Esoteric London

No. 615: Kensington Road, SW7

Posted in Housing, The Fleet by esotericlondon on July 6, 2012

Kensington Road, London, SW7. Photo © Roger Dean 2012

London Shadows – George Godwin, 1854:

The explorer of the Fleet [River] will find a street closely abutting upon it, on the east side of which are dense masses of buildings thickly populated: he will not fail to note the entrance to Frying Pan Alley; this way is exactly two feet six inches wide, and say twenty feet long: there would not be room to get a full-sized coffin out of this court without turning it on its edge. At the end of this narrow passage is a long line of squalid houses running in sharp perspective; little turnings, wherein are dustbins and other matters, lead to similar courts and alleys,- ‘Rose Alley’, which

‘By any other name would smell as sweet,’

‘Pear Tree Court,’ ‘Broad Court,’ etc., which sadly belie their names. The greater number of these houses are occupied by costermongers, and the various articles of traffic and animals required in the trade are lodged in the lower story. It would be difficult to give a complete notion of the dirty appearance of those courts and their inhabitants. On the opposite side of the way, after passing under an archway, we come to a special scene of wreck and neglect.

Few would suppose that these dilapidated buildings were inhabited, and that too in the midst of winter, by human beings. In some parts the glass and framing have been entirely removed, and vain attempts made to stop out the wind and snow by sacking and other matter. The basement is occupied by donkeys and dogs. In one of the rooms we found a very old Irish woman (who said she was more than fivescore years of age), crouching over a little fire; her son, a man about thirty years of age, lives with her. There was no bedstead or other furniture in the room; the ceiling was cracked and rotten, and the window destroyed. The rent of this room is is 6d. per week.

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