Thursday, 22 December 2011

A very peculiar year

Well, we are now 1 year old and my goodness it's flown by (no pigeon reference intended).
We've come across a lot of little gems in our year...The Ordinary of Newgate 1733, detailing those who were executed at Tyburn on Oct 6th. We also found a first edition Newgate Calender in 5 beautiful volumes with fabulous, if a little macarbe illustrations.We also got our hands on a Blickensderfer Typewriter from 1911, which has been carefully restored to its former (100 year ago) glory and last but not least our beautifully leather bound Johnsons dictionary from 1805, still true to the original and full of wonderful words like  'fancy monger' and 'bellygod'!

We applied for our foreshore license and with that spent many summers dawns nosing around the foreshore finding tokens, lead seals, 17th century clay pipes and musket balls!

Then of course, our Map of London Peculiars....completed and selling like hot cakes.
We have a lot of plans for next year, not least to get more stuff on the site which we've been hoarding...and to get on with our nextmap (top secret)!
Merry christmas everyone and here's to another peculiar year ahead

All the best

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Dr Johnson's Dictionary

So I am a bit beside myself, having found 4 perfect volumes of Dr Johnson's dictionary, printed in 1805 and true to the original.Complete with descriptives of each word and a sentence to show you how to use the word.
I'm going through it slowly and finding words we no longer use and what they meant.
Today was Bellygod and Benting time
Bellygod: (from the belly of god)  A glutton, one who makes a god of his belly.! and
Benting time: the time when pigeons feed on bents before peas are ripe. Of course!

These books are wonderful and I think I may well be blogging more words I find that we no longer use.!

G'night eveyone
Pepys the pigeon

Thursday, 29 September 2011

The Map of London Peculiars

Hello everyone,

Well, as some of you may have noticed we've just finished and had published our Map of London Peculiars, which is now available to buy for a snip at £3.50 (inc P&P) via our site

It's taken quite some time to get this map onto paper and I can tell you, we've walked for miles and miles in the research and making of it.
It all started when , whilst wandering around the outside of St Pauls, we came across this beauty, carved into the wall...

A lovely piece of 18th century graffiti, most to likely to have been done by one of Wrens builders!
So we thought, what other magical, curious little secrets are sitting around our city waiting to be spotted ?
So the map of London Peculiars was born.

Through out the whole of the summer we'd set off at the crack of dawn, often before, to walk the streets between Soho and the Tower.

Early (6am) at St Pauls one morning, whilst studying more graffiti on the walls, I was spotted by one of the cleaners waiting to go she watched me with my face up close to the walls she asked what I was up to, so I showed amazed was she that after working there for many years hadn't spotted the wonderful carvings on the church of peoples names and dates from the 1700's.

We'll be filling you in as to how we found some the curious things on the map over the next few weeks,
but in the meantime, enjoy the wonderful late summer sun and nab yourself a copy of the map and have a wander!
A very proud

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Richard Turpin, executed for horse stealing.

Hello all,

We are very excited here at London Peculiar this week as we finally have all 6 volumes of the Newgate Calender from the early 1800's.
Needless to say there is a lot to read, but I went striaght to the Richard Turpin page and I must say learnt quite a lot.

His early career was house breaking.He and his friends would knock on the door of someone they knew had something of worth to steal and , whilst two held or distracted the owners, the other would raid the house.
On one occassion, Turpin put a lady onto the fire to 'compel her to reveal her treasure'! Nasty.

The gang raided and ransacked many houses until finally they were reported and a reward of £50 was placed on Turpins head, the King guaranteed freedom to any gang member willing to reveal his whereabouts.
No one came forward and Turpin and gang continued robbing and terrorising people in their homes.

The reward was raised to £100 for his capture and at this point, around 1737 he became a highway robber.
He was becoming more notorious and more wanted than ever.
In May 1737 he committed murder for the first time (the second he actually killed his companion,who after being shot by Turpin cried out..'Dick you have killd me'!).shooting dead one of the keepers of Epping Forest.
Again the reward was raised to £200, and a promise of a pardon to any accomplicies that shall discover him!

