“Took walk in evening — with Ann Fox — through Holywell and Wych Street, Strand; returned homeward through Soho Square where I believed the sky to be illuminated with a red light over the south east corner thereof, as also Leicester Square, which I saw was from some fire which I ascertained since to be the Oil Mustard and Saw Mills in the Grove, Guildford Street, Southwark, which totally destroyed the stock in trade.”
“Rose half past 5 o’clock and went to Mechanics Bath, Little Queen Street, Holborn. Met Jack Rees in Great Queen Street as I was coming out. After breakfast continued copying the ancestors and members of family of James Wood, the rich banker of Gloucester, who died in 1836, and through whom there has been such difficulty in disposing the property. Went to church, St Martin’s-in-the-Fields, the handsomest church of modern architecture that I have yet been to, but it is deficient of those embellishments, tablets, of which there is none at all. Home the whole afternoon copying Wood’s ancestors. Mother very bad, unable to rise from bed. M Ward’s hands full. After had — Ann up in room as …; — before 8 o’clock took walk with Ann through the Strand and Fleet Street, Gough Square and Johnson’s Court where Dr Johnson composed his English Dictionary. Returned home by Holborn and New Oxford Street.”
[Editor’s note: James Wood, banker of Gloucester (1756-1836), was well known for his miserliness. After his death, his estate of £900,000 was mainly expended in legal arguments over his will.]
“Rose early, breakfasted, and afterwards went to St Ann’s Coffee House, Oxford Street, opposite Bozier’s Court, and afterwards to Tottenham Court Chapel and sat alongside Ann. Met George King and his mother there. After dinner took little walk about St Giles’s, Drury Lane and Covent Garden. Discovered for the first time a head and foot stone of a portion of the Bryceson’s family in St Paul Covent Garden Churchyard. — After tea had Ann up in my bedroom. After showing her my story of London, got at indecent practices. — Took walk with Ann in evening about the Strand and returned by Holborn. Had pint of 4d ale and biscuits at the Sun and Punchbowl, Holborn, nearly opposite King Street. Uncle John Shepard absent from his chapel this evening – this is a sign that his back is very painful.”
“Mother very bad all last night. Poor old Granny Shepard called up to assist. This evening took walk with Ann about the Strand etc and purchased Ainsworth’s ‘Latin-English and English-Latin Dictionary’ dated 1761 (not having money sufficient in pocket, gave Ann one florin to get it me tomorrow) at old booksellers in Holywell Street, Strand.”
“Purchased five maps – parts of London and its suburbs – dated 1790 to 1800, in Peter Street, Westminster, corner of Great Smith Street.
I observed for the first time this month that there is a clock put up to the church of St Paul Knightsbridge (not before it needed).
Coals sold at Wharf this month: 1803 tons 2 sacks.
Weather this month cold with much rain, nay I think this has been the coldest month this year (though no frost).
There is now a great improvement being made in front of Chelsea College. Formerly, when you got to the end of Hospital Row and wanted to get to Cheyne Walk, you passed through an iron gate into a narrow pathway with railings each side; in width it would not have admitted more than three persons abreast. It is now thrown open wide and a foot and carriage way making; the former is already paved and the latter now making. This will be a great convenience for the inhabitants thereabouts having horses and vehicles, for now they have to go round the garden fronting the Hospital nearly half a mile, whereas they will soon be able to go straight through, thereby saving time, horseflesh and carriage wear. (This road with Hospital Row has since been named ‘Queen’s Road’).
It may not be unworthy of remark that the first house finished and let in New Oxford Street is a public house just east of Bedford Chapel, the sign of ‘The Crown’ – landlord’s name Smith. The buildings hereabouts are growing up at a rapid rate.
The old fishmonger’s shop in the north side of the Strand, adjoining Temple Bar, which retained the ancient penthouse, one of the time before plate glass was in panes taking the whole front, when shopkeepers cried aloud to passers by ‘What do ye lack?’, has been taken down to give room for a modern erection.”
“An Irish woman with child was begging in the Strand of a young man who, not taking any notice of her, she gave him a blow in the face whence a bit of a scuffle ensued, and a policeman making his appearance he gave her in charge and she was forthwith taken to the station house in Bow Street. Self saw the same.
Coals sold at Eccleston Wharf this month: 1357 and nine tenths Tons.
The south side of the Quadrant, Regent Street, is very much lightened, the skylights being made the width of the roof of the colonnades, from Air Street to Regent Circus, in consequence of the late duty being taken off glass. They were formerly only a small fanlight just over the shop fronts. In shape they now somewhat resemble the cucumber frames – they will be continued the whole length both sides the way.
The weather this month has been very remarkable all through, yea, the oldest person living remembers not such weather for January. It commenced quite warm and has so continued, the climate being of the temperature of May month. We have had a good deal of rain, but for the shortness of the days it is almost like unto summer. No winter have we had yet, neither is there any appearance of any coming.
The Corn Law Bill of Sir Robert Peel became early this year the all engrossing subject. On the 28th January Sir Robert Peel introduced the Corn Bill to the notice of the House of Commons for a second reading. Previous to this time the Right Honourable Baronet had freely unmasked himself. He had declared for Free Trade and the country was with him. This example was followed by his colleagues, Sir James Graham, and the Duke of Wellington, and the great financier, Mr Goulbourn, were foremost in advancing protection as a robbery, and agitating free trade as a right, to the House and occasion to which I allude. There were present 556 members and the bill was carried by a majority of 97.”
[Editor’s note: No entry on 31 January.]