New Year’s Eve—The White Heather Club and Hootenanny December 31st

Happy new year card showing drunken wealthy young man slumped on the snow overlooked by a policeman

On the seventh day of Christmas
My true love sent to me:
7 Swans a Swimming; 6 Geese a Laying;
5 Golden Rings;
4 Calling Birds; 3 French Hens; 2 Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

First an admission, there is a lot of confusion out there as to which is the First day of Christmas. According to my muse, Charles Kightly, the first day of Christmas is Boxing Day, the 26th of December. This makes Twelfth Night January 6th, which is Epiphany – when the three wise men rocked up with their fabulous presents. But that is a Christian day of importance, and most other authorities begin the counting on Christmas Day. So, Twelfth Night is Epiphany Eve, i.e. January 5th. Have a look at Notes&Queries for different viewpoints. One suggestion was that the Church had to accept that the Twelve Days of Christmas were taken up with pagan activities and allowed it to go on until the night before Epiphany. I have gone back and rearranged my days of Christmas accordingly and am I going to take my Christmas decorations down before going to bed on the 5th January. Twelfth Night.

New Year’s Eve

This is a day of preparation, and perhaps of anxiety. Have we got an invitation anywhere tonight? Is anyone going to come to our party? Can I take another blow out feast, a belly full of alcohol and a very late night? For years in my life, New Year’s Eve was spent with my parents watching some inexplicable variety show hosted in Scotland. Google has helped me remember that it was the ‘White Heather Club’ hosted by Andy Stewart. Up to 10 million people watched this between 1960 and 1968. I never understood the pleasure of it, and it seemed a symbol of an old-fashioned world that was passing and irrelevant.

More recently, if not spent at a party, New Year’s Eve is spent with Jools’ Annual Hootenanny, which is a music show masquerading as a live New Year’s Eve party. It features really excellent bands and singers. It is, however, recorded earlier in December (15th, 20th are dates I have seen) and hence a New Year’s fake. Here is a 2007 except starring Madness’s ‘House of Fun’. The fun of this is to spot the stars grooving along to the music.

New Year’s Day needs a lot of preparation. Folklore suggests that this should include finishing off any unfinished work or projects, as a task carried forward is ill-omened. Your accounts for the year should be reconciled, and as Charles Dickens suggests in the Chimes, your moral account with the world should also be addressed so that you can come into the New Year with a clean slate, good conscience and plans for a better new year. And don’t we all need that for 2023!

To see the rest of this post, follow this link:

Tomorrow I am doing a New Year’s Walk and a New Year’s Virtual Tour

December 31st—New Year’s Eve

Engraving showing the custom of First Footing

First Footing

The first person to set foot into your house needs to be a ‘Tall, well-made man’. Dark-haired men are preferred to fair-haired, but he must not be dressed in black, nor be from the ‘professions’ (those people who can counter-sign your passport). He must not carry a knife, but he must bring gifts, particularly a loaf of bread, a bottle of whisky, a piece of coal or wood, and a silver coin. Silence is to welcome him to the house until he puts the coal on the fire, pours a glass of the whisky and greets the family. He will bring in the luck through the front door on the stroke of midnight; the bread symbolising that you will be well-fed, the fuel that you will be warm and safe, the whisky that you will have fun and the coin will bring prosperity. Your first-footer will take the old year and its bad-luck out of the back door when he leaves.

The weather today will be reflected on the 7th month—so July will start gloomy and with rain, but it will also be warm.

Or as a Scottish Rhyme has it (quoted in the Perpetual Almanac)

If New Year’s Eve night-wind blow south
That betokens warmth and growth
If west, much milk, and fish in the sea
If North, much cold and storms will be
If east, the tress will bear much fruit.
If north-east, flee it, man and brute,

The wind is currently south-west, so it would seem we are in for a year of warmth and growth, with much milk and fish in the sea.

Archive of Events and Walks (2023)

I update this from time to time to keep track of walks I have done and to keep them on the internet in case anyone is searching for someone to give a walk on one of ‘my’ subjects.

The ‘London Before and After the Roman invasion Walk’ was a brand new walk, although I had done it as a virtual tour.. But as an actual walk it was new and quite a challenge. Although the Roman finds are concentrated in an area that can reasonably be ‘walked’ the prehistoric element is spread all over Greater London. So I did quite a lot of waving my arms and saying ‘Over there, archaeologists found….’ or ‘To the South East was the Kingdom of the Atrebates, whose King Verica fled to the Romans asking their help to regain his throne. ‘ or ‘Claudius crossed the Thames with Nine Elephants some where, almost certainly to the West of us.’ It went quite well, although the sunny weather changed into a downpour which made the climax of the tour a bit of a damp squib.

But I learnt a lot, because it made me read Dominic Perring’s new book on Roman London ‘London in the Roman World’ more closely than I otherwise would have. I should say that I worked with Dominic when we were young archaeologists at the Museum of London. He is now a Professor at the Institute of Archaeology, and, occasionally, I am lucky enough to join him and a few archaeological friends, watching our football team, Tottenham Hotspur.

Tomorrow is my Plough Tuesday as I spent today, my last day of my ‘holiday’ period, bringing my boat up the Regent’s Canal to outside my flat in Hackney and what a glorious January day it was! Tomorrow I have a meeting to sort out my Road Scholar lecturing for the year and Wednesday is my first day lecturing at College.

Below are the walks I have done so far this year

Ring in the New Year Virtual Walk

Old New Year Card


Monday 1st January 2024 7.00pm
On this Virtual Walk we look at how London has celebrated the New Year over the past 2000 years.

The New Year has been a time of review, renewal and anticipation
of the future from time immemorial. The Ancient Britons saw the Solstice as a symbol of a promise of renewal as the Sun was reborn. As the weather turns to bleak mid winter, a festival or reflection and renewal cheers everyone up. This idea of renewal was followed by the Romans, and presided over by a two headed God called Janus who looked both backwards and forwards. Dickens Christmas Carol was based on redemption and his second great Christmas Book ‘The Chimes’ on the renewal that the New Year encouraged.

We look at London’s past to see where and how the New Year was celebrated. We also explore the different New Years we use and their associated Calendars – the Pagan year, the Christian year, the Roman year, the Jewish year, the Financial year, the Academic year and we reveal how these began. We look at folk traditions, Medieval Christmas Festivals, Boy Bishops, Distaff Sunday and Plough Monday, and other Winter Festival and New Year London tradition and folklore.

At the end we use ancient methods to divine what is in store for us in 2023..

