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Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese – a pub with a literary history

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Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese is a Grade 11 listed building at 145 Fleet Street, City of London. There has been a public house at this location since 1538, when Henry V111 was the monarch.  It was called the Horn and like many city pubs burnt down in the Great Fire of London 1666,  but was swiftly rebuilt the following year. The pub is a short walk (about 700 yards) away from both St Pauls Cathedral and Blackfriars tube station. 
 
Photo: © Copyright Colin Smith and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
 
There is a single narrow entrance to a building that is deceptively small as it extends up to four storeys. The lack of natural light is evocative of its past history, as a cosy meeting place for famous literary figures.  Charles Dickens liked to sit at a table right of the fireplace on the ground floor, opposite to the bar. The pub is thought to have been referred to in “A Tale of Two Cities” as a dining place for Charles Darnay.   Robert Lewis Stevenson, Antony Trollope, and P. G Wodehouse all referred to the pub by name.  In “The Dynamiter”  Stevenson writes that ‘a select society at the Cheshire Cheese engaged my evenings”.  In Anthony Trollope’s novel “Ralph the Heir”,  one of the characters, Ontario Moggs, is described as speaking “with vigour at the debating club at the Cheshire Cheese in support of unions and the rights of man…”
P G Wodehouse on at least one occasion preferred to dine there, rather than at his club The Garrick. Agatha Christie wrote that her fictional detective Poirot dined with a new client at the Cheshire Cheese in her 1924 story, “The Million Dollar Bank Robbery” adding a description of “the excellent steak and kidney pudding of the establishment.” Oysters and Larks were also on the menu served up in pies. 
 
The Rhymers Club was a group of London-based poets, founded in 1890 by W. B. Yeats and Ernest Rhys. They met as a dining club at the Cheshire Cheese, producing anthologies of poetry in 1892 and 1894.
The founding meeting of the Medical Journalists Association took place at the Cheshire Cheese on 1 February 1967. At that time, doctors who wrote articles under their own name could be reported to the General Medical Council. From an initial membership of 48, the MJA now represents around 500 journalists, broadcasters and editors.
 
Last by not least, the pub had a famous parrot, whose death on October 30th 1926 was marked by worldwide obituaries.  Polly, a grey parrot, of unknown gender, passed out on Armistice night in 1918, exhausted from imitating the popping of champagne corks.  The bird was in the habit of addressing customers as “Rats” and placed orders with instructions to “Hurry Up!” Deservedly Polly holds pride of place as a Stuffed Parrot in the Bar. 

In the nineteen sixties I worked in London stores. Worked as an Insurance Clerk in the City of London during the nineteen seventies. Divorced in the nineteen nineties. Now I am a retired Civil Servant, managing home and garden and escaping onto social media whenever possible.

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History

What is that spire outside Charing Cross station in London?

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What is that spire outside Charing Cross station in London? thumbnail
Maybe you don’t know what that kind of gothic spire is in front of Charing Cross station in London. Don’t worry we explain everything here. Edward I was a king of England in the thirteenth century and was known for his lavish lifestyle. He loved to spend money and had a fondness for extravagant items such as jewellery and tapestries. His wife, Eleanor of Castile, died in 1290 advertisement Harby near Lincoln. Charing Cross is one of twelve crosses called Eleanor Cross that the king had built to mark where his wife’s funeral procession stopped.

The cross was destroyed in the year 1647 by the Puritans during the English Civil War. After the construction of Charing Cross station in 1865, a reproduction of Eleanor Cross was created and placed outside the station and not in its original place in Trafalgar Square where the equestrian sculpture dedicated to Carlo.

The reproduction was created by the architect EM Barry himself who built the railway station. He used uncommon images available from the original. at the top, there are eight images of Eleonora, 4 as a queen, with imperial symbols and 4 represented as a Christian. Below are curved angels and shields with royal weapons and those of Ponthieu, Castile and Leon, all copied from still extant Eleanor Crosses who were at Waltham Cross and Northampton.

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archeology

What is special about King Tut’s brooch?

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King Tutankhamun was the last of his family to rule Egypt 1334 – 1325 BC. He is famous because of the discovery of his treasure, together with his mummy, in his tomb, by Howard Carter in 1922. On the breastplate  of the mummy, there was a winger scarab broach, fashioned from yellow glass. 
 
Scarab beetles were worshipped in Egypt, as symbols of death and rebirth. They are active at night, finding their way by the distant rays of light from the Milky Way, rather than by bright stars. The scarab broach, belonging to King Tut, has itself an amazing connection to the cosmos.
 
It was discovered that the glass used, could not have been produced at the time of his death. Investigation revealed that it is desert glass, that originated in the Sahara desert. It is formed from  the impact of a comet that fell to Earth, twenty eight million years ago! The discovery of the remains of a comet, a black pebble, found during excavations in the desert, was an astronomical first. Only dust fragments of comets, had been  found before then.
 
So King Tut’s brooch is indeed a very special broach, as it was made from glass formed by the impact of a comet that fell to earth millions of years ago, an  archaeological as well as an astronomical first.

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Food

Isabella Beeton – Author of Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management

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Possibly some people today may not have heard of Mrs Beeton, who in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, was a household name. She was well known for Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management, published in 1859 – 61, which contained everything a prosperous  Victorian housewife, would need to know for running the home.  The public then and in the years that followed,  visualized her as a matronly cook, but nothing could be further from the truth.
 
Isabella Mary Mayson was born  14th March 1836, in Milk Lane, London. Her father died when she was young and her mother remarried, Henry Dorling, who worked as a clerk at Epsom racecourse. The family had lodgings there,  and Isabella was able to see at first hand, the organisation involved in running  kitchens, that catered for large numbers of people.
 
 On 10th July 1856 Isabella married Samuel Beeton, a publisher of books and magazines, and she started writing articles on cookery, to be included in his publications. Isabella lived a surprisingly modern married  life, commuting with her husband into the London office by train from Pinner. She also made annual trips to Paris, enabling her to write articles on fashion. At the same time, in the short space of eight years,
by Maull & Polyblank, hand-tinted albumen print, 1857
Isabella had numerous miscarriages and still births, giving birth to four sons, only two of which, survived to adulthood. These experiences were excessive even at a time of high infant mortality rate. Isabella died  in 1865 at the age of twenty eight following the birth of her youngest son. 
 
Isabella ‘s publishing success, while facing these health difficulties , was therefore a tremendous achievement. Her famous book on Household Management contained over 1,112 pages, with many coloured illustrations and nine hundred recipes. She taste tested these recipes in her kitchen and in the severe winter of 1858, handed out a nourishing beef and vegetable broth, to poor families for a penny a quart.
 
 Nevertheless, her skill was not in cooking, but in collecting and editing material for the book. In later years, the two sons who survived to reach adulthood, heard some mockery of the  scale of the ingredients in some of the recipes. However Mrs Beeton was writing for very large Victorian families, who would require dishes made, for example with twelve eggs!
 
Samuel Beeton, Isabella’s widower, continued to promote the image of her as a matronly cook, in order to publicise the book, and that is the image of her that has persisted throughout history.

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