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  #241  
Old Posted Dec 11, 2016, 3:32 PM
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PART THIRTEEN: THIEVES


Wapping: Thatcher’s Dream


































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  #242  
Old Posted Dec 11, 2016, 3:33 PM
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XLIX – Captain Kid

So, after a shameful gap of two years, welcome to the thread that celebrates the comeback kids of London - those who were condemned by its authorities only to be celebrated by later generations.

We are now in Wapping, a thin strip of land on the north bank of the Thames, east of the City, which until recently was one of the poorest parts of London. Dickens described it as a place ‘where the accumulated scum of humanity seemed to be washed from higher ground.'

Then, in the 1980s, Rupert Murdoch's News International moved here. Whether that made Dickens's observation more or less germane is a matter of opinion.

In Murdoch's wake came the bankers, turning one of the poorest neighbourhoods in the country into one of the richest. Today, Wapping is full of fabulous old canals, warehouses, churches and pubs, but an eerie quiet hangs over it, in contrast to the bustling neighbourhoods just on the other side of the Thames.

It may always have had an eerie feel, though, because in busier days its Execution Dock was the place where pirates were executed. One of the most famous victims was Captain Kidd, in 1701.

Kidd began his career as a pirate hunter rather than a pirate - he was a privateer who fought against the enemies of the British crown. In return, he was allowed to keep any treasure that he seized. However, enemy ships did not always appear as frequently as Kidd needed them to, and as his time spent sailing around the Indian and Atlantic Oceans without spoils wore on, it became more and more difficult for him to convince his men to spare neutral ships. Some of the skirmishes that Kidd fought crossed the line into piracy, and one argument about the way things were going led to Kidd killing a member of his crew, William Moore, by hitting him over the head with a bucket. Eventually, Kidd was arrested, taken to London and tried for murder.

You would have thought that there are only so many ways you can say 'someone hit someone else over the head with a bucket and killed him', but the clerk at Kidd's trial certainly had a go:

'William Kidd, late of London, mariner, not having the fear of God before his eyes, but being moved and seduced by the instigation of the devil, the thirtieth day of October... in a certain ship, called the Adventure Galley... with a certain wooden bucket, bound with iron-hoops, of the value of eight pence... did violently, feloniously, voluntarily, and of his malice aforethought, beat and strike... William Moore in and upon the right part of the head... a little above the right ear... giving the said William Moore... one mortal bruise; of which mortal bruise the aforesaid William Moore... upon the high-sea aforesaid, near the aforesaid coast of Malabar, in the East Indies aforesaid, in the ship aforesaid, called the Adventure Galley, and within the jurisdiction of the admiralty of England aforesaid, did die;'

Kid was convicted of murder, and shortly afterwards of piracy. He hoped that powerful friends in Parliament would secure him a pardon, but, fearful of being associated with a man accused of such serious crimes his allies turned against him, and he was hanged at Execution Dock. His body was left in a gibbet downstream at Tilbury Point for three years, as a warning to would-be pirates.

In Wapping however, he is remembered in a more dignified way, with a fine riverside pub being named after him. From Captain Kid to comeback kid, Wapping salutes its unfortunate privateer.



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  #243  
Old Posted Dec 11, 2016, 3:34 PM
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Richmond: A Stroll in the Park




















































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Old Posted Dec 11, 2016, 3:35 PM
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L – Robin Hood


So, from Wapping we travel up the Thames to Richmond, where the river meanders into the western edge of London, creating an expanse of pleasant river banks dotted about with country houses, botanic gardens and luscious parks.

It is here that we find the famous Robin Hood, the only fictional character to appear in our band of outcasts. Given that Robin spent his time robbing from the rich and giving to the poor, it is surprising to find him memorialised in Richmond, a well-heeled borough whose residents would be far more likely to find themselves on the wrong side of his modus operandi.

Even more surprisingly, one of Robin's biggest fans was Henry VIII, a man hardly known for his sense of social justice. But, just as modern-day tyrants like Vladimir Putin are fond of stripping down to the waist and pretending to wrestle bears, Henry loved to pull on his green tights and play the part of a super hero. On one occasion Henry and his mates burst into Catherine of Aragon's bed chamber, wearing:

'short coats of Kentish kendal with hoods on their heads and hose of the same. Everyone of them, his bow and arrows, and a sword and buckler ...[like] Robin Hood's men. Whereof the queen, the ladies and all others there were abashed ...for the strange sight [and] also their sudden coming. After certain dances and pastime made, they departed.'

One can only think that in this context, 'abashed' is a sixteenth century euphemism for 'super pissed off'.

During Henry's reign, he patronised the May Games in Richmond Park, and these festivities gave him another chance to dress up in green. In memory of the May Games, a path through the park was named 'Robynhoode Walke'. Robin Hood Lane, a residential street that runs along the south side of the park, continues this tradition.


