Westminster City Archives

Westminster City Archives Archives Centre and Local Studies Library for City of Westminster
(11)

We're the premier destination for exploring the social, economic and cultural history of City of Westminster. Nestled in a quiet street, just a stone's throw from Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament, City of Westminster Archives Centre houses a host of manuscript sources, historic photographs, prints, books, maps, and much more, unlocking the door to the past of our fascinating city. Our special Art and Design Collection has been recognised as being of national importance, and our extensive Theatre Collection is one of the most extensive public collections on the history of the West End stage. Our page is a great way to stay in touch with everything going on at the Archives Centre, from brand new exhibitions, walks and talks, to on-line projects and the latest additions to our collections.

Today we are looking at heraldry.  In 1965, the City of Westminster as it is now constituted came into being. In that ye...
28/05/2020

Today we are looking at heraldry.



In 1965, the City of Westminster as it is now constituted came into being. In that year there was a major reorganisation of local government in London, according to the provisions of the London Government Act 1963. The former metropolitan boroughs of St Marylebone and Paddington were combined with Westminster to form the new unit.



We are sharing today the arms of these four entities.



Marylebone has the helmet at the top and a Latin motto translating as ‘Be it according to thy word.’



Paddington has the crossed swords and no motto.



The pre-merger Westminster has a creamy background to the image and a motto translating as ‘Guard the city, Lord.’



The later Westminster is largely the same as the former one and has the same motto, but, when you compare it to the other three images, it clearly incorporates elements of the other two arms.

Today is the birthday of Rachel Carson (1907 – 1964), widely credited with kickstarting the world-wide environmental mov...
27/05/2020

Today is the birthday of Rachel Carson (1907 – 1964), widely credited with kickstarting the world-wide environmental movement with her book Silent Spring (1962). We are sharing today a view of Regent's Park in the spring. It is one of a set of 18 watercolour views of Regent's Park in our collections painted by Charles Anderson Junior in the 1860’s.

Today we have another book review from Alison, our retired archivist.  THE IMAGE OF LONDON: VIEWS BY TRAVELLERS AND EMIG...
26/05/2020

Today we have another book review from Alison, our retired archivist.



THE IMAGE OF LONDON: VIEWS BY TRAVELLERS AND EMIGRÉS 1550-1920



This beautifully illustrated book is actually the catalogue of a splendid exhibition held at the Barbican Art Gallery in 1987, documenting the work of the foreign artists who have contributed so much to our knowledge of the landscape and riverside of London throughout the ages. Many of the illustrations in the catalogue are in black and white, but there are just enough colour ones to keep a modern reader happy.



My favourite of these foreign artists is the Czech Wenceslaus Hollar, who came to London in 1637 at the invitation of Thomas Howard, 21st Earl of Arundel. He illustrated the Medieval bishop’s palaces along the Strand, which by his day had become mansions awarded to Tudor courtiers. He also produced a fabulous view from the river of the Palace of Westminster, Westminster Hall, and Westminster Abbey in 1647, and a very good bird’s eye view of Covent Garden in 1658. Incidentally, among the probate records of the Dean and Chapter of Westminster we have the inventory listing the goods in Hollar’s house at the time of his death in the parish of St Margaret Westminster in 1677.



The cover of the book shows a painting by another one of the great visiting artists, Canaletto, who came at the invitation of the Duke of Richmond and stayed at his mansion just off Whitehall, painting scenes of the City of London along the Thames.

On this day in 1793, the world’s first purpose-built panorama rotunda was opened. Robert Barker had engaged Robert Mitch...
25/05/2020

On this day in 1793, the world’s first purpose-built panorama rotunda was opened. Robert Barker had engaged Robert Mitchell to design it, and it was erected on the north side of Leicester Square, on the site of grounds of the old Leicester House, with its entrance in Cranbourne Street.



The success of the Leicester Square panorama soon saw a rival established in the Strand, with the fashion spreading fast across the country: rotundas were erected in Aberdeen, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dublin, Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham. The late Ralph Hyde’s descriptive catalogue Panoramania! was aptly named.



We are sharing today a cross-section of the rotunda, aquatint by Robert Mitchell, 1801, a plan of an exhibit of two views of Paris at the Panorama, 1803, and the cover of Ralph Hyde’s book, Panoramania!

On this day in 1738, John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, had what might be termed a ‘conversion experience.’ He had r...
24/05/2020

On this day in 1738, John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, had what might be termed a ‘conversion experience.’ He had recently become intellectually convinced of the truth of the doctrine of salvation by faith alone, one of the hallmarks of reformation theology. But on this day, this was transformed into a deep personal spiritual experience, during a reading of a work by Luther at a religious meeting in Aldersgate Street in London. The day is celebrated in Methodism as Aldersgate Day.



