Lord Mayor of London

Big Stink & Loos

For an audio version of this legend:

Big Stink & Loos

London loos have been an interesting topic of conversation for centuries.  Under the Romans, loos were a place to catch up with friends and business partners and instead of toilet paper, the poor used sponges at the end of wooden handles, but the rich used ostrich feathers…very posh!

By the medieval times, London was an open sewer and toilets called garderobes were emptied straight into the Thames. So, Lord Mayor Dick Whittington (yes, the one with the cat…but the cat didn’t really exist), paid for the public ‘Whittington Longhouse’ which allowed for 100 people in one sitting.

London commemorates public toileting in the street names of Pissing Lane, Dunghill Lane and Sherborne Lane (originally Shiteburn Lane).

The heatwave of 1858 caused the most famous ‘Big Stink’, when London and its filthy River Thames smelled like one giant toilet.  This encouraged the government (which had to take a break and leave Westminster as the smell was too much, even after they had perfumed the curtains), to start the construction of a modern sewer, which was complete in 1865.

Today the river is cleaner than it has been since the Romans arrived….and public toilets?  Still not always the most inviting.

Dawn Denton©

Image Source: www.wateraid.org


Banking Hoares

It cost goldsmith Richard Hoare £420 (£37,000 in today’s money) to buy his new bank in Fleet Street, which he had founded in 1672 under the sign of the Golden Bottle in Cheapside. He moved the business to number 37 Fleet Street, where it still stands today.

His bank was so prosperous that he was knighted by Queen Anne and Sir Richard later became Lord Mayor of London in 1712.

The Hoare family continued the banking tradition and they have made their bank so much more interesting:

  1. Hoare’s Bank has the oldest purpose built banking hall in Britain.
  2. Three Hoares have held the position of Lord Mayor of London
  3. During the Jacobite Rebellion, Richard Hoare mobilises the local guard to defend London from Bonnie Prince Charlie, if he were to reach the City.
  4. 1763 the Hoare Bank issued the first printed cheque
  5. In 1798 and 1810, some of the first recorded excavations of Stonehenge were done by Richard Colt Hoare and his archeology companion William Cunnington.
  6. Due to the bank’s location, temporary balconies were erected for the staff and customers to watch Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee procession.
  7. Customer ledgers were hand-written until 1962.
  8. Lord Byron (poet) and Jane Austen (author) were customers of the bank.
  9. For five generations the Hoare family held controlling shares in the Red Lion Brewery, one of London’s oldest, which was well-known for brewing stout and sparkling ales.
  10. The brother of the bank’s architect was responsible for bronze gates at Marble Arch and a balustrade for Buckingham Palace’s Grand Staircase.
  11. In 1664 the trendy bank received diarist John Evelyn, who later wrote that he had seen “fans like those our ladies use, but much larger, and with long handles” at the bank. And in the new millennium, the bank commissioned commemorative and collectors’ umbrellas.
  12. Apparently a partner or member of the family has to stay in the bank overnight.
  13. Today the bank is run by the 10th and 11th generation of the Hoare family.
  14. In the 19th century, the bankers were instructed to carry out ‘no business outside the bank except in top hats’.

Today Hoare’s Bank has three West End branches, employs 350 staff and has a balance sheet of almost £2billion….a pretty good return on the £420 spent on the premises over 300 years ago.

©Dawn Denton


Image Source: www.hoaresbank.co.uk