link | “Photochroms of Rome” by Alex Q. Arbuckle and Wolfgang Wild

I found these truly lovely images on Mashable. They are ‘colour’ photos of Rome dating from c. 1890, sourced from the Library of Congress. These were taken seventy years after Keats was in Rome, but it still feels like a glimpse into the world that he would have recognised. Joseph Severn would have known this Rome, as he died only ten or eleven years before.

I’ve copied the two most relevant images here (with great respect, but without permission) and you can see the rest via the link below.

The Pyramid of Cestius at St. Paul’s Gate. Image: Library of Congress

Photochroms of Rome

St Stephen Coleman Street, London

The church of St Stephen Coleman Street is where John Keats’ parents and maternal grandparents, and his younger brother Tom, were buried. There is now nothing left but a blue plaque.

The Keats Connection

It makes for sad reading! Keats lost all his most significant figures from the previous generations in the space of just over ten years, beginning with his father when John Keats was only nine years old. However, St Stephen’s was also associated with a few more positive occasions.

  • His grandfather John Jennings was baptised here on 13 October 1730.
  • His maternal grandparents John Jennings (age 43 years) and Alice Whalley (age 38 years) married here on 25 February 1774.
  • His father Thomas Keats died on  15 April 1804, and was buried at St Stephen’s on 23 April 1804.
  • His grandfather John Jennings died less than a year later on 8 March 1805, and was buried at St Stephen’s on 14 March 1805.
  • His mother Frances Jennings Keats Rawlings died five years later, and was buried here on 20 March 1810.
  • His grandmother Alice Whalley Jennings died four years later, and was buried here on 19 December 1814.
  • Finally, his brother Thomas Keats died, and was buried here four years later on 7 December 1818.

The burials were all in the Jennings family vault.

The church itself was destroyed in 1940. I know it sounds a little ghoulish, but I have asked a librarian friend if we can find out what happened to the bodies… I would like to pay my respects.

Back Then

St Stephen’s was first mentioned in the 13th century.

It became a “Puritan stronghold” for a while in the 17th century. The playwright and contemporary of Shakespeare, Anthony Munday, was buried there in 1633.

The medieval church was destroyed in the Great Fire in 1666. It was re-built by Christopher Wren, with the exterior completed by 1677. Further work on a gallery and burial vault was done in the 1690s. This is the church that the Keats family would have known.

The church was destroyed by incendiary bombing on 29 December 1940, and it was not re-built.

The parish was combined with that of nearby St Margaret Lothbury – which for various reasons accumulated a number of City parishes, and is now officially known as “St Margaret Lothbury and St Stephen Coleman St with St Christopher-le-Stocks, St Bartholomew-by-the-Exchange, St Olave Old Jewry, St Martin Pomeroy, St Mildred Poultry and St Mary Colechurch”.

Today

Modern office buildings now stand on the site, with retail shops and cafes at ground level. A London Corporation plaque commemorates the church. It reads:

Site of the Parish church of St Stephen Coleman street 1452-1940

You can find it nearly opposite the junction of Coleman Street with King’s Arms Yard, outside Black Sheep Coffee.

Details

  • Address: 35 Coleman Street, London EC2R 5EH
  • Tube: Moorgate, on the Northern line, and the Circle, Hammersmith & City, and Metropolitan lines
  • Bank, on the Central, DLR, Northern, and Waterloo & City lines
  • Opening hours: The blue plaque can be seen at any time, though the area is probably ghostly quiet on weekends

Links

Bunhill Fields Burial Ground, Islington, London

The Bunhill Fields Burial Ground has two sad connections with Keats. His youngest brother Edward was buried there, having died while still a baby. A little more than a year later, his father Thomas was fatally injured in a riding accident near the cemetery gates.

A general shot of the burial ground.

The Keats Connection

Edward Keats

Edward was the fourth child of Thomas and Frances Keats, born on 28 April 1801. Unfortunately he died at the age of 20 months. I have never seen any details about a cause of death, but I suppose in a time of somewhat higher infant mortality, such things were lamentably not very unusual.

Edward was buried on 9 December 1802 in Bunhill Fields. Relatives of Keats’ maternal grandfather John Jennings had already been buried there, and it is also very near to where the Keats family were living in Craven Street, so it seems a clear choice of graveyard.

The burial register lists Edward as “brought from Craven Street City Road”, and buried in a common grave, at a cost of seven shillings and sixpence. It gives the location of the grave as 44 on the east-west axis, and 35 on the north-south axis. I’ll have to work out if I can visit to pay my respects (many of the graves are fenced off and inaccessible without a guide). I assume there’s no individual marker.

