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The Houndsditch Macaroni

July 3, 2015
by the gentle author

I came upon this appealing illustration in the archive at the Bishopsgate Institute but was entirely mystified to discover the meaning of ‘Macaroni’, fortunately Spitalfields Life’s Contributing Slang Lexicographer Jonathon Green was able to elucidate by supplying the relevant entry from his three volume magnum opus, ‘Green’s Dictionary of Slang’.

Macaroni- A fop, a dandy. Thus macaroni-stake n., a horserace ridden by a ‘gentleman jockey’ [the Macaroni Club, ‘which is composed of all the travelled young men who wear long curls and spying-glasses’ (Horace Walpole ed., Letters of Earl Hertford, 1764). The travelling, suggests the OED, prob. gave the members a taste for foreign foods, hence the name].

1764 H. Walpole 27 May Letters IV (1891) 238: ‘Lady Faulkener’s daughter is to be married to a young rich Mr. Crewe, a Macarone, and of our Loo.’

1766 P. de Marivaux Agreeable Surprise (translation) I i: ‘He charms the female heart, oh, la! / The pink of macaronies.’

1770 R. King Frauds of London 56: ‘Exotic fopperies, and new fashioned vices [...] of our new English Maccaronies.’

1772 G. Stevens ‘The Blood’ Songs Comic and Satyrical 139: ‘Macaronies so neat, / Pert Jennies so sweet.’

1773 C. Shadwell Fair Quaker of Deal (rev. edn) I i:‘I value myself for not being a coxcomb, a macaronie captain.’

1774 J. O’Keeffe Tony Lumpkin in Town (1780) 28: Tim.: ‘This cousin of your’s is a tip-top macaroni. Tony.: Yes, he’s a famous mac.’

1781 J. Burgoyne Lord of Manor I i: ‘The macaroni’s knapsack—It contains a fresh perfumed fillet for the hair, a pot of cold cream for the face, and a calico under waistcoat.’

1789 G. Parker Life’s Painter 177: ‘Gentlemen of the drop. Are a set of people to be seen in all the great thorough-fares of London [...] They dress quite different, some like farmers and graziers, with a drab coat, a brown two curl wig, boots, spurs, &c., others like walking jockeys, horse-dealers, tradesmen, gentlemen, mackaronies, &c. Some speak Irish, some Welch, and others the West and North Country dialects; they often appear as raw countrymen.’

a.1790 C. Dibdin ‘Vauxhall Watch’ Collection of Songs I 57: ‘Pretty women dress’d so tight, / And macaronies what a sight.’

1805 G. Barrington New London Spy 53: ‘The present degenerate race of Macaronies, who appear to be of spurious puny breed.’

1818 ‘Thomas Brown’ Fudge Family in Paris Letter X 120: ’Twas dark when we got to the Boulevards to stroll / And in vain did I look ’mong the street Macaronis.

1828 (con. 1770) G. Smeeton Doings in London 52: ‘A macaroni made his appearance at an assembly-room, dressed in a mixed silk coat, pink satin waistcoat and breeches, covered with elegant silver net, white silk stockings, with pink clocks, pink satin shoes and large pearl buckles; a mushroom-coloured stock, covered with fine-point-lace, hair dressed remarkably high and stuck full of pearl pins.’

1834 (con. 1737–9) W.H. Ainsworth Rookwood (1857) 53: ‘He was a deuced fine fellow [...] quite a tiptop macaroni.’

1841 ‘The Batch Of Cakes’ Dublin Comic Songster 44: ‘The bucks that range about so smart, drest up like simple tonies, / Why, lauk, they are no cakes at all, they’re only macaronies.’

1851 ‘A Batch of Cakes’ Jolly Comic Songster 238: ‘Dandy lads, with stays and pads, / Dressed out like simple tonies, / Cannot be reckoned cakes at all, / They’re only maccaronies.’

1863 (ref. to mid-18C) Shields Dly Gaz. 17 Sept. 3/4: ‘The deeds which delighted the buckskin breeches and cocked hats of our Maccaronis and Mohawks in the days of the second George.’

1874 Pall Mall Gaz. 14 Apr. 11/2: ‘A Maccaroni, with his affected airs and fanciful attire, is not now a very conceivable creature.’

