Colin Wilson

Murder Mile

Soho: A History of London's Most Colourful Neighbourhood

By Judith Summers

Bloomsbury 240pp £14.95 order from our bookshop

I have an old map of London, dating back to 1574, on which Soho is marked as an area of open fields and woods, with a few weird looking animals – like a cross between horses, cows and geese – dotted about. It always produces a powerful nostalgia to look to the north of Oxford Street (then Tyburn Road) and find nothing but green fields intersected with streams and cart tracks. I experienced much the same kind of nostalgia as I read Judith Summers’ Soho (unnecessarily subtitled ‘A History of London’s Most Colourful Neighbourhood’) and learned, for example, that until the mid-19th century, Soho was full of barns and stables, and its most characteristic odour was of cow dung.

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