the shadowy corners of the city’s history for the lesser known.  And of all the causes of undeserved obscurity, none can be more poignant than the brilliance of one’s own child.  Which is why we have chosen to write about Turner. Not about Joseph Mallord William Turner, the painter, but …

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Reynolds Revisited: Who was the Strawberry Girl?

Readers of this blog with an interest in art may well remember that this question was raised in an earlier piece on Sir Joshua Reynolds’s delightful picture The Strawberry Girl, which hangs in the Wallace Collection at Hertford House in Manchester Square.  We stated there that the identity of the great artist’s young subject has long been shrouded in mystery.  …