Saturday, July 11, 2009

In search of the Huguenots

The Huguenots, I heard, settled just outside the London city wall.

They took up residence in streets with names that bear witness to their trade

but now gleam with the harder lustre of glass.

The museum of London is at the centre of this new development.

When I asked if they had any record of the Huguenots I was told that, for now, the history of London ended at 1666. Before the fire or the plague, and Daniel Defoe (who is buried close by)

was but a child of five, and Beech Street

another of the Huguenot streets, was yet to be lined in beech trees, or set ringing with the sound of caged birds and clattering looms.

There is nothing left now. The houses of the Huguenots long razed to the ground. Temporary tunnels

connect one busy road to the next, and one tower block to another. Few look up, or around, or wonder at what there was, and few, I suspect, notice this

a ghost cycle, one of many that are chained to posts throughout the capital: white and without pedals or chain. A memorial to a cyclist fatally caught mid-journey.


Blogger Al said...

Hi Clare,
Beautiful post.
I love the juxtaposition between what was and what is.
The Museum of London doesn't see past 1666? Quite simply sacrilege.
As an entirely irrelevant by-the-by I have distant Huguenot ancestors, the Dumaresqs, who settled in Jersey.

Sun Jul 12, 03:55:00 am  
Blogger Kay Cooke said...

Well as long as there are people with your insight Clare, the history before 1666 does have a chance. Thank you for a beautiful post.

Sun Jul 12, 09:08:00 am  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Thank you very much Al and Kay! To be fair to the Museum of London, something I didn't make particularly clear is that I did have the impression that they were going to go past 1666 after refurbishment, so I think I shall have to revist next year.

Sun Jul 12, 10:31:00 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

Really good post, I love the white bicycle at the end. That's really caught my poet's eye.

Sun Jul 12, 01:21:00 pm  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Thanks Barbara! Yes, those ghost cycles have a special sort of poignancy.

Sun Jul 12, 07:41:00 pm  
Blogger N.L. Lumiere said...

Fabulous blog.
I love all of your posts. The Huguenots, the ghost bicycles, the 6-year-old pianist, just lovely.
Will be following your blog.

Wed Jul 15, 08:43:00 pm  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Thanks Nora! Your blog is great too!

Wed Jul 15, 09:12:00 pm  

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