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Answer 128. John Evelyn was the diarist who heard the eunuch sing here.


Pepys

His friend Samuel Pepys also lived at this address next door but one (No 14 Buckingham Street, rebuilt since Pepys’s time). Evelyn came to see him again on 17 July 1688 to watch the fireworks celebrating the birth of a son to King James II:

‘We stood at Mr Pepys’ Secretary of the Admiralty to greate advantage for the sight, & indeed they were very fine, & had cost some thousands of pounds about the pyramids and statues &c.’

***

These old buildings stand on the edge of Charterhouse Square. Founded in 1371 as a religious house for Carthusian monks, Charterhouse later became a public school. One of its most famous old boys was William Makepeace Thackeray, a pupil here from 1822 to 1828.

Charterhouse

Thackeray boarded at the school to begin with, but later lived with a friend’s parents in Charterhouse Square. He remembered his schooldays with horror. The teaching was terrible and homosexuality was rife. The only amusements were attending hangings at Newgate, leering at local prostitutes and listening to the sound of animals being slaughtered at nearby Smithfield (see Question 82).

Nevertheless, Thackeray featured his old school in his most famous novel. It’s where Becky Sharp, the heroine of the novel, sent her son Rawdon to be educated:

‘The Whitefriars… had been a Cistercian convent in the old days, when the Smithfield which is contiguous to it, was a tournament ground. Obstinate heretics used to be brought thither convenient for burning hard by…

‘The boys are very comfortably lodged, fed, and educated, and subsequently inducted to good scholarships at the University and livings in  the Church…. Young Rawdon only got that degree of beating which was, no doubt, good for him, and as for blacking shoes, toasting bread, and fagging in general, were these offices not deemed to be necessary parts of every young English gentleman’s education?’

HISTORIC LONDON: X MARKS THE SPOT. Question 129. The above quotation is taken from which Thackeray novel?

Tennis and the Masai Cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TENNIS AND THE MASAI

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