When I visited the churchyard of All Saints, Isleworth, earlier in the year, I’d gone in search of the plague pit there. However, whilst exploring the burial ground, I also came across a headstone that commemorated a person who would probably have disappeared into an unmarked paupers’ grave were it not for the great age she lived to. Mary Hicks, who died in 1870 at the grand old age of 104, spent the last twenty-seven years of her life as an inmate of the Brentford Workhouse.
Situated just to the south of trendy Exmouth Market, Spa Fields in Clerkenwell is today a park that is enjoyed by locals and office workers alike, a rare green space in an area filled with offices, tower blocks and retail units. Only a couple of plaques installed by Islington Council give any indication of the area’s raucous and sometimes dark history.
Hammersmith, with its riverside factories and wharves, was badly bombed during the Second World War – but that’s a story for another blog post. Amongst the postwar concrete of the immediate area around Hammersmith tube station, a few older buildings and facades remain: a Georgian building that now houses a Chinese restaurant, rows of 19th Century villas leading down towards the river, and the splendid Gothic church of St Paul, built from a distinctive pinkish stone.