HISTORY, ROMANCE AND...CATS!
Grace Elliot leads a double life as a vet by day and author of intelligent historical fiction by night. Grace is an avid reader and believes that smart people need to read romance - as an antidote to the modern world!
Grace is also obsessed by all things feline.
starch to Piccadilly and the Royal Exchange, London?
In the 16th
century, starch – along with other fashion essentials such as silk and lace- made its way from France to England. This is
significant because starch was used to stiffen those stupendously impractical
neck ruffles so strongly associated with the Tudor age. In a way, impracticality
was the point, because wearing a ruff marked you out as someone who didn't work
with his hands and could afford servants and a laundress, and generally had
more money than sense.
to our story is that these exotic starched ruffs gave their name to one of the
most famous streets in London, Piccadilly. This road runs from Hyde Park corner
to Piccadilly Circus, and is one of the widest and straightest roads in London.
Until the 17th
century the road was known as Portugal Street. A tailor, Robert Baker, in the
late 16th and early 17th century, owned a shop in the
Strand. He made a small fortune making stiff collars with scalloped edges. These
starched pieces of neck wear where known by many names, mostly on a variation
on piccadills, peckadills, picardillos, or pickadailles, from which the word
It was exquisite lace collars like this that made Robert Baker a rich man
1612, Mr. Baker used some of his money to buy a tract of land where he built a
mansion that become known as Piccadilly Hall. With the restoration, in 1660,
this area took off as a place patronized by the fashionable elite, and
Piccadilly was born.
drawback of wearing starched piccadills is that the starch dissolved in the
rain, turning into a sticky, wallpaper paste-like mess. Of course, no fashionable
man wanted to look stupid in the rain and so had a keen eye on keeping out of
the weather. Perhaps with this in mind Sir Thomas Gresham built the Royal
The New Royal Exchange
Exchange became one of the world's first shopping malls and contained around
150 small shops, and was a convenient place for City merchants (around 4,000 of
them at the time) to congregate together and do business in the dry. (Gresham's
building was destroyed by fire, and the current Royal Exchange was built in
it, how starch from the humble potato has had such an influence on the City of