A Bizarre Victorian Soho Bazaar
Updated: Sep 3, 2022
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This is a very rare book, previously unpublished on the net.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 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.)
Musical and dramatic entertainments included a performance by one artiste, aged just 4.
I love the idea of listening to an organ recital by telephone, just one of the amazing demonstrations and amusements on offer.
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.
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.
I found this accompanying quote from Dickens a rather odd choice for the Fancy Stall.
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?!
Henry Glave appears to have been the man when it came to ladies' outfitting.
But H.C Russell would send you an illustrated catalogue of ladies' underclothing, post free on application.
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?
As I say the little book is light on history and heavy on ads; historical content includes these extracts from St Anne's baptismal register
An 18th Century view of Leicester Square.
And this map of the parish of St Anne's Soho from 1775.
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.