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The Stories Behind London’s Streets

Part 2


Peter Thurgood

Copyright Peter Thurgood 2011

"Sir, if you wish to have a just notion of the magnitude of this city, you must not be satisfied with seeing its great streets and squares, but must survey the innumerable little lanes and courts. It is not in the showy evolutions of buildings, but in the multiplicity of human habitations which are crowded together, that the wonderful immensity of London consists"

Dr. Samuel Johnson. 1777.

The streets of London flourish like possibly no other city on earth, with stories from its rich history, stories of death - fire - disease, of riots, and grisly murders, but also of tales of hope, happiness, determination and success. Behind every story and every street however, are the people who lived, worked, played, and even murdered there. Did you know for instance that when Great Scotland Yard was being built in 1890, that the dismembered body of a woman was discovered by workmen, dumped in the basement area? The body was thought to have been probably the final victim of Jack the Ripper!

Another interesting little tale is that of the infamous Ben Crouch, an ex-boxer, who owned a tavern just off Oxford Street during the 1700s. Crouch became a notorious body snatcher, and was known as the Corpse King. He carried out his evil profession in and around London during this period. With the Tyburn gallows only a short distance from his tavern, he was always one of the first to know of a criminal’s demise, and with the large demand from surgeons for fresh cadavers for their lectures, Crouch found this type of work far more lucrative than his profession as a boxer had ever been.

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