We are sharing today a view of Lock Chapel near Hyde Park Corner, from about 1770. The Chapel was founded in 1762 by followers of John Wesley. It supported the work of the Lock Hospital - a hospital for the treatment of people with venereal disease - through pew rents. The unsigned print was published by Alexander Hogg.

Today it’s another Victorian photograph: a view of the staff outside the shop front of Samuel Reed, builder and decorato...
23/05/2020

Today it’s another Victorian photograph: a view of the staff outside the shop front of Samuel Reed, builder and decorator, 25-27 Foubert's Place, we think taken in the early 1890’s.



A photocopied note attached to the mount of the photograph reads:



"Office and workshop of S Reed, Builders & Decorators etc, 25 Foubert's Place, W1, as shown on the ladders stacked vertically left of centre. In centre, with bowler hat, Samuel Reed - the boss, with his sons. Left in Bowler hat, Clarence Montague Reed, on his left with cloth cap, Benjamin Reed, on left of the boss - in Trilby hat - Sidney Reed - and other members of staff. Date unknown, but probably around 1910 (crossed out) -> I have since learnt that Samuel Reed died 26 Sept 1898. The three sons referred to above were my uncles. I knew the workshop well."



What possibly strikes the ordinary modern viewer about this photograph is how formal the clothing of these men looks, more like contemporary office clothing – not a hard-hat, a boiler-suit, combat trousers, or high visibility item in sight.



Photograph donated by Harold Croucher.

WALLACE COLLECTION VISITORS’ BOOK By Alison Kenney, retired archivist    I have spent many a happy hour on Sunday aftern...
22/05/2020

WALLACE COLLECTION VISITORS’ BOOK

By Alison Kenney, retired archivist



I have spent many a happy hour on Sunday afternoons years ago “doing” the Wallace Collection. Set in the opulent surroundings of Hertford House, there is so much to enjoy – the Medieval carvings and lavish sixteenth century armour from Milan and Augsburg, the seventeenth century French Boulle furniture, the colourful marble table tops, the portraits of pretty mistresses of Louis V, the “fêtes champêtres” of the French Rococo period such as Marie Antoinette might have enjoyed at Versailles and the nineteenth century Orientalist depictions of the Middle East with the harems and markets which must have seemed incredibly exotic to Victorian Britons.



The Friends of Westminster City Archives enjoyed their visit to the Wallace Collection Library in January of this year. One of the items we saw was their Hertford House visitors’ book, 1876-1897. At the moment, I am keeping myself amused by helping them to decipher the scrawly late 19th century signatures in the book, all 250 pages of it. As Sir Richard Wallace, the great art collector, had lived in France, many of his guests were French, so a working knowledge of the language has been a great asset. It is interesting to see how many doctors, both British and foreign, were taken to the Wallace Collection, presumably as a treat from whatever business they had on Harley Street, or with the great medical institutions in nearby Marylebone.



The visitors’ book has been very well digitised at https://archive.org/details/HHVB1876_1897.



You can find out more about the Wallace Collection Library and Archives at https://www.wallacecollection.org/libraries-and-archives/.

Today is the UN-sponsored World Day for Cultural Diversity  for Dialogue and Development.  We are sharing today a photog...
21/05/2020

Today is the UN-sponsored World Day for Cultural Diversity
for Dialogue and Development.



We are sharing today a photograph from 1966 of the King and Queen of Thailand with officers and members of the Buddhist Society, which is based in Eccleston Square in Westminster.



For more information on the day and its aims, visit: https://www.un.org/en/events/culturaldiversityday/



#ThursdayThought

Today we have another post from Alison Kenney, our retired  archivist.  APSLEY HOUSE, No. 1 LONDON   “I always used to e...
20/05/2020

Today we have another post from Alison Kenney, our retired archivist.



APSLEY HOUSE, No. 1 LONDON



“I always used to enjoy my visits to the Duke of Wellington’s residence at Apsley House, Hyde Park Corner, when my parents visited me years ago. The Iron Duke used to refer to his house as “No. 1 London”, such was its prominence in the history of the nation. I loved its collection of political caricatures by Rowlandson, Gillray and Cruickshank, not only of the Iron Duke himself with the enormous nose, but also of the overblown pleasure-seeking Prince Regent. Interestingly, one of our volunteers found a Crown Estate lease of a house near Regent’s Park containing a clause prohibiting the house being leased to political cartoonists as well as the usual noxious trades of leather tanner, etc. So I guess the Prince must have taken the cartoons to heart. Apsley House also contains all the wonderful porcelain and metalware gifts made to the Duke from foreign royalty, in craftsmanship of the highest quality. This guidebook illustrates many of the pieces and the famous Waterloo Gallery with its fine collection of paintings.



