Esoteric London

No. 246: Folgate Street, E1

Posted in Funereal, Housing by esotericlondon on February 7, 2011

_SHI6954 - © Roger.Dean RGB copy

Folgate Street, London, E1. Photo © Roger Dean 2011

The Great Army of London Poor Sketches of Life and Character in a Thames-Side District – The River-side Visitor [Thomas Wright], 1882:

And truly my eyes never had rested on such a sight. Since then they have rested on some scarcely less sad, but at the time I beheld it the scene in that room in Grass-Widows’ Alley was the saddest I had ever looked upon. […]

The wretched old room darkened by the apology for a blind, the splintered hearth-stone, the rusty, fireless, fenderless grate, the shaky, uneven, disjointed flooring, the dirt-engrimed walls, the ceiling smoke-blackened, and here and there fallen in, so that the rain soaked through; the bed of rags in a corner, and the one broken chair and rickety table that constituted the furniture! And oh the occupants of this so dismal apartment!

On the solitary chair sat a man who, sound and well, would have been a fine able-bodied one, but who was now weak and wasted from hunger and disease. His left arm was in a sling, his right was thrown around the shoulders of a six-year boy, who was crying – for bread. On the opposite side of the fireplace from the father sat, on a rough block of wood, a patient-looking little girl of four, moaning from the pain of a badly-crushed foot, she having been run over by a hand-cart two days previously; and in the far corner of the room, heedless of our entry and all else, knelt the mother by the corpse of her youngest and prettiest child, an infant of barely two years. The dead face was the one happy-looking face in the room – the one thing of beauty amid all the wretchedness. It had been a beautiful little creature, regular-featured, blue-eyed, pure-complexioned, and, having only died in the small hours of this same morning, “Decay’s effacing finger” had as yet set no unbeautifying mark upon it. It had died with a smile on its lips, and the smiling expression was still there, the eyes were gently closed, and in that dim room the bright soft golden hair cast a glory round the brow. The frail little body was laid out on the top of an old deal box, which had been draped with clean white window curtains, lent, as I afterwards learned, by kindly neighbours; and it was arrayed for its long dreamless sleep in a beautifully-white night-dress, drawn in at the waist by a band of pink ribbon.