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"If you stand in Lombard Street at any time of the day, for example, that narrow thoroughfare like others in the vicinity echoes to hurrying footfalls. It has been a continuous sound for many hundreds of years, in the very centre of the City, and it may be that the perpetual steady echo of passing footsteps is the true sound of London in its transience and in its permanence." Peter Ackroyd, 2000.
Background Briefings on London's History
Item One: From The Gentleman January, 1731
It may be some sort of amusement to present our readers with the following list of officers established in the most notorious gaming houses:
A Commissioner, always a proprietor, who looks in of a night and the week's accompt is audited by him and two others of the proprietors.
Item Two: From The Gentleman January, 1731
We have a report from Frome in Somersetshire, published there in the Daily Journal Jan 15, relating that a child of one Wheeler being seized with strange inaccountable fits, the mother goes to a Cunning man, who advis'd her to hang a bottle of the child's water, mix'd with some of its hair, close stopt, over the fire, that the witch would thereupon come and break it: Does not mention the success, but a poor old woman, in the neighbourhood, was taken up and the old trial by Water Ordeal reviv'd.
Item Three: From The Builder January, 1844
We have recently observed the enrolment of a patent taken out by Mr Moon for flues of a circular form and although we are perfectly aware that the same form has been patented many times before our publication was in existence, we do not think that any other plans have embraced the important principals of bonding in the materials with the general work, a desideratum of such importance, that the absence of such mode of construction has been fatal to the general adoption of subjects of previous patents.
Item Four: From Our Own Correspondent
By the death of Oliver Cromwell in September 1658 power in the Commonwealth had slipped from Army-Dominated council of State to Parliament. In 1557, with Cromwell's approval, the Instrument of Government (the army's constitution) was replaced by a parliamentary constitution. This was an anti-military constitution which established a two-chamber parliament, established a hereditary succession and set limits to religious toleration. Cromwell refused the Crown offered to him by this constitution but died before he could resolve the question of the balance between the civilian and military factions.
His death left the Commonwealth rudderless in a constitutional miasma. In the period between September 1658 and December 1659, none of the political groups who had the opportunity to exercise power were able to agree or produce a workable constitutional settlement. By the end of the year the country was faced with political and economic anarchy. The parliament summoned by Cromwell's son and successor Richard in November 1658 was, under severe pressure from the army, dissolved on April 21 1659.
There then followed the most unusual alliance between the army and the republican faction. On the 7th of May 1659, the former recalled the Rump Commonwealth which it had itself dissolved in 1647 on account of its republican tendencies. There is no question that the generals were under pressure from the lower ranks to take radical action, but it is still a measure of the fast disappearing options left to the army that they should recall a parliament that had once before disappointed radical expectations.
Nothing was to be different this time round. The Rump sat through the summer and produced nothing but long debates on constitutional issues that got nowhere. What was clear, however, was the continuing distrust of the Army on the part of the civilian republicans who proposed a series of Army purges. In August, the Army became preoccupied with putting down a Royalist revolt led by Sir George Booth, but once that was out of the way, the Rump was, inevitably, once again dissolved on October 13th.
The Army now took control with a committee of safety under Charles Fleetwood, the Commander in chief, and Cromwell's son-in-law. However, it very soon demonstrated its lack of constitutional ideas but, more ominously, failed to carry the rank and file of the army with it. The army in Scotland, under General George Monck, declared for the Rump and was quickly followed by Fairfax and his army in Yorkshire, the army in Ireland and the navy in the Downs.
The situation was seriously exacerbated by a serious economic depression and more and more of the influential merchants and the middle classes became convinced that the Republic could no longer guarantee law and order. Demands for a "free" parliament were to be heard on all sides and there were growing threats to withhold taxes. There were also calls for the return of the 110 Members who had been forcibly excluded from Parliament in the Army Purge of 1648. Fleetwood panicked and resigned on December 24th, handing his powers over the Rump.
As the parliament assembled General Monck began to march south.. The unfolding of the events in Evelyn's Annus Mirabilis of 1660 are closely documented by both Pepys and Evelyn in their very different diaries. In their daily records both make frequent mention the "Fanatics". These were the extremist wing of the dissenting Protestant sects Presbyterians, Baptists, Congregationalists, Quakers and others - who refused to conform to the restored Church of England (the See of Canterbury had been vacant during the Commonwealth). The actions of the extremists further inflamed a political situation in which many already questioned whether religious toleration was compatible with political stability.
Item Five: From Our Own Correspondent
On the night of, Thursday January 12th 1950 the Royal Navy diesel submarine HMS Truculent sank after colliding with the Swedish tanker Divina ten miles east of Sheerness in the Thames Estuary. The following night the Admiralty announced that there was no hope for the 55 men entombed in the submarine. There were 80 men aboard the Truculent at the time of the disaster and only 15 survivors had been landed safely. Nine fathoms down divers hammered vainly for sounds of life against the hull of the submarine. Four of its seven compartments were flooded through a great gash in her starboard side. Admiralty officials boarded the 643-ton motor-tanker Divina today and told the captain his ship was under arrest.
We were all in the mess about to have dinner when there was this violent blow. I thought we had hit a mine. I filled the buoyancy tanks with air to keep the sub afloat for as long as possible, but within two minutes it hit the estuary bed 70 ft below. Eventually we opened the hatch and prepared for the swim to the surface. I was one of the last to go and I didn't have an oxygen bottle. It was terrifying. You just had to remember to keep breathing out, or else the pressure in your lungs would make them explode. The last two or three feet were agony. I was quite sure at that point I really wasn't going to make it. Miraculously all the crew made it to the surface alive - only to realise that no ships had come to rescue us.
The Swedish vessel took more than ninety minutes to realise what had happened and return but by then for most of the men in the ice-cold waters it was too late.