The virtual walk finds interesting and historic places in the City of London to link to our stories of Past New Year’s Days. We begin with the Druids at Tower Hill, and walk around the Roman City of London, and through London History until we get to St Pauls Cathedral

The London Winter Solstice Virtual Tour

Druids at All Hallows, by the Tower
Druids at All Hallows, by the Tower


Fri 22 Dec 2023 19:30


We explore London’s History through its celebrations, festivals, calendars and almanacs of the Winter Solstice


Winter Solstice festivals have been a time of review, renewal and anticipation of the future from time immemorial. The Ancient Britons saw the Solstice as a symbol of a promise of renewal as the world entered bleak mid winter. The Roman season was presided over by Janus, a two headed God who looked both backwards and forwards, and Dickens based his second great Christmas Book on the renewal that the New Year encouraged.

We look at London’s past to see where and how the Solstice might be celebrated. We also explore the different Calendars – the Pagan year, the Christian year, the Roman year, the Jewish year, the Financial year, the Academic year and we reveal how these began. We look at folk traditions, Medieval Christmas Festivals, Boy Bishops, Distaff Sunday and Plough Monday, and other London winter traditions and folklore.

At the end we use ancient methods to divine what is in store for us in 2023.

To Book:

Jane Austen’s London Walk

Georgian female engraving

Jane Austen’s London Walk

a Special Christmas version on 23 December 2023 & normal one on 21st January

Sat 2.30 pm Green Park underground station, London (By the Fountain, just outside the Green Park exit of the Tube Station)

To Book:

An exploration of Mayfair, the centre of the London section of Sense & Sensibility and where Jane came to visit her brother

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a Jane Austen devotee in possession of the good fortune of a couple of free hours today must be in want of this walk.”

People associate Jane Austen and her characters with a rural setting. But London is central to both Jane Austen’s real life and her literary life. So, this tour will explore Jane’s connections with London and give the background to Sense and Sensibility, a good part of which is based in this very area. We begin with the place Jane’s coach would arrive from Hampshire, and then walk the streets haunted by Willougby; past shops visited by the Palmers, the Ferrars; visit the location of Jane Austen’s brother’s bank and see the publisher of Jane’s Books. The area around Old Bond Street was the home of the Regency elite and many buildings and a surprising number of the shops remain as they were in Jane Austen’s day.

This is a London Walk Guided Walk lead by Kevin Flude

To Book:

Christmas With Jane Austen Virtual London Tour

12th Night


Saturday 23 December 2023 7.30pm

We look at how Jane Austen spent Christmas and at Georgian Christmas traditions and amusements.

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a Jane Austen devotee in possession of the good fortune of a couple of free hours must be in want of this virtual walk.”

This is a special walk, which looks at the traditions of Christmas during the Regency period and how Jane Austen might have celebrated it. It will give some background to Jane Austen’s life and her knowledge of London. We used her novels and her letters to find out what she might have done at Christmas, but also at how Christmas was kept in this period, and the range of ‘Curiosities, Amusements, Exhibitions, Public Establishments, and Remarkable Objects in and near London available to enjoy.

This is a London Walks Guided Walk by Kevin Flude, Museum Curator and Lecturer.

Review: ‘Thanks, again, Kevin. These talks are magnificent!’

To Book:


Roman London – A Literary & Archaeological Walk Saturday 16 Dec & 21st Jan 2023 11.30 am Monument Underground Station To book

Dickens London. Life, Work and Christmas Virtual Tour

Wassail Bowl being brought in by a Servant into a dining hall on Christmas Day
From ‘Old Christmas’ by Washington Irving


Friday 15th December 2023 7.30pm


A Virtual Tour of Dickens London with a dash of Dickensian Christmas

The Virtual Tour weaves an exploration of Victorian London with Dickens London Life and writing. On the tour we have a look at London at Christmas and the contribution Dickens made to it by his Christmas Books

Dickens writing always has a moral element as exemplified by his Christmas Books. ‘Christmas Carol’ was based on redemption and his second great Christmas Book ‘The Chimes’ on the renewal that the New Year encouraged.

We start in Southwark, visit sites associated with the Christmas Books and others and end at Staple Inn with the Christmas Book ‘The Haunted Man’.

Chaucer’s Medieval London Guided Walk

Medieval City Gate
Medieval City Gate


Aldgate Underground Sunday 12 November 2023 11.30pm

A Walk around Medieval London following in the footsteps of its resident medieval poet – Geoffrey Chaucer

One of the spectators at the Peasants Revolt was Geoffrey Chaucer, born in the Vintry area of London, who rose to be a diplomat, a Courtier and London’s Customs Officer. He lived with his wife in the Chamber above the Gate in the City Wall at Aldgate. His poetry shows a rugged, joyous medieval England including many scenes reflecting life in London. His stories document the ending of the feudal system, growing dissatisfaction with the corruption in the Church, and shows the robust independence with which the English led their lives.

His work helped change the fashion from poetry in French or Latin to acceptance of the English language as suitable literary language. This was helped by the growth of literacy in London as its Merchants and Guildsmen became increasingly successful. In 1422, for example, the Brewers decided to keep their records in English ‘as there are many of our craft who have the knowledge of reading and writing in the English idiom.’

Chaucer and other poets such as Langland give a vivid portrait of Medieval London which was dynamic, successful but also torn by crisis such as the Lollard challenge to Catholic hegemony, and the Peasants who revolted against oppression as the ruling classes struggled to resist the increased independence of the working people following the Black Death.

A walk which explores London in the Middle Ages, We begin at Aldgate, and follow Chaucer from his home to his place of work at the Customs House, and then to St Thomas Chapel on London Bridge, and across the River to where the Canterbury Tales start – at the Tabard Inn.

This is a London Walks event by Kevin Flude

London before and after The Roman Invasion

London before the Romans
View of London from the SE as it might have looked before the Roman Invasion

October 29th

The walk looks into the evidence for a prehistoric London and tells the story of the coming of the Romans in AD43

The walk is led by Kevin Flude, a former archaeologist at the Museum of London.

The walk investigates the City of London before and after the the Roman Conquest. What is the evidence for settlement before the Romans set up town of Londinium? Why did the Romans establish the town on this spot? Who were the early Roman Londoners and what made their choice of site so successful?

The fledgling Town was then burnt down by Queen Boudiccan and her Icenian rebels. We look at the evidence for the Revolt and London’s recovery to became the capital of Britain.

