Around London…

July 28, 2010

• A team of archaeologists from the Museum of London have unearthed the remains of a brewhouse close to the purpose-built theatre, known simply as The Theatre, where Shakespeare first acted. The brewhouse could represent what became a dedicated ‘tap room’ aimed at theatre customers and may well have been a watering hole of the Bard himself. It – and a nearby bakehouse – were originally part of Holywell Priory, once one of the richest in England, which was dissolved in 1539. You can follow the dig’s progress here: www.mymuseumoflondon.org.uk/blogs/blog/category/excavations-at-shakespeare’s-theatre/

London’s Dickens Museum has unveiled the long-lost tombstone of a cartoonist who took his own life after he was believed to have been rejected by the famous author. Robert Seymour apparently took his own life after Charles Dickens was believed to have informed him that he would no longer be employed to illustrate The Pickwick Papers (there remains considerable debate over whether Dickens should be blamed for his death). The gravestone had been missing for a century but was reportedly discovered in the crypt of a London church by scholar Stephen Jarvis. It will now be displayed in the back garden of the museum which is housed at 48 Doughty Street in Dicken’s only surviving London home (he lived there between 1837 and 1839 while writing novels including The Pickwick Papers and Oliver Twist). The museum is preparing to celebrate the bicentenary of Dickens’ birth in 2012.  www.dickensmuseum.com

• Sir William and Sir Joseph Hooker – the father and son responsible for transforming Kew Gardens in the nineteenth century – have been honored with a blue plaque at their former home on Kew Green. The home where Princess Alexandra was to unveil the plaque became the official residence of the garden’s director when Sir William moved there in 1851. Sir William had been appointed director of the Botanic Gardens 10 years before and during his 24 year tenure not only greatly expanded them but also opened them to the public. His son, Sir Joseph, had travelled aboard the HMS Erebus as it explored the southern oceans between 1839-1843 before succeeding his father as director upon his death in 1865. www.english-heritage.org.uk/about/news/princess-alexandra-unveils-blue-plaque-for-former-directors-of-kew-gardens