Heritage Visits

Talks and Lectures

The Marshalsea Debtors’ Prison
Dates: Thursday 20 April
Time: 7pm to 9pm

For Londoners of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, debt was a part of everyday life. But when your creditors lost their patience, you might be thrown into one of the capital’s most notorious jails: the Marshalsea Debtors’ Prison.

The Marshalsea became a byword for misery; in the words of one of its inmates, it was ‘hell in epitome’. But the prison was also a microcosm of London life and it housed a colourful range of characters, including Charles Dickens’s father. The experience haunted the writer, who went on to immortalise the Marshalsea in his work, most memorably in Little Dorrit.

Jerry White tells the history of the Marshalsea through the lives of its prisoners – rich and poor; men and women; spongers, fraudsters and innocents. Told through these extraordinary lives, the story of the Marshalsea gives us a fascinating and unforgettable cross-section of London life from the early 1700s to the 1840s.

Jerry White
Professor in Modern London History at Birkbeck and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society of England, Jerry White has been researching and writing London history since the mid-1970s. His most recent book, Mansions of Misery. A Biography of the Marshalsea Debtors’ Prison, was published in October 2016.

Please register for a free ticket here.

Tickets are also available in the shop. For further information, telephone 020 7367 6734.

Sam Roberts: Ghostsigns of Bankside and Beyond: An Illustrated Talk
Date: Thursday 18 May
Time: 7pm to 8:30pm

The fading remains of advertising painted on walls remain a ghostly presence in London and around the world. They whisper the names and slogans of businesses past with fading and cracking paint that has outlived the firms that paid for them. Sam Roberts has been documenting these fading apparitions for 11 years and in this richly illustrated talk he will introduce the stories that lie behind these historic, and often antique, signs.
This will include material from Bankside in London, home to one of the popular Ghostsigns Walking Tours, and examples from much further afield.

Please register for a free ticket here.

Tickets are also available in the shop. For further information, telephone 020 73676734.

Catharine Arnold: Bawds, Bards and Bear Gardens
Dates: Thursday 15 June 
Time: 7pm to 8:30pm

Join popular historian Catharine Arnold for Bawds, Bards and Bear Gardens, a light hearted talk about Southwark in the days when the area served as London's red light district. Learn about the medieval bath houses and brothels which tempted travellers across London, discover what 'the stews' really were, why the local nuns were nicknamed 'the Bishop of Winchester's geese' and what Shakespeare really meant when he told Ophelia to 'get thee to a nunnery.' Southwark's racy reputation endured well into the 16th century when the theatre boom made it a magnet for 'all forms of wickedness,' and the owner of 'The Rose' even ran a brothel on the side.
Catharine Arnold read English at Cambridge University and is the author of the popular London Quartet, including Necropolis, London and its Dead, Bedlam London and its Mad, City of Sin and Underworld London. She has appeared in 'Bedlam Time Team Special' with Tony Robinson, 'Who Do You Think You Are' and 'The Grave Trade.' Catharine's latest book is Globe, Life in Shakespeare's London.

Catharine will also be signing copies of a number of her publications after the talk.

Please register for a free ticket here.

Tickets are also available in the shop. For further information, telephone 020 7367 6734.

Caroline Swash: Southwark Cathedral's Stained Glass Artists
Dates: Thursday 20 July
Time: 7pm to 8:30pm

Caroline Swash is a stained glass artist whose windows can be seen in Salisbury, Gloucester and Portsmouth Cathedrals. She taught glass (Central Saint Martin’s) and has recently completed the publication 'The 100 Best Stained Glass Sites in London'.

Caroline will be joining us to give an illustrated talk on the remarkable artists whose work can be seen in Southwark Cathedral.

Find out about the life and works of artists such as Lawrence Lee, Ninian Comper, John La Farge, Leifur Breidfjord. Ben Finn, Alan Younger and Christopher Webb.

Please register for a free ticket here.

Tickets are also available in the shop. For further information, telephone 020 7367 6734.