Old East India
Old East India House had a very elaborate front.
The images and carvings clearly show how the
India Company was
proud of its sea trading power.
Fair in 1716
This fair was a very popular event. It took
place in the area of London still called Mayfair
We can see several children. One of them can
be seen in the bottom right of the picture,
holding the hand of a Black servant in an elaborate
There are also gentlemen wearing long, buttoned
coats, three-cornered hats and swords. Men carried
swords openly at this time to protect themselves.
There is a man with a pike; jugglers, musicians,
actors and a one-legged man, begging.
St Giles' In The Fields interior,
From this picture we can get a better view
of the church interior where the preacher in
St Giles' would have spoken to the congregation.
The pulpit in which he would have stood can
be clearly seen.
The Lord Mayor's Banquet,
In this picture we can see a young Black man
serving food and wine to the men sitting at
||Marco, a Lion at the Tower
of London, 1749
From 1204 there was
a zoo or menagerie at the Tower of London. Many
exotic animals were kept there, including an
elephant which arrived in 1255. The menagerie
was a public attraction until 1832, when most
of the animals were sent to Regent’s Park
Collections of animals from other countries
provide evidence of the journeys people made
to Africa and Asia.
The Duke of Albemarle's
Parish records show that 'Charles Muddiford,
a Black of ye Duchess of Albemarle' was baptised
on the 17 February 1689 at St Pancras Parish
Church on Euston Road.
This picture is of the grand house of the Albemarle
family and it is here that Charles would have
Mr Greene's Museum, 1788
Museums started out as collections which had
been put together by individuals. Mr Greene's
museum shows a collection of items from all
over the world. The cabinets contain items from
Africa, the South Sea Islands and India. People
would enjoy looking at these things out of curiosity
because they would seem strange and different.
Outside St James Palace
Many Black and Asian people served in the British
military forces. Here we can see a group of
musicians forming part of a procession outside
St James Palace.
St Paul's Cathedral, 1798
In the very centre of this picture are men dressed
in fine Eastern style clothing. They are with
an important looking man who seems to be showing
them around. The picture tells us they were
probably special visitors, being given a guided
tour of St Paul's.
Crowds Celebrate a Victory
at Sea, Covent Garden, c.1800
The crowds are celebrating one of Admiral Nelson’s
victories. Nelson’s name appears on a
large banner. On the right of the picture are
some Asian men joining in the celebrations.
They might be people who were working at the
theatre. However, they are near a young man
who is dressed like a sailor, so they could
A Family Picnic at "the Drinking
Well" in Hyde Park, 1802
The family have stopped for lunch by the well
- probably a natural spring which has been turned
into a drinking-place for visitors
The Black footman stands apart from the main
group under the tree. He wears a uniform and
stands to attention whilst the family enjoy
The Entrance to Hyde
Park on a Sunday, 1804
People from all social groups could enjoy going
to the park.
For the wealthy and fashionable, Hyde Park
was the place to see and be seen: they could
show off their status by the size of their carriage
and the number of their horses and servants.
For others, it was a lively place for a family
In the bottom left-hand corner, a couple are
walking with a young boy, followed by a Black
Two hundred years ago all travellers coming
in to Britain would have arrived by ship. For
Black and Asian people arriving as slaves, servants,
tradesmen, soldiers and sailors, the docks would
have been their first view of London.
View of New Bridge
Street, Blackfriars, 1810
This picture was made in 1810 at the time of
the Napoleonic wars.
The Black man standing by the obelisk has only
one leg. Many sailors lost legs when they were
working on the gun decks of the warships. They
could be hit by enemy cannon balls, or hurt
by their own cannons. It seems likely that he
was once in the Navy. Many sailors were reduced
to begging or doing jobs like road sweeping.
Chelsea Pensioners Reading
the Gazette after the Battle of Waterloo,
Painted by Sir David Wilkie, 1822
The Royal Hospital Chelsea was a retreat for
old and disabled soldiers from 1692. The soldiers
are shown getting news of Wellington's victory
at Waterloo in 1815. They are mostly shown in
their uniforms, representing a number of different
regiments and ranks.
Many Black men fought in the Napoleonic Wars,
and one of the retired soldiers shown here is
Black. He is wearing an elaborate uniform-coat
and has a ring in his ear. He is thought to
be a musician.
Ramo Samee performing at
the Royal Coburg Theatre, 1822
The Indian conjurer and juggler Ramo Samee,
from East India, was wildly popular when he
performed in London in 1822, as the packed house
in this painting shows. This performance at
the Royal Coburg Theatre (now better known as
the Old Vic), was a sell-out. The audience are
able to see themselves in the giant mirror at
the back of the stage.
His act involved juggling with various objects,
including four hollow brass balls the size of
oranges. He usually finished off with a demonstration
A View of the East-India
East India House in Leadenhall Street was the
London headquarters of the East
India Company. The date of this
drawing, 1833, was a worrying time for the
Company: their Charter from the government came
up for renewal that year and they lost the monopoly
of trade to the Far East. This meant that other
companies could now take a share of their profits.
In the foreground of the picture three men
are talking, all of them clearly identified
as Asian by their clothes and headgear. Another
man, apparently in the middle of transporting
a barrel on the horse-drawn cart behind him,
has stopped and is overhearing their conversation.
The Piccadilly Nuisance,
This crowded street scene tells us that traffic
problems have always been part of London life.
The coach is blocking the way of other road
users as passengers get on board.
On the left of the picture a Black man laughs
at the scene.
Pablo Fanque Performing
at Astley's Circus on His Horse Beda, 1841
Pablo Fanque was born plain
William Darby in 1796, the son of John Darby
and Mary Stamps. John Darby is recorded as
having been a butler, and may well have come
to England as a slave.
After William was orphaned
as a child, he trained at Astley's Circus, where
he learned trick riding, rope-walking and tumbling.
Performers in the nineteenth
century often took continental sounding names.
William Darby decided to become Pablo Fanque.
Fanque set up his own circus in 1841.
Sepoys of the Bombay,
Madras and Bengal
Presidencies; in the background a member of
the Dromedary Corps, 1843
The Presidencies were the three districts of
India which had been taken over by the East
This picture of the Sepoys (Indian soldiers
employed by the British army) was printed in
the Illustrated London News in 1843. With the
picture went a description of the Sepoys which
praised their courage and faithfulness to the
British, and mentioned that there were now 30,000
The three soldiers in the picture are all shown
in different uniforms because each represents
one of the three "presidencies".
A Preacher in St Giles, c.1850
The famous black writer Olaudah
Equiano describes a preacher like
this in his life-story, "The Interesting Narrative":
".exhorting the people with the greatest fervour
and earnestness, and sweating as much as ever
I did while in slavery."/p>
Equiano himself was a very religious man, and
wrote that he had had thoughts about becoming
a priest himself, but the Bishop of London "declined
to ordain me".