There were many attempts to take Mr Turpin into custody, but they all failed.
Turpin had now fled to Suffolk where he changed his name to John Palmer and stole some horses.
The magistrates caught up with 'John Palmer' and imprisoned him in York for sheep and horse stealing.
Turpin/Palmer, after four months being imprisoned , wrote a letter to his brother asking for help..Unfortunatly the letter had no stamp and Turpins brother would not pay the postage, so, it was returned to the post office, and was seen by a once school master of Turpin...who, although the letter was signed 'John Palmer' recognised the hand immediatly as Richard Turpins...! Oh dear.

Once word got out that Turpin was inprisoned in York, people flocked from all parts to take a view.
On April 10th 1739, Dick Turpin was executed in York for horse stealing, although he had commited two murders and many many robberies as well!

Poor Dick Turpin...and poor old woman on the fire too!
Bye for now


Sunday, 19 June 2011

Seven noses of Soho mystery...

Hello all,

I've been looking for the alleged 7 noses of Soho for some time now and today I am very happy to say I have found them all...
It is also alleged that you recieve infinite wealth if you find them, so I'm hoping for a huge bag of seeds any day soon!
There is a but though...I've actually found 8 noses.They are all proper noses but they are two different styles...some big, some I'm wondering just how many there could be and what is the story behind them...
I shall keep hunting for more and keep you all posted if anything else comes up nose wise!
All the best and happy Sunday..


Friday, 27 May 2011

weird and wonderful London street names.

Hello all,
Just a quick one, as I have some friends to meet on Nelsons column, but, during my travles around London I do noticed some very strange street names.
All the wat up in N3 there's a road called Crokked Usage, for example.
There's also Quaggy Walk in Blackheath and of course tiny little Tweezers Alley just off the Strand.

Houndsditch , a very well known road and it is believed was named after the ditch where often all sorts of stuff, including dead dogs, were thrown.
Soho, as we all know was once a hunting ground, and the Square, originally Kings Square, was named after a hunting cry.
The Aldwych is a Saxon word meaning Old Village and Crutched Friars derived from Crossed Friars, a Roman catholic religious order from the 13th century.
There's many more,but thats start..if you have any interesting ones do send me a message.

Bye for now

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

London's underground and the old style advertising

Being a pigeon I don't get to use the tube very much at all..but through my searchings for unusual and interesting London things I do come across some lovely vintage and antique underground related items and have noticed how very stylish and well designed they were.

The London underground was the first underground train system in the opened on January 10th 1863 .We have some underground 'railways' maps from as long ago as 1898, right through the 1900's, 20's 30's 40's, you get the picture...and they are all wonderful.We also have a small number of publicity items on the site which are slightly harder to come across.Here is just a few I thought I'd share with you.

This wonderful display card was produced in 1907 and advertised the Hampstead tube. These are very scarce nowadays so I'm very pleased we have this one.

I love the style of the cover of the booklet, which was produced in 1947 and describes how London transport 'carried on' during the war and the blitz. It's a fascinating booklet showing images of the destruction caused by the war and what Londoners did to cope.

This is a classic, produced in May 1968 and lets you know what you can do and how to get there using the buses or underground, with a bit of spare time, if you have it whilst you're in London.Simple really is often best.

And finally, this super flyer advertising the Victoria Line, 'London's new tube' as they called it, in 1969.This little leaflet lets you know how to use the automatic gates, how much the fares are and how quick the journey is.
Oxford Circus to Walthamstow cost 2/6!

So there you are, lovely old fashioned advertising...pity they don't revive them!

cheerio all,


Sunday, 8 May 2011

reviving the old...

Hello all,

For us here at London Peculiar, seeing an old document or piece of paper all tattered, worn and un cared for can be a bit sad...especially if it was once quite important, or interesting or simply a bit querky!
We see it a lot...and once we got over being cross about it we decided to do something constructive.
So here is our first little rivival project.

This wonderful little booklet was produced about 7 months before the start of the 2nd World War.
It was classified information and only to be released to people with an official position in his majesty's service.

The book is full of intelligence and security information ,censorship, how to understand aerial maps and reconnaissance photography  and so on.

