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The recent Christmas post I did about Yoshio Markino, the Japanese artist who lived in Chelsea, reminded me that there were still some images I hadn’t used in a post, even though I wrote four…

Source: Markino returns: alone in this world


Originally posted on The Library Time Machine.

The interest here is not number 19 St Leonard’s Terrace, a perfectly good house which takes up most of the picture, but the door to number 18 on the left, the house of Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula, not to mention the Lair of the White Worm which made a curious Ken Russell film, and the Jewel of Seven Stars which was turned into one of my favourite Hammer films, Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb. Stoker wrote both of those at number 18 where you can find a blue plaque, but wrote Dracula next door at number 17. He also lived in a house in Cheyne Walk which makes him suitable for a blog post of his own one of these days.

via Old Chelsea – more photographs from the Miscellany | The Library Time Machine.


Originally posted on The Library Time Machine.

First, let’s sort out the local connection. Fanny, or more properly Frances, Burney the 18th century novelist lived in Chelsea twice. Once with some of her family in an apartment at Chelsea College when she finished working as Second Keeper of the Robes for Queen Charlotte, and later in her life at an address in Lower Sloane Street.

Which is good for me because although Frances Burney / Madame D’Arblay was a very remarkable woman and one of the first great English novelists, this week’s post is really about a particular edition of her first novel Evelina.

Now I’ve written nearly 200 of these posts you must have had all my basic thoughts and the variations on them. One thing I seem to say quite often is that things in the past resemble things in the present. People seem to do the same things in the past as they do now and the things they entertained themselves with are like the things we use now for the pursuit of happiness.

One day I went to the Reference store looking for a book illustrated by someone who is nothing to do with this post. In an odd corner of the Dewey Decimal Classification you can find novels, plays and poetry all together at one number, 741.64 classified by the artist who illustrated them. And there I found a 1903 one volume edition of…

via 18th Century escapades: Evelina and Fanny | The Library Time Machine.


Originally posted on First Night Design

Thomas Crapper Toilet Victor Horta Museum, Brussels

Thomas Crapper Toilet Victor Horta Museum, Brussels

 

That’s right — Thomas Crapper (1836-1910) did not invent the flush loo or toilet.  Certainly he was responsible for improving the mechanism by developing the ballcock, for example, and for spreading the word about flush toilets, but the inventor he was not.

Nor is it true that his name is the reason we refer to the ‘waste product’ as ‘crap’.  It’s a lovely idea but his surname is purely coincidental. The word ‘crap’ appeared much earlier and is likely to have come from the combination of the Old French crappe, meaning ‘chaff’, and the Dutch krappe, meaning ‘to pluck’ or ‘cut off’.  These days we use ‘crap’ as a slang word not just for excrement but for anything we consider is…

via First Night Design | Thomas Crapper Did Not Invent the Flush Loo


The Library Time Machine

Mortimer Luddington Menpes is having a bit of a renaissance in his home country. This year there were two exhibitions devoted to his work in Adelaide, the city of his birth. We contributed some images to one of them, and they sent us a copy of the book of the exhibition, which is where most of this week’s pictures come from. My colleague Tim and I also got an invitation to the private view. But it was a bit far to go, which was a shame. It would have been good to see the place Menpes came from. He was born in Port Adelaide in 1855 and came to England when he was 20. Although he lived the greatest part of his life in the UK there was always something of the outsider about Mr Menpes and he never lost an Australian artist’s feeling for light and colour.

Dolce far niente 1885-86 p45

“Dolce far…

View original post 631 more words


Thomas Crapper Toilet Victor Horta Museum, Brussels

Thomas Crapper Toilet Victor Horta Museum, Brussels

That’s right — Thomas Crapper (1836-1910) did not invent the flush loo or toilet.  Certainly he was responsible for improving the mechanism by developing the ballcock, for example, and for spreading the word about flush toilets, but the inventor he was not.

Thomas Crapper (1836-1910)

Thomas Crapper (1836-1910)

Nor is it true that his name is the reason we refer to the ‘waste product’ as ‘crap’.  It’s a lovely idea but his surname is purely coincidental. The word ‘crap’ appeared much earlier and is likely to have come from the combination of the Old French crappe, meaning ‘chaff’, and the Dutch krappe, meaning ‘to pluck’ or ‘cut off’.  These days we use ‘crap’ as a slang word not just for excrement but for anything we consider is nonsense or poor quality.

800px-Thomas_Crapper_Toilet_Horta_Museum_Branding

Thomas Crapper Branding on one of his company’s toilets

A Yorkshire lad, Crapper served as a plumber’s apprentice in London’s Chelsea before founding his own company, Thomas Crapper & Co, in 1861. His  reputation increased so substantially that customers came to include the Royal Family.  Thomas Crapper & Co is still serving the toiletry needs of the UK and beyond today.

Manhole cover, inscribed "T Crapper & Co Sanitary Engineers Marlboro Works Chelsea London"

Manhole cover, inscribed “T Crapper & Co Sanitary Engineers Marlboro Works Chelsea London”

There’s a story on the company website that he and his older brother George used to start the day with a bottle of champagne in the The Finborough Arms: ‘a tradition the current managing director would dearly love to revive, but his staff would not stand for it’. What a marvellous tradition wasted!

The Finborough Arms has been a regular feature of my life since drama school days in the 1970s. A small fringe theatre was established upstairs in the late ’70s, early ’80s, which is now in the hands of artistic director Neil McPherson who has built up an enormously successful production house that has won many plaudits and awards. If you’re in the area, you should book tickets for the Finborough Theatre. (I wonder if the pub was ever fitted with Crapper toilets.)

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah

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