This is a London Walks Guided Walk. Look at their web site for a list of other of their amazing walks.

REVIEWS (from London Walks website)
“Kevin, I just wanted to drop you a quick email to thank you ever so much for your archaeological tours of London! I am so thrilled to have stumbled upon your tours! I look forward to them more than you can imagine! They’re the best 2 hours of my week! 🙂 Best, Sue

London Before London – Prehistoric London Virtual Walk

London before the Romans
View of London from the SE as it might have looked before the Roman Invasion


October 29th

An exploration of London before the foundation of Londinium

It was long thought that London was founded by a Trojan Exile in the Late Bronze Age. But historical analysis and archaeological excavation gradually demoted the idea to a myth.

On this tour we explore what was in the London area before the Romans. We begin at Heathrow and tour Greater London for evidence from the Paleolithic to the invasion of the Emperor Claudius.

We concentrate on the period since the introduction of farming, and bring together evidence for the prehistoric Kingdoms that controlled the area on the eve of the Invasion. We look for henges, barrows, hill forts, hut circles and look at genetic evidence for identity of prehistoric Londoners. The tour will end in the City.

This is a London Walks event by Kevin Flude, ex Museum of London Archaeology and Museum Curator

The Peasants Revolt Anniversary Guided Walk (virtual tour on the same day at 7.30)
Aldersgate Underground Sunday 11th June 2023 10.45am

A Virtual Walk tracking the progress of the Peasants as they take control of London

On the anniversary of the Peasants Revolt we reconstruct the events that shook the medieval world. In June 1381, following the introduction of the iniquitous Poll Tax, England’s government nearly fell, shaken to the core by a revolt led by working men. This dramatic tour follows the events of the Revolt as the Peasants move through London in June 1381.

We met up with the Peasants at Aldgate, force our way into the City. We march on the Tower of London as the King makes concessions by ending serfdom, at Mile End. But the leaders take the mighty Tower of London and behead the leaders of Richard’s government. Attacks follow on the lawyers in the Temple, the Prior at St. John’s of Jerusalem, Flemish Londoners, and on Lambeth and Savoy Palaces.

The climax of the Revolt comes at Smithfield where a small Royal party confront the 30,000 peasants.
To Book:

Tudor London – The City of Wolf Hall

engraving of a smithfield burning in the Tudor period


Friday 28 April And June 4th 2023 5.15pm Barbican Underground Station

The Walk creates a portrait of London in the early 16th Century, with particular emphasis on the life and times of Thomas Cromwell and Thomas More

More and Cromwell had much in common, both lawyers, commoners, who rose to be Lord Chancellor to Henry VIII, and ended their careers on the block at Tower Hill.

The walk starts with an exploration of Smithfield – site of the stake where Heretics were burnt alive and to St Bartholomew’s Monastery – given to Richard Rich after his decisive role in the downfall of Thomas More. We continue to St Paul where Martin Luther’s books where burnt, and later, were Puritans attacked dancing round the Maypole. We walk along the main markets streets of London, to Thomas More’s birthplace, and to the site of More’s and Cromwell’s townhouses before, if time allows, finishing at the site of the Scaffold where More and Cromwell met their ends.

Myths & Legends of London May Eve Special Guided Walk

Druids at All Hallows, by the Tower
Druids at All Hallows, by the Tower

Sunday 30th April 2023 3.00pm Tower Hill Tube Station

The walk tells the story of London’s legendary past, explores May Day and the Celtic Festival of Beltane

The walk is led by Kevin Flude, a former archaeologist at the Museum of London, who has an interest both in the archaeological evidence as well as the myths and legends of London’s origin.

The walk is one of a series about London’s Myths and Legends which take place on or around one of the significant festivals of the calendar. On this walk we celebrate May Day, or Beltane – the celebration of the coming of Summer.

The walk begins with the tale of London’s legendary origins in the Bronze Age by an exiled Trojan called Brutus. Stories of Bladud, Bellinus, Bran, Vortigern and Arthur will be interspersed with how they fit in with archaeological discoveries. As we explore the City we also look at evidence for ‘Celtic’ origins of London and how May Day may have been celebrated in London.

The route starts at Tower Hill, then down to the River Thames at Billingsgate, to London Bridge and Southwark Cathedral, into the valley of the River Walbrook, past the Temple of Mithras, along Cheapside towards the Roman Amphitheatre and St Pauls.

This is a London Walks guided walk. Look at their web site for a list of other of their amazing walks.

REVIEWS (from London Walks website)
“Kevin, I just wanted to drop you a quick email to thank you ever so much for your archaeological tours of London! I am so thrilled to have stumbled upon your tours! I have wanted to be an archaeologist since 1978 at the ripe old age of 8 years,… I was told for years that I could not be an archaeologist [for any number of reasons, which I now realise are completely ridiculous!], so I ended up on a different course of study. And now at the age of 50, it is my one great regret in life. So, I am thoroughly enjoying living vicariously through you, the digs you’ve been on, and the history you bring to life for us! British archaeology would have been my specific area of study had I pursued it. ?? Thank you SO MUCH for these! I look forward to them more than you can imagine, and honestly, I’ll be sad if you get them down to 1.5 hours! They’re the best 2 hours of my week! 🙂 Best, Sue

To Book:

Myths, Legends of London May Day Special Virtual Tour

Monday 1st May 2023 7.30pm

The virtual tour tells the story of London’s myths and legends and the Celtic Festival of Beltane

The virtual tour is led by Kevin Flude, a former archaeologist at the Museum of London, who has an interest both in the archaeological evidence as well as the myths and legends of London’s origin.

It is one of a series about London’s Myths and Legends which take place on or around one of the significant festivals of the Celtic calendar. On this tour we celebrate May Day, or Beltane – the celebration of the coming of Summer.

The walk begins with the tale of London’s legendary origins in the Bronze Age by an exiled Trojan called Brutus. Stories of Bladud, Bellinus, Bran, Vortigern and Arthur will be interspersed with how they fit in with archaeological discoveries. As we explore the City we also look at evidence for ‘Celtic’ origins of London and how May Day was celebrated in London.

The virtual route starts at Tower Hill, then down to the River Thames at Billingsgate, to London Bridge and Southwark Cathedral, to the Roman Forum at the top of Cornhill, into the valley of the River Walbrook, passed the Temple of Mithras, along Cheapside to the Roman Amphitheatre, and finishing up in the shadow of St Pauls

This is a London Walks Virtual Walk. Look at their web site for a list of other of their amazing walks.

