When Winston Churchill oversaw a gun battle in the streets of London

Hoses are sprayed at the besieged house during the Sidney Street Siege. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

On Dec. 16, 1910, a robbery attempt was reported at a jewelry store in the Stepney district of East London.

When police arrived, they found a gang of men armed with pistols, who opened fire on the unarmed officers. Three policemen were killed and two seriously wounded. As the burglars fled, one was wounded by friendly fire, and later died.

The gang, led by a man called “Peter the Painter,” were thought to be Latvian Anarchists hoping to use the stolen jewelry to fund their cause in Latvia.

On Jan. 2, an informant suggested that some of the gang members were hiding out in a house on Sidney Street.

Taking no chances, the police came with 200 heavily armed officers, overseen by none other than Home Secretary Winston Churchill. At dawn, a firefight began. With superior weaponry and a…

Source: When Winston Churchill oversaw a gun battle in the streets of London

Samuel Pepys At St Olave’s | Spitalfields Life

Originally posted on Spitalfields Life.

In anticipation of the forthcoming exhibition Samuel Pepys: Plague, Fire, Revolution opening at National Maritime Museum in Greenwich on 20th November, I visited Pepys’ parish church in the City.


Do you see Elizabeth Pepys, leaning out from her monument and directing her gaze across the church to where Samuel sat in the gallery opposite? These days the gallery has long gone but, since her late husband became celebrated for his journal, a memorial to him was installed in 1884 where the gallery once was, which contains a portrait bust that peers back eternally at Elizabeth. They will always see eye-to-eye even if they are forever separated by the nave.

St Olave’s on the corner of Seething Lane has long been one of my favourite City churches. Dating from the eleventh century, it is a rare…

Source: Samuel Pepys At St Olave’s | Spitalfields Life

Fashion Myths – Crinoline Conflagrations | Jonathan Walford’s Blog

Originally posted on Jonathan Walford’s Blog.

1861 wasn’t a good year for skirt fires. At the ending of Charles Dickens’ 1861 novel Great Expectations, (Spoiler Alert) Miss Havisham dies when her forty-year-old tattered wedding dress catches fire after touching a hot coal from the fireplace. In the real world, Mrs. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, wife of the famous American poet, also died from burns after her dress caught fire from a fallen candle. In an attempt to put out the flames, her husband suffered facial burns, which resulted in his growing whiskers for the rest of his life to hide the scars. Worst of all, the Continental Theatre in Philadelphia burned to the ground in 1861 killing nine ballerinas whose gauze skirts caught fire on stage after one ballerina’s skirt touched a gas lamp. Fact is, a large skirt of a combustible material in a world heated and lighted by open fire was not a safe fashion choice in 1861.

Long skirts had always been a fire hazard for as long as there had been long skirts, but since the 1820s women’s skirts began growing in width by the addition of starched petticoats. By the early 1850s, upwards of six or more petticoats were being used to achieve the widening style, making women unaware of their enormous circumferences in relation to oil lamps on tippy tables, and fireplaces without screens or fenders.

In the mid 1850s a petticoat reinforced with wire hoops and/or woven horsehair bands, called crinoline, removed the necessity of multiple layers of petticoats. The style was praised for being a more hygienic and healthy way to achieve the fashionable silhouette, until it was realized that the hooped underskirts also expedited fire by the addition of a draught that caused a fire to burn faster. And to make skirts extra-flammable, the solvents employed for dry cleaning silk dresses at that time were all …

via Fashion Myths – Crinoline Conflagrations | Jonathan Walford’s Blog.