This Margery Allingham walking tour will focus on sites where Margery Allingham lived and set some of her detective stories. It features a total of nine sites. The first part of the tour in Bloomsbury will include the house where Margery Allingham and her husband, Philip "Pip" Youngman Carter, lived and then move on to several sites from two novels set in Bloomsbury, Coroner's Pidgin (1945) and Flowers for the Judge (1937).. Next we will take the Tube from Holborn to Piccadilly Circus, where we will visit the site of Albert Campion's flat before progressing to St. James Square, the center of action for Black Plumes (1940). The walk will take between 1 1/2 and 2 hours.
From 1946 to 1958 the top flat at 91 Great Russell Street became Pip's London base during the week while he was a working journalist in Fleet Street, where he was editor of The Tatler. Until the 1970's this Great Russell Street address was the headquarters of P & M Youngman Carter, Ltd., the company they formed to manage their business affairs. The building also housed Margery's publisher Doubleday & Co..
The next site is from Coroner’s Pidgin (1945) adjacent to Jockey's Fields, where Allingham located her quirky Museum of Wine. Today there are no "little houses" left of the sort which constituted the original mews; either they were destroyed by WWII bombs or torn down and remodeled as business premises. However, few mews houses would have had cellars for storing wine, so perhaps Allingham had some other small dwelling in mind.
Bedford Row, called Horsecollar Yard in Flowers for the Judge, is the place where Barnabas and Company Limited, the venerable publishing company, had its headquarters. Allingham used almost identical wording to that in Coroner’s Pidgin to identify its location as "the grand Queen Anne house in the cul-de-sac at the Holborn end of Jockey's fields which bore the sign of the Golden Quiver" (2). Bedford Row is the only cul-de-sac at the Holborn end of Jockey's Fields adjacent to Red Lion Street, which is also mentioned in the text. Nos. 47 and 47A certainly comprise a double house in the right spot, but neither could be described as a grand Queen Anne house.
The next stop is Red Lion Square where Ritchie Barnabas, who acted as Reader, lived in lodgings. Ritchie had a secret avocation as a circus clown which he indulged during his annual leave. In his sparsely furnished quarters Ritchie exercised and practiced his juggling and tumbling routines away from the eyes of his family.
The second part of the walkabout includes the site of the former Vine Street Police Station, which Allingham refered to as the Bottle Street Station. This is another example of nomenclature by association. "Vine" rhymes with "wine"; wine comes in bottles; hence, Vine Street becomes Bottle Street. As an unofficial police sleuth, Campion's flat is above the Bottle Street nick.
Action takes place in Albert's flat in several of Allingham's detective storIes. In Flowers for the Judge he brings Miss Curley and Gina to Bottle Street to escape reporters when they leave Mike Wedgwood's trial.
From Campion's flat the tour moves south to St. James Square, the setting in Black Plunes of the Ivory family residence and their famous picture gallery. Black Plumes, published three years after Flowers for the Judge, bears a remarkable resemblance to it in terms of setting, plot, and characterization. In both books a venerable London firm owns a pair of adjacent houses used as a family residence and business headquarters. The settings of the crimes also involve the rear premises of the buildings and the logistics are dependent on the site.
The final stop on the tour is Campion's club the Junior Greys, in reality the Oxford and Cambridge University Club in the heart of clubland at 71 Pall Mall. It has a first floor window most closely resembling the one described in Allingham's short story entitled "The Old Man in the Window," in which an elderly retired actor, Sir Charles Rosemary, spent his days sitting in the window reading the newspaper and watching the world go by.
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