To Book:
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/myths-and-legends-of-london-special-may-day-virtual-tour-tickets-601341648057

Chaucer’s Medieval London Guided Walk
Aldgate Underground Sunday 16 April 2023 11.30pm

A Walk around Medieval London following in the footsteps of its resident medieval poet – Geoffrey Chaucer

One of the spectators at the Peasants Revolt was Geoffrey Chaucer, born in the Vintry area of London, who rose to be a diplomat, a Courtier and London’s Customs Officer. He lived with his wife in the Chamber above the Gate in the City Wall at Aldgate. His poetry shows a rugged, joyous medieval England including many scenes reflecting life in London. His stories document the ending of the feudal system, growing dissatisfaction with the corruption in the Church, and shows the robust independence with which the English led their lives.

His work helped change the fashion from poetry in French or Latin to acceptance of the English language as suitable literary language. This was helped by the growth of literacy in London as its Merchants and Guildsmen became increasingly successful. In 1422, for example, the Brewers decided to keep their records in English ‘as there are many of our craft who have the knowledge of reading and writing in the English idiom.’

Chaucer and other poets such as Langland give a vivid portrait of Medieval London which was dynamic, successful but also torn by crisis such as the Lollard challenge to Catholic hegemony, and the Peasants who revolted against oppression as the ruling classes struggled to resist the increased independence of the working people following the Black Death.

A walk which explores London in the Middle Ages, We begin at Aldgate, and follow Chaucer from his home to his place of work at the Customs House, and then to St Thomas Chapel on London Bridge, and across the River to where the Canterbury Tales start – at the Tabard Inn.

This is a London Walks event by Kevin Flude

Archaeology of London Guided Walk

Reconstruction of Dark Age London Bridge
London in the 5th Century Reconstruction painting.

Sunday 16th April and 4th June 2023 2.30 Exit 3 Bank Underground Station

Legend says that London was founded as New Troy. Historians believed it was founded as Londinium after the Bridge was built by the legionaries of the Emperor Claudius in AD 43.   Archaeologists in the 1970s and 1980s discovered that London was refounded as Lundenwic in the 7th Century and again in the 9th Century when it was called Lundeburg.

This walk tells the epic tale of the uncovering of London’s past by Archaeologists. And provides an insight into the dramatic history of the Capital of Britannia, and how it survived revolts, fires, plagues, and reacted to the decline and fall of the Roman Empire.  It became the foremost English City but with periods under Viking and Norman control.

We tell the story in the streets of the City of London, beginning in the valley of the River Walbrook by the Temple of Mithras, and visit many sites where important archaeological discoveries were made, including the Roman Forum, Amphitheatre. Bath Houses, Temples, Roman roads and the City Walls.

Chaucer’s London To Canterbury Virtual Pilgrimage
Sunday 16th April 2023 7.30pm
A Virtual Walk from Chaucer’s London on pilgrimage along the route of the the Canterbury Tales to Canterbury

One of the spectators at the Peasants Revolt was Geoffrey Chaucer, born in the Vintry area of London, who rose to be a diplomat, a Courtier and London’s Customs Officer. He lived with his wife in the Chamber above the Gate in the City Wall at Aldgate, while he wrote the Canterbury Tales.
His poetry shows a rugged, joyous medieval England including many scenes reflecting life in London.

His stories document the ending of the feudal system, growing dissatisfaction with the corruption in the Church, and shows the robust independence with which the English led their lives, following the Black Death.

A walk which explores London in the Middle Ages, and takes us on the pilgrimage to Canterbury. We begin at Aldgate, and follow Chaucer from his home to his place of work at the Customs House. We cross to Southwark via the famous London Bridge where we start the Pilgrimage at St Thomas Chapel. Then to the Tabard to meet the Pilgrims and onto the Old Kent Road to Canterbury.
This is a London Walks event. Look at their web site (www.walks.com) for a list of other of their amazing walks.

Archaeology of London Guided Walk Sunday 2nd April 2023 11:15 Exit 3 Bank Underground Station

A TALE OF FOUR CITIES

Legend says that London was founded as New Troy. Historians believed it was founded as Londinium after the Bridge was built by the legionaries of the Emperor Claudius in AD 43.   Archaeologists in the 1970s and 1980s discovered that London was refounded as Lundenwic in the 7th Century and again in the 9th Century when it was called Lundeburg.

This walk tells the epic tale of the uncovering of London’s past by Archaeologists. And provides an insight into the dramatic history of the Capital of Britannia, and how it survived revolts, fires, plagues, and reacted to the decline and fall of the Roman Empire.  It became the foremost English City but with periods under Viking and Norman control.

We tell the story in the streets of the City of London, beginning in the valley of the River Walbrook by the Temple of Mithras, and visit many sites where important archaeological discoveries were made.

Jane Austen’s London
Sat 2.30 pm 02/04/23 Green Park underground station, London (north exit, on the corner)

An exploration of Mayfair, the centre of the London section of Sense & Sensibility and where Jane came to visit her brother

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a Jane Austen devotee in possession of the good fortune of a couple of free hours today must be in want of this walk.”

People associate Jane Austen and her characters with a rural setting. But London is central to both Jane Austen’s real life and her literary life. So, this tour will explore Jane’s connections with London and give the background to Sense and Sensibility, a good part of which is based in this very area. We begin with the place Jane’s coach would arrive from Hampshire, and then walk the streets haunted by Willougby; past shops visited by the Palmers, the Ferrars; visit the location of Jane Austen’s brother’s bank and see the publisher of Jane’s Books. The area around Old Bond Street was the home of the Regency elite and many buildings and a surprising number of the shops remain as they were in Jane Austen’s day.

This is a London Walk Guided Walk lead by Kevin Flude

CHAUCER’S MEDIEVAL LONDON VIRTUAL WALK

The Vintry 14th Century London


Sunday 12 February 2023 7.30pm

A Virtual Walk around Medieval London following in the footsteps of its resident medieval poet – Geoffrey Chaucer

One of the spectators at the Peasants Revolt was Geoffrey Chaucer, born in the Vintry area of London, who rose to be a diplomat, a Courtier and London’s Customs Officer. He lived with his wife in the Chamber above the Gate in the City Wall at Aldgate. His poetry shows a rugged, joyous medieval England including many scenes reflecting life in London. His stories document the ending of the feudal system, growing dissatisfaction with the corruption in the Church, and shows the robust independence with which the English led their lives.

