Funny Stuff From Victorian London! So They Did Have A Sense Of Humor!

Funny Victorian woman pulling a face!
Funny Victorian woman pulling a face!

In these famous words by Noel Coward, London explains itself beautifully!

'I don't know what London's coming to,

the higher the building the lower the morals!'

This famous quote by the great writer Noel Coward could encompass the whole of London's History. Along with the weird and wonderful, there was much poverty and grime. The smell could knock you sideways on a good day, and kill you on a bad. But among all this were the men and women who could make you smile, exclaim with wonder and change the humdrum life into something magical.

This is the city where the inventors and scientists began their trade, little knowing that one day the whole World would be using their marvelous inventions. From electricity to Antibiotics. The World started here.

But before that happened we did have some pretty strange characters.


The Flying Cats And Lord Cavendish.
The Flying Cats And Lord Cavendish.
Lord George Augustus Cavendish
Lord George Augustus Cavendish

The Burlington Arcade London.

The burlington arcade London
The burlington arcade London

The Curious Case of the Flying Cats

Piccadilly in London is one of the most famous streets in the whole World. But just a short distance away lay a row of tiny shops from the Georgian period. They are hardly changed at all. In fact they were built in 1819.

These are in the Burlington Arcade. And apart from having the character of old London, they are here for, well, a rather strange reason! The arcade was built over a narrow alley that lay beside the rather grand sounding Burlington House. This is now the home of the Royal Academy but it started out as a private house.

Lord George Cavendish was the owner and resident at the time. He used to love sitting in his garden, but often complained of being constantly hit by on his head by apple cores, shells and old bottles!

Even more bizarre he was often bashed on the bonce by a flying cat! Of course the cat was dead, but at the time Lord Cavendish wasn't aware of that, only seeing the fir fly as it came at him over the wall!

After putting up with this for a few months he decided that he was fed up to the back teeth by cats flying, bottles crashing and so on, so decided to build a row of shops so that the thieves, beggars and ruffians could no longer bash him on the head.

You could say that when the shops were built there was no longer enough room to swing a cat! But of course I won't say it!




Funny Victorian lady riding a bicycle. Proof that not all old photos were so serious! lol!
Funny Victorian lady riding a bicycle. Proof that not all old photos were so serious! lol!

1904 London real footage of days gone by.

Parlour maid

Parlour maid
Parlour maid

The Daily Grind

cooking in the past
cooking in the past

Taking A Stroll in Hyde Park.

Hyde Park London
Hyde Park London

The Strange Tale Of How Women Bought Men!

The second we mention the fact that women were buying men back as early as 1820, one thought comes to mind. I mean it would wouldn't it? We are all aware of men doing the same thing back then and of course these days too. But this isn't quite what it seems. Or maybe it is.

A rather strange tradition of women buying men existed in Victorian London. And as the saying goes,

'It was rather the thing to do'!


So, how did this come about? The story starts at the time of the developments of two main London features. Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.

At this time Kensington Gardens was a private area used only by the Royals of the day and their helpers or courtiers.

On the other hand Hyde Park was open to everybody, so of course it soon turned into a den of iniquity.

Along with the ladies of the night plying their trade, there were robbers and thieves making the Gardens their dens.


So the local girls came up with a plan.

To go for their nightly stroll in Hyde park as they were won't to do back then, the girls, usually servants or maids decided that the best and most safe way was to hire, or buy a man.

And these men were the local soldiers!

They would pay the soldiers to escort them around the park, with the girls showing off their 'wares' to the their friends, and trying to outdo each other by choosing the best looking soldier as their beau!

He would of course have to wear full dress uniform, and polish himself up to the best that he could be!

A walk in the park would cost nine old penny's if you chose an artilleryman, a guardsman would set you back a pretty penny, or should I say, a shilling! The lowest was of course the Private, who only cost sixpence!

If only they would bring it back, how big would the queues be?!

A Walk In The Park A Cuddle And a Lark!

What better way to relax than meet their beau's for a kiss and cuddle!
What better way to relax than meet their beau's for a kiss and cuddle!

Edwardian London Silent Film

Now Known as Magpie Lane Oxford

The infamous Gropec.....t lane.
The infamous Gropec.....t lane.

Named after a Communal Water Butt.

Butt Hole Road
Butt Hole Road
Nell Gwyn The Kings Lady Friend!
Nell Gwyn The Kings Lady Friend!

Grope What Lane?!

The modern world is where we always believe that anything goes. We can say what we will, do what we want and nothing ever shocks us.

In the same way we would believe that back in the middle ages and continuing up until the Victorian era things would be completely different.

