Political Meetings Mapper update: Chartist sites in London

I'm finishing preparations for next week's walking tour of Chartist sites in London. Here are some basic facts about the London venues advertised in the Northern Star:

There are 125 different venues listed as holding Chartist meetings. These included:
  • 66 pubs
  • 29 coffee houses
  • 20 own rooms/halls/buildings
  • 3 open spaces
  • 5 theatres
  • 2 other
This total does not include of course informal meetings that did not advertise themselves in the newspaper.

Some of the Chartist venues held weekly meetings of the Chartist branches for several years  - for example, the Bricklayers' Arms, Turnham Green and The Feathers on Warren Street.

Others were larger venues used for one-offs, such as fundraising events or public lectures by national speakers like Feargus O'Connor. Some of these were outdoor spaces used for 'monster meetings', the most famous of which was Kennington Common (now a park), but also the space outside the Great Western Railway Station (Paddington).

More importantly, new venues were specially constructed by Chartists, Owenite socialists or trades' societies, such as the Political and Scientific Institute, 55 Old Bailey, and the Chartist Hall, 115 Blackfriars Road.

Here are some mapped on Horwood's map of London, 1799 (British Library collection). The Charter coffee house in Westminster, near the Houses of Parliament, and two political and scientific institutes near St. Paul's.

What was distinctive about London Chartism?

London Chartism were distinctive compared to other cities because the structure of Chartist branches was organised predominantly by pre-existing trade societies. So the route we're taking on our walking tour visits some major 'houses of call' for the tailors, who formed several Chartist branches. The United Boot and Shoemakers met at the Cannon Coffee House in Old Street.

There was also a continuity of radical tradition in London. Compare the venues with the sites used by the London Corresponding Society, the first 'members unlimited' radical society, in the 1790s mapped by Ian Newman on his blog. The Red Lion, Kingly Street, remained a 'radical' pub. Obviously the city had expanded in all directions within the fifty years between the LCS and the Chartists, but it is significant that the spread and direction of venues is similar.

Further reading:
David Goodway, London Chartism, 1838-1848 (Cambridge, 1982)


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