Beastly London: A History of Animals in the City

Beastly London: A History of Animals in the City

Hannah Velten

Language: English

Pages: 388

ISBN: 1780236735

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Horse-drawn cabs rattling down muddy roads, cattle herded through the streets to the Smithfield meat market for slaughter, roosters crowing at the break of dawn—London was once filled with a cacophony of animal noises (and smells). But over the last thirty years, the city seems to have banished animals from its streets. In Beastly London, Hannah Velten uses a wide range of primary sources to explore the complex and changing relationship between Londoners of all classes and their animal neighbors.
Velten travels back in history to describe a time when Londoners shared their homes with pets and livestock—along with a variety of other pests, vermin, and bedbugs; Londoners imported beasts from all corners of the globe for display in their homes, zoos, and parks; and ponies flying in hot air balloons and dancing fleas were considered entertainment. As she shows, London transformed from a city with a mainly exploitative relationship with animals to the birthplace of animal welfare societies and animal rights’ campaigns. Packed with over one hundred illustrations, Beastly London is a revealing look at how animals have been central to the city’s success.

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associations. A short list includes Bear Gardens, SEI; Bird Street, WI; Birdcage Walk, SWI; Bull’s Gardens, SW3; Cowcross Street, EC1; Duck Lane, W1; Falcon Court, EC4; Hounds-ditch, EC3; Nightingale Walk, SW4; Poultry, EC2; Puma Court, EI; Swan Lane, EC4; and Whalebone Court, EC2. There are also animal sculptures littering London, such as the statue of a tiger and young boy at Tobacco Dock in Wapping, which depicts an escapee tiger from Jamrach’s Exotic Animal Depository. The two stone mice that

137  Ibid., p. 121. 138  Defoe, A Journal of the Plague Year, p. 161. 139  ‘Police: Marylebone’, The Times, 3 October 1864, p. 9. 140  Maehle, ‘Literary Responses to Animal Experimentation’, p. 29. 141  Ibid., p. 44. 142  See Peter Mason, The Brown Dog Affair (London, 1997). 143  ‘Leicester Square’, Old and New London, vol. III (1878), pp. 160–73, available at www.britishhistory.ac.uk, accessed 12 November 2012. 144  Roy Porter, London: A Social History (London, 1995), p. 182.

London, vol. II (1878), pp. 41–60, available at www.british-history.ac.uk, accessed 12 November 2012. 141  Fitter, London’s Natural History, p. 81. 142  From ‘Lower Thames Street’. 143  Smelts are small saltwater fish similar in appearance to salmon. 144  Cited in ‘The Roach and the Dace’, Penny Magazine, 5 November 1842, p. 437. 145  Ibid. 146  ‘Supply of Pure Water’, The Examiner, 5 October 1828, pp. 643–4. 147  ‘The Thames and Salmon’, The Standard, 14 May 1866, p. 5. 148  Cited in

prohibit contests, such as in Clapham in 1693 after the campaigning of the ‘Clapham Sect’ – a group of Christian leaders, many of whom were MPS (the most visible being William Wilberforce), who mainly lived close to Clapham Common.99 High and Petty Constables enforced the magistrates’ orders with the help of the public: a bait at Kensington Gardens in 1787 was temporarily stopped by the constable after it was reported by the Minister of Paddington.100 However, there were still informal bear- and

England since classical times. This remarkable creature was a gift from Henry III’s son-in-law, the French king Louis IX, who brought it back from Palestine on his return from the Crusades. It was landed at Whitsand, Kent,4 and walked along the Canterbury–London road, making the final leg of its journey to the Tower by boat. The chronicler Matthew Paris (c. 1200–1259) described it: ‘The beast is about ten years old, possessing a rough hide rather than fur, has small eyes at the top of its head,

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