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A Bizarre Victorian Soho Bazaar

11-June-2012
11-June-2012 0:00
in Soho
by Peter Berthoud

In June 1893 a grand fundraising bazaar was held in Soho.

Partly to serve as a souvenir, partly to help promote the Soho Bazaar, a little book was locally produced: "The Story of Old Soho, Picturesque Memories of Mid-London, Illustrated, Dreams of the Past and Realities of the Present."

The book is light on history but it does provide a fascinating: "Account of The Bazaar and Garden Fete in the Grounds of Soho Square June 8th, 9th and 10th, 1893, In aid of the Parochial Funds of St Anne's, Soho."

This is a very rare book, previously unpublished on the net.

The Story of Old Soho
The front cover of "The Story of Old Soho" published by T Pettit & Co, Frith Street, Soho 1893

The ambitious fund-raising target was £2,270 to provide for, amongst other things a "Scripture Reader and Bible Woman". (The event actually raised £1,018 3s 3d, so some way off target but still an impressive amount.)

Objects of the 1893 Soho Bazaar
Objects of the 1893 Soho Bazaar

Musical and dramatic entertainments included a performance by one artiste, aged just 4.

Musical & Dramatic Entertainments at the Soho Bazaar
Musical & Dramatic Entertainments at the Soho Bazaar

I love the idea of listening to an organ recital by telephone, just one of the amazing demonstrations and amusements on offer.

Remarkable Demonstrations at the Soho Bazaar
Remarkable Demonstrations at the Soho Bazaar

A grand opening by a different worthy took place each day: Lady Randolph Churchill, W. F. D Smith MP (the son of W.H. Smith the bookseller) and T.F. Blackwell of top sauce folk, Crosse & Blackwell (who were based in Soho at the time). A full list of stalls and stallholders was also provided.

Stalls & Stallholders at the Soho Bazaar
Stalls & Stallholders at the Soho Bazaar

The book has far many more adverts than pages of text, many of these ads being taken out by the stallholders. The majority of them list not only the stallholders but also all the assistants. Each ad features a literary quote or a verse or two of poetry. In amongst the adverts are little features on the The Story of Old Soho.

An advertisement for the refreshment stall and a little Soho history.
An advertisement for the refreshment stall and a little Soho history

I found this accompanying quote from Dickens a rather odd choice for the Fancy Stall.

An advert for the Fancy Stall at the 1893 Soho Bazaar
An advert for the Fancy Stall at the 1893 Soho Bazaar

Bigger companies also supported the volume by taking display ads. Rimmel's promote "The London Look" of 1893. Perfumes called Jockey Club and New Mown Hay? Powder made from rice? Toilet Vinegar?!

Rimmel’s ad, “The London Look” Victorian style
Rimmel's ad, "The London Look" Victorian style

Henry Glave appears to have been the man when it came to ladies' outfitting.

Henry Glave of New Oxford Street also took an advert.
Henry Glave of New Oxford Street also took an advert

But H.C Russell would send you an illustrated catalogue of ladies' underclothing, post free on application.

Millinery from H. C. Russell of Sidney Place & Wardour Street
Millinery from H. C. Russell of Sidney Place & Wardour Street

What a range of services were available to members of the Soho Club and Home for Working Girls; where better to curl up with a copy of Woman magazine after a long day?

Half-page ads for the “Soho Club & Home for Working Girls” & Woman magazine.
Half-page ads for the "Soho Club & Home for Working Girls" & Woman magazine

As I say the little book is light on history and heavy on ads; historical content includes these extracts from St Anne's baptismal register

Extracts from St Anne’s Register of Baptisms
Extracts from St Anne's Register of Baptisms

An 18th Century view of Leicester Square

A view of Leicester Square in the Eighteenth Century
A view of Leicester Square in the Eighteenth Century

And this map of the parish of St Anne's Soho from 1775

A Map of St Anne's Parish in 1755
A Map of St Anne's Parish in 1755

There were far too many pages of interest to include in a single blog post. If you want see more pages from "The Story of Old Soho I have created a Facebook album featuring many others here.

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