Saturday, 8 November 2008

The mystery of bleeding heart yard...


I'm grabbing the moment to blog. I've not been blogging so much of late because my husband and I use the same computer. We are trying to get various computers/laptops networked, linked and goodness knows what, so hopefully all will be back to normal in the near future.

This time I am digressing from Roman history to London history (another passion of mine). I've fallen in love with the BBC's current serialisation of Little Dorrit. It happened with Bleak House (my favourite Dickens' book) and now I know that I will soon immerse myself in the 900 pages or so of Little Dorrit.

In May we were down at a fabulous wedding reception at Trafalgar Tavern next door to the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich and we chanced upon some filming of Little Dorrit. As my luck would have it (sic) we did not have our camera with us. Nevertheless we were allowed to wander through the market scene shot inside the Old Royal Naval College (ORNC) in Queen Anne's Court. As usual the BBC props department had gone to enormous lengths to find the right market impedimenta. We also saw some filming down at the water's edge. To see some exquisite photos of the ORNC click here. It was one of the few weekends this year in which we saw some amazingly good weather. You can see quite a lot of these ORNC backdrops in the last screened episode (No.4) and you can also view some of the previously shown episodes on the BBC website. (Not sure if overseas viewers can access these easily although I don't see why not!) Unfortunately I did not see the most wonderful Matthew Macfadyn before you ask!

Speaking of Dickens and his buildings in episode four the "character" of The Bleeding Heart Yard, in Hatton Garden, also looms large and I am reminded of when I used to work in and around this area of London for a big bank which has now gone cap in hand (like Oliver Twist) to the government to ask for more. It is a very quirky and byzantine area (Holborn and Clerkenwell) with very narrow alleys and odd doorways. These are disrupted every so often by smudges of green (Lincoln's Inn Fields, Gray's Inn Gardens and Red Lion Square), and I am sure much more treasure* lies hidden from view like the fabled Fleet River. One day I hope to resume my wanderings and ramblings there. (*My good lady diver friend used to live opposite Dickens' old bank, the Finsbury Savings Bank, in Sekforde Street which is now a private residence. There is a plaque on the wall to commemorate this fact.)

I haven't quite managed to disentangle how The Bleeding Heart Yard came to be so named. There is the usual one recounted at The Bleeding Heart Restaurant (in which I have been fortunate enough to dine) about the murder of Lady Elizabeth Hatton. ("Her Annual Winter Ball, on January 26, 1662, was one of the highlights of the London social season. Halfway through the evening's festivities, the doors to Lady Hatton's grand ballroom were flung open. In strode a swarthy gentleman, slightly hunched of shoulder, with a clawed right hand. He took her by the hand, danced her once around the room and out through the double doors into the garden. A buzz of gossip arose. Would Lady Elizabeth and the European Ambassador (for it was he) kiss and make up, or would she return alone? Neither was to be. The next morning her body was found in the cobblestone courtyard – torn limb from limb, with her heart still pumping blood onto the cobblestones. And from thenceforth the yard was to be known as The Bleeding Heart Yard.")
There is another version to be found in Wikipedia which claims that the gory name for the yard comes from the sign of a nearby tavern dating back to The Reformation. Nevertheless an unresolved mystery, quite frankly, is even more beguiling...

16 comments:

Dumdad said...

I don't have BBC over here so I miss these wonderful Dickens serialisations. But I'll get to see them when they come out on DVD.

The Dotterel said...

It does add an extra frisson on interest when you've seen the filming, doesn't it? We stumbled upon Pride and Prejudice (the film) in Stamford a few years ago. Missed Kiera Knightley, unfortunately.

nappy valley girl said...

I too am enjoying Little Dorrit. I am ashamed to say that I studied the book as part of my degree course but can hardly remember the story at all (the Doctor keeps asking me: are you sure you've read it?)

Maggie May said...

I am enjoying Little Dorrit more than I can say. It is inspiring me to get the book!

Word verucation was imorting!

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Yes, dumdad, when we lived abroad I pined for these things. I'm told that the BBC version of Bleak House with Diana Rigg and Denholm Elliott is very good...

The Dotterel, Stamford is a favourite place of mine. Must get back to it again soon. Shame to miss Kiera though!

Nappy Valley Girl I think the sheer size of it can be rather offputting. I read that Andrew Davies cut it into two. Might be more manageable that way? (For me that is!)

