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Stories Of Hackney Old & New

June 2, 2018
by the gentle author

Each Saturday, we are featuring one of Adam Dant’s MAPS OF LONDON & BEYOND from the forthcoming book of his extraordinary cartography to be published by Spitalfields Life Books & Batsford on Thursday June 7th.

Please support this ambitious venture by pre-ordering a copy, which will be signed by Adam Dant with an individual drawing on the flyleaf and sent to you on publication. CLICK TO ORDER A SIGNED COPY OF MAPS OF LONDON & BEYOND BY ADAM DANT

Tickets are already on sale for Adam Dant’s illustrated lecture showing his maps at the Wanstead Tap on Thursday June 21st. Click here to book tickets

1. In the sixteenth century, Hackney is the first village near London accommodated with coaches for occasional passengers, hence the name of Hackney carriages.
2. 1521 – Thomas More’s third daughter Cecilia marries Giles Herond in ‘Shackelwell’ & resides at an ancient manor there.
3. 1536 – Henry VIII is reconciled with his daughter Mary at Brook House, Hackney. Mary had not spoken to her father in five years.
4. 1559 – London’s last case of leprosy is recorded at St Bart’s isolation house, ‘The Lock Hospital.’ Established in 1280, it was Hackney’s first hospital.
5. 1598 – Playwright Ben Jonson kills fellow actor Gabriel Spencer in a duel in the fields at Shoreditch and receives a felon’s brand on this thumb.
6. 1647 – The presence of Elizabeth of Bohemia & The Elector Palatine at an entertainment at ‘The Black & White house’ is commemorated in a window bearing their arms.
7. 1654 – Diarist John Evelyn visits Lady Brook’s celebrated garden at Brook’s House, Hackney.
8. 1682 –  Prince Rupert discovers a new and excellent method of boring guns at his watermill in Homerton, but the secret of Prince Rupert’s metal dies with him.

9. 1701 –  A bull baited by twelve dogs breaks loose at Temple Mills.  Confusion and uproar ensue amongst the crowd of three thousand and a nine year old girl barely survives being tossed by the enraged animal.
10. 1750 – Legislature obliges people not to keep any other dogs but ‘such that are really useful’ after Charles Issacs at Hackney is bit by a dog and dies raving mad.
11. In the seventeenth century, the noted ‘Hackeny Buns’ of Goldsmith’s Row are as well regarded as those of ‘The Bun House’ at Chelsea.
12. 1665 – To be seen at Cooper’s Gardens for sixpence a person, the greatest curiosity that was ever seen, a white Dutch radish two feet and two inches round.
13. 1667 – In the church of St Augustine, Samuel Pepys eyes Abigail Vyner ‘a lady rich in Jewels but mostly in beauty, almost the finest woman that I ever saw.’
14. 1788 – In Cat & Mutton fields is seen the inhuman sport where any contestant catching ‘a soapy pig by the tail & holding it over his head’ wins a gold laced hat.
15. 1797 – The Hackney Militia gain a reputation for bumbling incompetence during the Napoleonic Wars.
16. 1811 – At The Mermaid Tavern pleasure gardens James Sadler & Captain Paget Royal Navy ascend in a balloon decorated in honour of The Prince Regent on his birthday.

17. 1787 – Plants from ‘Loddige’s Gardens’, originally owned by John Busch, gardener to Catherine the Great, are transferred to Crystal Palace.
18. 1805 – A stagecoach is broken to pieces and two ladies suffer severely when the vehicle overturns on the edge of a precipice at Hackney Wick.
19. 1816 – Brooke House, former home of Lady Brookes and Balmes House at Hoxton are opened as private lunatic asylums.
20. 1821 – Repairs are made at Hackney’s oldest brewery, Mrs Addison’s Woolpack Brewery on the Hackney Brook.
21. 1848 – Prince Albert opens The Hospital for Diseases of the Chest and in 1867 Princess Louise opens the North-Eastern Hospital for Sick Children in the Hackney Rd
22. 1850 – The construction of Victoria Park sweeps way hovels, formerly known as‘Botany Bay,’ and the inhabitants who are sent to another place bearing the same name.
23. 1866 – At the Parkesine Works in Wallis Rd and Berkshire Rd, Alexander Parkes manufactures the world’s first plastic.
24. 1880. – Hackney Wick firm Carless Capel & Leonard claim to have invented the term ‘petrol’ (St Peter’s Oil).

25. 1902 – Smallpox re-surfaces in Hackney with contagion found in a family of costermongers living in filthy conditions in Sanford Lane.
26. 1959 – Richard Burton films a scene for John Osborne’s ‘Look Back in Anger’ at Dalston Junction Railway Station.
27. 1952 – The great fog causes death and chaos in Hackney when a motor-cyclist collides with a bus, a man dies on a railway line and crime has a little hey-day.
28. 1964 – Teenagers at The Dalston Dance Hall adopt the ‘purple heart’ pill popping craze.
29. 1970 – M.O.D investigates the sighting of a U.F.O over Hackney by Mr Douglas Lockhart, gliding across a clear sky at 11.35pm on a Saturday night.
30. 2007 – Terry Castle and volunteers at Bethune Rd unearth a hoard of Nazi twenty dollar gold coins whilst digging a frog pond.
31. 2011 –  Grandmother Pauline Pearce ‘Hero of Hackney’ bravely stands up to a gang of looting rioters at the Pembury Estate.
32. Thousands of ‘booze fuelled revellers’ leave a trail of destruction along the Regents Canal ‘Canalival’ floating party.


Adam Dant’s MAPS OF LONDON & BEYOND is a mighty monograph collecting together all your favourite works by Spitalfields Life‘s cartographer extraordinaire in a beautiful big hardback book.

Including a map of London riots, the locations of early coffee houses and a colourful depiction of slang through the centuries, Adam Dant’s vision of city life and our prevailing obsessions with money, power and the pursuit of pleasure may genuinely be described as ‘Hogarthian.’

Unparalleled in his draughtsmanship and inventiveness, Adam Dant explores the byways of English cultural history in his ingenious drawings, annotated with erudite commentary and offering hours of fascination for the curious.

The book includes an extensive interview with Adam Dant by The Gentle Author.

Adam Dant’s  limited edition prints are available to purchase through TAG Fine Arts

One Response leave one →
  1. June 3, 2018

    This is lovely, and I can’t wait for my copy of the book! Just a small quibble re point 17: it was in 1854 that plants from (now failing) Loddige’s nursery were transferred to the new site of the Crystal Palace at Sydenham? (The whole fantastic collection had been offered to Kew at a bargain price, but they turned it down…)

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