Posts Tagged ‘British History Online’

I would like to suggest British History Online for your perusal. This rich resource includes information about London throughout the ages, including the Regency Period,  geographical places, genealogy charts, and census records. The factual descriptions, even with their lack of detail, make the era come alive again. The following quotes provide a small sampling of the information that sits on this endlessly useful site:

Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities: 1550-1820

Borage, or Forget-Me-Not

Borage, or Forget-Me-Not

This dictionary includes descriptions and definitions of items that have historic signifance. Helpful to the historian, student, and author, each term is listed alphabetically and, like the OED, includes its history.

Borage water [burrage water]

Water made from BORAGE, and probably the same as AQUA LANGUE DE BOEUF. It was a pleasantly flavoured drink with limited medicinal uses. For example, the earliest reference in the OED online claimed it was ‘good agaynst madnes or vnwytyng [German ‘unsvnnigkeit’ (spelling as OED)] and melancolye’. Both John Gerard and Nicholas Culpeper confirmed the excellence of borage generally against these conditions, and Culpeper added that the water ‘helpeth the redness and inflammation of the eyes’ [Culpeper (1792)].

Sources: Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period).
References: Culpeper (1792).

Survey of London

I refer to this section most often when researching London. This section describes St. James’s and Westminster in astonishing detail.

In 1720 St. James’s Market was described as ‘a large Place, with a commodious Market-house in the Midst, filled with Butchers Shambles; besides the Stalls in the Market-Place, for Country Butchers, Higglers, and the like; being a Market new grown to great Account, and much resorted unto, as being well served with good Provisions. On the South-west Corner is the Paved Alley, a good Through-fare into Charles-Street and so into St. James’s Square, and those Parts; but is of no great Account for Buildings for Inhabitants.’  Provisions were ‘usually a fourth Part dearer than in the Markets about the City of London, most of the Provisions being brought from thence, and bought up here by the Stewards of People of Quality, who spare no Price to furnish their Lords Houses with what is nice and delicate’.

St. James's Market, Haymarket, 1850

St. James's Market, Haymarket, 1850

By the early nineteenth century St. James’s Market was no longer of such good repute. Writing in 1856 the Reverend J. Richardson remembered it and the adjoining streets as being ‘very properly avoided by all persons who respected their characters or their garments, and were consequently only known to a “select few”, whose avocations obliged, or whose peculiar tastes induced them to penetrate the labyrinth of burrows which extended to Jermyn Street, and westward to St. James-square’.

Sackville Street

General John Fane, 11th Earl of Westmorland, born in Sackville St, 1784. Image by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1815

General John Fane, 11th Earl of Westmorland, born in Sackville St, 1784. Image by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1815

Though perhaps not in the first rank of fashion, the larger houses in Sackville Street, particularly those on the west side, attracted throughout the eighteenth century the minor nobility, the dowager, the member of Parliament, the senior army officer and the prosperous medical man. But the present commercial character of the street is not of recent origin. Even at the time of building there were three shops (two apothecaries’ and a cheesemonger’s), one tavern and a coffee house. By the beginning of the nineteenth century the tailoring trade, which is so prominent in the street today, had already established itself. Out of thirty-two tradesmen and professional men listed in Sackville Street in the Post Office directory for 1830 about 40 per cent (thirteen) were tailors; the next largest group consisted of four solicitors. This proportion has not changed considerably to-day (1962), for although many of the houses have been divided and there are fewer private occupants, about 34 per cent of the one hundred and fifteen listed tradesmen and professional men are tailors.

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