This map plots the settings and references in Tipping the Velvet
To start exploring, click a red pin
Most of the book takes place in various parts of London, the capital of England.
There are very detailed references to the music-halls and theatres in the district known as Theatreland at the heart of the West End. Traditionally, this is defined as the area bounded by The Strand to the south, Oxford Street to the north, Regent Street to the west and Kingsway to the east.
Later, the two girls live south of the River Thames in Brixton. Nan's time with Diana Lethaby is spent in St. John's Wood in northwest London.
The remainder of the story is based predominantly in north and east London, particularly in the East End. There are specific references to places in Islington, the City, Hackney, Whitechapel, Limehouse, Poplar, Bethnal Green.
The early part of Tipping the Velvet takes place largely in the town of Whitstable in Kent. There are numerous references to other towns in Kent, including Canterbury, Chatham, Margate, Dover, Faversham and Rochester.
Whitstable is a coastal town in northeast Kent, about 5 miles from Canterbury. As well as being famous for its oysters and its oyster festival, it is also a popular seaside resort. One of its most distinctive landmarks is The Street, a sandbar accessible at low tide which separates Tankerton and Whitstable and extends about half a mile out into the sea.
The traditional Whitstable oyster is Ostrea edulis; the local name for members of this species is natives. Today, Whitstable oyster is a protected title which may be used to describe both natives and other species of oyster grown in local waters; the oysters are raised in hatcheries before being transferred to offshore oyster beds.
The Whitstable oyster industry declined substantially between the 1920s and the late 1970s, but is now undergoing a revival; the annual oyster festival, which has long been a feature of the town, continues to be held in late July, the traditional holiday period of the oyster dredgers.
Whitstable lies on the north coast of Kent, a county in southeast England.
There does not appear to be any record of a Dover theatre named the Phoenix. However, Phoenix was a popular name for theatres and cinemas during the 20th Century.
In current English, masher is a slang term for a man who forces his unwanted attentions on a woman; in 19th century England, particularly in the world of the Music Hall, a masher was a male impersonator, or any woman who dressed as a man.
Faversham is a small market town in Kent, close to Whitstable.
Follow this link for a glimpse of Trafalgar Square in 1890; it is difficult to tell whether the horse-drawn vehicles are trams or omnibuses.*
*Note that on p.64 of Tipping the Velvet it says: There are no trams in Trafalgar Square - only buses and hansoms.
Brixton is situated in the Borough of Lambeth, in south London.
Today, it is a multi-ethnic community, many of whose members are of African and Caribbean descent. In the late 19th Century, however, it was a white, middle class suburb, although it became increasingly working class as the century drew to an end.
Greasepaint is theatrical make-up, literally grease mixed with various colourings.
Bermondsey is an area of south London, situated in the London Borough of Southwark.
The Star was an actual music hall, situated at 189 Abbey Street, Bermondsey. It later became the Star Cinema.
Follow this link to see the Star Music Hall c. 1925;
Follow this link to see the Star Cinema c. 1937;
Follow this link to see the Star Cinema, when no longer in use.
The strip of sea which separates the Isle of Sheppey from the mainland is known as The Swale.
Whitehall is a street that runs south from Trafalgar Square to Parliament Square. It is the location of numerous government departments and ministeries.
Follow this link to see maps of London's Theatreland between 1860 and 2002.
The music hall known as the London Pavilion, established in 1859, was situated initially on Tichbourne Street (now Great Windmill Street). A new London Pavilion was then built in 1885 on the corner of Coventry Street and the newly created Shaftesbury Avenue.
Follow this link for more information about the London Pavilion.
London Bridge spans the River Thames between the City of London and Southwark.
The present bridge (opened in 1973) is the latest in a long line of London Bridges; the previous bridge, built in 1831, was dismantled at the end of the 1960s and sold to an American buyer; it was subsequently reassembled in Arizona.
Battersea Bridge, which was opened in 1890, crosses the River Thames between Chelsea to the north and Battersea to the south.
The present structure replaced a wooden bridge which had existed since 1771 and which had been the subject of paintings by J.M.W. Turner and James Whistler.
Lambeth Bridge crosses the River Thames east-west between Lambeth and Westminster.
The bridge is just a short walk from the Houses of Parliament, Lambeth Palace (official residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury) and St. Thomas' Hospital.
The present bridge was opened in 1932. It replaced a suspension bridge which had opened in 1862 but which rapidly fell into disrepair and was used only by pedestrians.
The building had been the Artichoke public house, and was converted into a music hall in 1875. It closed down in 1917 but was not demolished until 1965.
Follow this link to see a picture of the Foresters' following its closure, and to read more of its history.
Sebrights Music Hall was situated at 28 Coate Street in the Bethnal Green area of London's East End. Originally a pub called the Sebright Arms, it was converted into a music hall in 1885; at various stages of its history it was known as Sebright's Palace of Varieties, the Belmont Music Hall and the Regent Theatre.
