Page 278. " Chicksand Street, Mile End New Town "
by hector
Economic Map of London showing Chicksand St, 1889
Public DomainEconomic Map of London showing Chicksand St, 1889 - Credit: Charles Booth

Chicksand Street lies just north of Whitechapel in London's East End.  It adjoins the famous Brick Lane.  The Booth map pictured shows plenty of black around Chicksand Street, indicating a very poor neighbourhood (black represents the "lowest class...occasional labourers, street sellers, loafers, criminals and semi-criminals").


Google Map


Mile End New Town was a parish covering this area until its abolition in 1921.  Mile End Old Town was located further to the east, as is the modern district of Mile End.

Page 278. " Jamaica Lane, Bermondsey "
by hector
The Leather Exchange, Bermondsey, 1879
Public DomainThe Leather Exchange, Bermondsey, 1879

Either a fictionalization or a mistake by Stoker. There is a Jamaica Road in Bermondsey, but no Lane.

Bermondsey, in south London, was a slum in the first part of the nineteenth century, but was redeveloped in subsequent years.  A number of important industries, including leather tanning, were located in Bermondsey.


Google Map
Page 281. " I had to start for Poplar "
by hector
Poplar High Street, 1912
Public DomainPoplar High Street, 1912

Poplar is an area of East London on the north bank of the Thames, location of some of the capital's historic docks.  It lies just to the east of Bermondsey, across a bend in the river.  Today, it finds itself in the shadow of the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf to the south.


Google Map
Page 281. " a new 'cold storage' building "
by hector

Historically, fresh food was kept cool using ice harvested in winter and stored in caves, pits or icehouses.  Systems of artificial refrigeration were first developed in the 18th century: it was discovered that when volatile liquids evaporate they draw in heat from the surrounding air, rapidly cooling nearby matter.

The Cold Storage Building at the World’s Columbian Exposition, 1893
Public DomainThe Cold Storage Building at the World’s Columbian Exposition, 1893

In the 1850s, Scottish Australian engineer James Harrison developed an ether liquid-vapour compression refrigeration system which was adopted by meat packers and breweries.  The race was soon on for a refrigeration system that could be fitted in ships for the transport of meat; the first successful installation came aboard the Dunedin in 1882.  Carl von Linde's work on ammonia-based refrigeration cycles played an important part in extending the commercial adoption of refrigeration systems.

A cold storage building was constructed at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, boasting the latest ice-making machinery, five storeys and a skating rink.  The hazards of this new technology became clear when the grand building caught fire and collapsed, killing 17 firemen.

The earliest cold storage buildings in London were constructed around the docks (such as Poplar) and the Smithfield meat market towards the end of the 19th century.  An article in the Adelaide Advertiser (1902) describes the new cold storage building at Poplar with "a storage capacity of 150,000 carcasses of mutton" (of particular interest to Australian exporters), rail connection, hydraulic lifts and a "special cable from the borough of Poplar generating station" to supply the electricity.

Page 282. " beyond the Junior Constitutional "
by hector
101 Piccadilly
Creative Commons Attribution101 Piccadilly - Credit: Joe Allen

The Junior Constitutional Club was a gentlemen's club at 101 Piccadilly.  It was formed in 1887 following over-subscription of the Constitutional Club, and like its older sibling it was politically aligned with the Conservative party.  It was, briefly, one of the largest clubs in London, with 10,000 members by 1890.

This reference would have quickly dated Dracula for London readers, however, because despite its initial popularity the club had closed by 1904, just seven years after the book's publication.  The building is now the Japanese Embassy.

Interior photograph of the Junior Constitutional Club


Google Map
Page 283. " a directory at the Berkeley "
by hector

The luxurious Berkeley Hotel stood on the corner of Piccadilly and Berkeley St, opposite the site of the coming Ritz.  It was undergoing extensive remodelling at the time of Dracula's publication:

in the year of grace ‘97 the old hotel was much altered, the restaurant almost doubled in size, and the Berkeley may now, in its latest development, be said to be the blonde beauty among London hotels.

- Lieut.-Col. Newnham-Davis, 1899


Google Map


 It was purchased by Richard D’Oyly Carte in 1900, becoming part of the Savoy Group.  In 1972, the Berkeley moved to a new building in Knightsbridge.

Page 284. " the Aerated Bread Company "
by hector
ABC Tea Shop in Fleet Street
Public DomainABC Tea Shop in Fleet Street

The Aërated Bread Company was both a bakery and a chain of tea shops.  Like Lyons Corner Houses, ABC Tea Shops were considered suitable for unaccompanied ladies to frequent, and so became popular as London's population of working women grew.