Thomas Keats

The Keats family moved back to the Swan and Hoop in Moorgate in 1802, when Thomas took over the management of the stables and inn on the retirement of John Jennings.

In the early hours of 15 April 1804, Thomas was riding home (south) along City Road when he fell or was thrown from his horse. We are not sure of the details, as it seems there were no witnesses to the accident. A nightwatchman saw his riderless horse heading for home, and found Thomas lying unconscious outside the gates to Bunhill Fields.

Thomas was taken to a nearby surgeon, but his injuries were beyond help. He was then taken home to the Swan and Hoop, where he died that morning, at the age of 31 years.

The Bunhill Fields gates on City Road.

While the current gates on City Road only date back to 1868, the main entrance was in the same location in Keats’ time. (There used to be another entrance to the northern section of the grounds as well, but that was set back from the road, and only accessible via an alley between buildings. So I think it’s fairly clear that Thomas would have been found outside where the current gates stand.)

Back Then

The name “Bunhill Fields” probably derives from “Bone Hill”. This dates back to 1549, when over a thousand cartloads of human bones were brought from St Paul’s (soon to be demolished) charnel house. The remains were spread over the moor and covered in soil, creating a flat ‘hill’ in the otherwise marshy landscape.

In 1665, Bunhill Fields was enclosed with walls to be used as a burial ground. The Church of England never consecrated the ground, however, and it was open for the interment of anyone who could afford the fees – so it became popular with Nonconformists.

The most well-known people buried here are John Bunyan, Daniel Defoe, and Romantic poet William Blake.

The headstone for William and Catherine Blake, which has been moved from where they are buried.

Bunhill Fields is situated between Quaker Gardens on the west – the remnants of a Quaker burial field used from 1661 to 1855 – and Wesley’s Chapel across City Road to the east – a chapel built by John Wesley in 1778, which you can visit along with his house and his tomb.

Once Bunhill Fields became full – after approximately 123,000 burials over the years – the burial ground was closed to further interments from 1853.

Today

The Corporation of London took on responsibility for running the ground in 1867. They began the process of turning the burial ground into a park – with new walls, gates and paths. It was opened to the public in 1869.

There was damage caused by bombing during the Second World War, and Vera Brittain also described Bunhill Fields as being the location of an anti-aircraft gun.

In 1949, following the war, landscape architect Sir Peter Shepheard was engaged to develop Bunhill Fields. His plans were finally implemented in 1964-65. Much of the original graveyard in the southern section was maintained, though fenced off. The more damaged northern section was cleared and turned into a community garden.

Details

  • Address: 38 City Road, Islington, London EC1Y 2BG
  • Tube: Old Street on the Northern line and National Rail
  • Opening hours: Open every day from 8am to 7pm (or dusk, whichever is earlier)
  • Guided tours are available on Wednesday lunchtimes during April to October
  • Access to enclosed areas is by appointment only, on Tuesday lunchtimes

Links

St Leonard’s Church, Shoreditch, London

St Leonard’s Church in Shoreditch is where John Keats’ three younger brothers were baptised – all on the same day!

The Keats Connection

It is assumed that Keats was born at the Swan and Hoop in Moorgate, and he was certainly baptised at the nearby St Botolph’s in 1795.

By the time their next child was born in 1797, Thomas and Frances Keats had established their own family home in Craven Street, Shoreditch. Three sons were born to them there:

  • George, born on 28 February 1797
  • Tom, born on 18 November 1799
  • Edward, born on 28 April 1801

All three boys were baptised on the same day, 24 September 1801, at St Leonard’s in Shoreditch.

Unfortunately, Edward did not survive childhood, and died in 1802, aged only 20 months.

Rather more happily, a daughter Fanny was born in 1803, after the family had moved back to Moorgate.

Before Then

There’s always so much history associated with these City locations!

St Leonard’s, also known simply as Shoreditch Church, stands where all the Roman roads joined up, including roads from Chester, Bath, Lincoln, York and Colchester. (All roads lead to London, in this case!) The Wallbrook river rose at the site, making fresh water available, though I assume it’s all underground now.

There was an Anglo-Saxon church, which was replaced by a Norman church, with mention of its first vicar in 1185. This Norman building became “the actors’ church”, as it was sited near New Inn Yard, the Theatre, and the Curtain. James, Cuthbert and Richard Burbage were buried in the church, as well as Richard Tarlton and Gabriel Spenser!

