Historical references to London's sounds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
 Pub life, music and song   1 3     1 5 3
 City-wide celebrations     3 2   3 3  
 Toasts, dinners and feasts     2 1       1
 Theatre and cinema audiences     2 1 1 1    
 Music and song in theatres     2 2   2    
 Public music and song outdoors     3   1 4    
 Education: Oratory and debate   1            
 Gambling and fairs     1 1 1 2 1  
 Sporting events   1 1 1 1      
 Families at leisure             1  
 Dancing             1  
 Local celebrations           1   1

Period referred to: 1710

Sound category: Social > Sporting events

Title of work: Curious Travels in Belgium, Holland and England

Type of publication: Travel diary

Author: Z. C. von Uffenbach

Year of publication: 1753

Page/volume number: 88-91

A swordfight in Clerkenwell

In the afternoon we drove to the Bear Gardens at Hockley in the Hole to watch the fights at take place there, a truly English amusement. First a properly printed challenge was carried round and dealt out. Not only were all the conditions of the fight there set forth, but also the weapons to be used. The combatants were an Englishman and a Moor.

[. . .]

First they bowed in every direction, and then showed their swords all round. There were very broad and long and uncommonly sharp. Each of the combatants has his second by him with a large stick in his hand; they were not there to parry blows, but only to see that there was fair play on all sides. They began the fight with broadswords. The Moor got the first wound, above the breast, which bled not a little. Then the onlookers began to cheer and call for Wood; they threw down vast quantities of shillings and crowns, which were picked up by his second.

[. . .]

Then there arose a prodigious cheering, and one could hear nothing but shouts of Wood! Wood! while yet more money was thrown down to him. An Englishman sitting behind us, who had probably drunk a considerable amount, was making a vast uproar and throwing down whole handfuls of shillings. His wife, who was sitting with him, was also rather vociferous; she assured us herself that two years ago she had fought another female in this place without stays and in nothing but a shift.

[. . .]

The most diverting thing of all was that, when the fighters had got down, so many little boys climbed up on to the platform that it would scarce hold them, and called out asking the spectators for money to scramble for.