New Talk: Industry & Idleness in the St Giles Rookery – Camden Archives

I’m presenting my new talk on Industry & Idleness in the St Giles Rookery at Camden Archives on Tuesday, 27th September at 7.15pm. Admission free! I look forward to seeing you all there!

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‘The St. Giles Rookery has been described as a 19th century bastion of crime and criminality, yet this location enjoyed a dismal existence within the previous century too, enduring the feverous heights of the Gin Craze.

The early 19th century saw this locality known as the St. Giles Rookery, a densely populous area – but who lived there and what work did they do? Can we cast a little light into their daily working lives despite the slum of their surroundings?

Jane Palm-Gold spent six years in deep research to create and curate the publicly acclaimed exhibition ‘London’s Underworld Unearthed: The Secret Life of the Rookery’, with Museum of London Archaeology in 2011. Yet much was left unsaid…

In this talk, she revisits her personal archive on the Rookery to present her findings on the kind of people that lived there and their daily working lives. As the 18th c gave way to the 19th, what changes affected their world of work – for not all were members of the criminal underclass. So how did people’s daily working lives differ?

The talk will give examples of 18th century pre-Rookery dwellers engaged in their daily cadging ramble or in gin production, the industrious and honest poor of the 19th c where we visit an elderly flower maker living in his garret and the living conditions of the many costermongers dwelling amongst their sprats and oranges in the dense and filthy confines of rookery dwellings. We take a trip up Dyot Street to discover a certain Mrs. Farrell, an 18th c property tycoon and the ways the many made a living through property sub-letting in the locality. A kind of 18th century Airbnb…’

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