Given the nearby river and the high water table, the church was fated not to last. When it collapsed, the current building was constructed on top of it – and the old church that would have been known by Shakespeare became the crypt of the new one.

The current church dates to 1740, and was designed by George Dance the Elder. Its light and airy style was very innovative at the time, and initially wasn’t received well.

The Church’s Wikipedia page states that the font is one of the original 18th century fixtures – and, if so, that means it’s the actual font in which the three younger Keats brothers were baptised.

The font, which I assume is the one used in baptising the Keats boys.

Today

The Church is well worth a visit, though I suppose there’s no denying it has a fairly shabby, lived-in feel to it. That’s kind of refreshing, now I think about it! While pretty much everything but the ceiling needs a fresh lick of paint, the overall light colour scheme with a teal accent is just delightful.

The least shabby part of the church is the gorgeous ceiling!

Details

  • Address: 119 Shoreditch High Street, Shoreditch, London E1 6JN
  • Tube: Old Street on the Northern line and National Rail
  • Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 12 noon to 2pm, and for a service on Sunday. Given the restricted hours, it’s best to check ahead, if possible!
  • Tours are available of the crypt and the tower, but only by appointment.

Links

12 Cranwood Street, Shoreditch, London

The Keats family lived at 12 Craven Street (now Cranwood Street), off City Road in Shoreditch, when Keats was a child. There is now nothing to see but modern offices and apartment buildings.

The Keats Connection

Keats’ parents, Thomas and Frances Keats, lived at the Swan and Hoop Livery Stables in Moorgate when they were first married, and it is assumed that’s where Keats was born in 1795.

By 1797, however, the young family were living in their own home at 12 Craven Street in Shoreditch, while Thomas rode (or walked) to work at the Swan and Hoop each day. Keats’ three younger brothers were born in Shoreditch, and the youngest, Edward, died there while still a child.

In Keats’ time Craven Street was on the outskirts of London, and there were fields immediately to the north. A map of 1799 shows “Mr Champion’s Vinegar Manufactory” just to the south of the Craven Street houses.

After about five years, in 1802, the Keats family returned to live at the Swan and Hoop, to take over the business from maternal grandparents John and Alice Jennings on their retirement.

I haven’t found any specific dates on the handover of the business or the family move. However, the Bunhill Fields burial register records that Edward was “brought from Craven Street City Road” for burial on 9 December 1802.

Today

I am not sure of the history of this street. Today, there is nothing left that Keats would recognise. The ‘odd’ side of the street is now all modern office buildings, and the ‘even’ side is residential – but the apartment buildings date to after his time.

Also, the map of 1799 indicates a row of terrace houses in Keats’ time, while the current apartments are split up into various blocks – so there is no longer a “Number 12” to find.

There isn’t even a plaque to see. This is one for the completists!

Standing on the north, ‘odd’ side of the street, looking along it towards the south-west.

Details

  • Address: 12 Cranwood Street, Shoreditch, London EC1V
  • Tube: Old Street on the Northern line and National Rail
  • Opening hours: Not open to the public.

Links

  • Not applicable

St Botolph-without-Bishopsgate, Bishopsgate, London

The Parish and Ward Church of St Botolph-without-Bishopsgate is where John Keats was baptised.

The Keats Connection

Keats was born on 31 October 1795 – we assume at the Swan and Hoop Livery Stables, Moorgate, which his parents managed. We know for sure, however, that he was baptised at St Botolph’s, Bishopsgate, a little further east of the stables along the line of the old London Wall, on 18 December 1795.

Wonderfully, the very font he was baptised in is still in use at the church!

Keats’ sister Frances Mary (known as Fanny) was also baptised at St Botolph’s, on 17 June 1803.

The font in which John Keats and his sister Fanny were baptised.

Back Then

There has been a church on this site since Saxon times, with a suggestion that Christian worship here dates back to the Romans.

The current church was built in 1725-29, designed by James Gold (or Gould) under the supervision of George Dance. It remains much as the Keats family would have known it, except for the addition in 1820 of the ceiling lantern, to let in extra light.

As is usual with these old churches, it is rich with resonant names from history! An infant son of Ben Jonson’s was buried in the churchyard, and Edward Alleyn was baptised here in 1566. Emilia Bassano Lanier, thought by some to be Shakespeare’s “Dark Lady”, was baptised at the church in 1569, and married here in 1592.

Mary Wollstonecraft, author of A Vindication of the Rights of Women and mother of Mary Shelley, was baptised here on 20 May 1759.

