For centuries, tourism was a pursuit largely reserved for nobility. By the Middle Ages though, the rise of Christianity and success of the crusades saw a surge in pilgrimages across all classes, for religious salvation, to pray for relatives or simply to escape the misery of medieval life. This was the first time people were travelling en masse for reasons other than war, trade or industry – and was the beginning of tourism proper.
The Great Fire devastated London. There were few recorded deaths, but estimates put the destroyed property value at £10,000,000 (£1.5 billion in today’s money). From the ashes rose an unlikely development: the world’s first property insurance policies.
The Ratcliff Highway, joining London’s Docklands to the City, was a wild place in the early 18th century. It was home to gin shops, shorebound sailors and Bengal tigers. The world’s biggest exotic pet shop, Jamrach’s Emporium, was located at number 164. The discerning collector could buy everything from lions for £100 to polar bears for just £25, and in the 1840s there was plenty of demand. Charles Darwin had just returned from his Galapagos-encompassing trip aboard HMS Beagle, the first touring circuses were travelling England, and advances in print technology meant zoological illustrations were the thing to have in one’s drawing room. It was the beginning of England’s great love of animals.
London has been the host to many a historic protest. From the Suffragettes of the early twentieth century to the anti-austerity marches we see today, free speech and the right to stand up for what you believe in add to the richness of the capital.
When it comes to longevity and determination regarding modern protest, Brian Haw has become somewhat of a modern London icon. Born in London in 1949, Brian moved from his family home in 2001 to start a protest camp in Parliament Square. Read the full post
To celebrate the first major exhibition of works by Christina Broom at the Museum of London Docklands, we’re running an Instagram competition to seek out the spots she snapped and reinterpret the views today.
The exhibition Soldiers and Suffragettes: The Photography of Christina Broom created a unique opportunity to use Broom’s original glass plate negatives and recommission the museum’s darkroom and long-forgotten equipment.
The fight for female voting rights was a long and difficult one – even once a national campaign began in the 1870s (after a woman was allowed to vote by mistake), it would take another 60 years for all adult women to be allowed to vote. Political posters were used heavily to enlist support at rallies and counteract the negative caricatures of suffragists being used in the press.
The London that Christina Broom knew and embraced as she embarked on her ventures with photography in 1903 would profoundly shape her ambitions, subject matter and way of working. Tradition, pageantry and ceremony, in keeping with the era, interweave Broom’s work. This might be deemed fairly conventional. Yet her compositions, approach and the access she determinedly obtained, indicative of this photographer’s strength of character, define and distinguish her images from the work of her contemporaries. Read the full post
Against the leading Edwardian women photographers, Broom’s entrée to postcard production stood out as a unique business venture. She turned to producing picture postcards just as they were becoming a popular cultural phenomenon. Although pre-stamped official government postcards had been available for sending messages in Britain since 1870, the picture postcard offered a product that was original, functional and commercial. Read the full post
Photography has played an important part in shaping public understanding of the world’s armed forces since the mid-nineteenth century. John McCosh (1805–85), a Scottish surgeon and amateur photographer serving with the East India Company’s Bengal Army, created what are currently believed to be the earliest photographs of British soldiers between 1843 and 1856, a period which included the Second Anglo-Sikh War (1848–9). Elsewhere, an unknown daguerreotypist photographed American troops during the American–Mexican war of 1846–8. Despite the obvious constraints of early technology, both photographers captured the combination of ceremony and soldiering that forms the essence of military life. Read the full post