Monday, 18 June 2012

Map of London 1818

This map of London circa 1818 shows some of the developments only in the planning at the time of The Hindostanee Coffee House, but it also gives a good idea of the main locations ...

Monday, 11 June 2012

Anglo-Indian cooking influences

In her book The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, Hannah Glasse details how to make a curry dish:

She also mentions the source of Piccalilli:
To make India pickle. TO a gallon of vinegar one pound of garlick, and three quarters of a pound of long pepper, a pint of mustard seed, one pound of ginger, and two ounces of tumerick; the garlick must be laid in salt three days, then wip'd clean and dry'd in the sun; the long pepper broke, and the mustard seed bruised; mix all together in the vinegar, then take two large hard cabbages, and two cauliflowers, cut them in quarters, and salt them well; let them lie three days, and dry them in the sun. N.B. The ginger must lie twenty four hours in salt and water, then cut small and laid in salt three days.
There is also a way to make paco lilla, or Indian pickle, the same the mangos come over in.

There is a dish for Indian boiled fowl:
To make a pellow the Indian way. TAKE three pounds of rice, pick and wash it very clean, put into a cullender, and let it drain very dry; take three quarters of a pound of butter, and put it into a pan over a slow fire till it melts, then put in the rice and cover it over very close, that it may keep the stream in; add to it a little salt, some whole pepper, half a dozen blades of mace, and a few cloves. You must put it in a little water to keep it from burning, then stir it up very often, and let it stew till the rice is soft. Boil two fowls, and a fine piece of bacon or about two pounds weight as common, cut the bacon in two pieces, lay it in the dish with the fowls, cover it over with the rice, and garnish it with about half a dozen hard eggs and a dozen of onions whole fried and very brown. NOTE, This is the true Indian way of dressing them.

Two other dishes seem to have found their way across the oceans to England.
Firstly khichri, a rice and bean or rice and lentil dish, which seems to have been adapted by Scottish colonists by the adding of smoked haddock which later became kedgeree, a staple of Victorian breakfast tables.
Secondly a pepper broth called milagu tanni, which in the West had tumeric and meat added to become mulligatawny.

Watier's Club

For the brief time of its existence (1809-19), Watier's at 81 Piccadilly burned brightly on the London club scene. The Prince Regent suggested the creation of a club using his French chef, Jean-Baptiste Watier – and after whom the club was named. Prinny also proposed his erstwhile friend Beau Brummell as president. According to one of the members, there is no doubt that the Beau reigned supreme: "Laying down the law in dress, in manners, and in those magnificent snuff boxes, for which there was a rage; he formented the excesses, ridiculed the scruples, patronised the novices, and exercised paramount dominion over all."
While the food was declared to be the best in London, it was the card tables which attracted the most attention. Many fortunes were lost to a "bank" that had been set up by a group of members. It was Lord Byron who coined the term "The Dandy Club" when he remarked that: "I like the dandies, they were always very civil to me."

There is no plaque marking the site and 81 Piccadilly, on the corner with Bond Street, has been substantially re-modelled. Nearest tubes Green Park or Piccadilly Circus.

Sunday, 10 June 2012


While in earlier times duels were fought with swords, by the Regency pistols were most commonly used. Duels had developed from mediaeval challenges, and became a respectable way for gentlemen to resolve disputes. They would happen after an offense when, whether real or imagined, one party would demand satisfaction from the offender. This was signalled with an insulting gesture, such as throwing down a glove or the striking of the cheek – the origin of the phrase throwing down the gauntlet (again a mediaeval allusion to suits of armour). Each party would name a trusted representative (a second) who would, between them, determine a suitable "field of honour".
In 1777 in the town of Clonmel, County Tipperary a code of practice was drawn up for the regulation of duels.
The Code Duello, known generally as "The twenty-six commandments", was to be kept in a gentleman's pistol case for reference should a dispute arise regarding procedure. The authorities were generally opposed to duelling but were rarely active in suppressing it, and turned a blind eye to injuries and deaths caused on the field of honour. While the reasons for the disappearance of the duel are many, they include the emergence of a new middle class in the Victorian era which was hostile to the "honour" culture, which was seen as un-Christian.
Four British Prime Ministers engaged in duels: the Earl of Shelburne (1780), William Pitt the Younger (1798), George Canning (1809) and the Duke of Wellington (1829).

