(Above photo - Hogarth's Tomb in 1823 )
This is what I love about an ancient city like London where the old very much brushes up against the new. Walking around, particularly in the City, you will regularly see churches from the 1500s - that survived the Great Fire (1666) and German bombs in World War II - rub shoulders contemperaneously with gleaming skyscrapers built in the last ten years. A recent discovery I made - and apologies if this might already be common knowledge to some of you - is that the busy Hogarths Lane in Chiswick where the A4 Great Western Road joins the large roundabout gets it's name from the site of Hogarth's Tomb. William Hogarth - perhaps London's most famous chronicler of city life in the 1700s primarily via his etchings and prints - is the most well known for his work Gin Lane (1751) - more on that later.
(Above photo - Hogarth's final resting place as it is today )
The elaborate tomb - designed by William Kent no less - is in the churchyard of St Nicholas in Chiswick which now backs onto the traffic choked and polluted A4 road. I love the etching above created in 1823 which shows how the area used to be a pastoral idyl. The two gravediggers work in the foreground - in the background we see trees and the gently meandering River Thames as the location then would have been considered the countryside. How times have changed. I also note the River appears much closer than it is now, probably also a result of reclaiming land from the River, a tactic that has been replicated up and down various stretches of the river as the city expanded.
(Above photo - Gin Lane next to Beer Lane. Which road to take? )
Hogarth died in 1764 when he was buried in the St Nicholas churchyard in the tomb which has the inscription by the actor David Garrick that reads: "Farewll, great painter of mankind". Designed by the architect - and sometime furniture maker - William Kent, it features a classical urn on a finial and carries on in the classic Palladian style he was famous for. Kent also designed the nearby Chiswick House which is also well worth a visit.
(Above photo - Hogarth's Roundabout - on a surprisingly quiet traffic day! )
'Gin Lane' - which was published at the same time as 'Beer Street' - examines and parodies the social problems which stem from gin addiction which was an urban problem at the time. So nothing new there really, Londoners drinking excessively to achieve intoxication? So next time you're stuck in traffic on the A4 heading up Hogarth Lane, spare a thought for William buried next door possibly turning in his grave with all the fumes.
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