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Fortune of War pub

Fortune of War pub

Building  To 1910

Categories: Commerce

The Golden Boy was originally attached to the front of this public-house and remains to mark the site.

From 'The Italian Boy' by Sarah Wise we learnt that this pub was originally called The Naked Boy. In the 17th century it had been run by a tailor and the shop sign had shown a naked boy with the motto "so fickle is our English natiion / I would be clothed if I knew the fashion". In 1741 the pub was bought by a man who had been badly injured in a sea battle, losing both legs and an arm: hence the new name. Later it seems to have acquired the name 'Pye Corner' which seems to have derived from a nearby pub, the Magpie.

The Fortune of War was the chief house of call north of the river for resurrectionists in body-snatching days years ago. The landlord used to show the room where on benches round the wall the bodies were placed, labelled with the snatchers' names, waiting till the surgeons at Saint Bartholomew's could run round and appraise them.

We've read that the pub was appointed by the Royal Humane Society as a place "for the reception of drowned persons" (see Receiving House for an explanation of the movement).  With the Thames being some distance away, this seems unlikely, though it would have pleased the resurrectionists - soon-to-be dead bodies being conveniently delivered to their place of business!

For more on the London resurrectionists do read Sarah Wise's book.  We were left with the impression that acquiring dead bodies and selling them to the anatomists was considered a misdemeanour. The populace only got really upset when, instead of using already dead bodies, the traders "made" new ones. We also learnt the technique for removing a freshly buried body from its grave. You dig down at the head end, cut an opening in the coffin lid and pull the body out though the hole. Now you know. They never do it like that in the movies.

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Fortune of War pub

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Golden Boy & Great Fire of London

The sign of the magpie was once at this corner and it was from this bird that...

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