Sunday 9th August 1846

“Rose at 6 o’clock, went to Westminster Baths, Charles Street, Oakley Street, Westminster Bridge Road, for first time this season. Home to breakfast half past eight and after ditto went to St Margaret’s Westminster. Very well amused with monuments etc therein; sat on free seats north side. After dinner took walk up Holborn to see the late smash of two houses falling down, 22 and 23 Middle Row, directly opposite Grays Inn Lane. Such a sight I never before saw. The ruins have not been disturbed since they fell (one day last week – Sunday last, 2nd instant), and they falling straight have carried all the furniture with them, completely burying greatest part, but some few articles may be seen sticking out, of which I noticed a chest of drawers and a chair, and against the wall I saw a print or two hanging, with two looking glasses, presenting a novel sight. One flight of stairs was still hanging. This event had likely to have caused a great loss of life, but they providentially escaped, having just quitted the crumbling fabric. Walked on through the City and returned by Clerkenwell, noticing the damage done by the late storm and the fast increase of buildings in the new street in continuation with Farringdon Street. — After tea had Ann Fox up. After looking through prints got to our old tricks in which I got a little further than ever by just catching a glimpse of the hairs covering her c**t.  She wore a new straw bonnet for the first time. Hope to get on better hereafter in matters of secrecy. — Saw two persons of whom I have not seen a long time, Benjamin Smart and Henry Kitchingman – the former in Fore Street, Cripplegate, the latter in Dean Street, Soho – neither of whom spoke to me, not liking my appearance, being too ancient. At home the rest of evening.”

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Saturday 1st August 1846

“A very remarkable heavy thunder and hail storm commenced this afternoon which will not be soon forgotten by those who witnessed it. It began with tremendous heavy rain, accompanied by flashes of lightning, and some very loud claps of thunder, followed by a hail storm hardly remembered by man living. The stones that fell were larger than marbles, and heavier, and some few might be seen to measure the size of a halfpenny. Those persons having skylights and summer houses are severe sufferers thereby, it having almost without exception smashed every of them. Reid’s Stone Wharf and Magnus’s Slate Works napped it in their skylights while a florist in Elizabeth Street, Pimlico, had his glass house literally demolished. It also caused a sad accident to happen to a poor man named Samuel Pritchard, who sent to Wharf for half ton coals, which was loaded into his cart, and the force of the hailstones falling caused the horse to fall, which broke both shafts of the cart, besides damaging the harness, and slightly hurting the horse. Mr G Lea’s staircase skylight was smashed and the lower storeys of all houses were almost inundated. People might be seen dipping the water by pailfuls out of their kitchens and areas, and some using pumps. The fall of water was so great as to have like to have sunk our ‘Sal’ barge.  Richmonds Buildings had not escaped having the skylight smashed and the rooms nearby flooded. The storm commenced about half past three and continued unceasingly for three hours.”

Monday 22nd June 1846

“This week begins one gang off and one on – that is one to work every other day; ditto screeners. Taken very feverish in afternoon which increased towards evening as to make it difficulty to walk home, such violent pains in head. This night about 12 o’clock a violent storm arose accompanied by thunder and lightning, and rained through the night, a thing much desired. Benjamin Robert Haydon Esq, a painter of great eminence, committed suicide at his residence, 14 Burwood Place, Edgware Road. He was born January 1786, and was aged 60 years.”


[Editor’s note: Benjamin Robert Haydon, history painter, was frequently in debt, being imprisoned several times, as well as feeling embittered at his rejection by the Royal Academy and the committee selecting artists for the new Houses of Parliament.]