View Post

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.  …

View Post

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 …

View Post

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 …

View Post

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 …

View Post

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 …

View Post

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 …

View Post

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 …

View Post

The Churchyard Cur, or, A Tale of Loyalty and Love

Readers of London Overlooked may find that Edward Jesse is a name that rings a bell.  Jesse was a man of many parts, and his varied career, which spanned the first half of the nineteenth century, embraced such diverse employments as government clerk, secretary to a president of the Board of Control, and commissioner of hackney coaches.  He also published …

View Post

The Good Doctor: Part Three

If you have been following the story of Louisa Nathalie, which can be accessed on the London Overlooked website by following links to Part One and Part Two, you will remember that she was the victim of a callous ex-army officer by the name of Arthur Robert Willoughby Wade.  She was a young German woman residing in the Strand Union …

View Post

The Good Doctor: Part Two

If you read my most recent article, which can be accessed on the London Overlooked website by following this link, you will remember that in 1863 a young woman from the St Giles workhouse, Bridget Corrigan, was preyed on by a scurrilous army officer who gave his name, falsely, as James Smith, and his occupation, also falsely, as a hospital …