With all the religious fervor around, and women knowing their place, the old days would of course be so much more reserved, and anything slightly titillating would have been looked on with shock, or even causing a lady to swoon!

Or as they said back then, 'she had a touch of the vapors!'

But it seems that once again we are wrong to assume this idea. In fact there were places and streets that were named after certain, well, more amorous deeds!

For example, during the reign of Charles II, Nell Gwyn was always referred to as the King's Whore, but actually back then it was seen as a sign of endearment, or nearly. There was not the stigma that the word has now.

And if you look at old street maps of London, you may be surprised to find a few rather strange names on the street corners.

Take Addle street, to a medieval person this would mean 'filthy spot'. You can take that any way you like!

And Fetter Lane, which actually still exists, in 1450 meant the street of the dirty beggars.

Here's one you may recognise, and yes good old London started it off! Shiteburn Lane just around the corner from Canon street was named, wait for it.....because of the number of cess pools around that area!

Did I hear you say, well I never? Well yes you did!

But the most famous, and I have to be really careful here......! Was a lane that ran North from an area called Cheapside.

It was called, Grope....t Street! Please add the three letters that are short for well, work it out will you?

It was of course the haunt of 'The ladies of the night'.


There were many street and alley names that we just wouldn't allow today. Some still stand, but others have been changed because according to local people, 'The postman doesn't believe it'!

It's a shame to think that by changing the names of the street, we are in fact losing some of our history. What we see today as rude, was merely the name of simple things back then, like the water butt and so on.

History is all around us, and each day we add to the extraordinary color and substance that was England's, or should I say, London's amazing people.



(c) copyright nell rose


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Comments 77 comments

Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

Thank you for sharing that Nell. I really enjoyed it and not at all surprised. lol. I really should tell some of the roads and streets we have here today. Crazy stuff and the mailman always shows up. Loved seeing your beach pictures at Fb! Am sure I would love your home place.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi Jackie, lol! thanks, yes we were rather strange back then! I am glad you liked my photos, my son downloaded them for me, you should come over for a vacation, you would love England, and all our strange places! lol! thanks as always, nell


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States

This is such an interesting hub and I have never heard about the customs of that era. I love your video and pictures as they really enhanced ther article. I love to read about English history as that is where most of my distant relatives originated. I hope to visit one day in the not to distant future. Awesome hub.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Thanks Pamela, glad you liked it, there were some strange things going on back then! lol! you really should come over for a vacation there is so much to see, thanks again, nell


mary615 profile image

mary615 3 years ago from Florida

I always enjoy reading your articles about London. One of these days I'll go there maybe. You dig up some of the most interesting facts and photos!

Voted UP, etc. and shared.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

LMAO....way too funny, Nell. Stranger than fiction comes to mind....if one needs a laugh just observe humanity. It really is quite a show and it's free to anyone. :) Great job!


Rayne123 3 years ago

This is quite interesting hub. I always loved history

It was quite funny also.

Great piece

Laurie


CMHypno profile image

CMHypno 3 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

More interesting stuff about London, Nell. We might like to think we invented 'low living' as they used to call it, but our forebears were an earthy lot who would probably think we modern folk were all a bit uptight and prissy.


bac2basics profile image

bac2basics 3 years ago from Spain

Hi Nell.

Thanks for another weird and wonderful hub, I love it . You must have done some digging to find these amusing facts and I'm only glad it wasn't in shiteburn lane LOL.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Lol! thanks anne, yes that word had to come from somewhere! great to see you, nell


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi Cynthia, yes that's true, they wouldn't believe how we are today, great to see you and thanks!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi Laurie, thanks so much for reading, yes we Brits were a strange lot back then! lol!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi Billy, I am a people watcher, I would have had great fun watching them back then! lol! thanks as always, nell


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi mary, thanks so much, you would love it over here mary, all the history, castles and so on, thanks so much for reading, nell


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

I love the Coward quotation. And I love these enchanting vignettes on life in London over the centuries. Fascinating and delightful. Thank you, Nell.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Thanks Genna, I think thats the one thing lacking these days, all the odd and rather funny characters that were around back then! lol! thanks so much, nell


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Thanks Genna, I think that's the one thing lacking these days, all the odd and rather funny characters that were around back then! lol! thanks so much, nell


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 3 years ago from Central Florida

You always write such interesting hubs, Nell. You make learning fun by throwing in a bit of humor. However, I wasn't able to fill in the blanks for Grope Lane. :-(


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Lol! bravewarrior, I just thought that may have been a bit risque so to speak! glad you liked it, I love history especially the funny stuff! thanks!


