Sunday 29 April 2012

OHSO SHORT! A Brief History of the Small Film given by Film Historian Thomas Hamilton.

Sunday May 20th 
"Future Shorts" The Biggest pop -up Film Festival in the World at The Soho Hotel "The most Glamorous Hotel in the World" TATLER.

We had a fabulous evening at the Soho Hotel and would like to thank Culture 24/Museums at Night, Future Shorts and Voss Water for supporting the event.

Thank you to Tom Hamilton for providing us with some fascinating, background as to why the short is still so important and congratulate him on his forthcoming documentary.

FUTURE SHORTS: Great choice of films for the Spring programme!
We hope your evening in Cannes was a great success.
And thank you to "Our Audience" for being here.
We hope you enjoyed your evening and look forward to meeting you again soon.

As part of the Museums at Night An annual UK-wide festival which seeks to encourage visitors into museums, galleries and heritage sites by throwing their doors open after hours and putting on special evening events.

Tuesday 10 April 2012

Bellarmine Jars

Bellarmine jars

It is probably the oldest item in our collection.
Our jar dates from around 1680 and was discovered underneath the cellar of "The Ship" public house in Wardour St. in the mid 1980's.

Church Tower Holds Secrets Of Soho's Crushed Artisans

Bellarmine jars transported wine from north Germany to England in the 16th/17th century and were often reused as 'witches bottles' where they were filled with urine, hair, fingernails and iron nails and buried to protect against the witches curse.
A rare insight into the folk beliefs of 17th-century Britons has been gleaned from the analysis of a sealed "witch bottle" unearthed in Greenwich, London, in 2004.

Witch bottles were commonly buried to ward off spells during the late 16th and 17th centuries, but it is very rare to find one still sealed.

"So many have been dug up and their contents washed away down the sink," says Alan Massey, a retired chemist formerly at the University of Loughborough, UK, who has examined so-called "magical" artifacts and was asked to analyse the contents of the bottle.

"This is the first one that has been opened scientifically."

During the 17th century, British people often blamed witches for any ill health or misfortune they suffered, says Massey.

"The idea of the witch bottle was to throw the spell back on the witch," he says. "The urine and the bulb of the bottle represented the waterworks of the witch, and the theory was that the nails and the bent pins would aggravate the witch when she passed water and torment her so badly that she would take the spell back off you."

The salt-glazed jar was discovered 1.5 metres below ground by archaeologists from The Maritime Trust, a Greenwich-based charity that preserves historic sailing vessels. When it was shaken, the bottle splashed and rattled, and an X-ray showed pins and nails stuck in the neck, suggesting that it had been buried upside down.

Further computed tomography scans showed it to be half-filled with liquid, which later analysis showed to be human urine.
The bottle also contained bent nails and pins, a nail-pierced leather "heart", fingernail clippings, navel fluff and hair. The presence of iron sulphide in the mixture also suggests that sulphur or brimstone had been added.

"Prior to this point, all we really knew about what was in witch bottles was what we read from documents from the 17th century," says Brian Hoggard <> , an independent expert on British witchcraft who helped analyse the bottle. These texts suggest "recipes" for filling a witch bottle, but don't tell us what actually went into them.

Sulphur is not mentioned in any recipe Massey has seen, although a previously discovered bottle seemed to contain the remains of some matches, he says. "If you think about where sulphur came from in those days, it spewed out of volcanic fumaroles from the underworld.

It would have been the ideal thing to [kill] your witch, if you wished to."

Further analysis of the urine showed that it also contained cotinine, a metabolite of nicotine, suggesting that it came from a smoker, while the nail clippings appear quite manicured, suggesting that a person of some social standing created the bottle.

"It's confirming what 17th-century documents tell us about these bottles, how they were used and how you make them," says Owen Davies, a witchcraft expert at the University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield, UK.

"The whole rationale for these bottles was sympathetic magic – so you put something intimate to the bewitched person in the bottle and then you put in bent pins and other unpleasant objects which are going to poison and cause great pain to the witch."

Many thanks to Mike Janulewicz for finding information on this object.

Soho "Unbombed"?

In this picture you can see what was left of St Anne's Church.

(out of shot to the left would be the York Minster Public House now known to all as "The French" General Charles de Gaulle who formed The Free French Forces is said to have written his speech rallying the French people, "À tous les Français" in the pub.

I have read Miranda Seymour's book review in the Culture Supplement of The Sunday Times Magazine 08.04.12 (The Seedy Heart Of London) of "NIGHTS OUT": Life in Cosmopolitan London by Judith R Walkowitz.
Ms Seymour asserts that Soho was "Unbombed throughout the War".

I can assure you Soho's residents did not go unscathed by Nazi Bombs during the Second World War and include pictorial proof of the almost destroyed St Anne's church in Dean Street Soho.

During the war it wasn't just explosive bombs that were dropped on London but also secondary, incendiary devices aimed to lower moral and drain manpower.

Maps are available at Westminster Archives that not only plot where these devices fell but also the scale of the impact. An Android App is now available at Bomb Sight a project sponsored by The University Of Portsmouth, The National Archives and JISC where you can you can look at the night time bombs that fell on London during the Blitz for the period 7th October 1940 to 14th October 1941.

These are not the only places in Soho to have been bombed but I hope serve to illustrate my point. More info is available here at The West End At War.

I do hope that Ms Seymour did not get her information from Ms Walkowitz's book!

Is Soho losing its character?

Soho is 'losing its character' says chef Aldo Zilli.

What do you think?

Originally inspired by my experience of the August riots last year.

In the midst of hearing about the fracas kicking off around London and the rest of the country, I observed this community’s camaraderie as I rushed up the road to charge my phone at The Pix Bar (We also had a powercut in Soho, the second one that week).

I heard the story of several hooded youths getting baseball bats out of the boot of their car on Dean Street, but they were scared off by some locals.  You felt quite protected here, cordoned off by The Four Highways (Oxford St, Charing Cross Rd, Regent St and Shaftesbury Avenue).  

After the phone had enough power to check the riots spreading in Google Maps, I couldn’t help but notice how we were all safe here in Soho as one more location after another popped up with a little ‘Riot’ symbol on the web.

Whilst interviewing Trisha Bergonzi of The New Evaristo Club for my book ‘ Soho Heroes ’, I couldn’t help but cling on to something she said: “Soho gets a bad reputation sometimes, but the troubles here are never home grown”. Every establishment in Soho is a theatre of sorts.  

Michelle Wade puts on one show at Maison Bertaux , the staff at Bar Italia put on another.  It’s the same with every single place in the area, tailors, restaurateurs, pub landlords (and ladies), barbers, optical designers, silversmiths and even some beggars, they all raise the curtain at the start of the day before final encores at closing.

Manners On The Manor is about giving respect to those people (or performers), and giving those sometime hecklers who visit Soho a friendly reminder to enjoy themselves, but behave . Debauched Soho is necessary as well to a certain degree, and that also must be protected, but as the song says, there’s no excuse for lack of etiquette.

Featured post

Soho and the Cholera outbreak of 1854.

The Modern Myth of Soho’s Dr John Snow. History often gets things wrong either because of the way in which events are initially reported ...