Item Six: From The Gentleman February 15, 1731
The Duke referred to in the report is the nine/ten-year old William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, the second (and favourite) son of George the II. Dodge Hare appears to be a more violent form of the game of Hide and Seek. It is, perhaps, an interesting insight into the young mind of the future victor of Culloden whose cruelties there earned him the lasting title of Butcher.
He that falls must have five stripes.
Item Seven: From Our Own Correspondent
The first Waterloo bridge was designed by Sir John Rennie and was built between 1811 and 1817. It was opened by the Prince Regent on June 18t 1917 the second anniversary of the Battle of waterloo. At its conception, it was known to be the Strand Bridge as it would link that thoroughfare with Lambeth. However, there were many who wanted a major monument to Wellington's Victory. Parliament agreed and in an Act of 1816 changed the name to Waterloo Bridge because:-
the said bridge when completed will be a work of great stability and magnificence, and such works are adapted to transmit to posterity the remembrance of great and glorious achievements.
With its nine elliptical arches and pair of Doric columns at the piers, the new bridge was instantly regarded as a masterpiece and the most handsome bridge on the river. It was a popular thoroughfare and the tolls which helped pay for its construction were lifted in 1877. However, in 1923 two of its piers began to sink at an alarming rate and the bridge was declared unsafe. A temporary bridge was hastily built alongside and a Committee set up to advise the London County Council (LCC) on the best means of dealing with the problem. That committee reported back in 1925 with the recommendation that an entirely new bridge be built. It also recommended that the opportunity be taken to relieve the traffic problems at the north end where it met the Strand by constructing an underpass beneath the latter.
These recommendations were greeted by a storm of protest. The Rennie bridge was by far the most beautiful surviving bridge in London and whilst none disputed this, it was pointed out that it was in generally poor condition and was certainly not wide enough for modern traffic. The point was bluntly made by the Chair of the Finance Committee at the LCC:
if the only function of a abridge is to be beautiful, or that if it is beautiful it can dispense with performing other functions, I have nothing more to say; but if you hold that the first function of Art is to add beauty to utility, and that utility must come first, and that a growing city with growing demands must perforce sometimes have to let things go
An alternative scheme was devised which would widen the bridge, replace the weakest piers and construct additional bridges to cope with traffic. The LCC would only agree to this scheme if central government was prepared to provide 75% of the enormous cost. The government of Ramsey MacDonald declined and, in 1934, the LCC under the leadership of Herbert Morrison adopted the recommendations of the Committee.
In a characteristically flamboyant show of determination, Mr Morrison himself ceremoniously removed the first stone from the bridge.
The modern bridge of cantilevered reinforced concrete box girders was constructed between 1937 and 1942 to a design by the architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott.
Item Eight: From Our Own Chronicler
John Wycliffe, born in 1329, was a popular theology teacher at Oxford who also held office at court where he was used as a pamphleteer. By 1374 he had become a recognised critic of abuses by the clergy and was sent to Bruges to treat with papal ambassadors on the matter of ecclesiastical abuses. England at this time was in the midst of the Hundred Years war with France and patriotic sentiment was running high. Some of the more powerful men at court were also becoming more exasperated by the growing power and wealth of the clergy.
Item Nine: And so to Mr Pepys
At Cambridge, the Tripos or Bachelor of the Stool, was the student who made the Half-Term speech, in verse, on Ash Wednesday, when the senior Proctor called him up and exhorted him to be "witty but modest withal." The speeches of these individuals who were usually ambitious and of a political frame of mind, did, especially after the Restoration, tend to be boisterous, and even scurrilous. It was an early exercise in what we saw (and expected) in the 20th century as the set-piece in a student debate. The Tripos verses still come out, and are circulated on Ash Wednesday in accordance with the old tradition. At the same time, the list of successful candidates for honours is published on the same paper. Which is the reason why this has become known as the "Tripos" list.
Item Ten: From the Newgate Chronicler
Today, in 2002, it is possible to stand in the 12th century porch of the church of St. Sepulchre and look out on the Old Bailey and the site of the old City gate of Newgate. The gaol of Newgate began its life as a place of detention within the structure of the Gate itself, in the same way that the gate at Ludgate did. Both of them looked across the stinking moat at the Fleet prison, which was a much more serious affair built by William Rufus in 1180. When the Fleet began to deal exclusively with debtors, the gaol at Newgate was much expanded to deal with criminals of a higher order. Here were incarcerated those who were destined for the gallows.
Until the end of the 18th century the work-a-day gibbet was located at Tyburn, now Marble Arch. However, this place did not enjoy a monopoly, many who were convicted of capital crimes were executed at the scene of the crime itself. Execution was seen as a form of expiation and, generally, the condemned went along with that, accepting their fate. composing prayers, forgiving wrongs and composing prayers etc.
This religious element placed the church of St. Sepulchre in a unique position. In a sense, it became the parish church of Newgate even though there was a chapel within the prison. A prisoner condemned to hang at Tyburn was taken from Newgate to the place of execution by way of Holborn and Snow Hill. A route that took the procession past the south front and around the west end of St Sepulchre's. At some early stage arose the custom of tolling the bell of St Sepulchre, as if for a funeral, as the condemned prisoner was passing. This custom continued after Tyburn was dismantled and the street outside Newgate itself became the place of execution.
However, human nature is nothing if it does not have a vicious and vindictive side. Once the custom of the funeral bell had become established another soon established itself as a necessary preliminary. Thus, on the night before an execution the bellman of St Sepulchre would walk past Newgate and, ringing his handbell, recite the following:
All you that in the condemned hold do lie,
Terrorism and Its Power
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Jun 11 2002, 10:17:33
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