The company was founded in 1862 with a new bread-leavening technology that made use of carbon dioxide instead of yeast.  The company was acquired by Allied Bakeries in 1955, and the name was finally phased out in the 1980s.


Page 286. " such a smile as would have become the face of Malvolio "

Malvolio is Olivia’s deluded and much-mocked steward in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.  The reference is to Act 3 Scene 4:


Malvolio courts Olivia, while Maria watches in amusement
Public DomainMalvolio courts Olivia, while Maria watches in amusement - Credit: wikimedia commons

Where is Malvolio?


He's coming, madam; but in very strange manner. He
is, sure, possessed, madam.


Why, what's the matter? does he rave?


No. madam, he does nothing but smile: your
ladyship were best to have some guard about you, if
he come; for, sure, the man is tainted in's wits.

Read the whole scene here


Page 287. " the position which Enoch occupied spiritually "
by hector
God took Enoch, 1728
Public DomainGod took Enoch, 1728 - Credit: Gerard Hoet

Enoch was the father of Methuselah and great-grandfather of Noah.  The reference Renfield has in mind is this:

And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.

Genesis 5:24


The passage seems to imply that Enoch did not die in the normal way, but was raised to Heaven by God.  The Book of Enoch is considered part of the bible by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.  It describes Enoch's visits to Heaven.


Page 288. " be cruel only to be kind "
Cover of Hamlet, 1605
Public DomainCover of Hamlet, 1605 - Credit: wikimedia commons

This is a line from Shakespeare's Hamlet, spoken by Hamlet in Act 3 Scene 4:


So, again, good night.
I must be cruel, only to be kind:
Thus bad begins and worse remains behind.

Page 289. " Rats and mice and such small deer "

And now we're back to Shakespeare’s King Lear, and once again Act 3 Scene 4:


But mice and rats, and such small deer,
Have been Tom's food for seven long year



That makes four consecutive Shakespeare quotes - from three different plays - all from Act 3, Scene 4.  What is Bram Stoker up to?!  Is it a code?

Page 292. " off to the British Museum looking up some authorities on ancient medicine "
by hector
The British Museum Reading Room
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeThe British Museum Reading Room - Credit: Eneas

The British Museum was founded in 1753 as the first national public museum.  Today, with a permanent collection of around 8 million items, it is one of the world's greatest museums of human history and culture.  It is located on Great Russell St, London.

The museum is best known for treasures such as the Rosetta Stone and the Elgin Marbles, but it does also hold various ancient medical texts:

The London Medical Papyrus

Babylonian Medical Tablets

Tibetan Medical Tantra

Medical Tablets from the Library of Ashurbanipal

However it is more likely that Van Helsing was headed for the British Library, which was at the time a department of the British Museum.  The Library, now at St Pancras, contains a multitude of medical texts, such as:

Medieval Medical Manuscripts in the Harleian Collection

Leyden Medical Dissertations, 1593-1746


Page 294. " we must trephine at once "
by hector
Public DomainTrephining - Credit: Hieronymus Bosch

A trephine is a surgical instrument for cutting out discs of bone, generally from the skull.  It has a circular, saw-like blade.  Trephining, or trepanning, is the act of cutting a hole in the skull, often to relieve pressure or enable cranial surgery.


Public DomainTrephine - Credit: Chambers, 1908

Page 295. " men who have heard the death-watch "

The Death-Watch Beetle
GNU Free Documentation LicenseThe Death-Watch Beetle - Credit: Sarefo/wikimedia commons
The Death-watch beetle is a wood-boring beetle that creates a distinctive ticking sound, often heard in the rafters or floorboards during quiet nights. Because of this they have become associated with the watch kept over the dying, and so their ticking noise is sometimes considered to be an omen of death. A person who hears the death-watch beetle, according to superstition, does not have long to live.

Page 297. " The Acherontia atropos of the Sphinges "
by hector
Death's-head Hawk Moth
Creative Commons AttributionDeath's-head Hawk Moth - Credit: Orin Zebest

Acherontia atropos is one of three species of Death's-head Hawk moth.  It is a particularly large moth, with a wingspan of up to five inches.

The species name is heavily connected with death.  In Greek mythology, Atropos was one of the three goddesses of Fate and Acheron was the river of pain in the Underworld.  The moth is completely harmless, but the skull pattern on the thorax has caused it to be associated with evil and misfortune.

"Sphinges" is the plural of sphinx, and refers to the hawk moth family, Sphingidae.