Traces at The Marquis of Lansdowne

  • Donna Walker
  • Talulah Mason
For four days in August 2012, ‘Traces’ took over a run down Victorian pub and brought it alive again with the smells, tastes, touches and sounds of the 1870s. Painstakingly researched, ‘Traces’ worked with over 70 different artists and designers from all different disciplines to help tell the stories of the actual inhabitants of 32 Cremer Street; the old ‘Marquis of Lansdowne’.

Cremer Street, formally known as Harwar street in the 1870s, was an area of much ill repute, and listed as one of the poorest areas by Charles Booth’s poverty map. Harwar street sat on the cusp of an area notorious for theft, prostitution, drunks, violence and gang related crimes. Think ‘Child of the Jago’, and your in the right place!

Landlord of the time, a Mr. John Bonny, was a public house tycoon, running over 7 in London with his family. But he is not alone at the Marquis, who are the ‘unfortunates’ that frequent the upstairs rooms? Who is Miss Botwright and just what is their relationship exactly? And what is a pub landlord doing with what looks like a room full of stolen goods?

The public were invited to discover these histories for themselves; wandering through the rooms left as if only a moment before, and unpicking their secrets. Comparing notes about what’s going on over drinks. Interacting with the specially commissioned ‘Contemporary Victorian’ pieces to unravel clues, and quite quickly realising that nothing you see here is quite what it seems.