There is also a small section called 'conduct of British Prisoners of war' which reads:

'under internation law every prisoner of war is bound to give his name, rank and number..the duty of a British soldier is to refuse any information to the enemy except these details.He must not reveal any information about his uniform or badges.A prisoner of war cannot be punished or disadvantaged for giving limited or false information. Beware of pseudo prisoners who will be planted to listen in to prisoners conversations.A prisoner who has commited treachery will we liable to severe disciplinary action on termination of hostilities.'

Pretty scary stuff
This little book is a fascinating piece of wartime history and deserved to be looked after and revived.
The cover design is taken form the map within the book.
This little piece of history will go onto the site very soon.

bye all,

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Hand drawn maps of London

Hello everyone...

Being small, (and well behaved) I can slip into all sorts of places unnoticed.
Today I slipped into the Museum of London for a sneaky preview of their display of HAND DRAWN MAPS of London, and really lovely they are too.

There are 11 maps, all of different styles and all drawn by members of the public.Brixton as a tree, hidden loo's, posh Mayfair and London firsts are all covered in these wonderful drawings.

I have a favourite...'London  Firsts', a map which shows locations for all sorts interesting 'firsts' in London, including where the first printing of the Marx manifesto was, Britains first Tea shop and London's first theatre in Spittalfields in 1574. My other reason for being slightly biased towards it is becasue it was drawn by one of the super people at London Peculiar! and if you look closely at Trafalgar Square you'll see me!

Go to the museum to see them up close...the exhibition runs from tomorrow until September and is well worth the effort!

Have a lovely day everyone
All the best

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

1664-5 Bills of Mortality!

Hello all,

We have just acquired a most unusual if rather daunting document listing the mortalities in London during the year of the plague.

This booklet has proved to be fascinating in more ways than one, not least, its listing of the various 'diseases and casualities' week by week , and its mention of what qualifies for a 'wheaten loaf' each week.
So being April 13th today , here are some details about what people were poorly with this week some 347 years ago.

1 person drowned at St Katherines, near the Tower.
8 people suffered 'Rising of the Light' ,light being an old word for lungs and this illness now known as croup!
2 people suffered with 'Kingsevil' a tuburculosis of the neck, which ,it was believed would be cured by the touch of a Monarch.
1 person was found having died in St Giles in the Fields
6 people were executed (in 1 week!!!)
1 person suffered with head-mold-shot (an inflammation or water on the brain)
4 suffered with Rickets

Also this week, 237 people were christened and 344 buried! none from the plague (yet)
and a penny loaf to contain 10 ounces and 3 half penny loaves the like weight.

What is most interesting about this pamphlet is you can see week on week the growth of the plague.
Only 2  people had died from the plague by April 20th.
By the end of May, 28 people had died from the plague and by the end of June a further 870!

2010 people died in the week of 25th July - 1st August
3880 died in the week of 8th - 15th August,(and also mentioned in the mortality list 1 person died of fright,and 1 of grief !)
and it goes on...the number rising hugely each week..what is interesting is there are no listings for executions once the plague took a grip, although 21 people were exectued in that year.

During the week of Oct 3rd only 4 of 130 parishes were clear of the plague and by the end of 1665 a staggering 68596 people had died from the plague.

What a terrible year 1665 was.

Keep well Londoners and all

Goodbye for now

Friday, 1 April 2011

The Newgate Calender 1700- 1795

Hello all...
We are very pleased with our new aquisition...a bound Newgate Calender  containing
' New and authentic accounts of all lives, adventures, exploits, trials, executions and last dying speeches and confessions of the most notorious malefactors of both sexes who suffered death for murder,burlglaries,house stealing,bigamy,forgeries,sheep stealing,high treason, sedition,riots and mobbing'

The book details the lives and misdemeanors of many 'criminals' during the 1700's...some crimes include highway robbery, house breaking and forgery which all carried the death sentence.
Many  exections were held at Tyburn.
One case is that of William Parsons, son of a baron, who, whilst at Eton College, stole some books..he confessed to this and remained at Eton  for 9 years...but appeared to be unable to change his wiley, in an attempt to save his soul, was sent to sea on a ship headed for Jamaica..but,an accident  detaining the ship meant he could escape.
He lived a life of counterfieting and lies and paid the price of execution once caught!
This book is fascinating and I will have a good nose through it and report back with other interesting cases.

