London: Jacob's Island and Dickens

Old Dec 31st, 2005, 01:29 PM
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London: Jacob's Island and Dickens

My trip is finally here in five days. I'm heading to Paris and London, and will be photographing sites relating to Charles Dickens to use in my literature classes. I've already scouted out most of the places I want to go, but does anybody know if any remnant of Jacob's Island in London is still there? I haven't been able to find good information on this one aspect, and since Jacob's Island figures so centrally in Oliver Twist, I 'd love to include it. Thanks!
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Old Jan 1st, 2006, 01:27 AM
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Not as Dickens described it, though of course the land is still there. Nowadays it's a very upmarket residential area, with all the old warehouses (which replaced the Dickensian thieves' dens and "rookeries") highly sought-after apartments. (Don't forget, Dickens was often writing of a time before what we imagine as the high Victorian age).

Go the south side of Tower Bridge and stay close to the river past the Design Museum and Butlers Wharf, down Shad Thames and around St Saviour's Dock. You'll find a Jacob St, but that's about the last memory of Jacob's Island.

You can carry on along the Thames Path into old Rotherhithe (try the Angel or the Mayflower pubs - I imagine the Mayflower is in a lot of US guidebooks, since the Mayflower is supposed to have started from there). If you get as far as the Hilton hotel opposite Canary Wharf, you can pick up the ferry to get a boat back from Canary Wharf pier.

Alternatively, after Shad Thames, etc., you can pick up a bus back on Jamaica Road, or get the Jubilee Line from Bermondsey station.
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Old Jan 1st, 2006, 01:37 AM
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Just thought - for your photographs, Shad Thames would be useful, as would the streets into old Rotherhithe near the Mayflower - narrow, old industrial cranes and girders spanning the street and so on. If the weather's grey enough and the tide out, it might just be possible to stretch the imagination to show St Saviour's Dock as the site of Bill Sikes's demise. And there's an odd lone building by the Angel that's leaning very crookedly and looks a bit Dickensian to me. You might find some gloomy-looking stairs descending to the river mud, too.

Don't forget the George Inn in Borough High St. Indeed the whole area has much-advertised Dickensian connections. And I take it you know about the London Walks Dickens-related offerings? Their website has directions for self-guided tours:
http://www.london-walks.co.uk/30/
(and 31)
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Old Jan 1st, 2006, 07:15 AM
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Patrick has given you more info than I ever could. But just a bit of trivia about the area on/near Jacob St. I have a friend (Lucky devil! ) who lives in one of those river front flats along Chambers Wharf. The scene in A Fish Called Wanda where John Cleese and Jamie Lee Curtis are making love (or trying to) in that waterside penthouse with the views of Tower Bridge and the Tower hotel, and Kevin Kline climbs up the side of the bldg and scares them spitless. That bldg is one of the converted warehouses. The views from there are amazing -- like I said my friend is a VERY lucky devil. But he works hard for it.

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Old Jan 1st, 2006, 09:58 AM
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Thanks, Patrick--wonderful advice. I suppose it's a good thing that Jacob's Island has all but disappeared, given Dickens' descriptions of it. I'd found Jacob's street on a map and wondered if it was a leftover from that area. I'll follow your advice for the other shots--and try to stretch the imagination at St. Saviour's. I've found it so hard to get students here in the U.S. to have any sense of what Dickens' London was like. I've done the London Walk Dickens' Walk in the past and wasn't too impressed, but thanks for reminding me of the George. Didn't they have Dickens' life insurance policy or something of the sort in there years ago? Janis--thanks for the trivia--I'll try to watch "Wanda" again before I leave.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2006, 11:01 AM
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FOr atmospheric photos, you could try Goodman's Court off St Martin's Lane. It doesn't relate to Dickens, it just looks more mid-Victorian than a great many other places in London.
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