As well as a photograph of Alison with her own copy of a Wellington Museum/Apsley House guidebook, we are illustrating Alison’s text today with an 1853 print of Apsley House by R Garrick, after Frank Dillon.

On this day in 1649, an Act of Parliament was passed declaring England and related territories, a Commonwealth. As it tu...
19/05/2020

On this day in 1649, an Act of Parliament was passed declaring England and related territories, a Commonwealth. As it turned out, this republican constitutional arrangement lasted only eleven years and a monarchy was restored in 1660.



The full, and surprisingly short, text of the act is here: https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/acts-ordinances-interregnum/p122.



Oliver Cromwell was a key figure in the turbulence of mid-seventeenth century Britain. In our collections we have an unsigned image from 1658, showing a view of the body of Oliver Cromwell lying in state at Somerset House.

Hop over to Books & The City to read our latest post! Join David as he revisits the Cookbook of Unknown Ladies project
18/05/2020
The Cookbook of Unknown Ladies

Hop over to Books & The City to read our latest post! Join David as he revisits the Cookbook of Unknown Ladies project

By David Evans, Westminster Archives volunteer Towards the end of 2012 the Westminster Archives Local Studies Librarian, Judith , asked me to transcribe a fascinating document that we called “The C…

Victoria Station was the first of the Victorian railway termini to serve Westminster. Built for the London, Brighton and...
18/05/2020

Victoria Station was the first of the Victorian railway termini to serve Westminster. Built for the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway, a line was extended from Battersea and taken over the Thames by a railway bridge. Measuring 930ft long and high enough to clear all the busy water traffic below, it was the first of its kind over the river. From the north bank a short line was run along the alignment of the (then largely redundant) Grosvenor canal, ending at the new terminus at the site of the Grosvenor canal basin, near the western end of Victoria Street.

The new station was to serve London's West End and, in particular, newly developed Belgravia and Pimlico. From Victoria the LB & SCR provided services to the south London suburbs and the Sussex coast; the London Chatham and Dover Railway served south-east London and the Kent coast.



Our images today are ‘The new Victoria Station at Pimlico’, from the Illustrated London News, 4 May 1861; and ‘Arrival of the workmen’s penny train at Victoria Station’, from the Illustrated London News, 22 April 1865.

Visit our Flickr Album Trams, Trains & Buses to see more images connected with the history of public transport in Westminster: https://www.flickr.com/photos/westminster-archives/albums/72157714075329428

Today is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (https://may17.org/).  To mark it we are sh...
17/05/2020

Today is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (https://may17.org/).



To mark it we are sharing a book review by Tim.



The marginalisation of some communities in the past can make it difficult to identify individuals belonging to them, even when they do appear in the sorts of records that may end up in an archive such as ours.



The gay community obviously falls into this category. My husband bought me a copy of A Little Gay History of Wales by Daryl Leeworthy for a recent anniversary. Dr Leeworthy is also a labour historian, and this comes through in the book, which is very much ‘history from below’. Hence his deep delving into original archive sources in Wales when doing the research for the book. This led him also to collaborate on a research guide for Glamorgan Archives with Norena Shopland called Queering Glamorgan: A Research Guide to Sources for the Study of LGBT History, which aims to aid researchers in unearthing relevant materials (https://glamarchives.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Queering-Glamorgan-28Aug2018.pdf).



Many of the same methodological issues will be encountered by researchers in other archives in the British Isles, including our own. We are aware of very little directly LGBT-relevant material in our own collections, apart from within the Theatre Collection. But then we need sympathetic researchers to look for it . . .



For more on the book visit here: https://www.uwp.co.uk/book/a-little-gay-history-of-wales/.

This scene is from a pageant at St Martin-in-the-Fields, from 1921. A participant, Henrietta Alice Davison, reminisces: ...
16/05/2020

This scene is from a pageant at St Martin-in-the-Fields, from 1921. A participant, Henrietta Alice Davison, reminisces:



"Money was needed to renovate St. Martin in the Fields so [the vicar] Dick Sheppard appealed for thousands of pounds and it was decided to have a Pageant of Religion through the ages. It was a huge undertaking with everyone taking part and with performances every evening for a week. He knew so many influential people that he had no difficulty in obtaining the best help. Laurence Housman to write the play, Ben Webster to produce it and Gustav Holst to arrange the music. It was all tremendous fun; I was one of the peasants in the Middle Ages."



Henrietta Alice Davison, born 18 November 1908, Stepney; lived New Row, St Martin's Lane, 1917-1930; second from the left in the picture.

