Rebel Rebel

From Inktober posts in October 2018 – part of my Pick and Choose History of Courtenay Street, Kennington and Lambeth:


Rebel Rebel – in fact so many I went for a double page spread! Kennington and North Lambeth have a long history of protest and free thinking, maybe it’s having the Thames safely between us and the establishment that makes us a little more radical? We have here the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381- they sacked Lambeth Palace – mainly destroying documents and ledgers that could be used to identifyand locate people

for tax / military service purposes. The Jacobites of 1745 captured at Culloden were shipped to London and then most were executed at Kennington Common. Guy Fawkes and his crew stored their gunpowder at his house on Fore Street in Lambeth – handy for transportation by river to Westminster. In 1848 the Chartists rallied at Kennington Common, their leader and main speaker for the rally was Feargal O’Connor – all they wanted was for everyone to have a vote! In 1990 the poll tax protesters mustered at Kennington Park before marching on Westminster – it didn’t end well. William Blake, visionary and poet, lived at Hercules Road.

Muriel Matters an Australian suffragette lived in Kennington and is famous, whilst in London, for using a hot air balloon to deliver suffrage leaflets to/on the people of London. Rather more effectively Emma Cons was a social campaigner who worked in Lambeth for better housing and conditions for the poor, she also set up Morley College and rescued the Old Vic from dereliction beginning a programme of Shakespeare, classical music and penny lectures (which they are now still doing at Morely College). Her work at the Old Vic was taken over by her niece Lillian Baylis and her legacy there of creating an acting company who could put on classics and new plays led eventually to the setting up of the National Theatre. Oh and me and the women from WEP Lambeth – we’re here too! I haven’t covered here all the other bits of Lambeth – such as Brixton and Norwood – maybe another page for them and I’m still working on the research!

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Lost Palaces

From Inktober posts in October 2018 – part of my Pick and Choose History of Courtenay Street, Kennington and Lambeth:


The Lost Palaces of Kennington. I’m pretty much living in the paddock of Kennington Palace (now replaced by the hideous Edinburgh House) there is no image of the earlier medieval palace except of the Long Barn which was once part of its stables. My drawing is based on a floor plan derived from archaeological digs of the 1960s and extant examples of medieval manor houses such as Baddesley Clinton and Ightham Mote. The manor was replaced with another grand house for which there is an engraving from the 18th century and a picture of the gate house from the 19th. Norfolk House was gone of Agnes dowager Duchess of Norfolk and Catherine Howard spent her youth there. (It is now replaced by a Novotel). Fawkes Hall (the corrupted name of which gives its name to Vauxhall) lasted long enough that an engraving of it exists. It was the prison of Arabella Stuart whose only crime was to be a Stuart but not Guy Fawkes – sadly as that would be ironic given the site is occupied now by MI6!

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Pubs & Ghost Pubs

From Inktober posts October 2018 – Part of my Pick and Choose History of Courtenay Street, Kennington and Lambeth



Pubs and ghost pubs. Courtenay Street is still well served by pubs and bars with the Duchy Arms at the corner of the street, the Dog House, Tommyfield, Cock (previously Tiki bar), Ship on the main Kennington Road, the Pilgrim, Royal Oak and Royal Vauxhall Tavern on Kennington Lane and the Dog House tucked away on the far side of Spring Gardens. But there used to be so many more! Looking at how overcrowded people were in their homes it is clear that the pub was the drawing (and dining) room of the poor – a place to meet and entertain.

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Yesterday of the Boy

From Inktober posts Oct 2018 – part of the Pick and Choose History of Courtenay Street, Kennington and Lambeth:


Yesterday of the Boy, there is indeed an International Men’s Day (19 Nov) and many boys still live in poverty and are forced to work from a young age or sent to war as child soldiers. In 1911 in Courtenay Street there were 77 boys (under 18) seven were out at work, the youngest of whom was 14, a van boy for Pickfords. Other jobs were; office boy, carman, district messenger, kitchen boy, labourer. Based on ages in 1911, 18 of these boys would have been old enough to fight in the First World War. Many lived in poverty, two in just one room with their families, 29 in seriously overcrowded accommodation. On the other hand the street could have supported its own football league!

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Prince of the Welsh?

From Inktober posts Oct 2018 part of the Pick and Choose History of Courtenay Street, Kennington and Lambeth:


Prince of the Welsh? Well the Prince of Wales has owned most of Lambeth for a long time, but it seems more likely that the Welsh were attracted here in the 18th and 19th centuries because of all the market and private gardens. So many came that Allen in his history of Lambeth (written in 1827) says that the hiring fair by St Mary’s became known as ‘Taffy’s Fair’. I also found out that young women and girls would set off from Tregaron in Wales at one minute past midnight on a Sunday (to avoid working on the Sabbath) to begin the long walk to London where many of them worked in market and private gardens. Some picked strawberries and sold them in little baskets at roadsides, others worked weeding in gardens and some worked in the dairy trade. Looking at a trade directory from the early 1900s I had already noticed how many of the dairies and milkmen had Welsh surnames, and it seems their involvement in the milk trade has deep roots.