Maggie I just don't want it to stop! I know I will feel very bereft when it finishes. (As I always do with these things...)

Sandi McBride said...

I miss hearing Big Ben bong the hour on the Beeb...and I love your history lessons, I learn something everyday, today it was from you!
Sandi

French Fancy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
French Fancy said...

First of all what a pain it must be to have to share a machine. I can't imagine anything worse (well, maybe toothache).

I love Dickens and my favourite book is the cheesiest one of all - David Copperfield. I had a friend who was the Dickens House Scholar for a year which meant that on a Friday she would be the curator at his old house in Doughty Street, WC! and on one occasion she let me sit at the great man's desk. Naughty of her, I know, but it was a real privilege.

How interesting to have seen some of the filming of Litt D. I've not been watching it even though we have the Beeb. I'm not sure why - well I am actually. I think I loved the book too much to watch an adaptation. Call me sniffy (Oy, sniffy!) but I watched the first couple of Bleak House and then didn't bother.I know the reviews were first class but maybe I'm a little odd.Or maybe it's the effect Andrew Davies' adaptions have on me.

Okay then - I'm a lot odd :)

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Sandi..glad you enjoy the history lessons!

French Fancy...yes it can be a pain sharing the computer but it'll sort itself out eventually.

Yes, I like Dickens too. Luckily I wasn't force fed it at school which I think might make a difference. I fell into by listening to Bleak House on the radio (again a BBC adaption) and so far that one is my favourite. I know what you mean about Andrew Davies adaptations too. I can't explain it but I know what you mean! It doesn't stop me watching them as I adore watching out for all the different actors popping up. I also like to see which bits of London and the UK they have used as well and to what effect.

Gosh...what a superb friend to have...Dickens House Scholar and curator of Dickens' old house! I've known some interesting people but...

rosiero said...

I am always happy to stumble over people making films to see how they do it. There always seems to be such a lot of behind-the-scenes people involved. I had wondered where Little Dorrit was filmed. Funnily enough the house where Mrs Clennam lives looks like the frontage of a pub I know in Greenwich, so maybe they used it.

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Hi Rosiero...it is amazing seeing how they film. Radio Times divulged that they shot most of it at Pinewood Studios (which, I think, includes Mrs Clennam's house). They used Luton Hoo (Beds.) for the Bleeding Heart Yard, the Hellfire Caves (Bucks.) for the Marseilles dungeons and Deal Castle in Kent for Versailles. Greenwich Naval College stood in for the London streets.

I know what you mean about some of the pubs in Greenwich. I used to go there (the market and the pubs!) regularly with my great uncle as he used to live near there for many years.

East Anglian Troy said...

Hi Hadriana, if you are still interested in being part of my book project could you send me an e-mail to
bookproject2009-coauthor[at]yahoo[dot]co[dot]uk
Obviously change the "at" and "dot" to the normal symbols.
This is just address is temporary to keep our e-mails away from the public domain and spammers. I'll then send you my real e-mail address.

Ladybird World Mother said...

I am fascinated at how films are made, especially period dramas, and especially Dickens!
Would love to see that happening, lucky you. Haven't read the book. I cannot believe that this serialisation (!?)has passed me by... must see it now! Will do as you say and go on BBC website.
thanks for the post and hope you get your computer back to yourself soon.

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Hello Troy and hello ladybird world mother! Just having a little play on the computer as trying not to blog as I should be doing some ironing. Much rather blog...!!!

Exmoorjane said...

We haven't had a TV for nearly a year and only got one to watch LD....sadly we are so unused now to having a TV that we keep forgetting to watch it (don't say iPlayer - way too irritating)....

Thank you so much for your lovely comment on mine.....Worcester Park eh? I went to school in Cheam. Little Holland House is ringing huge bells but I can't summon it up.
SO with you on husbands breathing too loudy. Isn't it ridiculous?

Going back to Dickens, I will have to read LD (and BH) instead. Fat books are good for me as I read far too fast....When I was young I loathed Dickens (I was a Hardy girl) but I think it's an age thing as now I can't countenance Hardy but crave Dickens.
jxx

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Hi Jane, Little Holland House is the Arts and Crafts one (Frank Dickinson) 40 Beeches Rd, Carshalton. I've not been in it yet but would love to see its interior. Cheam...yes. Know Cheam. And yes...thick books good for all sorts of things including keeping doors open. And yes, yes, yes, it is ridiculous but then again, so is life! (Sorry - being very philosophical this morning.)