So here I am. London. It’s been a while. First point of call is Seymour Street. If you’re into your genealogy and like London history you’ll love this.
Currently I am sitting in Borough Barista. It’s the ground floor of a four storey house at 60 Seymour Street. These days it has a bright yellow door and very helpful staff. It’s a great place to sit here and write. So I do.
It’s always been a ground floor shop so no ruined architecture here. But back in 1851 it used to be a busy bakers and the building was known as 31A Upper Seymour Street. By 1851 it had two new lodgers upstairs. Tita Falcieri and his wife Sarah.
By then Tita was already firmly planted at the Board of Control in Leadenhall as a messenger. Sarah, without employment on the census, presumably enjoyed retirement as the wife of a messenger with a reliable and modest income. I think life here passed very quietly by comparison. It was well earned.
They lived here for the next 24 years. Tita died here in one of the upstairs rooms in 1874, still in the employment of what later became the India Office. Famous in his own way for his role in history. Sarah also died here just a few years later in 1877. And so came to an end a part of Byronic legend.
By 1851, just a stones throw from here, the crystal palace of the Great Exhibiton had become a serious tourist attraction. I don’t doubt they went. It must have been an incredible site. And all around here are streets they knew. People they knew. Benjamin Disraeli lived just around the corner and a host of other names from their literary past.
I am really into the touchy feely aspects of family history. Being able to go to houses, the scenes of events, graveyards and pick up objects and ephemera. It is a really important part of what I do. Most of the other side of Seymour in this area has been obliterated by the starkly modern York House but this section is much as it ever was. People still live upstairs as they always have. The technology and the modes of transport may have changed, but essentially it’s much the same.
So here I sit. Thinking about the 24 years of history that are imprinted on these walls. Tita was the last of his kind. One of the last few witnesses who had first hand experience of Lord Byron. And the last from the days of Italy and Greece. I’m not sure how you process that. You take it in a bit at a time and before you know it, it’s there. A part of you and your history and in some ways you take it forgranted.
But you don’t forget.
You can read my book ‘A Most Faithful Attendant – The Life of Giovanni Battista Falcieri‘ by purchasing it here.