His work helped change the fashion from poetry in French or Latin to acceptance of the English language as suitable literary language. This was helped by the growth of literacy in London as its Merchants and Guildsmen became increasingly successful. In 1422, for example, the Brewers decided to keep their records in English ‘as there are many of our craft who have the knowledge of reading and writing in the English idiom.’

Chaucer and other poets such as Langland give a vivid portrait of Medieval London which was dynamic, successful but also torn by crisis such as the Lollard challenge to Catholic hegemony, and the Peasants who revolted against oppression as the ruling classes struggled to resist the increased independence of the working people following the Black Death.

A walk which explores London in the Middle Ages, We begin at Aldgate, and follow Chaucer from his home to his place of work at the Customs House, and then to St Thomas Chapel on London Bridge, and through London to Poultry, Bucklersbury and Cheapside before visiting the Guildhall and St Pauls. We will walk in the muddy City Streets, exploring the unhealthy conditions and poverty amidst great riches and pageantry.

This is a London Walks event by Kevin Flude

THE REBIRTH OF SAXON LONDON ARCHAEOLOGY VIRTUAL WALK

Reconstruction of Dark age London
Reconstruction of Dark Age London


Sunday 29 January 2023 7.30pm

An exploration of what happened following the Roman Period. How did a Celtic speaking Latin educated Roman City become, first deserted, then recovered to become the leading City in a germanic speaking Kingdom?

The Romans gave the name of Saxons to the barbarian pirates that plagued the North Sea region in the Late Roman Period. Historians link them with the Angles and Jutes who, according to the Venerable Bede, conquered the Roman Province of Britannia and turned it into England. London became its leading town.

But excavation and DNA analysis make the traditional story more difficult to sustain and although the Anglo-Saxons have a rich history how much of it can be trusted? Was there a Dark Age? Or was it just a ‘transition’ from Roman to English? How did English become the main language sweeping aside native Celtic and Latin languages? Much of the story of Saxon London has been founded on myth and dubious historical sources, but archaeological, documentary and genetic research are, perhaps, beginning to provide a clearer narrative.

Following the fall of Roman Britain, London was almost deserted. On this walk we explore how London recovered and grew to be the most important City in England by 1066. We begin our walk in the heart of the City at Bank, and walk through the City to St Pauls, Then along Fleet Street and the Strand to Covent Garden..

This is a London Walks event by Kevin Flude, ex Museum of London Archaeology and Museum Curator

The Decline And Fall Of Roman London Archaeology Virtual Walk

Reconstruction View of Roman Riverside Wall being built
Reconstruction View of Roman Riverside Wall being built

Sunday 22nd January 11.30am Exit 2 St Pauls Underground Station
 

An exploration of what happened at the end of the Roman Period, and how the City became deserted, and then, reborn as an English City.


The first British Brexit?   The Roman Britons kicked out the Romans in 407AD, and, soon, asked them to come back after a catastrophic collapse.  Faced with plaque, civil war, invasion, mass immigration,  industrial decline, reversion to barter; the authorities struggled against anarchy and descent into a dark age.

But was that how it was?  Wasn’t it a rather a transition into the Late Antique period in which life for most people went on much as before except paying taxes to local rulers rather than distant Romans?

The walk investigates why the Roman system in London broke down, and what really was the impact of the end of the Roman system in London? What is the evidence?  and can we trust it? Or can we really do nothing much more than guess? 

We tramp the streets of London in search of light to shine on the dark age of London.

The Decline And Fall Of Roman London Archaeology Virtual Walk

Reconstruction of Dark age London
Reconstruction of Dark Age London

Sunday 22nd January 7:00pm

An exploration of what happened at the end of the Roman Period, and how the City became deserted, and then, reborn as an English City.


The first British Brexit?   The Roman Britons kicked out the Romans in 407AD, and, soon, asked them to come back after a catastrophic collapse.  Faced with plaque, civil war, invasion, mass immigration,  industrial decline, reversion to barter; the authorities struggled against anarchy and descent into a dark age.

But was that how it was?  Wasn’t it a rather a transition into the Late Antique period in which life for most people went on much as before except paying taxes to local rulers rather than distant Romans?

This virtual walk explores why the Roman system in London broke down, and what really was the impact of the end of the Roman system in London? What is the evidence?  and can we trust it? Or can we really do nothing much more than guess? 

We tramp the virtual streets of London in search of light to shine on the Dark Ages in London.

London Before And After The Roman Invasion

London before the Romans
View of London from the SE as it might have looked before the Roman Invasion

Tower Hill Underground Sunday 8th January 2023 11.30pm

The walk looks into the evidence for a prehistoric London and tells the story of the coming of the Romans in AD43

The walk is led by Kevin Flude, a former archaeologist at the Museum of London.

The walk investigates the City of London before and after the the Roman Conquest. What is the evidence for settlement before the Romans set up town of Londinium? Why did the Romans establish the town on this spot? Who were the early Roman Londoners and what made their choice of site so successful?

The fledgling Town was then burnt down by Queen Boudiccan and her Icenian rebels. We look at the evidence for the Revolt and London’s recovery to became the capital of Britain.

This is a London Walks Guided Walk. Look at their web site for a list of other of their amazing walks.

REVIEWS (from London Walks website)
“Kevin, I just wanted to drop you a quick email to thank you ever so much for your archaeological tours of London! I am so thrilled to have stumbled upon your tours! I look forward to them more than you can imagine! They’re the best 2 hours of my week! 🙂 Best, Sue


London Before London – Prehistoric London Virtual Walk


Sunday 8th January 7pm

An exploration of London before the foundation of Londinium

It was long thought that London was founded by a Trojan Exile in the Late Bronze Age. But historical analysis and archaeological excavation gradually demoted the idea to a myth.

On this tour we explore what was in the London area before the Romans. We begin at Heathrow and tour Greater London for evidence from the Paleolithic to the invasion of the Emperor Claudius.

We concentrate on the period since the introduction of farming, and bring together evidence for the prehistoric Kingdoms that controlled the area on the eve of the Invasion. We look for henges, barrows, hill forts, hut circles and look at genetic evidence for identity of prehistoric Londoners. The tour will end in the City.

This is a London Walks event by Kevin Flude, ex Museum of London Archaeology and Museum Curator

A New Year Walk on the Myths, Legends and the Origins of London

Sunday 1st January 2023 2.00pm Tower Hill Underground

The walk tells the stories of London’s myths, legends and archaeology to find out what they say about the origins of London. As its New Year we also look at New Year as it was celebrated in London through the ages.

