Diary description of London

25 July 1827

Diary description of London


  • Intro

    In this diary extract, social reformer Francis Place describes a 'gloriously fine morning' in London's Charing Cross. The passage paints a vivid picture of the sensual wonders of the city.


    Shelfmark: Add. MS 27828.

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  • Transcript

    Diary description of London

    Original text:


    Thursday. 25 July. 1827. 


        Half past 7 a.m. 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 waltz.

        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.

        The ribbons worn at present [are?] from 3 to 6 inches wide. Their colours are shaded, and varied without [and?] they are very bright and very showy.



    Nov. 22 - 1827. - 11am.

        There are now in the street between my house and Parliament Street, and consequently within sight in one direction only

    Horses 8

    8 ____2 stage-coaches with 4 horses each, standing at the Ship

    8____2 - D"_____________2. [?] ________

    4____1 - D"__________________D"________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. D"____Cabriolets.

    3____3. D"____ [?]____ Private

    12____3. Waggons with Coals - Several saddle horses

    4____1 - D"____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 - D"____delivering - boards -

    2____1. Mud-carts loading

    1____1. D"____ waiting



    102.                  37 Carriages - not including several small carts - with donkeys drawing.

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