A week ago I had the pleasure of taking the wonderful Cubitts staff on a historical tour of Seven Dials and St. Giles. Their CEO Tom Broughton and his team have completely gotten behind the history of their new building at 41 Monmouth Street, which was for many years the very old and famous A France undertakers. This company, who undertook many illustrious royal burials in their 300 year old history, is still in existence today. Cubitts at Seven Dials – Upon entering their new store I was delighted to find out that Cubitts, in keeping with and upholding the tradition of the old shop, have designed mirrors of coffin shape whilst the interior walls are lined with wood – as used for your typical ‘wooden overcoat’. The interior is a wonderfully sympathetic reflection of the history of the building in the 20th century. Tom, a keen historian, told me that he likes to locate his stores in buildings or areas of historic note: I reflected that they might have somewhat hit the jackpot by opening their latest one in, historically, the most notorious area of London. On the night, myself and 20 staff walked the streets of Seven Dials and St. Giles for over an hour, taking in the sights and stories of this ancient parish and a great time was had by all! The Great Plague, a Gin Epidemic, A Rookery – it all happened here! If you would like a private historical walking tour of Seven Dials and St. Giles and partaker of it’s tawdry history, I would be delighted to take you around – you can find out more about my historical talks here and book me via my Contact Me page!
The Seven Dials sundial pillar turned 30 on Saturday 29th June and I was commissioned to be the arts organiser for this Seven Dials Trust event. It was a pleasure to create a programme that reflected the rich history of the Dials and which provided an educational and fun afternoon for all our visitors! All photos of the event © Gerard McNamara. The Seven Dials Rapscallions were the first to start appearing on the Dials and brought the 1830s history of St. Giles to life. Hailing from far and wide, they descended on St Giles to provide their own brand of vivid Victorian historical street theatre. Another feature of the Dials in the 19th century was the noted Bird Fair that even Dickens wrote about. So it was only right that we had our own Bird Seller for the afternoon… Our Bird Seller was followed by infamous 18th century beggar Old Simon Eedy, whose pitch was outside the gates of St. Giles-in-the-Fields church where he entertained the passers-by… His ‘Ode to the Dials’ poem began the afternoon’s entertainment… The Trust produced two exhibitions for the event that could be viewed by the public and we were very pleased to welcome the Camden History Society to the exhibition space to engage with our visitors. Local youth project Dragon Hall provided a virtual reality experience and 3D printing display for our younger audience members. Meanwhile in the Children’s Activities area: as usual the wonderful David Wilde entertained both young and old… And Gingernutt the Clown was a big hit too! Our wandering street performers also included two very distinguished gentlemen, The Upper Crusties… And The Wardens, who gave me an ASBO and ticketed anything that moved. A big hit with our audiences! Whilst Martin and Carolina provided a Tango display around the Dials… The afternoon was brought to a crescendo by speeches and a toast to the Sundial Pillar!