Good day all

Friday, 25 February 2011

Stow's Survey of London

Hello all,
I thought I'd share with you these lovely books.John Stow's survey of London 1720..They are huge..I obviously can't pick them up or even turn the pages, I leave the humans with that job, but they are beautiful.

Stow's survey weas originally published in 1598 and the information of streets and building in London is incredible and very detailed, together with social conditions at the time Elizabeth 1st was reigning.

There were a few editions before this one of 1720, which had amendments by John Strype.

Here's what they say about Leicester Fields, now Leicester Sq:

'A very handsome open square,railed about and gravelled within.The buildings are very good and well inhabited and frequented by the Gentry
Gosh things have changed haven't they?
We have a few ward maps on our site from another copy of this edition, St Annes (Soho), St Mary Magdelen, Bermonsey,Cornhill Ward and St Clement Danes.

Bye for now everyone

Friday, 11 February 2011

Sneaky look at the studio

Hello all,

Sitting on my perch, (the 16th century one) today I realised I could get a picture of London Peculiar's studio, sneakily...just so you can see what they're up I did..don't tell them though or i might get into trouble!

All the best

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Bomb spotters map 1944

Hello all,

I have to share this one with's very interesting!
London Peculiar came across this amazing 'bomb spotters' map a little while ago.
It shows a circular view of London in 1944
It was presented to the bomb spotter, a Mr Stallybrass, for being the Bank of England bomb, or roof  spotter during the war.

During the war, many buildings across London would use  (often volunteers) a 'bomb spotter' who would go onto the roof at night and watch for bombs, so they could raise the alarm and alert everyone in time for them to get to an air raid shelter!
A hugely important job which would have saved many lives.

The letter which accompanied the map says
'The court of directors wishes to place on record their appreciation of your work in the civil defence services of the Bank during the trying years of the war. As a  memento of the times of danger through which you have passed, ask you to accept  a copy of a drawing by a member of bank staff which was prepared to serve the roof spotters during the time of the flying bomb menace..signed by the govenor,  1945

what a wonderful map..

Isn't that amazing...and what an unusual piece of London history...

g'night all

Sunday, 6 February 2011

It's happened again...

hello all...
Around this time last year I saw a massive dragon type thing running around in Soho..I'm sure it was after me...and today, I saw him again...he's huge let me warn you, and I'm sure he had fire coming out his mouth and everything..
Normally on a Sunday I have a mooch around, it's quite quiet round here and I get to have a bit of a think about things..but not today...hundreds of people came to town, I think to see the dragon, although they didn't seem as scared of him as I am, I mean, was...but being my size and all, he seemed gigantic!
However, everyone seemed to be having a lovely time...I sat up high and watched  and the dragon seemed to go through the crowds quite happily, even dancing it seemed, and no one was eaten!
Also, lots of rabbits...I like rabbits, my size and I understand them. I heard someone say it was their year...thats good, rabbits get bad press sometimes and could do with a break I think...
So, happy year of the rabbit everyone!
All the best


Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Peter Pan

Hello all,
My lovely friends at London peculiar have come up with a terribly romantic idea for Valentines day.
Apparently, (I don't know because,being a pigeon, I haven't seen it) in Peter pan, Wendy wants to give Peter a kiss...but he doesn't know what a kiss is, so he holds out his Wendy's hand is a thimble, so she gives that to him, so a thimble represents a kiss...ahhhhh.

So, London Peculiar have found a few lovely silver thimbles with London hallmarks and are presenting them in a hand made lined box...what a perfect valetines gift and a little quirky too, if you don't go for the usual suspects of flowers and choclates for valentines...

If you think you might like one for your loved one, get in touch quick, at
as there aren't many of them!
By the way, each box is inscribed with the words osculum dare: to 'give a kiss'!

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

The last week of January.

Hello all...
I've been noticing your habits change this week and I'm guessing it's because it's the famous last week of January blues and money is running thin..until pay day...which is soon although I'm never sure, I get paid in milk and seed sandwiches everyday so I guess every day is pay day...sort of ! anyhow, back in the old days, gin was cheap enough to keep you going through tough times...

Being a pigeon I don't get to drink much gin but apparently Londoners in the 1700's drank more gin than they did beer!

