‘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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The Mineral Shop at 149 Strand

Stanley Gibbons’s stamp shop was not the only mecca for nineteenth-century collectors, as Dr Adelene Buckland (English Department, King’s College London) demonstrated at the ‘Shows of London’ seminar series last Monday night at King’s. On the opposite side of the street to Gibbons’s establishment, at 149 Strand, was a mineral shop from 1804-1881. Dr Buckland told us…

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The Old Watch House and Roman Bath in Strand Lane

The so-called ‘Roman’ bath, though not the buildings over it, dates from the early seventeenth century. The Watch House (the white building with the balcony) once belonging to St Clement Danes, looks early nineteenth century in its present form, but there are documents to show that there was a building of this shape (projecting over…

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The Vaudeville Theatre

A few doors down from the Adelphi is the pretty building which houses the Vaudeville Theatre.Built in 1870, Henry Irving acted on this stage for a while, as Ronald Bergan’s book The Great Theatres of London tells us.

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Adelphi Theatre

Carrying on along the north side of the Strand, heading east towards Fleet Street and away from Trafalgar Square, we reach the Adelphi theatre. This gorgeous Art Deco-style building is the latest incarnation of the theatre, built in 1930. However, the Adelphi started life as the Sans Pareil in 1806. It was renamed in 1819,…

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St Mary Le Strand

In 1147 the site of St Mary le Strand 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…

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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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Panoramas, Dress Circles and Tubes

In 1787 Robert Barker put a patent on a way of seeing: ‘panorama’. It is said that he came upon the term when surveying the city of Edinburgh from the top of Calton Hill. Moving to London, Barker reconstructed 360 degree views in a Leicester Square art gallery; an initiative mimicked by his son on…

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Exeter ‘Change

Originally submitted by Chris Kenyon Jones A shopping mall – with a zoo upstairs – once occupied what is now the site of the Strand Palace Hotel. The Exeter Exchange (or ‘Exeter ’Change’) was originally built in the late 17th century to house a collection of small shops at ground level. From the 1770s to…

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