There’s a deep, rewarding vein of information about the capital’s history to be tapped in the Bishopsgate Institute’s ‘All About London’ series of courses. Subjects such as ‘A People’s History of the East End’, ‘An Introductory Guide to Radicalism’, and ‘Photographing East London’ are all able to tap into the resources of the institute’s renowned library and archive collections of pamphlets, illustrations, maps and photographs. Most courses start during January or March.
The 1936 Battle of Cable Street (when anti-fascists confronted police superintending a rally by Oswald Mosley’s fascists) is referenced on ‘The Peopling of London: Migration and the Making of the Modern City’, which reveals that women, armed with chamber pots and a host of kitchen implements, played a crucial role in forcing the police to retreat from the standoff. Tutor Caryle Webb-Ingall teaches several courses including ‘London Crime and Punishment’ and offered us a taster of the riches secreted within the Bishopsgate’s archives with her game of ‘Where in London can You Find…’
A tunnel especially for nannies to take their charges across the road in safety?
‘Park Square Gardens, just south of Regent’s Park, where a passage known as Nursemaid’s Tunnel takes you from this small private park, underneath Euston Road, to emerge in Crescent Gardens. You can only do this during Open House Weekend in September – unless you own one of the adjoining Regency properties.’
‘This was the area around St Martin’s Lane that was demolished in the 1830s to build the National Gallery.’
A list of prostitutes in eighteenth century Covent Garden?
‘“Harris’s List of Covent Garden Ladies”, published from 1757 to 1795, was an annual directory of prostitutes working in Georgian London which cost two shillings and sixpence and sold about 8,000 copies yearly. Each edition contains entries which describe the physical appearance and sexual specialities of 120 to prostitutes who worked in and around Covent Garden.’ Whether broadening your education is one of your New Year’s resolutions or you just want to add to your store of pub-quiz trivia, it’s time to sign up.
‘All About London’ courses are at Bishopsgate Institute, 230 Bishopsgate, EC2M 4QH. Liverpool St. Tickets from £32.