Follow this link to read more about the history of the area.
Location of Cambridge Heath and Coate Street:
Traditionally, it stretches from Islington High Street to Highbury Fields, but the term Islington is sometimes used nowadays to describe nearby areas such as Barnsby and Canonbury.
Marylebone is an affluent, mainly residential, area of central London, situated within the City of Westminster (2).
Battersea is an area of south London, situated in the London Borough of Wandsworth (5).
Peckham is an area of south London, situated in the London Borough of Southwark (7).
Hackney (9) is a London Borough situated in North London; it includes areas such as Hoxton, Shoreditch and Dalston.
Of the areas named, 3 are situated north of the River Thames, two (Battersea and Peckham), to the south. Due to local government boundary changes and name changes which have taken place in the 20th Century, not all the descriptions of the areas listed are quite as they would have been in the late 19th Century.
(Numbers in brackets refer to map locations.)
Today the hospital known as Charing Cross Hospital is situated on the Fulham Palace Road in the west London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. It was opened in 1973.
Between 1823 and 1957, however, the Charing Cross Hospital was situated on two sites at Villiers Street and Agar Street in the Charing Cross area of Central London.
Prior to 1887, other music halls had existed at this location, and following the demolition of the Theatre of Varieties, the Holborn Empire was built on the same site; this was demolished in 1960.
Follow this link for a fuller history, and pictures.
Deacons was a music hall in Clerkenwell in the London Borough of Islington; it was situated on Myddelton place opposite the Sadler's Well's Theatre; Myddelton place was later absorbed into Rosebery Avenue.
The music hall opened in 1884 as an extension of the Sir Hugh Myddelton Tavern and was demolished in 1891.
The music hall, which opened in 1863, was a converted pub. It was named after its founder, the variety entertainer Sam Collins.
In 1958, the building was almost completely destroyed by fire. Today, it is the site of a Waterstones bookshop.
However, in 2008 work began on a new theatre complex known as the Collins Theatre, which is situated at the corner of Islington Green and Essex Road, and incorporates part of the old music hall.
Follow this link to see a sketch of the old music hall.
Stamford Hill is an area of North London, situated in the London Borough of Hackney.
It is notable for its very high Orthodox Jewish population, estimated to be in the region of 20,000 (sources vary on this point).
The Britannia Theatre was situated at 115-117 High Street*, Hoxton, in the London Borough of Hackney.
It operated between 1858 and 1900, when it was severely damaged by fire.
A Gaumont Cinema was built on the site in 1913 (some sources say 1923), but this too was largely destroyed during the Blitz in 1940.
Follow this link to see a commemorative plaque for the theatre.
*now generally known as Hoxton Street.
Wapping is a district of northeast London, in the Borough of Tower Hamlets; it forms part of the area known today as the Docklands. It has a long maritime history. The London Docks were built there between 1799 and 1815.
In the 17th and 18th Centuries, some African and Afro-Caribbean slaves were brought to Britain to work as servants in aristocratic families. It is also estimated that by the 1800s there were between 15,000 and 20,000 free black people living in London.
The Slavery Abolition Act was passed by the British Parliament in 1833.
Canterbury is a city in Kent, situated on the River Stour.
This is now the A10, which in its entirety runs from London Bridge to Kings Lynn in Norfolk. It is known in parts as the Great Cambridge Road and the Old North Road, and partly follows the route of the old Roman road known as Ermine Street.
Within London, its route includes Tottenham High Road, Stamford Hill High Road, Stoke Newington High Street, Kingsland High Street, Shoreditch High Street and Bishopsgate.
Moorgate is a street in London which connects the City of London to the boroughs of Islington and Hackney.
Originally, Moorgate was a postern (a small inconspicuous gateway) in the London Wall, the defensive structure built by the Romans around the city they called Londinium.
Limehouse is an area in the East End of London, situated at the eastern end of the Commercial Road in the Borough of Tower Hamlets.
Soho is a vibrant area in the West End of London.
Traditionally, it has been associated with entertainment and film, and the sex industry (strip-clubs, brothels and sex shops). Today, the sex-related industries have declined somewhat, but it is still the location of many media-related businesses as well as a large number of up-market restaurants.
Since the 1970s, Gerrard Street in Soho has become the centre of London's Chinatown.
Berwick Street is situated in Soho, an area of London which has been the centre of the city's sex industry for over 200 years.
The Paragon Theatre of Varieties was situated on the Mile End Road, in the Stepney area of London.
It opened in 1885 on the site of Lusby's Music Hall, which had been destroyed by fire. It became a cinema known as the Mile End Empire in 1912.
In the 1930s, a new cinema was built on the site; it is still in existence today, operating under the name of Genesis.
Gray's Inn Road extends from High Holborn to King's Cross.
