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A Vision of Beauty, or, William Henry Hudson in Kensington Gardens

One of the earliest articles I published on the London Overlooked website, back in 2018, has as its subject the rather remarkable pairing of a Victorian writer and his pet bird.  The bird in question was a raven by the name of Grip.  Strictly speaking, “a raven” should read “ravens”, for there were no fewer than three Grips, the second …

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The Shoemaker’s Son: Part Three

If you have been following the story of Robert Collier on the London Overlooked website, you will remember that Part One explored his difficult life as a poor boy from the slums of St Pancras, while Part Two investigated his fraught relationship with his father.  You will also remember that he was encouraged to make something of himself by Martin …

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The Shoemaker’s Son: Part Two

If you read Part One of the story of the shoemaker’s son, which can be accessed the London Overlooked website by following this link, you will remember that the central character is a boy by the name of Robert Collier.  We can discover a great deal about Robert through the journals of Martin Ware, a teacher at the Brunswick Street …

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The Shoemaker’s Son: Part One

Time for another of my occasional pieces on the boys of the Shoeblack Society.  They have a common theme, in that their young subjects were without exception born into great poverty in some of the most deprived streets of the capital, but fell under the watchful gaze of Martin Ware, whose timely interventions made a significant difference to their lives.  …

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The Girl on the Tricycle in Streatham Cemetery: Coral Grace Bradburn

It was while hunting for another grave in Streatham Cemetery in Tooting that I came across a gravestone bearing a relief carving of a little girl riding a tricycle.  The child smiles proudly.  She wears a short-sleeved summer dress, ankle socks and T-bar shoes.  Wavy or curly hair peeps out from under what is either a peaked cap or a …

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Sōseki Natsume, or, The Loneliness of a Japanese Writer in London

Many a fine phrase has been spun about old and new London, capturing its bustling spirit, its metropolitan beauty and its romantic heart.  But not all those who have lived and breathed the life of the city have such wonderful words to share with us.  For some it is not solely a centre of great history, art and culture: it …

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Almost Home, or, Death on Hackney Marshes 

I find depictions of London in art a constant source of fascination, and I very much like the work of the nineteenth-century painter John Thomas Wilson.  The Victoria and Albert Museum has eight watercolours Wilson executed between the years 1868 and 1871, and a ninth which was very much earlier, painted in about 1830.  They have as a common theme …

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Flying Flowerpots, or, The Strange Story of the Camberwell Ghost

The report on the Surrey Sessions printed in the South London Press on Saturday the 7th December 1872 makes fascinating reading.  The venue was the Sessions House in Newington Causeway, and the forty-five cases were tried by William Hardman and a supporting cast of fellow magistrates.  Forty-four of the prisoners were charged with felony, and one with misdemeanour.  Only three could …

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The Line of Duty: Part Two

If you read the first part of this story, which can be accessed by following this link to the London Overlooked website, you will remember that George Johnson was a police constable living and working in South London at the outbreak of the Great War in July 1914.  In these traumatic times the deteriorating state of relations in Europe had …

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The Line of Duty: Part One

In a churchyard in South London there is an unassuming headstone bearing the name of a certain George Johnson.  We are told that George Johnson was a police constable, and that he was a member of the “W” or Clapham Division, with warrant number 202.   He died “through injuries received in the execution of his duty” on the 17th …