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The following passage is an anecdote taken from a book I am reading at the moment which I thought I would share.  It concerns robbers in Old London as early as the 14th Century and the desperate attempts they would sometimes make at concealing themselves in order to get away with their deeds.  The pages preceeding the passage I am about to quote deal with the River Fleet (now underground for those that don't know), which as early as the 14th Century was already considered polluted an a health hazard.  It continued to be notorious in that respect until 1858 when Parliament was forced to take action and provide a proper system of sanitation of sewers for London. 

So here goes:

The repellent character of the Fleet estuary meant that no one lived round it who could dwell elsewhere and [...] desperate men were even willing to brave the mouth of the river.  In 1338 two Florentine merchants journeying early in the morning between Romford and Brentwood in Essex were robbed by five thieves.  The merchants turned back to London, searched everywhere, and were lucky enough to spy one of the robbers, John le Brewere, in a street.  He fled to the Thames and at low tide dived in at St Paul's Quay, hoping to escape under the shelter of the wharves to Fleet Bridge, but the tide rose and he was drowned.  His body washed up two days later on the shore of the Fleet River, near St Bride's.  In his clothing were found 160 florins and a seal taken from one of the merchants (1).

I just found it an amusing passage, namely because the thief thought he could get away, probably as many others had already done before him and doubtlessly did after him, in the dirty water because noone would look there.  But... it was not to be ;)


(1) MYERS, A. R., Chaucer's London. Everyday Life in London 1342-1400, Amberley Publishing Plc, Chalford, 2009 p. 50, 2nd edition.

Ludgate Hill (1908)

Although my speciality as a historian is Medieval Venice, I am also interested in urban history in general.  I collect old pictures and postcards of many cities, but London is my favourite.  I found this one online and thought some of you might like it too.  It is a photo of Ludgate Hill, in 1908.  Note for example the old railway bridge which is no longer there...



I found this picture at: http://www.etsy.com

"The Practical Apiarian"

"The Practical Apiarian, or, A Treatise on the Improved Management of Bees" by George Strutt, Boxted, Suffolk.
**
This book was pointed out to me by Mrs P, a fellow Holmes fanfiction writer on fanfiction.net. She said she found a copy of this 1825 book whilst sorting through some old books at her Mom's house, and that the book sounded rather Holmes-like (as you no doubt recall, he wrote a book about bee-keeping in his retirement) and that this book was available online.

It has chapters on all aspects of bee keeping--for example,

Chapter XIII  "Sundry small swarms or casts, not showing prosperity. Plurality
of Queens detrimental. Method of uniting and consolidating small parcels of
Bees by Boxes and confinement...Experiment with Queen Bee and results
considered."

Chapter III "Rules for using newly invented boxes with observations and
cautions thereon."


And it is available, via Google books, here:

The Practical Apiarian

"The Critic and the Snake"

(from "The Final Adventures of Sherlock Holmes", compiled by Peter Haining)

I thought everyone might enjoy this excerpt from an article written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, "The Truth about Sherlock Holmes":

"...the impression that Holmes was a real person of flesh and blood may have been intensified by his frequent appearance upon the stage. [He mentions writing a play called 'Speckled  Band', based on the short story.]....[The play] was a considerable success.

We had a fine boa to play the title role, a snake which was the pride of my heart, so one can imagine my disgust when I saw that the critic of the Daily Telegraph ended his disparaging review by the words: 'The crisis of the play was produced by the appearance of a palpably artificial serpent.' I was inclined to offer him a goodly sum if he would undertake to go to bed with it. We had several snakes at different times, but they were all inclined either to hang down from the hole in the wall like inanimate bell pulls, or else to turn back through the hole and get even with the stage carpenter, who pinched their tails in order to make them more lively. Finally we used artificial snakes, and everyone, including the stage carpenter, agreed that it was more satisfactory."