We have a very exciting piece of news for all you Dicken's fans! Peculiar London have teamed up with the lovely management at 'The George and Vulture', Bank: An ancient and exclusive city institution that dates back to 1142. That also happenes to have been one of Dicken's favourite pubs: It is mentione by name in several of his novels, and the decor remains pretty much unchanged since his day! Not only that but it is also where the surving memebers of Dicken's family gather every year for Xmas dinner!
The George and vulture management have very kindly agreeed to let our customers drop in in for a drink, and also to let us have a nosey around their facinating collection of Dickens memorabilia. - Who knows you might even find Scrooge lurking in the corner!
'What the Dicken's?'
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A good friend of Charles Dickens was philanthropist Angela Burdett Coutts.
You may have heard of Coutt’s bank, a private bank for the sickeningly wealthy (prospective clients need at least half a million in disposable funds!) As the grand-daughter of the Banks founder (Thomas Coutts) Angela inherited a vast fortune when she was just 23 (In 1837), making her the second richest woman in the country after Queen Victoria.
She then devoted herself to a supporting a vast array of charitable causes- over the course of her life, it is estimated that she donated around £400 million (Imagine what that would be in today’s money!)
Most notably she founded the RSPCA, The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and also the NSPCC, the The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, both still going strong.
She also worked with Dickens to build homes for the poor and establish schools for disadvantaged children in the East End.
In her personal life after scandalising Victorian society for many years turning up to events with her lady companion Hannah in tow. She set tounges wagging again when at the age of 67, she became engaged to her secretary, William, who was just 29 years old! Queen Victoria even paid a visit to her home in Highgate to try and talk her out of it – she was not amused! However, despite the 38 year age gap the marriage appeared have been a happy one and lasted until her death in 1906, aged 92.
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'What the Dicken's?'
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A city of London landmark Simpson’s Tavern (Bank) has been forced to closed its doors after 265 years, following a dispute with its greedy landlords, who pushed the restaurant into unmanageable debt by insisting on charging them full rent during lockdown when the business was non operational.
Although Simpson’s has bounced back since the pandemic, Tavor Holdings LTD the dubious Bermuda based company that owns the freehold has refused to allow the tavern time to get its finances in order and insisted they must leave the premises.
Simpson’s Tavern has been at the heart of city life since 1757 and was a great favorite of Charles Dickens (he actually mentions it by name in several of his novels.)
From Simpson’s website …..‘We have sat on this site since 1757… before the U.S. A was born. For 265 years we have stood, undaunted by fire, flood, world wars, plague (or pandemic – you choose) and even Liz Truss’s premiership. Today though we have been forced into closure by the actions of a cynical landlord. Carelessly removing a city institution that has been a part of its DNA’…..
There is kick starter you can donate to help save this little corner of London’s heritage from going the same way as so many others
Charles Dickens was born in 1812 the middle child of a family of 8.
Although his father had a good job, he was absolutely hopeless with money and forever getting into debt, so much so that so that he was eventually sent to prison in 1824.
This meant 12 year old Charles had to leave school and get work to help support his family. He a got a job in a boot polish factory where he worked long hours for very little money. The harsh conditions made a lasting impression on him and later found their way into several of his books.
Fortunately for Dickens his father was eventually able to pay his debts meaning he was released from prison and young Charles was able to return to school and finish his education.
After leaving school he got a job as junior clerk for a news paper called the ‘Morning Chronicle’ and soon became a journalist in his own right. From journalism it was just a short hop to writing fiction, beginning with serialized stories in newspapers and magazines, his first novel the 'Pickwick papers' was published in 1836, from this point here was no looking back for Dickens, his books became hugely successful and he is still regarded as one of the best known writers in the English language.
However not everyone knows he also did a huge amount of charity work, having experienced poverty first hand he resolved to ...‘Strike a sledgehammer blow for the poor’...He set up schools for slum children, built homes for fallen women and raised funds for Great Ormond street hospital
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'What the Dickens?'