The gin of the 18th century was very different from today.Originally a Dutch import,(Madame Geneva) it was very lethal and cheap and for a penny a dram you could get very drunk very quick.

London's gin craze was helped along by the government removing distillation regualtions, to the extent that one in 5 households was making and selling gin!

Well,one thing led to another and by the 1720's London town was spinning out of control.The economy relied on the hard work of the poor, who were now drunk most of the time,sloshed on the doorstep of a gin shop! Who wouldn't be?

In came the first gin act...1729, increasing tax on gin...then another gin act of 1736...increasing the tax to 20 shiilings per gallon...getting pricey this stuff...good old Londoners rioted in 1743 and the tax was reduced...this didn't last long..
In 1751 yet another gin act came in..(is this starting to sound familiar?) and massive restrictions were imposed....William Hogarth's etching of Gin Lane depicts the decay of London during this time.

So many gin acts later, times can be tough in London, sometimes, but Friday is coming...maybe celebrate with a nice large gin!

I would!

G'night all

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

London Peculiar old london fact!

Apparently on this day in 1569 Britain got it's first state lottery! I rarely do the lottery, being a pigeon and all, but you can get tickets from most places these days, but in 1569 you had to go to St Pauls Cathedral to make your strange..
I wonder what the prize was...20 groats, or goats,? who knows...does anyone know?

Must fly (!) I like to meet Eric on Nelson's hat for a beak wag before bedtime.
Goodnight all


Saturday, 8 January 2011

London Peculiar HQ

Hello again...

I'm in my coop at LPHQ today...the weather here in town is too wet and it does tend to make your wings a bit heavy to fly, so I thought I'd stay indoors.
I did sit in a tree in Soho Square for a bit.I like Soho Square, its been here since the 1600's and was originally called Fryth Square, then Kings Square, probably because it is home to a statue of and King Chalres II.The square used to be mainly residential.It must have been quite posh! but in the 1800's more business moved into the area...including Cross and Blackwell factory.

Anyhow, I hope the weather improves a bit tomorrow, I know we have a micro climate here in town but it's still a bit cold for us pigeons!

Good day all

Sunday, 2 January 2011

My first Pepys

Hello London , and the world, if you can see me!

This is my very first blog so forgive my novice like approach! plus my claws keep slipping off the keys!

Let me introduce myself :
My name is Pepys and yes I am a pigeon. I live in Central London and about six months ago met the lovely people at London Peculiar.
They are a nice bunch of people and since I've been visiting them in their workshop in Soho,they've been showing me all sorts of fancy stuff they've collected from's amazing and some of it is really old too.They have a shop, (online I think they call it )..where they sell it to nice folk who appreciate historic London things..

Anyhow, after meeting them ,one thing led to another and after lots of tea, bread and some strange seeds (didn't like them at all) we are super friends now and I try keep my eyes open for stuff for their shop. They've set me up with a little coop, free of charge in exchange for my work on the blog and keeping them updated with London stuff.
I  keep an eye on what's going on in London town and hope to keep you up to speed with any new things that are happening round here.

London is truly a wonderful city. I'm very lucky that I can spend the day flying around looking at the sites and seeing whats going on and perching on buildings watching the world go by and the like...which reminds me, I'm sorry to the lady in the red coat on the South Bank last Tuesday, I really am quite ashamed about what I did and I didn't mean to hit you...Sorry!

So, now I have set us this blog for London Peculiar, I'll be transmitting (is that what its called?) regularly to keep you informed about all that is London and London Peculiar.
I'll sign off now, from my window I can see the London eye and I fancy a little spin before bedtime.

warm wishes,

A first for the new year, the first london minted coin

This isn't the prettiest thing in the world, but wow, this is one of the first London minted coins. Minted in London, by the Romans. It just looks like a small lump of bronze, but I think I would too if I was 1710 years old.

About the size of a modern 5 pence piece, for me this is a fantastic piece of London history. It took some time hunting it down I must say. It makes me wonder about who bought what with it all those years ago, and how London looked back then... just a river, a bridge and dwellings around the Thames, later to spread and spread and become the sprawling mass it is today.

I imagine this coin must have seen some action, if only it could talk!