Royal Armouries

Jonathan Swift on a visit to the Tower, Bedlam and a Puppet Show

Images

Painting of Execution of Kilmarnock and Balmerino. © Royal Armouries.

Print showing the execution of Lord Kilmarnock and Balmerino, 18 August, 1746. British, mid-18th century (I.467) © Royal Armouries

  • Painting of Execution of Kilmarnock and Balmerino. © Royal Armouries.

    Print showing the execution of Lord Kilmarnock and Balmerino, 18 August, 1746. British, mid-18th century (I.467) © Royal Armouries

Jonathan Swift on a visit to the Tower, Bedlam and a Puppet Show

Description

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) was a cleric, satirical writer, political pamphleteer and poet. He is best remembered today as the author of Gulliver’s Travels, but also wrote A Journal to Stella, which was published after his death. Amongst the many letters to ‘Stella’, Swift’s friend Esther Johnson, one describes an action-packed day out in London for adults and children alike. This included not only a visit to see the sights of the Tower of London but also a trip to Bedlam, the famous lunatic asylum, and rounding off at a puppet show:

‘Lady Kerry, Mrs Pratt, Mrs Cadogan and I in one coach; Lady Kerry’s son, and his governor and two gentlemen in another; maids and misses and little master [Lord Shelburne’s children] in a third, all hackneys, all set out at ten o’clock this morning from Lord Shelburne’s house in Piccadilly to the Tower, and saw all the sights, lions, etc; then to Bedlam; then dined at the chop house behind the Exchange; then to Gresham College … and concluded the night at the Puppet-show whence we came home safe at eight, and I left them’.

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Samuel Richardson describes a young woman’s first visit to the Tower of London Click on the title link above to find out more.

Ned Ward’s Humorous Account of the Tower as a Visitor Attraction Click on the title link above to find out more.

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