WALKING FORWARD INTO THE PAST
BY ALISON BARTLETT
The three sections of this book are all inspired by the Victorian era and facets of society at the time. I used the popular songs of the period as inspiration, walking the streets and investigating related locations by day and night. The first section draws from the notorious story of the serial killer Jack The Ripper, whose influence still haunts the streets of the East End. The song ‘Ring the Bells Softly’, reflecting Victorian’s fascination with death, adds a suitably somber tone. Secondly, I looked at the Saloons and Dining Rooms of London, many of which still feature the beautiful untouched details of Victorian times. The song ‘She Was Poor But She Was Honest’ relates to the poverty so rife at that time, as the people laughed in the face of their troubles. Lastly, in Wiltons Music Hall I was able to view, decaying but still standing, the oldest surviving example in the world of these places of entertainment. George Leybourne, who performed on that very stage, sang his most famous character song ‘Champagne Charlie’ as an advertisement for Moet & Chandon. Photographs by Alison Bartlett Sheet music and lyrics from The Illustrated Victorian Songbook compiled and presented by Aline Waiters & Robin Hunter.
Jack the Ripper
A cold, wintery night.
â€œRing the Bells Softlyâ€?
strange world of
On East End streets never encountered before, with a feeling of uncertainty for a story about to be told...
Cold to the bone,
ga _ ther
walking in silence to the start of the barbaric, unsolved truth.
lin - ger,
sun - beams must
Cobbled alleyways lit by lantern lights, once gas-lit in the Victorian era,
giving you and me the sense of the shadowy lives of that historic time
beau _ ty,
fin - gers
Wea _ ry
min _ gling
Street names and structures may now have altered, but the grim facts of what went on in the streets we walk today circles around in your mind; people sheltering away from the streets at night,
but only if they were lucky enough to find a shilling or two. Those who didnâ€™t, even before Jack, faced death in the cold or by other cruel means.
Wea _ ry with
part _ ing and
ne _ ver
For me a sense of historyâ€™s truth was felt in those unknown streets and alleyways that night.
How much society has developed since that era.
How shocking the social situation.
gol _ den
Things today appear better and more civilized,
soft _ ly,
at least on the surface.
soft _ ly,
Saloons and dining rooms
Around vast London,
on busy and quiet streets, down alleyways, are the pubs that speak of the Victorian era.
“She Was Poor But She Was Honest”
poor, but she was
ho - nest,
Their elaborate interiors are still there, if you look carefully.
relishing the possibility of the untouched, but many have been modernised.
Dimly-lit saloons and dining rooms transport you back in time,
a shadow of feeling of the people who once drank within these walls and their society.
Intricate, lavish detail can be seen on the etched mirrors, walls and pillars and floors and staircases, a craftsmanship and style which hosted customers of all classes.
o - ver,
A society divided by wealth; poverty and education.
Women and men divided and unequal.
plea - sure
bleed - in
Women who sold themselves out of necessity, to the loud men who otherwise
stood apart from them, or sang from stages of their troubled lives.
bleed - in
Wiltons Music Hall
An 18th century faรงade,
gai _ e _ ty through _ out my
noi _ sy
decaying amongst modern buildings.
Now a heritage site, a survivor.
Not yet taking the last curtain call.
With all my
grand ac _ _ com _ plish_ments I
neâ€™er could get a
Peering through windows â€“ where Victorian society would once have stood,
The thing I
ex _ _ cel
wining and dining and womanising and singing.
Stripped-back walls, damp mustiness.
A noise all night in
all day, and
swim _ ming in Cham _ pagne.
The stale smell of History.
Good for a _ ny
Looking up to the peeling ceiling.
game at night, my boys,
Imagining the sound of music hall songs, laughter and tears bouncing off the old walls.
good for a _ ny
Lost inhibition, inside a faded shell
cast-iron spiralling columns, banisters and walls once bright with colour.
Stories lost, stories remembered, stories to tell.
Good for a _ ny
night, boys, whoâ€™ll come and
I would like to thank Mike Nicholson and fellow peers who have helped shape this book into its final form. London pubs: The The The The
Salisbury, St Martins Lane Tottenham, Oxford Street Argyll Arms, Argyll Street Princess Louise, High Holborn.
Handmade book, personal experience