The walk is led by Kevin Flude, a former archaeologist at the Museum of London, who has an interest both in myths, legends and London’s Archaeology.

The walk will tell the story of the legendary origins of London which record that it was founded in the Bronze Age by an exiled Trojan called Brutus. The new City was called Troia Nova or New Troy, which became corrupted to Trinovantum, and then changed to Lud’s Dun or London. When the Roman system broke down in 410 AD, historical records were almost non-existent, until the Venerable Bede recorded the building of St Pauls Cathedral in 604 AD. The two hundred year gap, has another rich selection of legends. The walk will explore these stories and compare the legends with Archaeological discoveries. We also look at New Year Customs and Folklore, and the arrangements of the Calendar for different cultures.

The route starts at Tower Hill, then down to the River at Billingsgate, London Bridge, and into the centre of Roman London.

This is a London Walks Guided Walks. Look at their web site for a list of other of their amazing walks both physical and virtual.

Ring in the New Year Virtual Walk

Sunday 1st January 2023 7.00pm


On this walk we look at how London has celebrated the New Year over the past 2000 years.

The New Year has been a time of review, renewal and anticipation
of the future from time immemorial. The Ancient Britons saw the Solstice as a symbol of a promise of renewal as the Sun was reborn. As the weather turns to bleak mid winter, a festival or reflection and renewal cheers everyone up. This idea of renewal was followed by the Romans, and presided over by a two headed God called Janus who looked both backwards and forwards. Dickens Christmas Carol was based on redemption and his second great Christmas Book ‘The Chimes’ on the renewal that the New Year encouraged.

We look at London’s past to see where and how the New Year was celebrated. We also explore the different New Years we use and their associated Calendars – the Pagan year, the Christian year, the Roman year, the Jewish year, the Financial year, the Academic year and we reveal how these began. We look at folk traditions, Medieval Christmas Festivals, Boy Bishops, Distaff Sunday and Plough Monday, and other Winter Festival and New Year London tradition and folklore.

At the end we use ancient methods to divine what is in store for us in 2023..

The walk finds interesting and historic places in the City of London to link to our stories of Past New Year’s Days. We begin with the Druids at Tower Hill, and walk around the Roman City of London, and through London History

The Lord of Misrule & London, December 30th

black and white illustration of John Stow memorial in St Andrew's Church
John Stow memorial in St Andrew’s Church

The Roman festival of Saturnalia, held between 17th and 23rd of December, included reversing rules so that slaves, ruled and masters served. In the medieval period, the disorder of Christmas was continued with the election of Lords of Misrule, Masters of the Revels, and Boy Bishops.

John Stows, London’s first great historian, wrote of the Lord of Misrule in London:

Now for sports and pastimes yearly used.

First, in the feast of Christmas, there was in the king’s house, wheresoever he was lodged, a lord of misrule, or master of merry disports, and the like had ye in the house of every nobleman of honour or good worship, were he spiritual or temporal. Amongst the which the mayor of London, and either of the sheriffs, had their several lords of misrule, ever contending, without quarrel or offence, who should make the rarest pastimes to delight the beholders. These lords beginning their rule on Alhollon eve, continued the same till the morrow after the Feast of the Purification, commonly called Candlemas day. In all which space there were fine and subtle disguisings, masks, and mummeries, with playing at cards for counters, nails, and points, in every house, more for pastime than for gain.

Against the feast of Christmas every man’s house, as also the parish churches, were decked with holm, ivy, bays, and whatsoever the season of the year afforded to be green. The conduits and standards in the streets were likewise garnished; amongst the which I read, in the year 1444, that by tempest of thunder and lightning, on the 1st of February, at night, Powle’s steeple was fired, but with great labour quenched; and towards the morning of Candlemas day, at the Leaden hall in Cornhill, a standard of tree being set up in midst of the pavement, fast in the ground, nailed full of holm and ivy, for disport of Christmas to the people, was torn up, and cast down by the malignant spirit (as was thought), and the stones of the pavement all about were cast in the streets, and into divers houses, so that the people were sore aghast of the great tempests.’

John Stow, author of the ‘Survey of London‘ first published in 1598. Available at the wonderful Project Gutenberg: ‘https://www.gutenberg.org/files/42959/42959-h/42959-h.htm’

Cover page of The Survey of London by John Stow from Project Gutenberg

You might also like to see the following posts, which include information about John Stow and London’s customs:

Becket & St. Thomas Day & Wassailing December 29th –

Murder of Becket at Canterbury Cathedral 1170
Murder of Becket at Canterbury Cathedral on 29th December 1170 (Late 12th Century Manuscript from British Museum

On the fifth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
5 Golden Rings; 4 Calling Birds; 3 French Hens; 2 Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

The fifth day of Christmas is dedicated to Thomas Becket, our most famous Archbishop’s of Canterbury. He was martyred at Canterbury on this day in 1170 and made a Saint in 1173 in double-quick time, in order that the Pope could rub Henry II’s nose in his complicity with the murder. Becket was a Londoner from a well-known London family, who became a friend of Henry II. Henry was having trouble with the freedoms and fees owed to the Catholic Church. So he thought it would be a good idea to make his friend Archbishop. But as soon as Becket became Archbishop he went rogue, became a very stubborn and adamant defender of the Pope’s privileges in Britain. Henry is said to have said, in anger, ‘Who will rid me of this troublesome priest?’ And three knights took him at his word, and Becket was murdered in the Cathedral in Canterbury.

Soon, a new magnificent bridge was built to replace the wooden London Bridge and in the centre of that Bridge was a grand Chapel dedicated to St Thomas Becket. It was refurbished by the renowned architect Henry Yevele (c. 1320 – 1400). It was here that pilgrims began their pilgrimage to Canterbury, i.e. from where he was born, to where he was martryed.

Stained Glass window showing St Thomas's Chapel on London Bridge (Window is in St Magnus the Martyr's Church on the site of the approach to London Bridge
Stained Glass window showing St Thomas’s Chapel on London Bridge (Window is in St Magnus the Martyr’s Church on the site of the approach to London Bridge

In London, there was a legend that his mother, Matilda, was a Muslim who fell in love with Thomas’s dad, Gilbert, during the Crusades. She helped him escape captivity and then found her own way from Acre to London, knowing only the name ‘London’ in English and walking most of the way. It is said that on St Thomas Day, people used to walk around St Paul’s multiple times to remember her walk of love. The story was told as true from the 13th Century until the 19th Century found Matilda had more prosaic Norman origins. The story is told here:

Medieval St Thomas’s Pilgrim’s Badge showing the murder of Becket. The ampullae contained holy water.

