So this is how the story goes. In 1826 a London merchant decides to buy some cloth from a weaver in Hawick, a town in the Scottish borders famous for its cloth production. Very happy with his order, he decides to get some more but – crucially – misreads the weaver’s dashed handwriting. Instead of ‘twill’ this Londoner reads ‘tweed’, and assumes this new cloth must take after the River Tweed which runs fast and clear through the textile areas of lower Scotland. ‘Tweed’ and not ’twill’ has been the term used ever since.
View image | gettyimages.com Many actors have taken on the iconic roles of Holmes and Watson, but who did it best? This January and February, we’re inviting Sherlockians to join in the debate and state their case. So, who’s your favourite? Buy tickets for Who’s the best Holmes? / Who’s the best Watson?
“The St. Lawrence is mere water. The Missouri muddy water. The Thames is liquid history.” So declared John Burns – a great advocate of London’s history – when asked to compare the Thames against those other great rivers in 1929. Forty years earlier in 1889 Burns had been a towering figurehead of the Great Dock Strike, thus sealing his own place in those murky waters. As the 125th anniversary of the strike approaches (14 August – 16 September) it feels an opportune moment to reflect on what this particular passage of liquid history might mean today.
London is a congregation of communities, but many of these communities have had to struggle for inclusion and acceptance. Our LGBT population has fought hard to establish and legitimise its identity over the last 70 years. Badges and pins have been used as signifiers of support for a plethora of gay and lesbian issues, and now act as reminders of past and continuing battles.
In 1976, two museums were brought together to create the Museum of London: the London Museum and the City’s Guildhall Museum. This merged not just two museums’ collections but many years of files and records. This complex archive still has some fresh surprises left to discover. Let’s hear from John Clark, retired Senior Curator of the medieval collections.
Christmas always provides us with an excuse to dig out from the stores objects relating to the festive season. This year, on display in our temporary Show Space until the beginning of January, are a few of our favourite Christmas things. These range from items related to the traditional Christmas entertainments of the pantomime and ballet to a collection of humble tinplate toys. Every one of these was imported from Germany and sold on London’s streets for a penny in the early years of the 20th century. Let’s see what’s inside the Museum of London stocking…
Penny toy from 1906- sweet container in the shape of Santa Claus.
At the start of this year, the legendary club Plastic People shut its doors on Curtain Road in Shoreditch for good. It came among an ongoing wave of club and venue closures, and it was one of the smaller venues in London – fitting just 200 dancers – but it provoked a huge wave of nostalgia. This wasn’t just a sense of loss though: notable in all the tributes that were paid to the venue were an enormous sense of pride in the values of the club and how it represented all that is best about London and its people.
Kibbo Kift Leader John Hargrave addresses the Althing (annual camp), 1923
Who were the Kibbo Kift?
Were they the pacifist and feminist version of the Boy Scouts? Were they banker-bashing radicals or performance artists? Were they, as some accused, secretly fascists, communists, or connected to the Ku Klux Klan? Now, for the first time in decades, this extraordinary and visionary social movement of the 1920s and 30s is back in the London spotlight.
On Thursday 8 October we welcomed guests to the private view of The Crime Museum Uncovered. The evening was opened by author and journalist Tony Parsons with speeches given by Sharon Ament, Director of The Museum of London, Clive Bannister, Chairman of The Museum of London and Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Metropolitan Police Commissioner and Helen Bailey, COO of MOPAC.
Detail from pilgrim badge depicting the three kings.
The 6th of January is the feast of the Epiphany, celebrating the visit of the Three Magi, Kings or Wise Men to the infant Jesus in Bethlehem, bearing their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. In medieval times this was a very important feast day, as it marked the twelfth day after Christmas and the official end of the Christmas period. This idea lives on in the tradition of taking down Christmas decorations by the 6th. Read the full post
London is forever being rebuilt. Everywhere you look in the city there seems to be a crane and building site. And where there’s building works, there’s usually been some archaeology. Read the full post