Although there is no Green Street off Gray's Inn Road at the present time, there is a Green Yard.
It is famous for its lake, known as the Serpentine, and for its area of public debate and discussion known as Speakers' Corner.
Kensington Gardens lies to the West of Hyde Park.
It was formerly the private land belonging to Kensington Palace, and is one the Royal Parks.
Stratford is an area of northeast London, situated in the Borough of Newham.
Having long been a poor area, it underwent significant development and regeneration in preparation for the London Summer Olympic Games in 2012.
In the 18th and 19th Centuries St James's was one of the most fashionable residential areas in London.
Its central feature is an equestrian statue of William III, erected in 1808.
The Foundling Hospital, an orphanage, was established in 1742 on Bloomsbury Fields, north of Great Ormond Street and west of Gray's Inn Lane. Its founder was Thomas Coram, a retired sea captain.
Although a foundling, strictly speaking, was a deserted or abandoned child of unknown parentage, the hospital was for illegitimate children who would otherwise have spent their lives in the workhouse; they were, therefore, often brought to the hospital by their own mothers.
The hospital remained in use until 1926, when it was relocated to Hertfordshire.
Today, memories of the Foundling Hospital are kept alive in the Foundling Museum which is situated adjacent to the original hospital site in Brunswick Square.
There does not appear to have been a ladies' club known as The Cavendish in London in the late 19th Century.
However, in Tipping the Velvet The Cavendish Ladies' Club is presented as a very discreet institution, as gay clubs of the period, for men or women, would no doubt have needed to be; it is now accepted that prejudice has prevented accurate documentation of many aspects of LGBT history.
Sackville Street is situated off Piccadilly, not far from Jermyn Street, the site of a hotel known as The Cavendish.
As is noted a few lines later, the Old Mo was the Midddlesex Music Hall.
It was situated on what is now the site of the New London Theatre, on Drury Lane and Parker Street.
Known initially as the Mogul Saloon (an extension of the Mogul tavern), the Middlesex opened in 1851; its nickname derives from the original name.
Between 1910 and 1911, it was rebuilt under the name New Middlesex Theatre of Varieties; this building was demolished in 1965, and work began on the present theatre in 1971.
For a more detailed history, see here.
Hampstead is an affluent area of London, situated in the London Borough of Camden.
It has traditionally been seen as the stamping ground of literary, musical, and artistic figures; intellectuals; and middle-class liberals.
One of the main attractions of the area is the large open space known as Hampstead Heath.
Peckham is an area of South London, situated in the Borough of Southwark; it forms part of the constituency of Camberwell and Peckham, which is one of the most deprived in the country.
The Peckham Palace of Varieties was on Southampton Street (fomerly Rainbow Lane; now Southampton Way); it is said to have been part of a pub known as the Rosemary Branch.
Capri is an island in the Tyrrhenian Sea, just off the southwest coast of Italy.
Compton Mackenzie wrote a satirical novel about the 1920s lesbian community on Capri, entitled Extraordinary Women (1928).
The Ladies of Llangollen was the name given to two Anglo-Irish women: Lady Eleanor Charlotte Butler (1739-1829) and the Honourable Sarah Ponsonby (1755-1832).
Brought up in the same area of Ireland, they became friends in 1768 and scandalised society by running away together in 1778.
They eventually set up home at Plas Newydd near Llangollen in north east Wales, where they became a magnet for all kinds of illustrious visitors, including William Wordsworth, Percy Bysshe Shelley, the Duke of Wellington and Josiah Wedgewood.
Plas Newydd is now a museum.
The Edgware Road runs from Marble Arch to Edgware, a suburb of North London, after which it continues as the A5.
'Edgware Road' is also the informal name for an area which extends from Cumberland Gate and the north east corner of Hyde Park in the south to the Marylebone flyover in the north.
Its rather unusual name stems from the Battle of Maida, fought between the British and the French not far from the town of Maida in Italy in 1806.
The area known as Little Venice is part of Maida Vale.
Today, Angel is a district of London in the Borough of Islington. During the period in which Tipping the Velvet is set, the Angel was a coaching inn, situated on the corner of Pentonville Road and Islington High Street.
The inn was rebuilt in 1899 and subsequently became a Lyons Corner House, which closed in 1959; the building is now a bank.
Columbia Market is a street flower market, on Sundays only, on Columbia Road (off Hackney Road) in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.
Prior to 1886 it was a covered market; the building which housed the market was not demolished until 1958.
Diss Street, Sclater Street, Fashion Street, Plumbers Row and Coke Street are all actual streets in the Poplar district of London.
There are also streets called Hare Row, Pinchin Street and Pearl Street in the same district.
Location of Coke Street and Plumbers Row:
Victoria Park, which opened in 1845, is an open green space in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.
By the end of the 19th Century, it had become an important recreational area, as well as a venue for political meetings and rallies.