Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Rotherhithe's Bohemian past: Jessica Mitford in Rotherhithe

The Braithwaite and Dean building.
Formerly on Rotherhithe Street and now
on Fulford Street (photograph by
Andrea Byrnes).
It is always great to find something out about Rotherhithe's past that I didn't know.   The Transpontine blog has an article today about Jessica Mitford and her connection with Rotherhithe.  The post is accompanied with photos.  Here's a short excerpt:

The Mitford sisters became notorious in the 1930s and 1940s as aristocratic socialites who pursued widely divergent political paths. Unity and Diana both became Hitler enthusiasts, the latter marrying British Union of Fascists leader Oswald Mosley.

Jessica Mitford (1917-1996) on the other hand ran away to Spain with her boyfriend Esmond Romilly to back the republic against Franco's fascist rebellion. Back in London and married, they ended up in 1937 living at 41 Rotherhithe Street in a large house 'wedged between warehouses' on the river. The house belonged to Roger Roughton (1916-1941), surrealist poet, who also stayed there.

According to the Transpontine blog, it is thought that Jessica Mtiford and her partner probably lived in either this (thought to be number 41) or one of the buildings (now destroyed) that adjoined the Braithwaite and Dean building, a row of houses to which various literary and other notables (including Princess Margaret, Antony Armstrong-Jones, John Betjeman and Noel Coward) also visited.

For an overview of the Braithwaite and Dean building see the Londonphile blog, which has a story about it entitled The Leaning Tower of Rotherhithe

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