The church escaped any significant damage during World War II, but was badly hurt by an IRA bomb in 1993. Restoration took several years.

Today

The churchyard was the first of the City’s burial grounds to be converted into a public garden, so it is a lovely green oasis now, and very pleasant to visit. There is also a netball and tennis court available for use. When I was there on a sunny afternoon, it was nice to feel the place abuzz with life.

The tomb of another William Rawlings.

There is a large tomb still in place on the grounds, of Sir William Rawlings, a sheriff and a benefactor of the church. This is rather disconcerting to stumble upon unawares, William Rawlings also being the name of Keats’ erstwhile stepfather (the second husband of his mother Frances)!

I would certainly recommend a visit. It’s a lovely place, and being able to pay your respects to The Actual Font is just magic!

Details

  • Address: Bishopsgate, Bishopsgate, London EC2M 3TL
  • Tube: Liverpool Street on the Circle, Central, Hammersmith and City, Metropolitan, and London Overground lines, and National Rail
  • Opening hours: Monday to Friday only (being a City church!) from 7:30am to 5:30pm

Links

Swan and Hoop Livery Stables, Moorgate, London

The Swan and Hoop Livery Stables, just north of the old London Wall, is assumed to be where John Keats was born in 1795.  The buildings of Keats’ time were demolished some while ago, and the current building now houses the Keats at the Globe bar.

A plaque marks where Moorgate once stood as part of the London Wall, very near the Swan and Hoop.

The Keats Connection

John Keats’ maternal grandfather, John Jennings, with new wife Alice Whalley, leased the Swan and Hoop livery stables from February 1774, and later also rented the inn beside the stables.

The establishment was located just north of where Moorgate (the gate) allowed entry through the London Wall. Jennings was therefore ideally placed to cater for travellers journeying in and out of London along (what is now) City Road.

Jennings employed Thomas Keats at the Swan and Hoop – we think as an ostler, though as Thomas was able to keep his own ‘remarkably fine’ horse, his origins may have been rather less humble than that implies. In any case, Thomas married John and Alice’s daughter, Frances Jennings, in 1794, and the young couple lived either at the Swan and Hoop or nearby.

John Keats was born to Thomas and Frances on 31 October 1795. John was baptised at nearby St Botolph’s, so we assume he was born at the Swan and Hoop. Hence, the Swan and Hoop is where The Birthplace plaque is, but there is no definite proof one way or the other.

When John’s brother George was born in February 1797, we know that the family were living in Craven Street, Shoreditch (and George was baptised at nearby St Leonard’s), but we are not sure when exactly the family moved.

In any case, when John Jennings retired in 1802, Thomas Keats took over management of the Swan and Hoop, and the family moved there to live. (Note, however, that the Bunhill Fields burial register for Edward Keats has him “brought from Craven Street City Road” for burial on 9 December 1802. I am guessing the handover of responsibilities from John Jennings to Thomas, and the family’s move from one home to another, may have taken placed over an extended period, especially if Edward’s illness was prolonged.)

The youngest child, Frances Mary (Fanny), was presumably also born at the Swan and Hoop, on 3 June 1803.

Back Then

When the London or City Wall was first built in Roman times, it blocked the course of the Walbrook stream, and this created a marsh or ‘moor’ along the north of the wall. Later, in the Middle Ages, when a small gate was built in the wall, it was named Moorgate after this ‘natural’ feature.

(The name ‘Moorgate’ is now associated with the original gate, the area, and the road on which the Swan and Hoop used to stand – so apologies if I am overly pedantic about identifying which I’m talking about at any given time.)

The marsh was slowly drained during the 1500s, and was eventually laid out as a formal park, known as Moorfields.

In 1672, Moorgate (the gate) was rebuilt as something more imposing – but in 1761, this was demolished to allow more traffic through.

In 1675-76, a new hospital was built along the London Wall running to the east of Moorgate, to accommodate the Bethlem Royal Hospital, infamously known as ‘Bedlam’. By 1791, this huge building was in very poor condition, and parts of it were uninhabitable. It continued to be used, however, until a new building was finally available in Southwark in 1815. Following this, the London Wall along that area was demolished in 1817.

As a child, then, Keats would not have known Moorgate as a ‘constructed’ gate, although much of the nearby London Wall was preserved. He would have known Moorfields as open parkland. And he lived literally just over the road from a deteriorating Bedlam!

