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Ernest George’s London

April 23, 2024
by the gentle author

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Stefan Dickers, Archivist at Bishopsgate Institute, introduced me to these fine copper plate etchings by Ernest George (1839-1922). In the eighteen-eighties, George set out to immortalise those fragments of London which spoke of times gone by and Londoners long dead, recording buildings and views which have for the most part now disappeared.

I realise that my affection for these images sets me in line with the generations of chroniclers who have made it their business to document the transience of the city, starting with John Stow who wrote the very first Survey of London between 1560 and 1598 to describe the streets of his childhood that were vanishing before his eyes.

Ernest George’s etchings were published by the Fine Art Society in New Bond St in 1884, a magnificent temple of culture designed by Edward William Godwin which survived through the twentieth century only to close five years ago.


Wych St, Strand

Fouberts Place, Soho

Crown Court, Pall Mall

St Bartholomew, Smithfield

Warwick Lane, City

Tower of London

London Bridge

Staple Inn, Holborn

Drury Lane

St John’s Gate, Clerkenwell



Images courtesy Bishopsgate Institute

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Peta Bridle’s London Etchings

10 Responses leave one →
  1. Cherub permalink
    April 23, 2024

    There is a huge amount of detail in these etchings, a very talented artist.

  2. April 23, 2024

    Thank you dear GA for yesterday giving me people, and today places, to fire my vivid imagination of the streets that my forebears walked and who they may have encountered.

  3. Bernie permalink
    April 23, 2024

    The Staple Inn image reminds me that those old buildings (or a later replacement) persisted during my time in London (up to 1959). Are they there yet? Is there a subject here for our Gentle Author to look into and, perhaps, illustrate?

  4. April 23, 2024

    This artist set out to immortalize his surroundings — Wow! — and now he has taken us along with him. My first look-thru was for the purpose of admiring his admirable technique, but then I succumbed to the locations. I was shoulder-to-shoulder, shuffling down Crown Court with other pedestrians. Oh — look out there — stepping out of the way, for that huge lumbering wagon in Warwick Lane. I hear the lapping of water against stone steps and row boats, as I pause in my travels, hearing muffled voices way across THERE in Limehouse on the other shore. The gates of the City are mine, as I duck through, pausing in the shadows; watching others hurry past. My eyes scan each sign board and placard, intrigued by “Easy Shaving”, and then squint at the worn headstones in the tumbled graveyard. And I look up/up/up at the grand Tower. Place of legends, surprisingly built of both stone AND wood, with a guard at the ready.

    What glorious travels, thanks to Ernest George and our Gentle Author.

  5. Angela permalink
    April 23, 2024

    These are wonderful, thankyou. I am intrigued by the notice in Crown Court, Pall Mall advertising ‘Trists (trysts), Divorce, Elopements.

  6. David Parsons permalink
    April 23, 2024

    It is worth noting that, as good and interesting as George’s etchings and watercolours are. they were for him something of a hobby alongside his profession as a leading architect of the period.

    In addition to being very successful in its own right, responsible for such fine work as 1–8 Collingham Gardens, South Kensington, the practice George co-founded and led, Ermest George & Peto, is famous in English architectural history as having given a start to many of the leading architects of the following generation including Edwin Lutyens.

  7. Nancy permalink
    April 25, 2024

    These are so evocative. He was the you of his time.

  8. Nick Cowley permalink
    April 25, 2024

    Some of the names in the etchings take us down fascinating trails. Sir Paul Pindar, after whom a stout house in Bishopsgate was named, was Ambassador to the Ottoman empire for King James

  9. Richard permalink
    April 28, 2024

    Would love to have walked in Wych Street.

  10. cathy clark permalink
    April 29, 2024

    The detail in these etchings are amazing, a very talented artist.
    WOW Factor.

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