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 3 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

Watched your two film strips and recognised most locations. All that's changed is the nature of the traffic - more horse POWER, less horses. Of course with this daily congestion charge for bringing most vehicles into inner London you'd think the traffic would have died down a bit. No such hope, Ken (Livingston)! The traffic levels are only a bit lower than they were and what with cars of a certain power output being allowed in free (political ploy) you will have to watch your step!

(Only difference is there's less rose fertiliser on the roads and more black patches from leaking fuel systems).

Remember Ludgate Hill, with the line to Holborn Viaduct (to the left) and Blackfriars (right) crossing behind the Blackfriars public house. The view eastwards down Fleet Street towards St Paul's has changed drastically since the railway went underground. Many say for the better, probably is, but the character's gone. I used to work in Fleet Street up to the time the press went AWOL. There's only DC Thompson on the north side left. The 'Telegraph' (newspaper) building is occupied by an accounting conglomerate now. I daresay the pubs are quieter since the press workers migrated with the papers (about as many pubs on either side of the street, but the best one, the Cheshire Cheese is back away from the street up an alley. Another favourite, The Bell - opposite the Poppinjay - backs onto St Brides' Churchyard where I saw Daily Mirror writers Jon Akass and Keith Waterhouse together back in the 1980s... I could write a book, although I did a Hub-page).


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi alan, so true about the black patches compared to the fertiliser! lol! fascinating how its all changed and yet so much of it is still the same, thanks for reading, and great to see you!


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

Very interesting tales indeed, Nell! Thank you for sharing all of the fascinating details of London's past and its people back in the day! I am always fascinated at the people in different eras and all their ways. Funny too!

Up and more and sharing

Blessings, Faith Reaper


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

This is another fun and interesting hub about England's history, Nell! Thanks for the information and the entertainment.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

What a great hub, Nell. I love your London "throwback" niche. You present it with a humorous manner yet also educate and entertain, and I enjoy the selection of photos/videos, too. Voted up and more!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Thanks Flourish, the past totally fascinates me and the people who do the funniest things, or invent something that started of strange always makes me want to read more, thanks!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi Alicia, thanks so much for reading, I am glad you liked it, nell


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi Faith, thanks so much, great to see you! nell


kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 3 years ago from the Ether

Very interesting...I don't find the street names surprising one bit. Awesome stories, Nell!


grandmapearl profile image

grandmapearl 3 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

Well, Nell, I was under the false impression that Victorian London was prim and proper! Boy, was I wrong LOL!

This is an amazing account, and very much an eye-opener. Thanks for sharing more of what humans do best--be human ;) Pearl


DDE profile image

DDE 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

How To Stop Cat's Flying And Other Tales From London's Rather Strange Past! truly amazing about English History so much to learn about and somehow I have neglected to get into it. I enjoyed learning here and a well informed hub about such strange happenings.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Thanks DDE, glad you liked it, and thanks for reading, nell


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi pearl, lol! no all through Londons history its been a little bit risque! haha! thanks for reading, nell


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi kitty, great to see you and thanks! yes those street names! lol! I knew they had to come from somewhere!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

Hi Nell, I found this hub so interesting, educational and funny at the same time. I got to the end wanting to read more, so I'll be off to immediately check your other hubs. Voted up ++


drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida

Amazing and well-written stories, Nell. You kept my complete attention from the very first word to the last. From flying cats to rented escorts to strange street names. Well done, m'dear. And the videos were perfect, too.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Thanks Jodah, glad you liked it, nell


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Thanks drbj, great to see you, yes we were a funny lot back then! lol!


Anna Haven profile image

Anna Haven 3 years ago from Scotland

Your hubs are always interesting Nell. Funny and strange times gone past! Good hub :)


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Thanks Anna, I just can't help myself! lol! I love funny History the people back then were so clever and versatile with what they had, thanks for reading, nell


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

I enjoyed these tidbits of social history. Maybe we wouldn't have been so bored in our history classes if more facts and stories of this sort had been included.sharing.


Becky Katz profile image

Becky Katz 3 years ago from Hereford, AZ

Good, fun history. Just my kind. Enjoyable hub Nell.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

HI dahoglund, lol! yes it would be great wouldn't it? thanks for reading, nell


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi Becky, glad you liked it, and thanks!


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean

All interesting stories, but if only they would bring the uniformed men for hire! Thank you fore these strange and laughable memories from the past.


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

Great material, as always, Nell. If it wasn't for you, I would not be getting accurate English history. I thank you for that.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Thanks MsDora! lol! that would be great wouldn't it? glad you liked it, nell


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Thanks Deb, I just love all the strange things in history they make me laugh! lol!


CraftytotheCore profile image

CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

This is truly interesting. I love how the women used to buy their guys. Fascinating stuff! I didn't know about all of this history and the funny streets.


