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Lost In Long Forgotten London

May 19, 2014
by the gentle author

If you got lost in the six volumes of Walter Thornbury’s London Old & New you might never find your way out again. Published in the eighteen-seventies, they recall a London which had already vanished in atmospheric engravings that entice the viewer to visit the dirty, shabby, narrow labyrinthine streets leading to Thieving Lane, by way of Butcher’s Row and Bleeding Heart Yard.

Butcher’s Row, Fleet St, 1800

The Old Fish Shop by Temple Bar, 1846

Exeter Change Menagerie in the Strand, 1826

Hungerford Bridge with Hungerford Market, 1850

At the Panopticon in Leicester Sq, 1854

Holbein Gateway in Whitehall, 1739

Thieving Lane in Westminster, 1808

Old London Bridge, 1796

Black Bull Inn, Gray’s Inn Lane

Cold Harbour, Upper Thames St, City of London

Billingsgate, 1820

Bedford Head Tavern,  Covent Garden

Coal Exchange, City of London, 1876

The Cock & Magpie, Drury Lane

Roman remains discovered at Bilingsgate

Hick’s Hall in Clerkenwell,  1730

Former church of St James Clerkenwell

Door of Newgate Prison

Fleet Market

Bleeding Heart Yard in Hatton Garden

Prince Henry’s House in the Barbican

Fortune Theatre, Whitecross St, 1811

Coldbath House in Clerkenwell, 1811

Milford Lane, off the Strand, 1820

St Martin’s-Le-Grand, 1760

Old Bethlehem Hospital (Bedlam), Moorfields, in 1750

Images courtesy Bishopsgate Institute

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16 Responses leave one →
  1. cynthia booker permalink
    May 19, 2014

    Fascinating. I could spend hours trying to locate the same places on Google Street View and make comparisons. Can pin some to close enough but most are long gone with not even a similar reference to be found. As always, thanks for a great post.

  2. May 19, 2014

    Yes, you can get lost in these grand engravings! — May I ask something technical: How do you manage it to digitise? Do you have a mobile scanner? Thanks a lot!

    Love & Peace

  3. May 19, 2014

    How appropriate that Thieving Lane was in Westminster….

  4. Paul Kelly permalink
    May 19, 2014

    The arch seen in the distance of the first picture of Butchers Row , Fleet Street , can now be seen in Paternoster Square near to St.Paul’s cathedral. It was once pulled down and placed farther afield and only in recent years returned to London and now graces the pedestrianized area next to the great church.I think it was taken down initially because the thoroughfare became too heavy with traffic and the archway became a problematic bottleneck and restricted flow.

  5. May 19, 2014

    I love your posts about long forgotten London. I wondered if it’d be possible to map the locations of the buildings? I’d find that so interesting…

  6. Peter Holford permalink
    May 19, 2014

    Great images. For those trying to locate the places Greenwood’s map of 1827 is a good starting place ( It’s also available to purchase – fully searchable.

  7. Philip Marriage permalink
    May 19, 2014

    Lovely detailed engravings of times past. Your mention of Bleeding Heart Yard brings back to me memories from over fifty years ago, of visiting old Mr Lawrence who ran a business selling handmade Japanese and other exotic papers, boxwood blocks and wood-engraving tools. I remember climbing the rickety wooden stairs up to a locked door and, upon knocking, a small shutter slid open and Mr Lawrence demanded to know what you wanted. If your explanation wasn’t worthy enough the shutter slid back and that was the end of the conversation. Thankfully I was able to gain entry and managed to find a fine selection of Swedish papers suitable for the end papers of a prestige book on which I was working.

  8. May 19, 2014

    As a born and bred Londoner I found these fascinating and nostalgic. So enjoyable. I am glad I subscribed to Spitalfields Life.

  9. May 19, 2014

    My god what a treasure! My favorite is “Milford Lane, off the Strand, 1820”, being an avid serious amateur B&W photographer I can see a wonderful range and subtleness of tonality in this engraving almost like a fine B&W photograph.

  10. Patricia Ledwith permalink
    May 19, 2014

    Wonderful images. Thank you.

  11. Pauline Taylor permalink
    May 19, 2014

    I have my own set of these books (well I am a bookseller) and can spend hours lost in the illustrations and the text, wonderful stuff. Some of my long ago Tiro, Tyroe family had property in Thieving Lane, I wonder how it got its name.

    Nice to see Mr Lawrence mentioned, our wood engraving tools and blocks came from him.

  12. May 19, 2014

    Thank you for sharing these with your readers. I found them fascinating and could look at them for hours. Such fine detail of some fine landmarks.

  13. Gary Arber permalink
    May 19, 2014

    It was a pity that you could not see the famous knocker on the picture of Newgate Prison.
    When a I was a child, if you came in covered in dirt you would be said to be “Black as Newgate’s knocker”

  14. May 20, 2014

    Utterly fabulous! I wish there was a time machine where I could go back in time and see those wondorous buildings, but you can see these Tudor buildings littered around the Country. There are just a few of Tudor buildings in Coventry before it was bombed in 1944 and Stratford on Avon, Shropshire and perhaps elsewhere.

  15. Nick Whitsun-Jones permalink
    December 25, 2015

    Wonderful post and illustrations and so evocative of past times. A tragedy to have lost so many fine buildings, replaced with so much ugliness.

  16. Phil Stodart permalink
    May 2, 2020

    Hello, I have long been searching for an old drawing of 401 Strand, circa 1780’s to 1839. If any one knows of one please contact my email address. Thanks Phil Stodart.

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