A fabulous immersive tour around the streets that inspired Dickens
4th- 14th December
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Everyones heard of Ebenezer Scrooge the Miserly anti hero of 'A Christmas Carol'.
But did you know that Dickens actually pinched the name from a Scottish tombstone?!
The story goes that, prior to giving a lecture in the Edinburgh 1841, Dickens headed to the Canongate for a time-killing stroll around the graveyard . It is here, as recorded in Dickens’ own diaries, that he stumbled upon a headstone in memoriam to “Ebenezer Lennox Scroggie - a meal man”, ( meaning Scroggie’s occupation was a corn merchant.) Dickens, misread the inscription as saying 'a mean man”, and proceeded to ponder how stingy the late Ebenezer must have been for that to be the only thing he was remembered for!
See link below for more info
Can't believe its over for another year, honestly it goes by so fast!
Massive thank you to the crew who put in the time, creativity and dedication make it happen.
Also thanks to the the staff at the Freemasons arms, The Old white Bear and of Course the King Willie for putting up with us!
And of course thanks to everyone who joined us, we very much you enjoyed yourselves, and hope to see some of you again next year.
But if you can't wait that long for your next Peculiar fix, we are currently gearing up to launch our brand new Dickens tour in Bank in December, see the 'Christmas page of our website for details...
Highlights from Halloween 2022
Another week of Halloween fun despite the dodgy weather. Nice to see some familiar faces this weekend, we love the fact that there are so many of you who come back to us year after year! That said its also great to meet some new people as well.
Also just to say a massive thanks to everyone who has taken the trouble to leave us a review, we really do appreciate them.
(Just going to leave a few here so you see all the nice things people have said about us!!)
Last year we created a fabulous Dicken's themed immersive Christmas tour around the winding alleys of Bank, It was going to be amazing and then Omicron happened, and well you know the rest!
This year we are attempting to bring it back, bigger, better and more Peculiar than ever!
Very much hope you can join us Dec 4th-15th Tickets on sale now!
After all that planning and rehersing we have finally kicked off this years edition of 'Haunted Hampstead'. Massive thank you to everyone who joined us this weekend (Especially those who braved the rain on sunday!) We really enjoyed meeting you all and we hope you all had as much fun as we did navigating the wilds of NW3!
for anyone who would like to join us one evening there are still one or two tickets left, click HERE for info.
Another thing we have really been loving about this years edition of 'Haunted Hampstead' is our new pub stop 'The old white Bear' which opened earlier this year (Although Veteren Hampstead residents will be quick to point out that there had been a pub on that site for many years previously until it closed its doors in 2014.) The staff have been super friendly and welcoming, plus its a wonderfully cosy tradtional little pub which has a great drink selection and a roaring open fireplace, perfect for those chilly autumn nights. Make sure you check it out if you happen to be passing by www.theoldwhitebearhampstead.co.uk/
Al Barclay, an enigmatic genus of actoridae.
Abstract: gen mov . May be plesiomorphic. Only known from winged males.
Key Words: Coleoptera. Actoridae. Pratius.
Habitat: Woodland. Occasionally interior urban (social spaces).
Description: This unusual and perplexing creature has been variously caught on film for twenty years now but never quite pinned down. It is known for leading colonies of equally baffled creatures into dark places for unknown reasons. Treat with caution. If it becomes angered, apply alcohol liberally.
Christopher Styles is a jack of all trades in immersive theatre. His past work includes:
Local resident Siwan Hill is 249 years old and has lived in Hampstead since it was (mostly) just fields. She kindly takes it upon herself to produce the Hampstead Halloween pub tour each year in order to ensure a fresh supply of meat for the horned god. For legend hath it if his infernal majesty is not supplied with an annual victim then the blue plaques will leave Hampstead and the house prices will tumble...
Interesting bits of London history and news of our tours and events