Esoteric London

No. 1020: Horse Guards Road, SW1

Posted in Markets, Monumental, Public Art by esotericlondon on January 24, 2014

Horse Guards Road, London, SW1. Photo © Roger Dean 2012

Life in the London Streets – Richard Rowe, 1881:

In the core of the City, on a Sunday morning, there are streets as silent as sepulchres. When you disturb their hush with your echoing footfall, you do not see another human being, except, perhaps, some weary watchman or housekeeper looking down with lack-lustre eyes on the bare pavement of the deserted close-shuttered thoroughfares, or into a disused churchless churchyard, walled in, like the bottom of a well, with towering warehouses.

It is startling to cross from that drowsy calm into the brawling bustle of the Aldgate and Whitechapel Jews’ quarter.

In and about Houndsditch shops are open and watchmakers at work, heedless of the chaff upon their screwed-up eyes shouted in at them by filthy young roughs hanging before their windows. Every now and then some one passes with a garment or hat in his hand, or a clothes-bag on his back. Phil’s Buildings and Cutler Street are choked with buyers and sellers of old clothes-male and female, pouring in and out of the old-clothes exchanges like very dirty bees at the entrances of very dingy hives. The atmosphere of those densely-thronged marts does not remind one of ‘spicy breezes blowing soft from Ceylon’s isle’ – it is redolent of oleaginous malodours, of a general dusty musty, fustiness. And yet what energetic bargaining is going on over the old garments! Though some of them look fit for little else than scarecrows, how voices are raised to sea-bird screeches, what elegancies of very composite English-Cockneyese plus Irish brogue, Jewish enunciation, and a splutter of foreign gutturals – are exchanged, how arms are pump-handled and fists are clenched, in the transfer of these fallen leaves of use and fashion. Some of the chatterers look very much as if they were going to fight. Hard by in their Meeting House the Friends are sitting, silent as sleek uncooing doves. London is rich in contrasts.

[ The photograph above is a close up of the Memorial to the victims of the Bali Bombing of 2002. The work of the lettering sculptor Gary Breeze it sits outside the Foreign Office on Horse Guards Road. To see more work by Gary Breeze visit his website by clicking here.

One of the birds on the monument features in the Esoteric London postcard set accompanied by Benjamin Disraeli’s quote  ‘London is a roost for every bird’. The set of six cards can be purchased for £5.00 plus postage and packing by clicking hereR.D.]

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