'Diary of William Tayler', Footman, 1937.

Reprinted by Marylebone History Society, and very readable.

An 1837 Diary gives some picture of life in the neighbourhood at this time. William Tayler, who became a footman in St. Marylebone, was born in 1807 in Grafton, a hamlet near Farington, in Berkshire. His father was a small farmer with a large family to settle. There was no room in farming for so many, so William went into service, at first fairly near his home, but later in London. London was so unhealthy that few children in poor families survived. Those who did were often of such weak physique that country bred people were needed for heavy manual work. In addition many of the London Poor were considered vicious and dishonest, so there was a demand for domestic servants from the country. William Tayler came to London in this way.1

In 1837, at the age of 29, he was employed by Mrs Princep, of 6 Cumberland Street, now replaced by the Cumberland Hotel, Marble Arch, while his brother served at Buckingham Palace.

He was married, but since he had to live in, his wife lived in a series of pleasant and very respectable lodgings, in Exeter Street (now Ashmill St) and Earl Street (now Broadley St) and his son was christened at Christchurch. He wrote the diary 'to improve his handwriting', but it does not seem to have improved his temper. Many comments are astringent, for he had a keen eye and saw a little more sharply than his employers may have realized. The diary describes his life minutely; going on holiday with the family; taking children for visits to relatives and glad to see the back of them; pretending to go to church and instead sloping off to see his wife; cursing his pen. Small beer, but the very stuff of history.

 

The Duke of Wellington Statue

On the southern edge of Paddington Green was Dudley Grove, the site of the present Dudley House, but then the house and studio of Matthew Coles Wyatt, sculptor and painter, 1777-1862, the younger son of James Wyatt, the architect. In the garden were the sheds in which he designed and cast the stupendous statue of the Duke of Wellington.

This statue, well over life size, was cast in eight pieces and conveyed to Marble Arch on an immense cart drawn by 40 horses. It stood 30 ft high, with the horse measuring 26 feet from nose to tail. The head was 5 feet (almost 2 metres) long and each ear 2 feet 4 inches (nearly a metre). As was the habit, a dinner party of eight people was held when the statue was completed, but this statue was so large that the dinner could be held inside the body of the horse. The whole group weighed 40 tons, which shows the scale of engineering possible at that time in an area which is now largely non-industrial.

The memorial stood at Marble Arch until 1883, when it was removed to Aldershot, where it now stands.


Footnote

  1. London Life in the 18th Century, M. Dorothy George, pp. 112-3

 

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