1880 (ref. to 18C) Manchester Courier 4 Aug. 6/1: ‘Mohawks and Maccaronis had plenty of shillings in those days.’

1885 Newcastle Courant 20 Feb. 2/3: ‘Though an exquisite in dress and manner [he was] by no means a representative of the ‘maccaroni,’ ‘fribbles’ [...] or ‘swells’ of various periods.’

1890 (ref. to 1764) Graphic (London) 29 Nov. 19/1: ‘In 1764 [...] the ‘Maccaronis,’ the ‘curled darlings’ of the day, were gaily ruining their fortunes.’

1899 H. Lawson ‘The Songs They Used to Sing’ in Roderick (1972) 386: ‘Yankee Doodle came to town / Upon a little pony — / Stick a feather in his cap, / And call him Maccaroni.’

1929 J.B. Priestley Good Companions 15: ‘Though they did not know it, they were in truth the last of a long line, the last of the Macaronis, the Dandies, the Swells, the Mashers, the Knuts.’

1938 C. Beaton Cecil Beaton’s N.Y. 171: ‘The boy, a macaroni in dress, his long, seemingly boneless limbs encased in grey check.’

Image courtesy Bishopsgate Institute

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So Long, Edward Greenfield

July 2, 2015
by the gentle author

Today I publish my profile of Edward Greenfield as a tribute to a great music critic and popular long-term Spitalfields resident who died yesterday afternoon aged eighty-six

Edward Greenfield  by Lucinda Douglas-Menzies

The entire ground floor of Ted Greenfield’s house in Folgate St was given over to an archive of thousands upon thousands of CDs. Stretching from floor to ceiling in each room were shelves of utilitarian design, lined with meticulously labelled brown archive boxes containing them all, while down in the cellar was stored his collection of over thirty thousand LPs. When you first walked through the door, it felt as if you had entered the storeroom of a music shop or the hidden stack of music library, but climbing the stairs to the first floor led you into the more congenial atmosphere of Ted’s domestic arena.

Ted lived up above, in the top three storeys of his magnificently tottering eighteenth century, in rooms stacked with more CDs, musical biographies, back copies of The Gramophone, programmes from concerts and opera – and innumerable notes and cards of good wishes that testified to his many friends and admirers.

“I once had a flat in Highgate but the LPs got me out!” he admitted to me as we enjoyed a reviving mid-morning vodka and lemon in his sunlit, panelled living room, lined with striking modernist portraits by Jeffrey Spedding of Ted’s musical icons, Mahler, Sibelius, Brahms, William Walton, Leonard Bernstein and Beethoven.

“I have been here in Spitalfields for thirty-seven years and it seems like no time at all. The whole place has changed, yet largely for the better I think. In those days, there was nothing between me and the church, nowadays you’d barely recognise it. My friends were shocked when I bought this house with a hole in the roof in 1979, but I could see the potential and so could my architect, because it was he who suggested I come to live here.

The builders were in for over two years, and then it took another ten years to get the panelling sorted out. This room alone took over a year. In the nineteen thirties, they thought ‘horrible old panelling’ and lined it with fibreboard and covered the walls with miles of bellwire attached to alarms, because this was the Co-op Fruit & Vegetable Department and they kept all their valuables here, using staples for the wire that created thousands of tiny holes we had to fill. And they installed a particularly nasty nineteen thirties ceramic fireplace that looked like it should have china rabbits over it – behind that we discovered this original coved fireplace recess.

Then I had a disaster when I moved in and only stayed fifteen minutes because there was a fire! Later, I had just moved my record collection of thirty thousand odd LPs into the cellar when there was flood. After the fire and the flood, I was expecting an earthquake. At that time, the two plots next door were vacant, where the houses had fallen down, and there were baulks of timber holding this one up. I had a party for one hundred and fifty people when I finally moved in and there were so many people the building was rocking!”

