The extraordinary stories of those who have lived in and around the area certainly brought a lot of people into Marylebone Library recently – a record-breaking number attended the ‘Marylebone Lives ‘ event. Everyone had a great evening hearing from Carl Upsall and Mark Riddaway as they delved into some historical essays on the people, places and events that have helped shape the character of the area.
We learned about, for example:
The ‘King of the Marylebone Plains’, who initially made a living fighting for money at local fairs and developed a fearful reputation by defeating all challengers. Under the patronage of the Earl of Peterborough, Figg was able to open an arena in Marylebone Fields, just north of Oxford Street. The arena was known as Figg’s amphitheatre and became home to an academy at which Figg taught other young fighters.
Nightingale worked at 90 Harley Street and became known as the ’ lady with the lamp’. She did much to make nursing a respectable profession for women: before her, nurses were lower class women with no specific medical training who followed the army around, fulfilling any functions required of them.
Marylebone lives: rogues, romantics and rebels – character studies of locals since the eighteenth century is a must-read book for anyone interested in the social and local history of the Marylebone area.