Brockwell Park. © David Secombe 2000.
From Pictures in the Human Skin by Gambier Bolton, Strand Magazine, 1897:
… in London at the present moment is produced the very finest tattooing the world has ever seen; for Mr. Sutherland Macdonald, whilst in the Royal Engineers, used often to watch the men working with their roughly made needles in the barrack-room, and having always had a taste for figure and landscape painting, he was at last induced to give his attention to tattooing, with the result that in a few years’ time he has not only equalled the work done by the Japanese, but has even excelled them. In Macdonald’s albums we find drawings and paintings gathered from all quarters of the globe, and of all and every kind, quaint, humorous, and pathetic, but each one specially selected for the purpose of being reproduced by the tattooing needles, and in more than one instance the copyright of some particularly striking picture has actually been purchased outright, so that no one but the wealthier patrons of [MacDonald’s] Jermyn Street studio shall have the use of them.
Turning over the leaves, we notice, amongst other quaint designs at this moment adorning the bodies of some of our best known society men, three five-pound notes, full size, on which, perhaps, the owner can “raise the wind,” if at any time short of a cab-fare, by placing himself in temporary pawn; a fox hunt in full cry, horses and their scarlet-coated riders, with a very level pack of hounds careering down the owners back in wild pursuit of a “little red rascal,” racing for his life; whilst on more than plucky individual, who rumour says has an extremely tender epidermis, not content with a handsome pair of dark blue socks with scarlet “clocks” on his feet, has lately been adorned with all manner of strange designs, from his neck down to the top of the socks, and this at quite a fabulous price, when we bear in mind the length of time it must have taken to carry out such a large order.
Greenwich Park. Photo © David Secombe, 1998.
From Mystic London, Rev. Charles Maurice Davies, 1875:
When a man’s whole existence has resolved itself into hunting up strange people and poking his nose into queer nooks and corners, he has a sorry time of it in London during August; for, as a rule, all the funny folks have gone out of town, and the queer nooks and corners are howling wildernesses. There is always, of course, a sort of borderland, if he can only find it out, some peculiar people who never go out of town, some strange localities which are still haunted by them; only he has to find them out – people and places – for it is so universally allowed nowadays that all genteel people must be out of London in August . . .
The Rev. Davies’s observation has acquired a new significance during the 2012 Olympic Games, as the Olympiad has driven a significant number of full-time Londoners into temporary exile. So this week on The London Column we offer a brisk tour of some of the quieter corners of London parks in the company of those Londoners who didn’t make it out of town and who haven’t made it on to a corporate hospitality list.