Rum, hospitals and insurance: London’s hidden slavery souvenirs

By james read, guest blog author on 11 Sep 2015
Pair of domestic sugar loaf cutters

Pair of domestic sugar loaf cutters used to break up sugar at home

The 1700s were a shameful time in London’s history. Although slavery was something that happened far away, on American cotton farms and West Indian sugar plantations, England had many critical, if slightly murkier, parts to play. From MPs owning Caribbean plantations to a newly-discovered British appetite for sugar, England was implicit in human slavery. This uncomfortable past touched much of British life, and was hidden in a great many everyday objects and institutions.

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The Great Fire of London and the invention of insurance

By james read, guest blog author on 21 Aug 2015
Woodcut from 'Shlohavot, or, The burning of London in the year 1666'

Woodcut from ‘Shlohavot, or, The burning of London in the year 1666′

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.

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