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Secret Tunnels of Kennigton

From Inktober posts Oct 2018 part of the Pick and Choose History of Courtenay Street, Kennington and Lambeth:


Secret Tunnels in Kennington! We all know about the ones from MI6 to MI5 and so on but these ones mentioned by Clowes in 1916 (which he dismisses) might still be there – who knows. When I plotted them on a map they seemed to form a straight line down Kennington Lane to the river – so it might be that the ‘tunnel’ was in fact a dry culvert or old sewer – or perhaps more interesting? There were convictions for smuggling in Lambeth in 16th/17th Centuries and it was also a place where various discarded Queens and pretenders got put (Caroline of Brunswick, Catherine of Aragon and Arabella Stuart) so perhaps also the tunnels were for escape and intrigue… speculations such as this are why I issued myself with an Artistic Licence.

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Gardening – Kennigton Roses

From Inktober posts in October 2018

“Really this is from yesterday – I was thinking about it as I was working at the Garden Museum last night. In case you can’t read my writing it says: Gardening. In Courtenay Street if you want to start a conversation that isn’t about the weather, the latest planning catastrophe or the wheelie-bin controversy, you can always talk about roses. Kennington is rich in roses and Courtenay Street and Square especially so. There is a flame coloured rose on the corner of the square that blooms brightly all winter. There have always been gardens and gardeners here, including John Tradescant Senior and John Tradescant younger, great plant hunters and pioneers of the 17th Century who gave us the horse chestnut, tradescantia and the first public museum in Britain (in which one of the exhibits was a dodo).”

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Yesterday of the Girl

Carrying on my #inktober posts based on things I have found out during my Artist in Residence in My Own Street project, this one is also about International Day of the Girl. Looking at what it was like to be a girl in 1911 on Courtenay Street

There were 99 girls (16 and under) living in Courtenay Street in 1911. Thirty-four of them were under 5. Seven, aged between 14 and 17 were out at work: 3 dressmakers (or machinists making dresses), one apprentice milliner, one paperbag maker (working at home on piece work), one was a labeller in the local pickle factory and the other is listed as doing ‘housework’ – presumably in her own home as if it was in another’s she would be listed as ‘domestic’.  Many families in Courtenay Street lived in very over-crowded conditions and five of these girls lived in one room with the rest of their family – sometimes quite a large number of people – for example the Turneys had six people in just one room. There are several families with nine people in just four rooms and the ‘winner’ of the overcrowding game is the Gaunts at no.47 who had ten people in just four rooms, although the Deane’s at no.96 come close with twelve people in six rooms. These are not numbers of bedrooms but the total number of rooms including kitchen, sitting rooms.

Seven year old Evelyn Smith who lived in my one bedroom flat with her father Albert (a Metropolitan Police Constable) and mother Ellen, must have considered herself rather lucky! Three whole rooms for just the three of them! The house was also one of the new ‘modern’ ones recently built by the Duchy of Cornwall with large, light, well proportioned rooms.

Change was coming to Courtenay Street, suffragettes were active in the area, the First World War and the Second World War brought change both to the local landscape but also to the social one. Women got the vote.  Landlords, like the Duchy, took advantage of bomb damage to continue their improvement of housing. Despite all this in 2017 there are still families in Lambeth living in overcrowded, unsanitary housing, the girls aren’t called Ethel, Maud or Queenie anymore, but they still exist (along with their brothers) and we still need to do more to ensure we don’t revert to the slum conditions of the 19th Century, the workhouse and the paupers’ mass grave.

Listed below – all the girls of Courtenay Street c. 1911 ages given (7), occupation, house number @52 and the number of rooms v number of people 3/4

Odd numbered side of the street:

Florrie Smith (2) @73 4/5

Ellen Jenner (13) & Kathleen Jenner (5) @63 3/5

Nelly Payne (0) & Annie Payne (2) @63 1/4

Alice Shea (13) @61 5/6

Louisa Speller (9), Sarah Speller (7) & Ivy Speller (5) @59 4/6

Florrie Thomas (2) @57 4/4

Charlotte Brice (3) @53 3/4

Elizabeth Gibbons (3) & Ellen Gibbons (1) @53 1/4

Mary Mentasi (16) dressmaker, @51 5/9

Harriet Mack (6) & Phillis Mack (0) @49 1/5

Margaret Gaunt (14) & Lucy Gaunt (9) @47 4/10

Greta Higgs (2) @35 3/3

Lily Laud (9) & Rose Laud (10) @33 3/4

Elsie Langley (6) @33 3/3

Ivy Jones (5) @31 3/3

Hannah Miller (1) @29 3/4

Molly Davis (7) @27 3/4

Florence Hunt (13) & Dorothy Hunt (12) @27 3/4

Grace Murphy (8), Louisa Murphy (6) & Winifred Murphy (1) @25 3/5

Dorothy Frost (8) & Annie Frost (7) @25 3/5

Annie Packer (9) @23 3/6

Louisa Ireland (4) & Rose Ireland (15) Machinist/dressmaking @21 3/6

Edith Webb (8) @17 3/5

Alice Speer (3) @11 3/3

un-named girl Porter (0) @11 3/3

Lottis Johnson (13) @9 3/3

Alice Green (12) @7 3/4

Clara Deadman (8), Ada Deadman (6), Edith Deadman (5) & Ivy Deadman (3) @5 4/7

Marian Davies (9), Alice Davies (3), Rosina Davies (2) @3 4/9

Louisa Wodbury (15), paperbag maker, Rose Wodbury (13), Lillian Wodbury (11), Grace Wodbury (5) @1 4/9