Looking north up Moorgate (the road), with the Swan and Hoop’s location ahead to the left (now The Globe). Moorgate (the gate) would have been roughly where the three pedestrians are crossing (left to right). The gate’s blue plaque is within the open ground-floor area of the building to the far right.

Today

I confess myself a tad confused over whether Keats would have known the road at the front of the Swan and Hoop as ‘Moorfields’ or ‘Little Moorfields’. Today, however, the thoroughfare is known as Moorgate. To the north, once it passes Ropemaker Street and South Place, the road becomes Finsbury Pavement.

I am not sure of the history of the current buildings at the Swan and Hoop’s location, but they certainly contain nothing that Keats would have recognised.

A pub named The Globe occupies the ground and first floors at 83 Moorgate, with an associated bar named Keats at the Globe next door at 85 Moorgate. The latter building is the one with the blue plaque, which reads:

In a house on this site the ‘Swan & Hoop’ John Keats Poet was born 1795

 

I’ll take my telephoto lens next time!

In his biography Keats (1998), Andrew Motion says the frontage of the livery stables was ‘117 feet long’ (page 6). This indicates that the Swan and Hoop ran a fair distance up along what is now Moorgate, so I’m not sure if there’s a reason why 85 Moorgate is the claimant of the blue plaque.

By the way – just as ‘Moorgate’ has nothing to do with Othello, ‘The Globe’ has nothing to do with Shakespeare. ‘The Globe’ has been a popular pub name since the reign of Charles I. The symbol of the globe (i.e. the world) was associated with Portugal, and the pub name therefore signified that it served ‘fine Portuguese wines’.

Details

  • Address: 83 Moorgate, Moorgate, London EC2M 6SA
  • Tube: Moorgate, on the Northern line, and the Circle, Hammersmith & City, and Metropolitan lines
  • Opening hours: The blue plaque can be seen at any time, though it’s fairly small and quite high up, so you may want to save it for daylight hours!
  • The pub is open every day except Sundays. Check the official website for more details.

Links

St George’s Hanover Square, Mayfair, London

The Parish Church of St George, Hanover Square is where John Keats’ parents married in 1794. The church was designed by John James (one of Christopher Wren’s assistants), and built in 1721-25, funded by Queen Anne’s “Commission for Building Fifty New Churches”.

The Keats Connection

This fashionable church in Mayfair has always been a favoured venue for ‘high society’ weddings. Thomas Keats and Frances Jennings were more lower-middle class, but they married there on 9 October 1794. The church is a fair distance from their own parish, and so the choice can be seen as a statement of their ‘social intentions’ (as Andrew Motion puts it).

Thomas died in 1804, and Frances married William Rawlings just over two months later on 27 June 1804. I honestly don’t mean to judge her, but it does seem incredibly tactless that Frances chose, once more, to marry at St George’s.

In Between

Other weddings at the church include that of Theodore Roosevelt (future US President) and Edith Carow in 1886 – and it is noticeable that Wikipedia lists a number of architects marrying there, too.

The church’s burial grounds were located separately at Mount Street and, later, at Bayswater. Burials include Laurence Sterne (author of Tristram Shandy) in 1768 and Ann Radcliffe (author of Gothic novels) in 1823.

Handel (1685-1759) was a regular worshipper at the church, and it is still used as a musical venue by the annual London Handel Festival.

Today

St George’s Hanover Square seems still very active today, in this busy part of the city, only a few minutes’ walk from Oxford Street. I like that the official website includes a photo of people eating their sandwiches while sitting in the sunshine on the steps of the portico – it makes the place seem very much a part of London life.

The website states that the church was ‘splendidly refurbished’ in 2010, though it seems that this was sympathetically done and perhaps Keats’ parents wouldn’t find it unfamiliar. The painting of the Last Supper behind the altar was painted for the church by William Kent in 1724, so they would have known that.

The church is a lovely place, and worth a visit. It is easily found, if you look south from Hanover Square, with the Corinthian columns of the facade standing well forward of the other buildings.

Hanover Square itself is quite small, and is surrounded by traffic and buildings, but seems a lovely green space. It features a statue of William Pitt the Younger (1759-1806).

Details

  • Address: The Vestry, 2A Mill Street, Mayfair, London W1S 1FX, with the front entrance on St George Street
  • Tube: Oxford Circus on the Bakerloo, Central and Victoria lines
  • Opening hours: Open Monday to Friday until 4pm, with slightly later hours on Wednesdays. Open on Sunday mornings. Closed on Saturdays other than for weddings and special services.
  • Check the official site for details of hours, music and services!

Links