First Night Design | Fagin’s Den #Vintage #Art

Fagin's Den © Sarah Vernon - Buy prints, cards & home decor
Fagin’s Den © Sarah Vernon – Buy prints, cards & home decor from FAA

This is an old book-plate by Ernest Haslehurst of a public house called The Grapes at Limehouse (once The Bunch of Grapes) that I bought from collectors Vintage Views. It would be fun to think this Taylor Walker & Co pub was the inspiration for Dickens and Fagin’s den in Oliver Twist but it certainly makes me think of the narrow cobbled streets of Victorian London where pickpockets and other nefarious persons would ply their trade. It dates from the 16th century but the frontage is Victorian.

Although the original is in good nick, it has a faded quality even though it has not actually faded, so I added a duplicate layer in Overlay to bring out the colour and detail.

Fagin's Den Drawstring Bag © Sarah Vernon @ Redbubble
Fagin’s Den Drawstring Bag © Sarah Vernon @ Redbubble

Look closely — I can see Nancy on the balcony, and isn’t that Bill Sikes with his Staffy, Bullseye, coming up the ladder? And surely that’s Fagin himself at the curtain. Could this not, in fact, be the very place from which Sikes hanged himself?

The Grapes does have a connection to Dickens, however, since he knew that area of Limehouse well and probably based The Six Jolly Fellowship Porters in Our Mutual Friend on it.

From the research I’ve done, I learn that the lessees are actor Sir Ian McKellen, director Sean Mathias and Evening Standard owner, Evgeny Lebedev, the trio having bought the pub in 2011; it looks as if it’s a charming place to find some excellent beer and food. Let me know if you visit.

Available at the following galleries:
Zazzle US
Zazzle UK
Fine Art America [14 fulfillment centers in 5 countries]
Saatchi Art

Take care and keep laughing!


21 thoughts on “First Night Design | Fagin’s Den #Vintage #Art

  1. Wonderful picture and very evocative. It might well have inspired Dickens, but Fagin lived many miles away in Saffron Hill in Islington, an infamous slum off Farringdon Road, a few minutes walk from St Paul’s and Fleet Street.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. During the late 1980s when I had moved back to Rotherhithe, we would often venture over the river to Wapping and Limehouse. A short pub crawl would involve The Prospect of Whitby, The Town of Ramsgate, and The Grapes. I haven’t been back since the early 1990s, but understand that they are smarter now, and have good restaurants too. In The Grapes, ‘Sir Ian’s’ shepherds pie will set you back £17. Not bad for 500 years of history, and the view of the river.
    Your image works very well, and captures the Dickensian feel to perfection, Sarah.
    Best wishes, Pete. x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I baulked at that price but after seeing one of Bridget’s posts, it seems average for a good meal in a good setting in London. How things change when you live in Crete for eight years!


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