Friday, February 22, 2013

The Picture of London for 1809

The Picture of London, a remarkably long-running guidebook to the greatest of Regency cities, is a fount of information. Each edition is a little different, and articles are dropped or continued according to the public's interest in them.

In the 1809 edition, one fascinating item is "An Almanac of the Exhibitions and Amusements of London: indicating all the Objects deserving of Notice throughout the Year, in the order in which they occur."

January includes:

6  Twelfth-Day; the Bishop of London makes an offering of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, at the Chapel Royal, St. James's.

    The Confectioners and Pastry-cooks shops furnish an interesting exhibition of cakes, especially in the evening.

18  The Queen's birth-day kept---A grand drawing-room at St. James's, and the streets and windows filled with spectators, to see the company pass---Ode for the New Year performed---Illuminations at public places, and at the houses of the royal tradesmen, take place in the evening.

20+  The lectures commence at the Royal Institution---Mr. Davy on Chemistry, Galvanism etc. with various lectures in different branches of Sciences and the arts.

Royal Institution, Albemarle Street, from Microcosm of London
23+  Every Sunday evening, from Christmas to Easter, the boy's[sic] at Christ-church Hospital sing an anthem, and sup in public at six o'clock. Tickets to this interesting sight may be had of any of the numerous governors, or at the Hospital.

In time of frost, the Canal in St. James's park, and the Serpentine River in Hyde-park, are covered with skaiters[sic]; here a stranger will find much amusement.

Skating, from 'British Manly Exercises'
February was no less entertaining, according to the "Almanac":

1+  Concert of ancient Music commences in the Great Room, in the King's Theatre, Haymarket.

6+  Anniversary of the Society for discharging Persons confined for Small Debts, Craven-street, Strand.

7+  Concert for the Benefit of the Choral Fund, Theatre-Royal, Haymarket.

11+ British Gallery, Pall-mall, for the Exhibition and Sale of the Works of British Artists.

22+ The Lectures on Painting commence at the Royal Academy, Somerset-place; admission gratis, by tickets to be had of the Academicians.
An exhibition at the Royal Academy
Two notes are added to the February Almanac entries:

During Lent, on Wednesday and Friday evenings Oratorios are performed at Covent-garden Theatre.

During the winter season, there are generally a variety of occasional exhibitions, particularly at the Lyceum in the Strand.
I find it wonderful to read of the activities available to Regency people and to imagine them choosing among the delights that London offered.

We'll revisit the Almanac of The Picture of London for 1809 throughout this year of 2013!

'Til next time,


N.B. The + following dates indicates a date that was not firmly fixed.

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