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19th Century

Monet’s Pied-à-terre

Monet Waterloo Bridge

“I find London lovelier to paint each day” – Claude Monet. Monet’s link to London Monet fell in love with London in 1870-71, while in exile from France, during the Franco-Prussian war. After his return to France he vowed to revisit London, which he did in 1899, 1900 and 1901. In each of these three…

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A Smoking Rebellion at the Savoy?

Savoy 'out' sign

The Savoy hotel is a treasure trove of weird and intriguing events over the last century of Strand history. In 1896, per the Fairmont Hotel Group blog, the Duchesse de Clermont-Tonnerre was the first woman to smoke in public and did so at the Savoy. “The Duchesse de Clermont-Tonnerre, the first woman to smoke in…

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Layers of the Strand

Today, I have been time travelling. I explored the farm around Trafalgar Square. I squeezed into a tiny top room in Devereaux Court to hear Isaac Newton speak. I paid a ferryman tuppence to take me to the floating coffee house on the Thames to look over the water at Somerset House. This is all…

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‘The most interesting street in the world’

The first ever issue of the Strand Magazine was published in January 1891. Its opening sentence informs the reader: ‘The Editor of the Strand Magazine respectfully places his first number in the hands of the public’. In its inaugural issue, the magazine plays on the place of London’s Strand in the popular imagination as a…

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‘I’d Rather Be an American Girl at the Savoy Hotel…’ — sponsored content, early-20th Century style

Sponsored content might sound like a development of the internet age, but far from it. On television and in the print media, companies have been managing their brands, shaping their public images and enticing consumers this way for years. Often called advertorials, these pieces blurred the lines between advertising or entertainment and objective journalism. They…

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‘that Strand which is lost as Atlantis’: Arthur Machen’s memories of the Strand

Mystic, theatre critic, teller of weird tales and tramper of London’s obscurer byways and thoroughfares, Arthur Machen was also very fond of the Strand. Available through the Internet Archive (courtesy of the University of California libraries) his memoir of the 1870 and 1880s, Far Off Things (Martin & Secker, 1922) recounts ‘the first time I saw the Strand, and…

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The King’s Shop in 1847

The King's shop as it was in 1847 from the second, 1847 edition of John Tallis’s Steet Views.

With thanks to Professor Michael Trapp of King’s, this is the (now former) location of the King’s shop as it was in 1847, long before the 1905 rebuild that brought the present building into being; from the second, 1847 edition of John Tallis’s Steet Views.

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‘Gaiety George’ and the Making of Modern Celebrity

The cast of The Shop Girl in an 1895 souvenir programme © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

During the 1890s and 1900s the Strand’s Gaiety theatre played host to a string of dazzlingly successful shows featuring the ‘Gaiety Girls.’ For the project Moving Past Present I invited artist Janina Lange to ‘reanimate’ two of the Gaiety’s best-known stars, Constance Collier and Ellaline Terriss, as digital avatars. The process of researching their lives…

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Victorian Lives Revealed

King's College London Main Building ~1830

King’s College London has employed some of the great and good from the academic world over its 188 years but there are many members of staff, academics, technicians, clerical and domestic, who are less well-known or not known at all. King’s College London Main Building ~1830 A joint project between King’s College London Archives and…

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