Wassailing.

Black and white drawing of a servant Bringing in the Wasaill Bowl (from Washington Irving's 'Old Christmas
Bringing in the Wassail Bowl (from Washington Irving’s ‘Old Christmas’)

The Twelve Days of Christmas are full of wassailing. This has at least two different facets. Firstly, it is a formal drinking tradition at the centre of Christmas hospitality. Secondly, it is part of the tradition of the Waits, the Mummers, and Carol Singers who go around the village singing or playing in exchange for a drink or some food, or money.

The name comes from the Anglo-Saxon version of ‘Cheers’ or good health, and its ceremonial use is described by Geoffrey of Monmouth in 1135.

From that day to this, the tradition has endured in Britain that the one who drinks first at a banquet says “was hail” and he who drinks next says “drinc hail.”

Geoffrey is explaining how Vortigern betrayed Britain for the love of Rowena, the Saxon Hengist’s daughter, and speculating on the origins of the tradition of wassail.

A Wassail bowl would be full of some form of mulled alcohol or hot punch. A couple of pints of ale or cider, a pint of wine/brandy/mead, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. You should have an apple or crab-apple floating in the bowl. To find out more, look at ‘British Food, a History’ here.

First Published on 29th December 2022, republished in December 2023

Childermas & Christmas Games with the Austen’s December 28th

Bullet Pudding

On the fourth day of Christmas
My true love sent to me
Four calling birds, Three French hens, Two turtle-doves
And a partridge in a pear tree.

Holy Innocents Day is dedicated to children on the day Herod ordered the slaughter of children aged two or under, in an attempt to kill the prophesied Messiah.

It is, therefore, as far as folklore is concerned, an ill-omened day so don’t begin any new enterprise or, indeed, attempt to go back to work. And remember, as Childermas falls on a Thursday this year, Thursdays throughout the year are all ill-omened days. Weather wise, as the fourth day of Christmas is warm, expect the fourth month, April to be similarly warm.

So, despite your desire to go back to work, it’s best to spend the time in Christmas Games. The one I remember, most fondly, is pick-up-sticks or spillikins. You drop a pile of sticks onto a table-top and then have to pick up as many sticks as you can without disturbing any others. You go ends when you move a stick. Different sticks have different values.

Pick-up-sticks or Spillikins

Another game we played at parties was, I discovered when researching for my Jane Austen’s Christmas Walk, also played in the Austen family. They called in Bullet Pudding. I don’t think we had a name for it, but it involves putting flour in a bowl, upending it on a plate, putting a bullet (in our case a coin) on the top. A knife is placed by the side, people dance around the plate, and whoever the knife is pointing at when the music stops, has to cut a slice of the flour mountain.

Eventually, the coin will collapse, and the hapless winner, according to Jane’s niece, Fanny.

‘must poke about with their noise & chins until they find it & then take it out with their mouths, which makes them strange figures all covered with flour, but the worst is that you must not laugh for fear of the flour getting up your nose & mouth & choking you. You must not use your hands in taking the bullet out.’

In my family, we pushed the winner’s head into the flour to maximise the fun.

Christmas at Godmersham Park

1811 to 1812 Fanny Knight, Jane Austen’s niece, writing to a friend Miss Dorothy Chapman said:

‘I don’t know whether I told you that the Miss Morris’s are at home for the Christmas holidays. They are very nice girls and have contributed a good deal to our entertainment.

None of us caught the whooping cough and have been very well the whole time.
We have, in general, had cards, snapdragons, bullet pudding etc on any particular evening and Whist, Commerce and others and Tickets were the favourite games.

I think when cards fail, the boys played every evening at draughts, chess, and backgammon.’

Snapdragons is a very dangerous game! A tray is filled with brandy, raisins are sprinkled in; the brandy set on fire, and the game is to retrieve and eat the raisins without receiving first degree burns.

Commerce and Tickets are both gambling games. Tickets, played by exchanging lottery tickets, and commerce is a three card poker type game played with counters

Other games mentioned by Fanny

Hunt the Slipper, Oranges and Lemons, Wind the Jack, lighting a Candle in Haste; Spare Old Noll.

Santa for the Elite

I enclose a link to a discussion about the originals of the American Santa as a method for the elite to keep control of the rowdy working class in New York. The argument, in a nutshell, is that the folk Christmas was outside and rowdy, while Clement Moore who wrote “A Visit from St. Nicholas” introduced a domesticated indoor version of Father Christmas. It’s a fascinating spin on the traditional story.

https://skippedhistory.substack.com/p/professor-stephen-nissenbaum-on-santa-a48?utm_source=post-email-title&publication_id=53190&post_id=90879443&isFreemail=true&utm_medium=email

First written on December 28th 2022, revised and republished in December 2023

St John’s Day. Forecasting the Weather. December 27th

On the third day of Christmas
My true love sent to me:
3 French Hens
2 Turtle Doves
And a Partridge in a Pear Tree

Folklore is full of risible methods of forecasting the future and Gervase Markham’s ‘The English Husbandman of 1635 is no exception. He says:

‘What weather shall be on the sixth and twentieth day of December, the like weather will be all the month of January.’

Then and so on for the 12 days of Christmas. So today’s weather will be the weather ‘the following February’ and so on.

According to Gervase, the weather in January and February is going to be warm, and with storms in parts of Britain such as Manchester.

This is St, John’s Day, he who was loved by Jesus and wrote the Gospel making him the patron saint of booksellers, publishers, printers and writers. Lecterns in the Church of England are normally shaped as an Eagle as this is the symbol of St John, as a writer of grace and power, and a messenger of Authority from God.

Black and white advert for a lectern with an eagle at the top from 19th Century Ecclesiastical Suppliers Catalogue
19th Century Ecclesiastical Suppliers Catalogue

Remember, on 1st January 7.30 I am doing my annual ‘Ring in the New Year’ virtual walk where I look at all things new year. To see more details click here:

First Published in December 2021, revised and republished in December 2023

Saturnalia, Chinese Solstice and Medieval New Year Gifts from the British Museum December 27th

Here is a short video from the British Museum on seasonal customs. It includes details of Martial’s gift list; radishes for Saturnalia in a Vindolanda letter from a master to his slave; the Bishop of Salisbury’s New Year Gift purchases of 72 Rings, 2 gold broaches, gold and jet beads – all to be given away, and dumplings for the Chinese Solstice.