Ted Greenfield dramatised his own life with an endearing humour borne of a life of fulfilment at the heart of the British music scene as longtime music critic at The Guardian and subsequently as editor of the Penguin Guide to CDs. A trusted authority who continued to review regularly for The Gramophone into his eighties Greenfield forged friendships with many musicians who were the subject of his writing – from William Walton (“My great hero and a dear friend”), Michael Tippett, Benjamin Britten, Yehudi Menuhin and Mstislav Rostropovich to Leonard Bernstein (“The most charismatic man I ever knew”.). Ted Greenfield’s magnanimous optimistic temperament partly accounted for this, but it was further explained by his philosophy of criticism, which he outlined thus,“The first duty of a critic is to appreciate, to try to understand what the artist is trying to do and how far he has succeeded. You just have to try and sympathise.” As a critic, Ted Greenfield wrote to explore the intentions of the work he was reviewing, rather than sitting in judgement.

“I always wanted to write about records, but then I thought ‘I’ll never be able to keep myself,’ so I did Law at Cambridge where I wrote the Cambridge Union reports, and then when I went to the Appointments Board, they said, ‘Why not journalism?’ I think I’ve been very lucky, but equally I know you have to make your own luck to an extent. I try to look for the best side of things and to make things happen. I’ve written about a lot of people and they’ve become good friends. I’ve known many of the greats in music and politics over the years.”

When I asked Ted what music he listened to for recreation, he opened Who’s Who’s and showed me his entry which listed his recreations as “music and work,” and I understood that music was simply his life. Looking around, I realised that it was unquestionably a bachelor’s dwelling he inhabited, with few luxuries and comforts, and an atmosphere that was collegiate as much as it was domestic, displaying the charismatic disorder of books and papers you might expect in an undergraduate’s chambers overlooking an old quad.

Indeed, many of Ted’s Cambridge contemporaries remained lifelong friends including ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer Geoffrey Howe (“When he came to my party here, before all the buildings were put up, we were able to look across and see St Pauls”), ex-Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie ( “When I first visited him at Lambeth Palace, his wife had him doing the washing up”) and ex-Prime Minister Edward Heath with whom he shared a love of music. “Ted became a dear friend, especially when Margaret Thatcher took over and he famously was in the big sulk – he was a frequent visitor to Spitalfields in those days. I realised how vulnerable he was. Although he was entirely incapable of expressing human emotions, whenever he saw me he was plainly delighted. It was very amusing to tease him and have him tease me back.”

In spite of his immense knowledge and his friendships with all these establishment types, Ted was refreshingly lacking in pomposity and even a little subversive, wearing britches and nicely polished riding boots when he had no intention of going riding or even leaving the house. Drinking spirits in the morning was a rare experience for me but I recognised at once it was a habit I could get accustomed to – What could be more civilised than to sit in an old house in Spitalfields sipping vodka with lemon and listening to classical CDs? This was the life of Edward Greenfield.

Edward Greenfield (1928-2015)

Portraits copyright © Lucinda Douglas-Menzies

Inside Spitalfields’ Oldest Building

July 1, 2015
by the gentle author

I wonder if those who work in the corporate financial industries in Bishop’s Sq today ever cast their eyes down to the cavernous medieval Charnel House of c. 1320 beneath their feet, once used to store the dis-articulated bones of many thousands of those who died here of the Great Famine in the thirteenth century.

Inspector of Ancient Monuments, Jane Siddell, believes starving people flooded into London from Essex seeking food after successive crop failures and reached the Priory of St Mary Spital where they died of hunger and were buried here. It was a dark vision of apocalyptic proportions on such a bright day, yet I held it in in mind yesterday as we descended beneath the contemporary building to the stone chapel below.

At first, you notice the knapped flints set into the wall as a decorative device, like those at Southwark Cathedral and St Bartholomew the Great. London does not have its own stone and Jane pointed out the different varieties within the masonry and their origins, indicating that this building was a sophisticated and expensive piece of construction subsidised by wealthy benefactors. A line of small windows admitted light and air to the Charnel House below, and low walls that contain them survive which would once have extended up to the full height of the chapel.

When you stand down in the cool of the Charnel House, several metres below modern ground level, and survey the neatly-faced stone walls and the finely-carved buttresses, it is not difficult to complete the vault over your head and imagine the chapel above. Behind you are the footings of the steps that led down and there is an immediate sense of familiarity conveyed by the human proportion and architectural detailing, as if you had just descended the staircase into it.

