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Thirteen Lions

The Gunpowder Plotters meeting at the Duck and Drake, as rendered by Maz Hemming.

The work of illustrator, graphic designer and game maker Maz Hemming, Thirteen Lions is a webcomic retelling the story of the Gunpowder Plot. It’s now being published online in instalments. While the conspiracy is currently in its infancy, there’s already been a pivotal cameo for the Duck and Drake – the pub on the Strand…

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Anthony Heap’s Strand

Anthony Heap (1910-1985) kept a daily diary for nearly 57 years – from just before his 18th birthday in 1928 until 36 hours before his death in University College Hospital in October 1985. He was a Londoner who lived until 1932 with is parents in Gray’s Inn Road. Anthony attended St Clement Danes Grammar School…

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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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Balloon on the Strand

A balloon

The history of crazes is an enormously rich subject. We seem to be in the middle of a craze for fidget spinners, of which all sorts of varieties are on sale in the Strand. In 1784, the Strand was a key location for what became, for two or three years, a mad craze for balloons…

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Souvenirs on the Strand

A Strand shop window

A recent walk along the Strand in search of fidget spinners led me to start thinking about souvenirs. Sadly the Strand doesn’t feature in London-themed merchandise – it’s not as cool as the other big streets. A couple of years ago I asked a souvenir seller why he didn’t have items with the Strand? He…

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Mrs Holt’s Italian Warehouse

In the 1720s, Mrs Holt’s Italian Warehouse (a warehouse was a sort of 18th-century department store) in the Strand opposite Exeter Change. According to the trade card that William Hogarth engraved for her, she stocked ‘all sort of Italian silks as Lustrings, Sattins, Padesois, Velvets, Damasks, &c, Fans, Leghorne Hats, Flowers, Lute and Violin Strings,…

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St Mary Le Strand

In 1147 the site was occupied by the church of The Nativity Of Our Lady and the Innocents. This was demolished in 1549 to make way for Somerset House, Protector Somerset promised to rebuild it but never did so and for nearly 200 years the parishioners had used the Savoy Chapel. A maypole used to…

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Metropole Hotel Invoice

Metropole Hotel Invoice

This is an invoice regarding the Metropole (or Metripole as gt Grandpa spelt it). J Garrod was Joseph Garrod, my great grandfather. The business was carried on by Edward, my grandfather and James & William my father and his brother. It is still going, trading as Garrod Brothers in North London. The owners are still family,…

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Mlle. Sarah Bernhardt and the National Theatre

In Matthew Arnold’s essay on ‘The French Theatre’ (1879) he urges on the movement to found a national theatre and fancifully imagines French comediens departing for London and passing ‘along the Strand… I see a fugitive vision of delicate features under a shower of hair and a cloud of lace, and hear the voice of…

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