These images show an extract from the hand-written diary of Francis Place: in it, Place describes his pleasure at the bustling trade of London as seen from his bedroom morning on a fine sunny day in 1827. Place is important as a source for historians due to the depth of information contained in his journal written in the latter part of his life. Note, for example, his highly detailed recording of all that he sees: the clothing of the passers-by, for example, and the different types of road vehicles he observes.
Place lived his whole life in and around the Strand and Charing Cross in the capital, being first apprenticed as a leather breeches maker and later embarking on a successful career as a master tailor. Place is best remembered though as a political radical who strongly supported a range of issues considered controversial in the early 19th century: the freedom to vote, for example, education for all and the right to form trade unions.
(25 July 1827, 7.30 AM)
Much pleased, not to say delighted just now. A most beautiful – a gloriously fine morning. My bedroom window projects into the street, and both windows are open. At 7 came a coach from the Strand. ‘Matthew Melton. Windsor’ on the side. A good looking tall man in a scarlet frock coat and drab hat and white trousers as coachman – four as fine horses as ever I saw, the guard a well dressed man in an olive frock, was playing an air on a keyed bugle horn. The coach drew up at the Ship, nearly opposite to my window, the guard played, in excellent tone and time the ‘Death of the Stag’ – and ten one of our fashionable airs. Just as he finished, a coach drew up near the statue, and the guard a tall man in a scarlet coat, played on his bugle in excelling stile, ‘The lass of Richmond Hill’. The guard of the Windsor coach as soon as the other commenced playing caught up his bugle and played the same tune in the same time, and tone and manner, then played a waltz, and away galloped the horses with the coach from the statue. They were hardly off before another coach drew up, and the guard, a short man in a drab coat, commenced a piece of music, which he played exquisitely. This done he commenced a fashionable waltz, the Windsor guard accompanied him, and the two coaches started westward, the guards of both playing the wait. The fineness of the weather, the uncommon beauty of the horses in all the coaches, the sun shining on their well-groomed skins, the hilarity they seemed to feel, the passengers on the outside gay and happy, the contrast of the colours of the cloaths worn by all the well-dressed women outside the coaches, large bonnets made of straw, or white silk or paper, which at a distance have the appearance of white silk, all gaily trimmed with very broad ribbons woven in stripes of various bright colours, running into one another like the colours in the spectrum their white gowns and scarlet shawls, made the whole exceedingly lively and delightfully animating. The people in the street were
variously grouped : workmen, market people with baskets of fruits and flowers on their heads, or on their donkeys, or in their small carts, numbers of others with vegetables, newsmen and boys running about to sell their papers to the coach passengers (at least a dozen of which leave the Golden Cross or pass it about seven o'clock), gave a coup which cannot be witnessed in any other country in the whole world, and perhaps at no other place in the world than at Charing Cross.
November 22nd 1827 11am.
There are now in the street between my house and Parliament Street, and consequently within sight in one direction only
8 - 2 stage-coaches with 4 horses each, standing at the Ship
4- 1 or the Silver Cross
2 - 1 Dray delivering ale
6 - 1 Waggon coming along loaded with Swedish turnips drawn by 6 horses
14 -7 Hackney coaches and chariots
2 - 2 ...cabriolets.
3 - 3 ...cabriolets private
12 - 3 Waggons with coals. Several saddle horses
4 - 1 empty.
2 -1 Cart loaded with potatoes.
6 - 2 With bricks
2 – 1 ... sand.
3 -3 Small carts with broken stones
7 - 1 Heavy truck with a block of stone drawn by 7 horses.
8 - 2 Stages running
3 -1 Cart with dung
1- 1 delivering boards.
2 - 1 Mud-carts loading
1 – 1 ... waiting
37 Carriages not including several small carts with donkeys drawing.