Mr Thomas Lord

Thomas Lord was born in Thirsk, Yorkshire on 23rd November 1755 in what is now the town museum, but the family later moved to Diss in Norfolk where Thomas was brought up. As a young man, Lord moved to London and got a job as a bowler and general attendant at the White Conduit Club in Islington. In 1786 Lord was approached by the Earl of Winchilsea, and the Duke of Richmond, who were the leading members of the White Conduit Club. They wanted him to find a more private venue for their club and made a guarantee against any losses he might suffer. In May 1787 Lord acquired seven acres off Dorset Square in Mary-le-Bone and started his first ground. White Conduit relocated there and soon afterwards formed, or merged into, the new Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC).
The lease on thist ground ended in 1810. Lord's second venue, the subject of our book, was built by 1809. However this land was acquired for the Regent's Canal, which was to cut through the site and thereby necessitating a further move. Lord then moved his ground to the present site in St John's Wood, literally taking his turf with him. It opened in 1814. Lord was not, however, making enough money and therefore obtained permission to develop part of the ground for housing. To counter his plan, Lord was bought out for £5,000 by prominent MCC member William Ward, a noted batsman who was also a director of the Bank of England. Despite the change of ownership, the ground has continued to bear Lord's name.
Lord remained in St John's Wood till 1830 when he retired to West Meon in Hampshire, where he died in 1832. He is buried in the churchyard of St John's Church at West Meon. The village has a public house named after him and is just a few miles from Hambledon, home of the famous Hambledon Cricket Club.

Cochrane's patented Indian Vapour Bath

The Hon. Basil Cochrane claimed to have developed a form of vapour cure while in India and he determined to improve the health of London's lower classes by establishing a vapour bath at his home in Portman Square. Above is his patented example, where a person sits within a muslin tent while water vapour is fed in. In 1809 he published An Improvement on the Mode of Administering the Vapour Bathyet despite Cochrane's assertions, vapour bathing in London was not original to him, and Hamams, or Turkish steam baths, had been established in London since the 1630s.
Shampooing (champi) and the related art, malish, were widely practiced in India, and one would chuppy the limbs to induce sleep. This was method of handling, from the feet upwards, all the limbs successively, opening the palm of the hand as if going to grip hard a handful of flesh, and yet grasping it so gently, as hardly to make any impression. Within a household a wife or servant might regularly shampoo the elders of the family or a child to induce relaxation and sleep.
After Sake Dean Mahomet began to shampoo in Cochrane's vapour bath, the idea of shampooing for health quickly seemed tobecome part of the medical jargon of London, and commercial bathhouses would include shampooing among their advertised therapies. Mahomet, however, gained little credit from Cochrane or the London public for his shampooing at the time.

Jane Mahomet neé Daly

Was the mixed marriage of Sake Dean Mahomet and Jane Daly unusual in late 18th-century Ireland? Undoubtedly. Yet many people had personal experience of Asia: as soldiers, officials, merchants, or travellers. Some had Indian mistresses and Anglo-Indian children, and newspapers periodically published lists of Nabobs. One image of India prevalent at the time remained that of the exotic. Traveling carnivals and circuses, books, plays, and newspaper articles all presented India and Muslims as alien curiosities. There were plays in which the "Sultan" would kidnap a European woman into his harem, only for the plucky white woman to persevere and become the queen. So a Musselman like Sake Dean Mahomet being "converted" to Christianity by Jane on marriage might not have been seen as unknown in polite Irish society. Indeed, it was probably more acceptable than a Protestant and Catholic marrying.
While little is known of Jane's character, to leave her middle-class home and elope at the age of 16 with an exotic Indian suggests a head-strong and determined character, and she seems to have played an active part in all Mahomet's subsequent business activities.

