The overlays that highlight 17th century London features are approximate and derived from Wenceslaus Hollar’s maps:

Open location in Google Maps: 51.514849, -0.097225

5 Annotations

First Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Blow Bladder Street

North-west from Cheapside to Newgate Street, in Aldersgate Ward and Farringdon Ward Within (O. and M. 1677-Boyle, 1799). Mentioned 1663 (End Ch. Rep. 1829, p. 124).

Former name : "Bladder Street" (S. 315 and 345), extending to the Shambles.

Now forms part of Newgate Street. So called from the bladders there sold in former times (Strype, ed. 1720, I. iii. 194)…

JWB  •  Link

"Blowbladder Street, now the east end of Newgate Street. Stow calls it " Bladder Street, of selling bladders there." It extended from Butcher Hall Lane, Newgate Street, to the Conduit, Cheapside.

Blowbladder Street had its name from the butchers, who used to kill and dress their sheep there, and who, it seems, had a custom to blow up their meat with pipes to make it look thicker and fatter than it was, and were punished there for it by the Lord Mayor.—De Foe, Plague Year, ed. Brayley, p. 342.

But a more obvious derivation is from the practice of the vendors of bladders inflating them to their utmost dimensions and then suspending them on poles or cords to dry, and at the same time to notify their wares to purchasers. Long strings of such inflated bladders of all sizes might be seen a few years ago in bye-streets about Newgate Market and Smithfield, and quite lately in the neighbourhood of the Central Meat Market. In 1720 the butchers and bladder-sellers had left Blowbladder Street.

Blowbladder Street is taken up by milliners, sempstresses, and such as sell a sort of copper lace, called St. Martin's lace, for which it is of note.—Strype, B. iii. p. 121.

Theodore Hook introduces Blowbladder Street into one of the happiest of his jingles about Queen Caroline :—

And who were the company, hey ma'am, ho ma'am ?
Who were the company, ho ?
We happened to drop in, with gemmen from Wapping, And ladies from Blow Bladder Row,
Ladies from Blow Bladder Row, row.

But Samuel Foote had been before him. The Alderman's wife, Lady Pentweazel, in that amusing comedy Taste (8vo, 1752), lived here, and says to her husband, "Let us have none of your Blow Bladder breeding. Remember, you are at the Court end of the town."

"London, past and present: its history, associations, and traditions, Volume 1"
By Henry Benjamin Wheatley, Peter Cunningham…

Second Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Oh come on guys, you know what bladders were used for:

"The first documented use of a condom in Europe was in 1564 by the anatomist Fallopia (who also gave his name to fallopian tubes).

"In the 16th century condoms were used primarily to prevent STDs. Syphilis, for example, was often fatal and raged through Europe for over 300 years. But with the discovery of spermatozoa in the 17th century, the Church became outraged over the use of barriers impeding their progress. By the 18th century, the condom’s reputation amongst medical professionals had firmly been cemented as a tool for philanderers, prostitutes and the immoral. Despite this, they proved quite popular among the upper and middle classes. The working classes finally gained access to condoms in the 19th century, thanks to Mr Goodyear’s discovery of vulcanised rubber in 1839."

For lots more on the subject:…

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"Spend a night with Venus, live the rest of your life with Mercury" - Old English Proverb

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.


  • Aug