This entire space would once have been packed with bones, in particular skulls and leg bones – which we recognise in the symbol of the skull & crossbones – the essential parts to be preserved so that the dead might be able to walk and talk when they were resurrected on Judgement Day. Yet they were rudely expelled and disposed of piecemeal at the Reformation when the Priory of St Mary Spital was dissolved in 1540.

Brick work and the remains of a beaten earth floor indicate that the Charnel House may have become a storeroom and basement kitchen for a dwelling above in the sixteenth century. Later, it was filled with rubble from the Fire of London and levelled-off as houses were built across Spitalfields in the eighteenth century. Thus the Charnel House lay forgotten and undisturbed as a rare survival of fourteenth century architecture, until 1999 when it was unexpectedly discovered by the builders constructing the current office block. Yet it might have been lost then if the developers had not – showing unexpected grace – reconfigured their building in order to let it stand.

Around the site lie stray pieces of masonry individually marked by the masons – essential if they were to receive the correct payment from their labours. Thus our oldest building bears witness to the human paradox of economic reality, which has always co-existed uneasily with a belief in the spiritual world, since it was a yearning for redemption in the afterlife that inspired the benefactors who paid for this chapel in Spitalfields more than seven centuries ago

The exterior walls are decorated with knapped flints, faced in Kentish Ragstone upon a base of Caen Stone with use of green Reigate Stone for corner stones

Window bricked up in the sixteenth century

Inside the Charnel House once packed with bones

Twelfth century denticulated Romanesque buttress brought from an earlier building and installed in the Charnel House c.1320 – traces of red and black paint were discovered upon this.

Fine facing stonework within the Charnel House

Fourteenth century masons’ marks

The Charnel House is to be seen in the foreground of this illustration from the fifteen-fifties

The Charnel House during excavations

Click here to book for the visits to the Charnel House on 14th & 20th July hosted by Jane Siddell, Inspector of Ancient Monuments, as part of the HUGUENOT SUMMER Festival

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David Garrick In The East End

June 30, 2015
by the gentle author

There are just a few tickets left for the rare opportunity of a tour of the Garrick Club tomorrow, Wednesday 1st July, as part of the HUGUENOT SUMMER Festival. Click here to book yours.

“Have mercy, Heaven” – David Garrick as Richard III

This modest Staffordshire figure of c.1840 upon my dresser illustrates a pivotal moment in British theatre, when David Garrick made his debut aged twenty-four as Richard III at Goodman’s Fields Theatre in Aldgate on Monday 19th October 1741. Based upon William Hogarth’s painting, it shows Garrick in the momentous scene on the night before the battle of Bosworth Field when those Richard has killed appear to him in a dream foretelling his death and defeat next day.

The equivocal nature of the image fascinates me, simultaneously incarnating the startling ascendancy of David Garrick, a new force in the British theatre who was to end up enshrined in Westminster Abbey, and the sudden descent of Richard III, a spent force in British monarchy who ended up buried in a car park in Leicester. You can interpret the gesture of Garrick’s right hand as attention seeking, inviting you to “Look at my acting” or, equally, it can be Richard’s defensive move, snatching at the air with fingers stretched out in horror. It is, perhaps, both at once. Yet my interest is in Garrick and how he became an overnight sensation, introducing a more naturalistic acting style to the London stage and leading the Shakespearean revival in the eighteenth century. And it all started here in the East End, just a mile south of Shakespeare’s first theatre up the road in Shoreditch.

Garrick’s family were Huguenots. His grandparents fled to London in 1685 and David was born in 1717 as the third of five children while his father Captain Garrick was travelling the country with a recruiting party. Suitably enough, at the age of eleven, David played the part of Kite in George Farquhar’s The Recruiting Officer. Then, in 1737, since there was no money to pay for university, David and his literary classmate Samuel Johnson left their school in Lichfield to walk to London and seek their fortunes. But the sudden death of Captain Garrick within a month delivered an unexpected legacy that permitted David to set up a wine business in the Strand with his brother Peter.

In that same year, the Licensing Act closed all the playhouses in London except Drury Lane and Covent Garden, yet the management of the unlicenced Goodman’s Fields Theatre managed to get a dispensation to present concerts. Far enough east to avoid the eye of the Lord Chamberlain, they bent the rules with posters declaring concerts – even if the performances they advertised were actually plays. Thus Richard III is advertised as a “A concert of vocal and instrumental music” at “the late theatre in Goodman’s Fields.” David Garrick’s name as the leading actor is not given, he is merely referred to as “A GENTLEMAN (Who never appeared on any stage)” - a common practice at this theatre.

