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A Compassionate Man, or, Charles Dickens Discusses the News

One of the most significant of Charles Dickens’s many acquaintances was the wealthy and influential Angela Burdett-Coutts.  She was born into a position of enormous privilege as the daughter of Sir Francis Burdett, the 5th Baronet, and Sophia Coutts, whose father was the founder of the prestigious banking house.  In 1837 she inherited a fortune from the maternal side of …

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The Man who moved the Crystal Palace by Horse and Cart

If you read my post on Loddiges nursery and the Empress Josephine’s palm tree, you might have wondered who the man on the horse is.  Well, the answer is one Thomas Younghusband, and I know this because he wrote a letter to The Times on the 29th July 1854, that is to say two days after the transporting of the …

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The Two Friends, or, The Story of Thomas Hamber and Percy Greg

There is a good story about a dog told by a journalist, and, given that we at London Overlooked are quite fond of canine anecdotes, the most recent of which can be found by following this link, we would like to make it the subject of this article.  We will meet some colourful characters along the way, and we will …

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Flights of Fancy, or, The Rise and Fall of Vincent de Groof

On the 21st of June 1873 the front page of the Illustrated Police News carried an extraordinary image.  A man dressed in an acrobat’s outfit, and sporting shaggy hair and a bristling beard, clings to the underside of two enormous artificial wings.  The captions says it all.  He is hailed as “The Flying Man”, and he is nicknamed “Bat”, and …

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A House of Crows, or, The Strange Passion of Mr and Mrs Melford

If you read my recent piece on the rookery in Kensington Gardens, which can be found on the London Overlooked website by following this link, you will recognise the name William Henry Hudson.  Hudson was a writer on natural history with a strong interest in ornithology, which he indulged in the course of his many walks through the green spaces …

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A Musical Mystery, or, The Grave of John Baptist Krall

One of the more striking sights in the Streatham Cemetery in Garratt Lane is the grave of a husband and wife by the name of John Baptist and Sarah Selfe Krall.  The principal structure, which is dedicated to John Baptist, is a collection of three granite blocks set one on top of the other.  They are roughly hewn and unworked, …

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Smiles and Tears, or, Burman Cassin Goes Down to Kent

A while ago I published two articles on the London Overlooked website in which an important character was a fellow by the name of Hoppety Bob.  The first of these articles, which can be accessed by following this link, introduced the kind-hearted toymaker who was good to the neighbourhood children of the London slum in which he lived, teaching them …

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Lottie Stafford, Artist’s Model of Paradise Walk in Chelsea: Part Three

At the beginning of 1904 Mrs Charlotte Stafford—usually known as Lottie—was a young mother of two daughters, Elizabeth, who was two years old, and Florence, who was three months old.  Like many of her female neighbours in Paradise Walk, she was said to be a laundress, and, unlike her neighbours, she had come to the attention of the artist William …

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Lottie Stafford, Artist’s Model of Paradise Walk in Chelsea: Part Two

In the first part of this story we left Lottie and John Christopher Stafford with Elizabeth, their baby daughter.  Early in their married life, in about 1901, the young couple moved to Paradise Walk, where John’s family were long term residents, and where Lottie and John would remain for the next thirty-five years.  Let us look at this location in …

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Lottie Stafford, Artist’s Model of Paradise Walk in Chelsea: Part One

This story starts with a painting called Lotty and a Lady in the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne.  It was painted in London in 1906 by the Australian artist George Washington Lambert, and it depicts two women—a servant and an elegantly dressed “lady”— sitting in a kitchen.  Initially I assumed that the same woman had modelled for both figures—they …