Subadar in the Indian Army

Sake Dean Mahomet became associated with the British in India when he was a camp follower at the age of 11 in 1769. he quickly rose through the ranks and became a Subadar in the Bengal Army, serving under the quartermaster of the 3rd Bengal (European) Regiment Godfrey Evan Baker. Mahomet accompanied Baker when the Irishman – under a cloud of suspicion following allegations of corruption and bribery – returned to Ireland in the 1780s.
A Subadar, or captain, was the highest rank an Indian could obtain. Pictured above is a Subadar (in red jackets faced with yellow) being saluted by a Havidar, or sergeant. A sepoy is in the background. This print is contemporary with the time Sake Dean Mahomet spent in the Bengal Army of the East India Company.
The Bengal Army was the army of the Presidency of Bengal, one of the three Presidencies of British India. Although based in Bengal in eastern India, the Presidency stretched across northern India and the Himalayas all the way to the North West Frontier Province with Afghanistan. It was predominantky and Indian-born army with Eurooean officers.

Friday, 8 June 2012

The Hon. Basil Cochrane and other Nabobs

The sixth son of the 8th Earl of Dundonald, Basil Cochrane was born in April 1753. As a younger son Cochrane was born with limited prospects. In 1769 young Basil was placed as a clerk in the East India Company based in Madras, and when he returned to England forty years later was fabulously wealthy. This was due to contracts he negotiated to supply the Royal Navy in the Eastern oceans, and the size of these contracts raised more than an eyebrow in Parliament. So Cochrane’s first task on returning to England had been to defend his wealth from charges of embezzlement – something of an occupational hazard for East India Company men. Cochrane's mansion in Portman Square was reputed to be the largest and so reflected others around the square; imposing front doors opened onto a marbled main hall, from which a delicate staircase swept majestically upwards towards the reception rooms on the first floor. 
Colonial adventurers like Cochrane were often referred to as Nabobs, a corruption of the Indian title of Nawab. Frowned on for their acquisition of wealth by dubious means, on their return they had settled in some numbers in the newer developments to the west end of London and away from the traditional centres of power. A common fear was that these individuals – the Nabobs, their agents, and those who took their bribes – would use their wealth and influence to corrupt Parliament. A number of prominent Company men underwent inquiries and impeachments on charges of corruption and misrule in India. Warren Hastings, first Governor-General of India, was impeached in 1788 and acquitted in 1795 after a seven year-long trial. And Robert Clive, 1st Baron Clive of India, was forced to defend himself against charges brought against him in the House of Commons. The portrait of Cochrane (above) was painted by John Smart in India in 1789. Below is the home of Clive of India at 45 Berkeley Square,a few minutes south of Portman Square.

The East India Company

The East India Company was a joint-stock company formed for pursuing trade with the East Indies but which ended up trading mainly with the Indian subcontinent. The Company was granted a Royal Charter by Queen Elizabeth I in 1600, making it the oldest among several similarly formed companies. Shares in the company were owned by wealthy merchants and aristocrats,with the government owning no shares and so having only indirect control. The Company traded mainly in cotton, silk, indigo dye, salt, saltpetre, tea and opium, and also came to rule large areas of India, exercising military power and assuming administrative functions.
In 1757 Robert Clive led Company forces to victory against Siraj Ud Daulah – the last independent Nawab of Bengal, Bihar, and Midnapore – at the Battle of Plassey resulting in the conquest of Bengal. More wars against Indian rulers followed, culminating in the defeat of Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan, the rulers of the Kingdom of Mysore, in 1799. Among its military commanders at the time was one Arthur Wellesley (later the 1st Duke of Wellington).
Yet the Company was not always profitable. In putting down resisting states, it was clear that the Company was incapable of governing the vast expanse of the captured territories without great expense. With the Bengal famine of 1770, in which one-third of the local population died, military and administrative costs mounted due to the ensuing drop in labour productivity. This led to the passing of the Tea Act in 1773, which gave the Company greater autonomy in running its trade in the American colonies, and allowed it an exemption from tea import duties which its colonial competitors were required to pay. When the American colonists were told of the Act they tried to boycott it, triggering the Boston Tea Party and the American Revolution. And Americans have had a distrust of tea ever since!
Still, by 1810 the Company was at it zenith, with a vast shipping fleet controlling much of the trade between Europe and the Orient, and the Company's rule extended to India, Burma, Malaya, Singapore, and British Hong Kong, with a fifth of the world's population under its trading influence from the Company headquaters (above) in Leadenhall Street. The Company flag, after 1801, is below.