Clare Market, London, WC2. Photo © Roger Dean 2012
Round London: Down East and Up West – Montagu Williams Q.C., 1894:
One day I and some friends, after dining at the “Ship and Turtle,” proceeded to the Leman Street police station, where, as had been arranged, we picked up two officers who were to act as our East End guides. From Leman Street we proceeded at once to Bluegate Fields and Ratcliff Highway.
Going the round of the drinking and dancing houses, we witnessed some curious sights. The women, thieves, and other bad characters appeared to be on the best of terms with our companions, who were repeatedly offered drink, and once or twice invited to join in a dance. Of my friends and myself no notice whatever was taken.
During the evening we went to the Chinese quarter, where are to be found the opium dens, into one of which we penetrated. Ascending a ladder, we entered a loft where about a dozen men were sitting or reclining on wooden benches, smoking opium.
[ The reclining figure in the photograph above is one of six on the exterior of the London School of Economics Modernist Old Building in Clare Market. They are the work of the sculptor E.S. Frith. R.D.]