Summer Anne Lee, Fashion Historian and Research Volunteer at Bow Street Police Museum, explains how the Victorian fashion trend for large crinolines intersected with London crime.
Summer Anne Lee, Fashion Historian and Research Volunteer at Bow Street Police Museum, breaks down fashion and fashion-related crimes in 18th-century London.
Many visitors to the Museum have heard of the Bow Street Runners, the popular name of the police force set up by Henry Fielding in 1749. This is usually because the name has appeared in a book or film. But when one delves more deeply, it is surprisingly difficult to find the Runners (properly known as Principal Officers) in major works of fiction, and even when they do appear they tend to be insignificant.
The cause and effect of poverty and crime is much debated even today, and treating vagrancy and begging as criminal acts only increases the problem. Many Londoners faced this vicious cycle and from our census research we have a brief biography of one such person.
When most people hear the word technology they think of computers, mobile phones or the masses of technological advancements that have been developed since the twentieth century. Technology is simply the applied use of scientific knowledge, and its evolution during the time of the Bow Street runners can be tracked through distinct criminal cases and events throughout the period. Through the exploration of the Cato Street Conspiracy, murder of Elsie Batten and staged robbery of Joseph Randall, it is evident that technology was essential to Bow Street Runners and hugely aided the solving of crimes.
The first UK Census was compiled in 1801 and has been undertaken at 10 yearly intervals ever since. Information includes anyone spending the Census night in an institution such as workhouses, prisons, hospitals and also police cells. What they reveal offers some reflection on the early 20th century morality.
When Henry Fielding began to build the Bow Street force, he focused on serious crimes like highway robbery. But when his brother John Fielding took charge in 1754, he was also expected to deal with societal problems like drunkenness and gambling (or “gaming”).