London Trivia: Father of modern philanthropy

On 26 March 1862 to repay the ’courtesy, kindness and confidence’ he had received from the British public American banker George Peabody announced the creation of a fund that carries his name. Designed to ameliorate the condition of the poor and needy of London, from the first estate in Spitalfields opening in 1864 Peabody Estates now houses more than 70,000 Londoners. Born poor in Massachusetts he is today regarded as the ‘father of modern philanthropy’.

On 26 March 1973 women were finally allowed on the trading floor of the London Stock Exchange for the first time in the institution’s 200 year history

HMP Wormwood Scrubs was built by its inmates, nine inmates built 50 cells, then more inmates joined and built more cells to house even more etc, etc

Tins of Old Holborn rolling tobacco once featured a drawing of the front of Staple Inn, Holborn one of the last timber framed building left in London

Poet Shelly met second wife Mary, author of Frankenstein, in St Pancras Old Church graveyard where she visited her parents’ tomb

Margaret Thatcher used to stand on a chair in her Commons room to check the top of the door. “It’s the way you know if a room’s really been cleaned.”

Wyndham’s theatre programme 1940: ‘In the interests of public health this theatre is disinfected with Jeyes Fluid’

Hamley’s toy store was founded by Cornishman William Hamley in 1760, first named Noah’s Ark and sited in Holborn

Harold Abrahams (Chariots of Fire) from Golders Green won gold at the 1924 Paris Olympics, the first European to win an Olympic sprint title

Gordon Selfridge wanted Bond Street tube renamed Selfridges Station but he couldn’t persuade the Underground’s managing director to agree

Constantia Philips, a retired courtesan, opened London’s first sex shop in 1732. Her “preservatives” – condoms – were hugely popular

On 26 March 2014 Sesame Street star Kermit the Frog was made Honorary Bridge Master of Tower Bridge by the City of London

CabbieBlog-cab.gifTrivial Matter: London in 140 characters is taken from the daily Twitter feed @cabbieblog.
A guide to the symbols used here and source material can be found on the Trivial Matter page.

6 thoughts on “London Trivia: Father of modern philanthropy”

  1. Before I moved to Norfolk from the flat in Cumberland Market, the Crown Estate handed the whole area over to The Peabody Trust. They put the rent up 40% within a 3 months, and changed all the rules that made it such a peaceful place to live. I was glad to get away.
    Cheers, Pete.


  2. We had controlled ‘cheap’ rents as government employees. Peabody decided to impose ‘Fair rent plus a discount’. That amounted to a 40% increase within a year. Still cheaper than private renting in Camden of course, but a lot more than we had been paying. They also took in new tenants from the Council Housing List, something never done by Crown Estate. Naturally, that changed everything as those new tenants didn’t have to obey the previous ‘rules’, so turned the estate into a free for all. It was completely legal, as The Crown Estate just couldn’t be bothered to provide the housing for government workers any longer.


    1. I was in a bind in 1997, as had I split with my second wife and didn’t have enough left from the house sale to buy anything in London close enough to where I worked. I started renting a 1-bed flat in Harrow that cost £520 a month, and waited almost 3 years on the Crown Estate list. When I finally got offered the flat in Camden in 2000, the rent was only £210 a month, as I was a government employee in the LAS. By the time I left in 2012, it had increased to £580 a month, with a pending increase to £640 in April 2012, which I avoided by moving to Norfolk that March. We bought the house here for cash, so have had no mortgage at all since.


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