Monday, 10 December 2018

Bob Cratchit's Commute From Cornhill to Camden in A Christmas Carol





DC Editor Adam writes…

A couple of Christmases ago, in honour of Bob Cratchit, Scrooge's impoverished clerk in A Christmas Carol, I attempted to trace his footsteps on his journey home from Scrooge's Cornhill office to his humble abode in Camden Town.


Here's Bob (pictured) whooshing down the slide at Cornhill in a Tube doodle I made on the way to the start of the walk.



No precise details of his journey are listed in the text of A Christmas Carol, so here's the route I planned before setting off…







And here's the route I ended up following…






It's probably not as direct a route as that Bob himself would have chosen, but I tailored it to go through my beloved Clerkenwell.



On the way I snapped a few piccies of Bob Cratchit's London Christmas past, present and yet to come. I hope you enjoy them. Happy Christmas!



Christmas Present: Bob would have known the Royal Exchange…


… and the Mansion House (without cranes, buses and vans, of course)…




… here's a more contemporary view




Xmas Yet To Come… 1 Poultry, which replaced the English Gothic splendour of the old Mappin & Webb building. 



Mappin & Webb had yet to set up shop at Poultry in 1843 (when A Christmas Carol was published) but was already a going concern having been founded in Sheffield in 1775.




The view from London Wall looking toward Camden Town… slightly (ahem) obscured in the 21st Century


St Paul's – part of Bob's Xmas Present surrounded by the architecture & transport of his Xmas Yet To Come




Xmas past… 18th century headstones in Postman's Park


Little Britain – and we nod to Great Expectations as we pass




St Bartholomew-the-Great… and its literary neighbour…







Given Dickens's subject matter, was it a coincidence that I should happen upon the HQ of Save the Children in St John's Lane EC1 along the route of my Bob Cratchit stroll?


Or was it my own version of a Christmas visitation?



It's Save The Children's Christmas Jumper Day on the 14th December 2018. Here's how to join in…








Onward to Clerkenwell Green…


Past AND Present – a father explains to his daughter what these weird red cupboards are all about on Clerkenwell Green



Spirit of Xmas Past: Do you recognise this place?

Scrooge: Recognise it?! I was apprenticed here!

My own Christmas past… 34 Clerkenwell Close (pictured above) is the first office in which I worked in London. The building is a former ink factory and it was from here that I first explored London on foot, stumbling upon so many Dickens locations in my lunch hour wanders that golden hindsight tells me that every day was a literary fireworks display.

This is where I fell in love with London and I will find any excuse to pass through this most wonderful of London neighbourhoods.

A tree grows in Clerkenwell

Scrooge asks: Are there no workhouses? Are there no prisons? On the right of the shot above stood Clerkenwell Prison – or The House of Detention. Torn down in 1890, the vaults still exist, beneath what was the playground of the Hugh Myddleton School, now flats. In the 1860s, the prison looked like this…


Next, my route went via…



… and past George Gilbert Scott's St Pancras hotel…



… via the British Library…



This excellent British Library film looks at The Origins of A Christmas Carol


On to Somers Town…  



… and St Mary's Church, a building personally familiar to the young Dickens, who lived at Cranleigh Street…



… in conditions far from affluent. The plaque was unveiled in 2013 by actor Simon Callow. 



All told it was a walk of some 3.7 miles. So Bob's commute was at least 7 miles on foot every day.





Here's another link to Save the Children.



If any of you Daily Constitutionalists end up doing your own version of Bob's walk, do drop me a line at the usual address, send me your pics, or leave a comment below…

Merry Christmas!




From the London Walks Podcast Archive… A Christmas Carol. Listen here…











Keep In Touch…

   


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