15/05/2020
Microsoft Forms

Take part in the final instalment of our archives quiz! This week's themes are food and drink in the capital, on this day and a picture round

An avid follower of ours in Denmark has sent us one of her many photographs of London, suggesting we might find it usefu...
15/05/2020

An avid follower of ours in Denmark has sent us one of her many photographs of London, suggesting we might find it useful for a Facebook post. She said she was not certain where she took it exactly, but that it was somewhere in Marylebone.



A very quick search online yielded a hit on a website called ‘London Remembers - Aiming to capture all memorials in London’ (https://www.londonremembers.com/memorials/charles-dickens-relief). This revealed the monument to be from 1960, on an office block erected on a site where a house occupied by Dickens had just been demolished. He lived there between 1839 and 1851 – more information is available on the website, including identification of the Dickens characters portrayed.



The website’s self-description is below - an interesting resource, we think:



The aim of this website is to document all the memorials in London. That's the plaques, monuments, statues, fountains, etc, that commemorate a person, an event, a building, etc. It's an aim we don't think we will ever achieve but we will enjoy the attempt. Our prime objective is not to research biographies, etc. – anyone can do that using web resources. This website focuses on finding the memorials, photographing them, plotting them on a map and logging them in a searchable database, thus providing a powerful research tool. As far as we know, we are the only people doing this: treating all memorials equally, from the rich and famous to the poor and humble.



Thank you to Anne Pedersen for allowing the use of her photograph and for indirectly alerting us to this website.

Researching your family history can be a fun and exciting journey and it all starts at home.So join our Archivist, Lisa ...
14/05/2020

Researching your family history can be a fun and exciting journey and it all starts at home.

So join our Archivist, Lisa on 'Books & the City' the official blog of Westminster Libraries & Archives to find out how to get started. https://wcclibraries.wordpress.com

Today we have another book review from Alison Kenney, our retired archivist.  During my time working at the City of West...
14/05/2020

Today we have another book review from Alison Kenney, our retired archivist.



During my time working at the City of Westminster Archives Centre, the architectural photographs of the Bedford Lemere company were always a great favourite of mine. So when I saw The Streets of London, Volume One: Westminster Photographed by Bedford Lemere in 1990, I knew I had to buy it. The volume was edited by Ian Leith, curator of photographs at the National Monuments Record (now Historic England Archive).



For many years the company was based on the Strand, but they then moved to Croydon. They produced photographs of the highest quality, many of large hotels such as the Hotel Cecil on the Strand, where they even photographed the kitchens as well as the great dining rooms. Otherwise their commissions were for many of the great Mayfair mansions of the aristocracy before the First World War. That war caused many of the properties to be demolished, even Grosvenor House on Park Lane, the residence of the Dukes of Westminster. And Hotel Cecil now survives only as a façade on the Strand.

Time for another one of our Victorian photographs. This one is a view of houses in Wych Street. An extension of Drury La...
13/05/2020

Time for another one of our Victorian photographs. This one is a view of houses in Wych Street. An extension of Drury Lane, this narrow street contained a number of ancient timber-framed houses that overhung the roadway. Wych Street disappeared completely in 1900, when these houses were demolished to make way for the construction of the Aldwych.



The photograph was taken by the Society for Photographing Relics of Old London, in about 1876. It is interesting to note that the massive level of Victorian development in London obviously spawned enough of an interest in old buildings for such a society to exist, though evidently not enough to stop these particular buildings later being demolished.

Address

10 St Ann's Street
London
SW1P 2DE

Opening Hours

Tuesday 10:00 - 19:00
Wednesday 10:00 - 19:00
Thursday 10:00 - 19:00
Friday 10:00 - 17:00
Saturday 10:00 - 17:00

Telephone

020 7641 5180

Alerts

Be the first to know and let us send you an email when Westminster City Archives posts news and promotions. Your email address will not be used for any other purpose, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Contact The Museum

Send a message to Westminster City Archives:

Videos

Nearby museums


Comments

Q. I wondered whether the Archives take action to record/save the history of an important specific event such as the current lock-down while it is taking place?
The adventure starts here, with a picture from the Westminter Archives...
I've used the Westminster City Archives for decades. It's first-rate research facility. Its people are reliably helpful & pleasant. Thank You.
This is one of my favourite places to do research.
Am big enthusiast of the Westminster Archive - Happy New Year to all there.
About the value of libraries!
Dear Westminster City Archives This week the Lost Cousins newsletter (https://www.lostcousins.com/newsletters2/midjul17news.htm) reports on an exciting collection of 1915 National Registration - 9 boxes containing over 13000 forms. When I consulted the online catalogue I found just 2 items matching the search terms 'national registration'. So diappointing! The newsletter contributor has made a good start on a description of this collection, so please update the catalogue with some alacrity.
Searching for the removal records of bodies removed from St. Martin in the Fields.