Even numbered side of the street:

Elizabeth Deane (16) blouse machinist, Edith Deane (14) apprentice milliner & Julia Deane (7) @ 96 6/12

Violet Ware (2) @92 1/4

Annie Kirkin (9) & Edith Kirkin (6) @90 4/6

Rosina Edwards (11) & Frances Edwards (5) @88 5/6

Dorothy Wickes (10) @84 2/3

Alice Stringer (13), Ivy Stringer (11), Elizabeth Stringer (9), Lily Stringer (4) & Queenie Stringer (1) @82 4/8

Ada Fletcher (15) housework, Alice Fletcher (13) & Martha Fletcher (1) @78 4/8

Alice Cox (6), Ellen Cox (5) & Florence Cox (2) @76 2/6

Elizabeth Harbridge (3) & Sarah Harbridge (2) @74 3/6

Ada Turney (2) @74 1/6

Florence Davies (13), Nellie Davies (10), Ivory Davies (0) @66 3/7

Evelyn Smith (7) @52 3/3

Ellen Abraham (7), Maud Abraham (7) & Elsie Abraham (2) @50 3/8

Ethel Heath (13) & Florence Heath (10) @48 3/5

Caroline Harwood (7) @48a 4/4

Jessie Skinner (5) @46 3/5

Ivy Hyde (16) dressmaker @44 3/3

Emma Dibbens (6), Edith Dibbens (4) & Grace Dibbens (3) @38a 4/9

Constance Wilson (7) & Margaret Wilson (1) @38 3/5

Flora Mills (2) @20 3/4

Emily Ind (7) @16 3/4

Maud Hill (16) labeller in pickle factory & Elizabeth Hill (10) @16 3/4

Marie Nathan (8), Doris Nathan (6) & Esther Nathan (0) @12 3/7

Ena Culchey (4) @2 (The Plough Pub) 7/8






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Plant of Yesterday

I have been working on project over the last year called ‘Plant of the Day’ teaching myself the names and histories (and stories and legends) of the commonest weeds and wildflowers that I come across day to day. So I was naturally drawn to this passage in Thomas Allen’s ‘History and Antiquities of Lambeth from 1827 and decided to use it as inspiration for another Inktober drawing:

There were two that I couldn’t find a decent image of – Rough Spleenwort (some kind of fern) and River Fringe Moss (I know what it looks like but not up to drawing it in pen and ink).

Allen suggests that these are ‘rare’ plants – Alkanet is certainly not rare and is absolutely the bane of my life in weeding my mother’s garden. It has beautiful blue flowers and the bees love it but once the flowers are over – out it must come!

Although many of the other plants aren’t rare in England (Solomon’s Seal, Lily of the Valley, Butcher’s Broom, Foxglove) you don’t see them very often in London – well not the bits I walk around.  I shall now keep my eyes peeled for maple leafed goosefoot, pignut, and orpine but I have enough trouble distingushing the more common kinds of Hawkweed to have any chance of knowing if I have found the wall or shrubby broad-leaved kind!


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Like an episode of QI – all the Gs in Cardigan Street

Following on from yesterday’s post – here is another #inktober drawing this time based on Clowes’ recollections of Cardigan Street. He was writing in 1916 and like an episode of QI they all seem to begin with the letter G: goats, gypsies and glassblowers!

“New Cardigan Street was created in 1913-15 the old street was narrow with mostly 2 storey cottages. There was an open space behind a close boarded fence where stood gypsy vans and at least one family was living there in 1910.

On the north side was a glass blowers premises and this became Hayward Pickle Factory. On the whole the street was dirty, evil smelling with at least one goat roaming it.”

He goes on to ponder on the the goat, saying that he feels there are less goats in London than there used to be and wondering if this was to do with the arrival of motor transport. Goats are often used as companion animals for horses and so Clowes’ speculates that as the stables and mews full of horses, carriages, carts and cabs disappeared, so did the goats! Except apparently in Cardigan Street. Although there was still a stables at the bottom of neighbouring Courtenay Street in 1911 and a number of smithies around the area so perhaps the goat of Cardigan Street still had a job to do!

Vauxhall had been a centre for glass-making since the beginning of the 17th Century and Glasshouse Walk (near Vauxhall/Spring Gardens) marks the site of the plate glass works set up there by Sir Edward Zouche.

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