I’m now going to see all four generations of my family for a Christmas get together. Dad aged 95, a whole set of great grandchildren, and generations in between.

First Published on December 27th 2022, republished in December 2023

The Oak Moon December 27th

Full Moon Photo with thanks to Natalie Tobart

The 27th December is the full moon and has various names including Moon after Yule, Oak Moon, Full Cold Moon.

The Greco/Roman goddess of the Moon is Selena/Luna. She is the Goddess who carries the moon across the Sky most nights. Sometimes conflated with Artemis, Selena is the equivalent of Helios, the personification of the Sun who is her brother. They are, along with the dawn goddess Eos, the offspring of the Titans Hyperion and Theia. (Wikipedia).

Bust of Selene in a clipeus, detail from a strigillated lenos sarcophagus. Roman artwork.

Selena is the Goddess of beauty, of monthly cycles, of tides, menstruation, of intuition. She was the lover of Zeus, Pan and the mortal Endymion who inspired Keats to write his poem of the same name.

Here is a small piece of ‘Endymion‘ (Cynthia is another name for Selene, from her place of birth, Mount Cynthus.) Endymion deserts Cynthia for another lover, but ultimately, it turns out that the lover is Cynthia in disguise.

O Moon! The oldest shades ‘mong oldest trees
Feel palpitations when thou lookest in:
O Moon! old boughs lisp forth a holier din
The while they feel thine airy fellowship.
Thou dost bless every where, with silver lip
Kissing dead things to life. The sleeping kine,
Couched in thy brightness, dream of fields divine:
Innumerable mountains rise, and rise,
Ambitious for the hallowing of thine eyes;
And yet thy benediction passeth not
One obscure hiding-place, one little spot
Where pleasure may be sent: the nested wren
Has thy fair face within its tranquil ken,
And from beneath a sheltering ivy leaf
Takes glimpses of thee; thou art a relief
To the poor patient oyster, where it sleeps
Within its pearly house.–The mighty deeps,
The monstrous sea is thine–the myriad sea!
O Moon! far-spooming Ocean bows to thee,
And Tellus feels his forehead’s cumbrous load.

Cynthia! where art thou now? What far abode
Of green or silvery bower doth enshrine
Such utmost beauty? Alas, thou dost pine
For one as sorrowful: thy cheek is pale
For one whose cheek is pale: thou dost bewail
His tears, who weeps for thee. Where dost thou sigh?
Ah! surely that light peeps from Vesper’s eye,
Or what a thing is love! ‘Tis She, but lo!
How chang’d, how full of ache, how gone in woe!
She dies at the thinnest cloud; her loveliness
Is wan on Neptune’s blue: yet there’s a stress
Of love-spangles, just off yon cape of trees,
Dancing upon the waves, as if to please
The curly foam with amorous influence.
O, not so idle: for down-glancing thence
She fathoms eddies, and runs wild about
O’erwhelming water-courses; scaring out
The thorny sharks from hiding-holes, and fright’ning
Their savage eyes with unaccustomed lightning.
Where will the splendor be content to reach?
O love! how potent hast thou been to teach
Strange journeyings! Wherever beauty dwells,
In gulf or aerie, mountains or deep dells,
In light, in gloom, in star or blazing sun,
Thou pointest out the way, and straight ’tis won.
Amid his toil thou gav’st Leander breath;
Thou leddest Orpheus through the gleams of death;
Thou madest Pluto bear thin element;
And now, O winged Chieftain! them hast sent
A moon-beam to the deep, deep water-world,
To fin Endymon.

On gold sand impearl’d With lily shells, and pebbles milky white,
Poor Cynthia greeted him, and sooth’d her light
Against his pallid face: he felt the charm
To breathlessness, and suddenly a warm
Of his heart’s blood: ’twas very sweet; he stay’d
His wandering steps, and half-entranced laid
His head upon a tuft of straggling weeds,
To taste the gentle moon, and freshening beads,
Lashed from the crystal roof by fishes’ tails.
And so he kept, until the rosy veils
Mantling the east, by Aurora’s peering hand
Were lifted from the water’s breast, and faun’d
Into sweet air; and sober’d morning came
Meekly through billows:–when like taper-flame
Left sudden by a dallying breath of air,
He rose in silence, and once more ‘gan fare
Along his fated way.

First Published December 8th 2022, Republished on December 27th 2023

Boxing Day & St Stephens Day December 26th

St Stephens, Walbrook. Unusual photo taken during building work. The part of the Church to the right is much ‘cruder’ because Christopher Wren was saving money by not ‘finishing off’ parts that could not be seen from the public thoroughfare. Photo by the Author in 2008

On the second day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
2 Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

It is the Feast day of St Stephen, the day when Wrens could be hunted.. He is the first Christian Martyr and was stoned to death not long after Jesus’ apotheosis. It is the day people used to give presents (Boxes) particularly to servants and people who have helped out. Other days for presents include Dec 6th, St Nicholas’s Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, Twelfth Night and any other day, Night, Eve (or Morn) you fancy.

Swedish Choir singing in St Stephen’s London – I was taking them around the City of London on a guided walk, and we happened to find St Stephen’s open, and they just fancied the acoustics.
Picture of Christmas greenery on a gift box
by Tjana Drndarski-via unsplash

In 1858 James Ewing Richie wrote about ‘Boxing Night’ in The Night Side of London. I’ve mixed it with another source to give a list of the people who came knocking at the door for the traditional Boxing Day Box.

Richie’s advice was to tie up your knocker as these people would come and knock on it:

The Sweep; Varlets playing French Horns pretending to be the Waits – The Waits were licensed musical beggars.

Then came the Turncock, the Postman, the Dustman; the Road Waterer in summer, and the Road Scrapper in Winter. After this the real Waits turned up for a musical turn. Then the Lamplighter, the Grocer’s Boy and the Butcher’s Boy.

I imagine the Knocker-upper also got a Box. My grandmother told me about the knocker-upper in Old Street in the early Twentieth Century.

Google search image 'knocker-upper', the lady at top left worked in Limehouse
Google search image ‘knocker-upper’, the lady at top left worked in Limehouse and is using a pea-shooter.

Richie says he had to give 6 people, who wished him a Happy Christmas on his way to work, half a crown each. He thought his wife would be lucky to get away with a shilling per person for the list above. His belief was that it would all do more harm than good as it would be spent on drink leading to the miseries of drunkenness.

First Published on Dec 26th 2022, Republished December 2023

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