Posted by / Category London /

                                        Spring in London – Just today…

After a long wait, sleepless nights because of the size of the mortgage and various delays in the building works, we finally moved to the Stuffed Cat’s house. It was a dream come true. I was home. Finally.
We found a dollhouse in the attic, as well as copies of old newspapers called “The Illustrated London News” and “The Graphic”.  Eight newspapers in total. The oldest one was dated Saturday, August the 28th, 1869 and the most recent one had been issued on Saturday, May the 4th, 1869.
History is a funny thing. We remember the main events of a life or a country’s history, or a period of time. But being face to face with the detailed reality of a week in 1869 is a completely different matter. It is difficult to reconcile it with the main headlines that we know about. It is a different perspective. Shall we have a closer look?
I am taking you to London, in August 1869. You have just given me five pence and are opening your weekend newspaper. The first sentence you read is “It is  a great convenience to newspapers that our men of science hold their annual festival in this, the dullest month of the year…”. Interesting. Who  knew? Now let’s move to the “Foreign and Colonial News”. You will be pleased to know that in France “The Emperor (Napoleon!) was sufficiently well to preside at the Council of Ministers yesterday.” In Turkey, “it seems that the preparations which are being  made in the capital for the reception of the Empress Eugenie are on a very imposing scale. Roads are being formed and districts improved entirely for the convenience of her Majesty.” At the same time, “In America, President Grant is visiting New Hampshire.”
The tone is a tiny bit patronising. The topic of the moment is the Spanish Revolution. A year ago, “the Spaniards had resolved on throwing off the yoke of a Sovereign whose personal good qualities had certainly not manifested themselves prior to the revolt”. “Spain is still in transition state”.” The Cortes (i.e., Spanish Parliament) was elected without any disturbance”, and “there were no margins to be left for wild patriots, eccentricities, or sham Brutuses of the French revolutionary type”. Ouch. That hurt.  So much for the Entente Cordiale.
But don’t forget the Special Grand Fireworks Next Monday, at Crystal Palace.
Let’s finish with the ads
“Bread-and-Milk Flour (for BABIES) is also excellent for Invalids and Ladies in Confinement (what is that?). To be had of Chemist and Grocer’s.”
“Those ladies who have not yet tried the GLENFIELD starch (The starch is a powder or spray used before ironing to stiffen fabric or clothing) are respectfully solicited to give it a trial, and carefully follow out the directions printed on every package. It is rather more difficult to make than other Starches; but, when this is overcome, they will say, like the Queen’s Laundress, that is the finest Starch they ever used.”
Have a nice week. I will see you on the 9th of October 1869.

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London
  • I love finding things like this – usually when we redecorate a house for the first time. But never found a newspaper that old. What luck! All best wishes in your new London home.

  • The” Napoleon” was of course Emperor Louis Napoleon who was Emperor of France from 1853 – 1870 when He was deposed and took refuge in Chislehurst, England as a result of France’s defeat in the Franco-Prussian War. He died here in 1873 and is buried (along with The Empress Eugenie and The Prince Imperial) at Farnborough Abbey in Surrey. The story is told at the end of this Blog on the Irish designer Eileen Grey and Cap Martin where the Empress lived when she went back to France.

  • Muriel, “confinement” was labor & delivery. I don’t know who would eat anything at that point. I certainly had no appetite. ;>

  • Wow, what a find! I would love to know what the doll house is like. I had an awesome one growing up and have a secret fantasy of my ex-husband (who is still a close friend)building one for future granddaughters and myself decorating it. You should frame the papers or do something completely awesome with them (after you’re finished writing of course!)

  • What a time-travelling treasure!!! I am officially jealous!!! Oh, the stories you could spin from these long lost snapshots of time!!! (Hmm..did I use enough exclamation marks to show you how excited I am by your discovery?!!!)

  • Lovely post as always. Am sure the house will reveal more treasures as time goes by. (check and see if there’s a loose floorboard somewhere!) xxx

  • I’m so so jealous of this mysterious past your house seems to have and am ever so intrigued to hear more from her (??). You are really onto something fabulous here!!

  • How interesting! You just never know what a home will reveal. Ours was built in 1891 and during our massive renovation so many old post cards, letters, money, baseball cards etc were rescued from floor boards and window and even a beautiful rhinestone bracelet from the bricks in the old fireplace. Must have fallen down behind the mantle back in the 1940’s or 50’s.

    Thanks for finding me, I’m happily following you back and Yes, I love the Royals. William and Kate are coming to my town in Canada this Summer. I will definitely be taking along my 5-year-old daughter with flowers for HRH Catherine.

  • What an amazing find, color me jealous! I’m fascinated with the past and would love to stumble on such a great look into it. Great post, thanks so much for sharing!

  • M

    Following back! Thanks for the follow!

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  • Very, very cool. Such a great find!

    Following back. 🙂


  • Fantastic find! Thanks for the follow, following you back now 🙂 Hope to see you again at

  • What a brilliant find. The beauty of buying a british home is that we leave all kinds of treasure (rubbish) behind in the hope that someone will find them facinating. In your case it has taken many years. I only hope that any newcomers to my home will find my treasures of power rangers and the instruction guide to my dyson equally facinating…somehow I don’t think so!

  • I feel cheated now – we didn’t find anything interesting in the house that we bought 🙁

  • Thanks for all your comments. We were very lucky to find such newspapers. It is funny to touch the old, dusty paper, and to read the old stories…oh, and don’t be jealous, the house was derelict and the builders had to strip everything out. I was so stressed out that I stopped visiting because in my view it was going from bad to worse. It was a though ride!!!