Literary and Historical Memorials of London by John Heneage Jesse. Printed to Francis A. Niccolls & Co., Boston. I don’t see a publication year anywhere, but according to Google Books, it’s circa 1847.
And here’s something I hadn’t noticed before: Edition De Luxe, Limited to One Thousand Copies. No. 2.
Heh! I’m Number 2!
This book has some really lovely etchings in it, too. Covered over with tissue paper. However, Google Books makes it apparent that my De Luxe edition is lacking fold out maps and more drawings … So, actually, I would like to know what’s so De Luxe about it? I’m a bit peeved to be honest.
Anyway, here’s the Google books link
Tidbit from this book:
May Fair, the site of which was anciently known as Brook Fields, derives its name, it is almost needless to remark, from the celebrated fair which was held in its green meadows from the reign of Henry the Eighth till the middle of the last century. “May Fair,” says Pennant, ” was kept about the spot now covered with May Fair Chapel, and several fine streets. The fair was attended with such disorders, riots, thefts, and even murders; that, in 1700, it was prevented by the magistrates, but revived again, and I remember the last celebrations. The place was covered with booths, temporary theatres, and every enticement to low pleasure.”
Enticements to low pleasure? In Mayfair? Gasp Do you believe that? But hey, how about those temporary theatres? Very medieval.
Malcolm, in his ” Anecdotes of the Manners and Customs of London,” quotes an advertisement which appeared in the London Journals of the 27th of April, 1700, which affords us a curious picture of this memorable fair. “In Brookfield market-place, at the east corner of Hyde Park, is a fair to be kept for the space of sixteen days, beginning with the 1st of May; the three first days for live cattle and leather, with the same entertainments as at Bartholomew Fair, where there are shops to be let ready built for all manner of tradesmen that usually keep fairs, and so to continue yearly at the same place.” As mentioned by Pennant, the disgraceful scenes of outrage, riot, and profligacy, which were annually to be witnessed at May Fair, led, in 1700, to its temporary suppression. In the Tatler of the 24th of May, 1708, we find;–“The downfall of May Fair has sunk the price of this noble creature [the elephant] as well as of many other curiosities of nature. A tiger will sell almost as cheap as an ox; and I am credibly informed a man may purchase a calf with three legs for very nearly the value of one with four. I hear likewise that there is great desolation, among the ladies and gentlemen who were the ornaments of the town, and used to shine in plumes and diadems, the heroes being most of them pressed, and the queens beating hemp.” May Fair, however, was again revived. Notwithstanding that a part of the ground was built over as early as 1721, we find a donkey-race attracting great crowds to the fair in 1736, and as late as 1756, it is still mentioned in Maitland’s Anecdotes as being annually celebrated.
So, check it, there were ready-built shops. Pre-fab, people, in 1700! In our period, there would be people alive who remembered all this. They may have indulged in low pleasures. But they would have stories to tell! Complaints to make of today’s youth and how they don’t know how to have fun on the cheap.
Moving along to check what this book cites — what is the Anecdotes book he mentions?
Anecdotes of the Manners and Customs of London During The Eighteenth Century; INCLUDING THE CHARITIES, DEPRAVITIES, DRESSES, AND AMUSEMENTS, OF THE CITIZENS OF LONDON, DURING THAT PERIOD; WITH A REVIEW Of THE STATE OF SOCIETY IN 1807. TO WHICH IS ADDED, A SKETCH OF THE DOMESTIC ARCHITECTURE, AND OF THE VARIOUS IMPROVEMENTS IN THE METROPOLIS. ILLUSTRATED BY FORTY-FIVE ENGRAVINGS
by James Peller Malcom
Published in 1810.
And there is this fascinating bit that’s just calling out for a plot point in someone’s Regency era novel:
To shew the difference between past and present methods [of lotteries], it may be worth while to insert a modern scheme;
State Lottery begins drawing October 13, l807, containing more Capital Prizes, and 5000 less Tickets, than last Lottery. The first drawn Ticket entitled to 10,000l.; all other Capital Prizes are afloat. Purchasers of Tickets and Shares will have the opportunity of obtaining all the Capital Prizes, provided they purchase before the drawing commences. The Scheme has equal advantages of 20,000l. Prizes, 10,000l. Prizes, 5,000l. Prizes, &c. &c. to former Lotteries of double the number of Tickets.
|No. of Prizes.||Value of each||Total Value|
|3 of||L.20,000||are L.60,000|
20,000 Tickets only, and no other State Lottery to be drawn this year.
So, who’s got a heroine, living in Mayfair who just won the lottery prize of 20,000 pounds? Or maybe a hero? Come on. Irascible great uncle who engaged in low pleasures at May Fair, now lives in Mayfair with his young niece who just won 20,000 pounds in the lottery. What if she doubled down and won two tickets?
Nicola Cornick used the lottery idea in her story called ‘The Earl’s Prize’. The characters didn’t live in Mayfair, though. the name is so obvious – once you pointed it out!!! Fascinating facts.
I indulged in low pleasures today.
The sun was out so I took a walk. harhar
A scene set amongst the temporary theaters and donkey races would grab my interest!
I am too busy coveting your library to even THINK of lotteries!
I believe taking a walk in the sun would be considered a high pleasure.
At the present in Alabama it would be a singular phenomena! The temps here have been running into the teens at night with daytime highs of 30 to 40 degrees! Did someone move this state north while I was sleeping?
Yeah, but do you have Book Collector software to catalogue that library of yours???
I, too, would be thrilled to have Book No. 2 and bummed to know parts were missing.
I like the odds in the Lottery!
So, would it properly be May Fair, or is it acceptable to use Mayfair in a Regency? I’ve used the latter in refernce to ‘a private hell in Mayfair’, circa 1813. I hope that wouldn’t have been unlikely at such a time.
All very fascinating, isn’t it? Though it seems the more research I do, the more scared I am to put pen to paper, in case I get some minor detail like this wrong. There’s much to be said for the half-baked approach!