Historical references to London's sounds

A database of several hundred historical descriptions and references to London's sounds. They're drawn mainly from primary sources such as autobiographies, diaries and statutes, as well as novels written around the times they depict.

11th to
16th to
18th Early
 Demonstrations     2 1 1   1  
 Elections and election campaigns     1          
 Meetings and indoor gatherings       1   2    
 Public political oratory   2       1 1  
 Strikes and trade union activities     1       1  
 Political, sectarian and ethnic conflict   1   1     1  

Period referred to: 1716

Sound category: Political > Indoor meetings and gatherings

Title of work: Diary of Dudley Ryder

Type of publication: Private diary

Author: Dudley Ryder

Year of publication: 1716

Page/volume number: 20 July 1716

Inside an 18th-century loyalist Mug House

Went to the coffee-house and at the Gill House met with some company that asked me to go with them to the Mug-House in Salisbury Court and I went with them to see the manner of it. I like the design of this institution very well. It is to encourage the friends to King George and keep up the spirit of loyalty and the public spirit among them. They have a president who proposes the healths. Between every health some of the company sing a song that is composed against the Tories and Jacobites. There is something in their manner of singing, which is generally attended with a chorus at the end of each stanza of the song, which has an effect upon those that hear it, something like the drums and trumpets in an army, to raise the courage and spirits of the soldiers. Methought it put me into a very brisk intrepid state to hear them huzza and clap hands and sing together. I am persuaded these mug-houses are of service to the Government to keep up the public spirit and animate its friends, and I believe in time it will gain over the populace and make King George become popular.

Period referred to: 1867

Sound category: Political > Meetings and indoor gatherings

Title of work: South London Press

Type of publication: Newspaper

Author: Unnamed journalist

Year of publication: 1867

Page/volume number: 2 March 1867, page 6

A meeting of the Surrey Chapel Temperance Society in Southwark

The monthly meeting of the above society took place on Monday evening, when an entertainment was given by the Poland-street Teetotal Bell-ringers, which consisted of some very beautiful airs rang on the bells by five of their members - Messrs. Miller, Handy, Whiteman, Avon, and Brown. Recitations and songs of a temperance character were also given. A Miss Whalley sang a temperance song to the air of "Home, sweet home" apparently under nervous exictement, which in a measure marred the effect. This young lady requires a careful training to be equal to such an attempt.

The Rev. Newman Hall presided, and the Rev. Mr. Charlesworthy opened the proceedings with a temperance hymn and prayer. The chairman, who received his usual compliment of a most hearty welcome from his audience, which crowded every part of the chapel, said his first acquaintance with those gentlemen who had come gratuitously to entertain them, was on last Christmas Eve, when, after sitting up late in pleasant conversation, he was about to retire to bed he was arrested by the sweet music of these gentlemen. He had often been annoyed by the discordant noise known as the "waits," which had both broken his slumbers and disturbed his faculties; but the sounds he then heard were most harmonious, and he instantly emerged from his residence and tendered them half a crown as a compliment, when he was patiently told by them that they did not need pecuniary aid, but as they had just visited Judge Payne, and as they equally admired him (Mr. Hall), they had paid him also a complimentary visit on their way home. (Applause.) He invited them into his house, where, arranged round the dining-table, he (Mr. Hall) and fmaily were entertained by their singing, playing, and merry tale-telling, until 2 o'clock in the morning. On that occasion they promised to pay us a visit, which was last Christmas.

Now we have March here, and the promise and fulfilment have both come round to us. The speaker then went on to allude to the two entertainments given last week. The crowd and crush of last Monday and Tuesday had been a matter of complaint - complaints also of disorder, others of congratulation for the perfect order. The lecturer himself declared how delightful it was to him to see such perfect order in so vast an assemnly, and had it been otherwise he would have been the first to detect it.

[. . .]

A popular air then followed upon the bells, in which excellent time and execution drew forth repeated marks of approbation. At the conclusion, Mr. Miller recited a temperance tale, entitled "Jim the Slave." My. Handy then sang a temperance song of "Farewell, John Barleycorn." Mr. Whiteman then recited "The Dying Child," also a temperance subject, which elicited much applause. Ringing was then resumed, which was followed by a chorus, in which all present joined with great fervour:

And though opponents stoutly assail,
Temperance shall at length prevail.
Doubt it not then, doubt it not then,
Truth at last it must prevail.

Mr. Miller then, in a most amusing mimicry, recited a logical essay upon "Peter Prosy," which was both effective and complete. The bell-ringing was again resumed with admirable precision, and received well-merited applause. Miss Walley next sang a temperance song to the air of "Home, sweet home."

[. . .]

"There is nae luck about the house" was then played on the bells. At the conclusion long-continued applause followed, and the doxology terminated the evening's amusement.

[Surrey Chapel was on Blackfriars Road, near where Southwark tube station is today.]

Period referred to: 1875

Sound category: Political > Political meetings and indoor gatherings

Title of work: East London Observer

Type of publication: Newspaper

Author: Unnamed journalist

Year of publication: 1875

Page/volume number: 2 October 1875, page 3

Song and music at a meeting of the Tower Hamlets Radical Association

On a Tuesday evening the first of a series of quarterly reunions in connection with the above association was held at the Assembly Rooms, York Minster, Philpot-street, Commercial-road East. As an earnest of their sober intentions, the committee had taxed the resources of the establishment to provide the members and friends of the society with a Radical tea: and the excellent manner in which this duty was performed reflected great credit upon the caterer, and proved mine host as much at home in a tea fight as when performing the bottle trick. About seventy persons partook of tea, the number, no doubt, being limited by the hours of labour, as during the subsequent entertainment the attendance was increased to nearly four hundred, and completely filled the large room.

After tea a miscellaneous concert was improvised, Mr. Le Lubez presiding, and being supported by Mr. Upton and Mr. Barnett respectively chairman and secretary of the association; Mr. Caiger filling the vice-chair.

The CHAIRMAN, in a brief address, explained the object of the meeting, and anticipated beneficial results from these social gatherings in connection with the political objects of their association. The harmony then commenced with an excellent song from Mr. Caiger, followed by another from Miss Ada Lloyd, which was equally effective. Mrs. Besant sang the "Marseillaise," the audience joining in the world-renowned chorus. The comic element was developed by Mr. Da Costa and Mr. Leaver, the latter gentleman bearing away the palm with his "Mechanical Baby," which elicited roars of laughter, and unmistakably brought down the house. Miss Humble was deservedly applauded for her excellent singing, and also Mrs. Montague, who is an old favourite in musical circles. Mr. Jaggers, Mr. Mark Taylor, and Mr. F. Lester acquitted themselves admirably in their respective songs, and each gained approbation. The vocal performances were relieved by a reading, "William Tell," by Mr. Archer; some airs on the violin by Mr. Morrison, who was described as an old Radical, but nevertheless appeared partial to sweet sounds; and a capital entertainment by the Middlesex Hand-bell Ringers. It should be stated that the whole of the services of the performers were gratuitous, and that the success of the meeting was all that could be desired.

Mr. UPTON, the chairman of the association, thanked the company for the support they had given to the committee, and announced that it was intended to continue these meetings in future. The next would be held shortly after Christmas. (Cheers.)

The company then dispersed, evidently gratified with the evening's amusement.