Esoteric London

No. 495: Park Street, SE1

Posted in Amusements, Graffiti by esotericlondon on January 20, 2012

Park Street, London, SE1. Photo © Roger Dean 2011

Punch, January – June 1843:

The first view of this great establishment [the Promenade of Wonders] is obtained on arriving at the top of Drury Lane, where that interesting thoroughfare debouches in High Street, St. Giles’s; and the first object that causes the visitor to pause and draw his breath with awe, is the representation of a might giant, fixed against the front of the house. He is of vast proportions and his foreign costume increases the interest felt in contemplating him, especially when we reflect that his prototype dwells within. From the size of his model, which is not a mere picture, but cut out of flat wood, he must evidently occupy two floors at once, and doubtless the ceiling between the first and second story has been knocked away to accommodate him…

Below this imposing image the spectator may behold some pictorial fac-similes of other wonders. The two Fat Boys – brothers, as we are told – are here the principal objects, and worthy to associate with the great character above. Doubtless they had the same elements of grandeur in their composition; but from impending circumstances, which kept them from shooting up in a similar manner, they grew sideways instead of upright, like ivy in a cleft of masonry. They got in breadth what the giant did in height; and thus did nature balance one freak by another, and restore her universal harmonious equilibrium. They evidently form a great feature in the collection of the interior, for there are evidences of other graphic tableaux in front of the house, but they are nearly hidden by the illuminated canvass on which the two adipose brothers are limned…

On the ground-floor, in the window of this magazine of curiosities, a still further interesting collection of marvels, which will more than repay a few minutes of inspection. They may be classed under four heads: viz., the Architectural, Mechanical, Anatomical, and Unintelligible. The first is comprised in an elaborate model of “The Castle of Donne, on the banks of the Forth, Stirlingshire;” from, or in, or near which, somebody or another was beheaded but the spectator has not time to find out who, before the showman approaches him, and announces in a low voice, as if the intelligence was not meant for the vulgar world, that the exhibition is just going to commence. This interruption prevents his paying great attention to the curiosities, he will perceive, however, two wax dolls sitting on the tops of the turrets; and a monkey, nearly as high as the building, smoking his pipe in front of it.

[The Banksy monkey wearing a sandwich board with ‘Laugh Now But One Day We’ll Be In Charge’ emblazoned across it can be seen in Park Street, Borough just a few yards from Borough Market.

The whole of the Punch article from which the above extract is taken can be read at http://www.voctorianlondon.org by clicking here.

For more Banksy graffiti see post No. 280 and No. 328R.D.]

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