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Old Posted Dec 11, 2016, 3:35 PM
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Barnet: Suburban Retreat











































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  #246  
Old Posted Dec 11, 2016, 3:36 PM
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LI – Dick Turpin


Most of London's prodigal sons and daughters have stories that follow a similar pattern: harshly treated in life, they eventually achieved some kind of justice in death, through a better understanding of who they were.

Dick Turpin's case, however, is the exact opposite. In life, he was part of a brutal gang that committed rape and murder. On one occasion, he tortured a 70-year-old man by forcing him to sit bare-buttocked on a fire. Turpin was eventually executed for his very real crimes.

In death, however, he achieved the status of a kind of prototype James Bond, largely thanks to the writing of a Victorian novelist called Harrison Ainsworth. According to Ainsworth:

'The last of this race... Turpin, like the setting sun, threw up some parting rays of glory.... Unequalled in the command of his steed.... his reckless daring... his resolution, and, above all, his generosity... even elicited applauses from those upon whom he levied his contributions.'

Thanks to Ainsworth, in Turpin's old stamping ground of Essex and North London, it is the mythic hero and not the historical thug that is remembered. But perhaps it will be fact the wins the day in the end. The memory of Turpin is is beginning to fade, and so are the buildings dedicated to his memory. This pub in Finchley, for example, closed down in 2013, to be replaced by a clump of terraced houses called simply, 'Tavern Lodge'.



Slowly, gradually, Turpin may be turning back into the preindustrial mugger he really was.

Last edited by Bedhead; Dec 18, 2016 at 6:41 PM.
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  #247  
Old Posted Dec 11, 2016, 3:37 PM
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The Barbican: Concrete Praline






































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  #248  
Old Posted Dec 11, 2016, 3:38 PM
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LI – Jack Sheppard



Dick Turpin was not the only celebrated criminal of his era. Before Jack Shephard was the main character on 'Lost', he was Jack Sheppard, a daring burglar and escapologist, a celebrity of the 18th century London underworld.

Sheppard began life as a talented apprentice carpenter, but the temptations of Covent Garden's taverns proved too strong. As Wikipedia puts it, 'Sheppard threw himself into a hedonistic whirl of drinking and whoring. Inevitably, his carpentry suffered...'

Sheppard's crimes were far less vicious than Turpin's - he relied on his skills as a carpenter to break into buildings, rather than gaining access through violence. In the end, he was hanged for 'stealing three rolls of cloth, two silver spoons and a silk handkerchief'.

He denied accusations that he was violent to those around him, saying in one ghost-written autobiography:

'It has been said in print that I did beat and bruise my Master Mr Wood in a most barbarous and shameful manner... and that I damned my mistresses's blood and beat her to the ground... these stories have been greatly improved to my disadvantage'

Whether he was, as the stories had it, 'Gentlemen Jack', or whether he was a darker figure, there is no doubt that Sheppard, unlike Turpin, was a genuine escape artist. Whereas Turpin's legend of a great ride from London to York on his famous mare Black Bess is a total fabrication, Sheppard did escape from prison four times. On the fourth and final occasion he freed himself from handcuffs and chains in the notorious Newgate Prison and, wearing leg irons, climbed through the ceiling of his cell, broke through six barred doors to get onto the roof, went back to his cell to fetch a blanket, returned to the roof, used the blanket to get onto the roof of a neighbouring house, broke into the neighbouring house and left via the front door without waking the inhabitants.

Londoners loved him for his ability to stick it to the man. Even members of the establishment admired him for his perseverance. At one sermon at St Martin's in the Fields, the preacher said:

"Oh, that ye were all like Jack Sheppard! —- Mistake me not, my brethren, I don't mean in a carnal but in a spiritual sense…Let me exhort ye, then, to open the locks of your hearts with the nail of repentance; burst asunder the fetters of your beloved lusts; mount the chimney of hope, take from hence the bar of good resolution, break through the stone wall of despair and all the strong holds in the dark entry of the valley of the shadow of death;…So shall you come to the door of deliverance..."

When he was finally executed, 200,000 admirers came to see their hero off. Many of them gave him beer to drink on his way from Newgate to the gallows at Tyburn, ensuring that the cockney hero died, as he lived, bladdered.

Sheppard's exploits were celebrated in a string of pamphlets, plays and novels, but today have largely been forgotten. The only trace of him now is a picture in the Museum of London, hidden away in the in one of the last, and perhaps the most successful, of all the twentieth century concrete megastructures: the Barbican Centre. In death, then, Sheppard has made his home in the kind of foreboding, castle-like structures that couldn't contain him in life.


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  #249  
Old Posted Dec 15, 2016, 12:36 PM
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awesome, thanks for the updates

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