Esoteric London

No. 407: Crouch Hill, N4

Posted in London Labour, Sport, Theatrical London by esotericlondon on September 20, 2011

The Old Dairy, Crouch Hill, London, N4. Photo © Roger Dean 2011

Twice Round the Clock, or The Hours of the Day and Night in London – George Augustus Sala, 1859:  

Now is the matutinal occupation of the milkwoman nearly gone; her last cries of “Milk, ho!” die away in faint echoes, and she might reasonably be supposed to enjoy a holiday till the afternoon’s milk for tea were required; but not so. To distant dairies she hies, and to all appearances occupies herself in scrubbing her milk pails till three o’clock. I have a great affection (platonic) for milkwomen. I should like to go down to Wales and see them when they are at home. What clean white cotton stockings they wear, on-no, not their legs-on the posts which support their robust torsos! how strong they are. There are many I should be happy to back, and for no inconsiderable trifle either, to thrash Ben Caunt. Did you ever know any one who courted a milkwoman? Was there ever a milkwoman married, besides Madam Vestris, in the “Wonderful Woman?” Yes; I love them- their burly forms; their mahogany faces, handsomely veneered by wind and weather; their coarse straw bonnets flattened at the top; their manly lace-up boots, and those wonderful mantles on their shoulders, which are neither shawl, tippet, cape nor scarf, but a compound of all, and are of equally puzzling colour and patterns.

[ Ben Caunt was a 19th century bare-knuckle boxer known as “Big Ben”. When not fighting Caunt worked as a farm labourer and later became the landlord of The Coach and Horses in St. Martin’s Lane, a business which made him considerable money until the pub was destroyed by a fire that also claimed the life of two of his children. His final fight was against Nat Langham in September 1857. After 60 rounds both men were too exhausted to continue and a draw was declared. He died of pneumonia four years later.

Lucia Elizabeth Vestris was an actress and an opera singer. Having made her fortune she leased the Olympic Theatre in London and produced a series of burlesques and extravaganzas for which the house became famous. R.D.]

2 Responses

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  1. Carey said, on September 20, 2011 at 7:51 am

    What a beautiful and incongruous freeze for such a place.
    Intersesting how localities change their surroundings in cities.

  2. esotericlondon said, on September 22, 2011 at 9:25 am

    I lived opposite the old dairy in the mid eighties when it appeared unused and consequently saw the freezes, of which this is one of six, every day. Luckily when the building became a pub the freezes were retained.

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