Monday 16 February 2015

Time-travel through pictures

Here’s another location on the Time Trap Trail.

Seven Dials

Take Earlham Street (Little Earlham Street back then) opposite the pub and after a short walk, turn left into Tower Court. Look at the school, built in the 1880s, it’s the location of the Holton Gang’s hideout. They dwelt in the basement of a defunct business. 

Now follow the route Jamie and Todd took with Swiper and Patch to Soho Square, where they burgled the house.

(Excerpt from the Trail) 

As I mention in the Trail, Seven Dials is one of my favourite places in London. I sometimes come and visit and stand there, imagining how it was in the mid 1800’s, when criminals dwelled in the neighbourhood, just like the Holton gang in Time Trap. who occupied a basement in Tower Court. 

Henry Holton, the young and powerfully built gang-leader, sat in a big leather chair, hands clasped together. Blond hair pulled back into a ponytail framed his stern face. 
Jamie found himself directly under the light, conspicuous in the glare. Henry picked up a bottle of rum and leaned forward. He stared menacingly at them all. 

Time Trap

The area was described by Charles Dickens in his collection Sketches by Boz, which includes the quote:

The stranger who finds himself in the Dials for the first time…at the entrance of Seven obscure passages, uncertain to take, will see enough around him to keep his curiosity awake for no inconsiderable time…”

The original layout of the Seven Dials area was designed by Thomas Neale in the early 1690s. The original plan had six roads converging, although this was later increased to seven. The sundial pillar was built with only six faces, with the dial itself acting as the seventh. 

Following the successful development of the fashionable Covent Garden Piazza area nearby, Neale aimed for the Seven Dials site to be popular with well-off residents. This was not to be, however, and the area gradually deteriorated. At one stage, each of the seven apexes facing the column housed a pub. Today, only one remains: The Crown. By the nineteenth century, the area had become one of the most notorious slums in London, being part of the rookery of St Giles.


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