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William Weale, Brother Francis and the Bad Boy

The victim was scarified from ankle to thigh, with some deeper cuts marking his mottled flesh.  One witness described his buttocks as resembling nothing so much as raw beef with blood streaming from it.  The damage had been caused by a punishment beating of between thirteen to twenty strokes with a two-foot-long gutta percha rule. Before he collapsed on the …

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One Man and His Dog, or, Edward Wix Comes Home

There is rather a good story about a missionary and his dog.  We feel it fully qualifies for inclusion here, as it is a nineteenth-century story with a London connection.  Aside from the two protagonists—the human and the canine—there is a ship and a ship’s captain and a hospital.  The joy of the story lies in part in the connections …

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Colonel Rackstrow’s Peculiar Museum

Walk along the north pavement of Fleet Street between Chancery Lane and Bell Yard, and you will pass a heavily rusticated building of imposing proportions, home of an executive recruitment firm and a magazine publishing company.  But in the late eighteenth century there stood here a row of brick-fronted premises, one of which was owned by a Benjamin Rackstrow.  He …

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The Prince and the Paupers, or, The Soup Kitchen in Leicester Square

Can a building qualify as an overlooked Londoner?  On this website it can.  Take for example no.40 Leicester Square, which is currently festooned with hoardings and scaffolding.  Next year, if all goes to plan, it will open as a luxury hotel.  Formerly it was a cinema, which opened in 1930 as the Leicester Square Theatre, and was renamed the Odeon …