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 3 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Nell....How incredibly fascinating and educational. If this hadn't come from one as dear as you, I don't know that I'd believe a word of it!! You surely do HP proud, Nell, my friend. I totally LOVE your stories.......( I will say, I just can't imagine when, where or HOW it was ever "endearing" to be called a whore......the King's or anyone's!! But if you say so....... LOL...UP++


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

HI Crafty lol! yes wish they still did it! thanks so much for reading, nell


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi Paula, Aw thank you! oh lol! yes the kings, what?? great to see you!


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago

So funny Nell, I liked where the women were buying men. I just wonder if any of them got their money's worth.

Shared on fb, voted-UP FAI and shared


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

lol! thanks Shyron! I hope so! thanks so much for reading and sharing, nell


ChitrangadaSharan profile image

ChitrangadaSharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

This is such an interesting hub with lovely pictures and video!

I always find your London tales very interesting. Thank you for sharing!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi ChitrangadaSharan, thanks so much for reading, nell


Kathryn Stratford profile image

Kathryn Stratford 3 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

These are interesting stories that I have never heard! Thanks for sharing them with us.

I like your playful, conversational tone in this. Your style is so easy to read, and amusing.

Voted up and across, and sharing.

Have a great night!

~ Kathryn


electronician profile image

electronician 3 years ago from Birmingham, England

Beautifully written enchanting tales, I really enjoyed this hub :)


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 3 years ago from Taos, NM

Nell, these hubs are hilarious. The old history of London here is wonderful and you should charge admission for your 'tours.' LOL People are just people everywhere and some things just don't change. I love your tongue in cheek writing also.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi Kathryn, thanks so much for reading, I just love all these weird and wonderful, and lets face it totally batty stories from old London! lol!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi electronician, thanks so much, glad you enjoyed it, nell


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi suzette, lol! yes tours maybe the right thing to call them, pity we can't go back in time for a look see! thanks as always, nell


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

Nell, another beauty! The history of London is certainly colourful, in some cases pretty incredulous, but always interesting and entertaining. Thank you for the fun trip back in time.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Thanks so much tobusiness, glad you liked it, good old London back in the day, smelly obnoxious but full of amazing people! lol!


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York

'It was rather the thing to do'! If it was, you'll find it and share it dear lady. What would we do without our education from Nell? You certainly know how to peak our interest with your titles and then draw us in with your humorous yet enchanting stories.

Seems good old London has staying power and its colorful past only adds to it.

Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.


Rayne123 3 years ago

I was watching this old film on London as I never noticed it the first time I read this hub. I did not know they even had film in 1904, this is quite interesting.

I love those days

Thank you again

Blessings

Laurie


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi mary, back again? lol! thanks so much, hope you are having a great day, nell


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi Laurie, yes isn't it amazing that film goes back to the 1850s I believe! thanks so much for reading, and great to see you!


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 2 years ago from Wales

Your hubs Nell are interesting ,unique and a breath of fresh air.

You must have so much fun creating them. Here's to so many more for us both to share on here.

Eddy.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England Author

Hi Eddy, thanks so much for reading, and I am glad you liked it, nell


suraj punjabi profile image

suraj punjabi 2 years ago from jakarta

My god! I cannot imagine how disgusted I would be if a dead cat flew over my head. I already hate it when a mosquito or fly lands on my head but a dead cat??? The horror! I went to London on my honeymoon what a lovely and vibrant city. Thank god the dead cat throwing had gone out of fashion by the time I went there! How much do you think an infantry would cost now? I'm tired of companying my wife for shopping, and I would like to buy one for her birthday! Lol! :)


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England Author

Hi suraj, lol! yes that cat! yes its gone out of fashion now! lol! I am sure the infantry would be honored! thanks for reading, and making me laugh! nell


Bk42author profile image

Bk42author 2 years ago from New York

Great & entertaining hub! I love reading about odd facts like these. Thank you for sharing. Voted up!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England Author

Hi BK, thanks so much for reading, glad you liked it, have a wonderful Sunday!


GetitScene profile image

GetitScene 2 years ago from The High Seas

INTERESTING! On the subject of flying animals, it once rained teeny-tiny frogs at my house in Adelaide, South Australia. It was very strange.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England Author

Hi GetitScene, lol! better than cats and dogs! I have heard of that happening but have never seen it, thanks so much for reading, nell


LadyFiddler profile image

LadyFiddler 2 years ago from Somewhere in the West

My word what other surprises is there in London for us Nell? eyes open wide, who in Charles Dickens, named those streets ? Golly!!

wait for it... wait for what it? lmbo

Shaking my head. LOL


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England Author

Hi LF, LOL! yep those er street names were, um, well you know....! lol!

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