Next day, the London Post & General Advertiser reported that Garrick’s “Reception was most extraordinary and the greatest that was ever known upon such an occasion.” And he wrote to his brother Peter immediately, quitting the wine business,“Last night, I play’d Richard ye Third, to ye Surprize of Every Body & as I shall make near £300 p Annum by It & as it is really what I doat upon I am resolv’d to pursue it.”

Garrick continued playing Richard throughout his career, essaying the role as many as ninety times, and this account written years later for The Gentlemen’s Magazine may give us some notion of his performance. “His soliloquy in the tent scene discovered the inward man. Everything he described was almost reality, the spectator thought he heard the hum of either army from camp to camp. When he started from his dream, he was a spectacle of horror. He called out in a manly tone, ‘Give me another horse.’ He paused, and, with a countenance of dismay, advanced, crying out in a tone of distress, ‘Bind up my wounds,’ and then falling on his knees, said in a most piteous voice, ‘Have mercy, Heaven.’ In all this, the audience saw the exact imitation of nature.”

By 27th November 1741, Garrick’s performance had turned into a phenomenon which all of London had to see, as The London Daily Post described, “Last night there was a great number of Persons of Quality and Distinction at the Theatre in Goodman’s Fields to see the Play of Richard the Third who express’d the highest Satisfaction at the whole Performance, several hundred Persons were obliged to return for want of room, the house being full soon after Five o’Clock.”

Yet the success that Garrick brought to the Goodman’s Fields drew attention to the unlicensed theatre – forcing its closure within six months by the authorities, encouraged by the managements of Drury Lane and Covent Garden who were losing custom to their East End rival. Meanwhile, Garrick considered his options and, after a triumphant summer season in Dublin, he walked onto the stage of Drury Lane as an actor for the first time on October 5th 1742 and he had found his spiritual home.

The myth of Garrick as the gentleman who stepped onto the stage, drawn magnetically by his powerful talent and declared a genius of theatre upon his first appearance, concealed a more complicated truth. In fact, Garrick had taken his first professional speaking role on the stage that summer in Ipswich, appearing under the name Lyddall. His own play, Lethe or Aesop in the Shades, had been produced at Drury Lane the year before. And, having played Harlequin in an amateur performance in the room above St John’s Gate in Clerkenwell, he took over at Goodman’s Fields Theatre one night when the actor performing the role became sick. So Richard III was far from Garrick’s first time in front of an audience, although it was the moment he chose to declare his talent, and it is likely that he made significant preparation.

Whenever I look at my Staffordshire figure of Garrick, whether he appears to be waving joyfully or reaching out in despair at the universe is an unfailing indicator of my state of mind. Ironically, Garrick’s monument in Westminster Abbey follows a similar design with a tent rising to a central apex, surrounding an effigy of the great actor making his final curtain call, yet here the proud gesture is entirely unambiguous, he’s saying “Look at me!”

William Hogarth’s painting of David Garrick as Richard III, 1745.

The playbill for David Garrick’s debut at Goodman’s Fields Theatre.

The Goodman’s Fields Theatre, Ayliffe St.

William Hogarth’s painting of The Beggar’s Opera by John Gay, performed as the closing production at Goodman’s Fields Theatre on May 27th 1742.

David Garrick’s monument in Westminster Abbey is to be seen on the top right of this glass slide.

Watercolour of Goodman’s Fields Theatre copyright © Victoria & Albert Museum

Glass slide of Garrick’s monument copyright © Bishopsgate Institute

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A Petition Against The Goodsyard Towers

June 29, 2015
by the gentle author

Just recently, Hammerson & Ballymore, who want to build the monster development on the Bishopsgate Goodsyard that threatens to blight the neighbourhood for generations to come, have submitted their revised proposals which make only token response to concerns about the overblown height of the towers, the pitiful amount of social housing and lack of any real commitment to provision for smaller businesses. In response, More Light More Power have launched a petition against the scheme which has already gained a thousand signatures and you can sign it by clicking here.

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