The Places of Pride and Prejudice: Where, Oh Where, Did Wickham and Lydia Marry? Or the Dilemma of the Two St Clements

“La! You are so strange! But I must tell you how it went off. We were married, you know, at St. Clement’s, because Wickham’s lodgings were in that parish. And it was settled that we should all be there by eleven o’clock. My uncle and aunt and I were to go together; and the others were to meet us at the church. Well, Monday morning came, and I was in such a fuss! I was so afraid, you know, that something would happen to put it off, and then I should have gone quite distracted. And there was my aunt, all the time I was dressing, preaching and talking away just as if she was reading a sermon. However, I did not hear above one word in ten, for I was thinking, you may suppose, of my dear Wickham. I longed to know whether he would be married in his blue coat.

“Well, and so we breakfasted at ten as usual; I thought it would never be over; for, by the bye, you are to understand, that my uncle and aunt were horrid unpleasant all the time I was with them. If you’ll believe me, I did not once put my foot out of doors, though I was there a fortnight. Not one party, or scheme, or any thing. To be sure London was rather thin, but, however, the Little Theatre was open. Well, and so just as the carriage came to the door, my uncle was called away upon business to that horrid man Mr. Stone. And then, you know, when once they get together, there is no end of it. Well, I was so frightened I did not know what to do, for my uncle was to give me away; and if we were beyond the hour, we could not be married all day. But, luckily, he came back again in ten minutes time, and then we all set out. However, I recollected afterwards that if he had been prevented going, the wedding need not be put off, for Mr. Darcy might have done as well.”

“Mr. Darcy!” repeated Elizabeth, in utter amazement.

Pride and Prejudice, v. III, ch. IX

St Clement Danes -Strand 1 London Views

St Clement Danes – Strand (London Views)

Jane Austen often gives clues to the whereabouts of her locations, especially in her London passages – we know she knew London well and placed her characters in just the right spot to tell her readers who they were by where they lived.  We famously have a few “____shire”s scattered about regarding the militia, for an element of secrecy one might assume? But in Pride and Prejudice there are two locations that she specifies that bring only confusion, and both involve Wickham and Lydia: St. Clement, where they were married, and Edward Street, home to Mrs. Younge, Georgiana’s former governess and friend and devious helper to Wickham. Today I will deal with the former…

When Lydia remarks that “We were married, you know, at St. Clement’s, because Wickham’s lodgings were in that parish.” – she gives a clue that perhaps contemporary readers would not have found confusing, but we are left with not being completely sure which St. Clements she is referring to: St Clement Danes in the Strand, or St. Clement Eastcheap. Neither is mentioned in her extant letters.

Pat Rogers notes in her 2006 Cambridge edition of Pride and Prejudice that the fairly large parish of St. Clement Danes had a population of 12,000 in 1801 and “contained areas of cheap lodgings and some raffish districts, notably a part of Drury Lane” (531-32). Most who have written on this would agree (see Kaplan and Fullerton cites below), largely because the other St. Clement (Eastcheap), on St. Clement’s Lane between Lombard Street and Great Eastcheap, would have been too close to the Gardiner’s who lived on Gracechurch Street [see maps for location of both churches]. Wickham would not have placed himself in such a smaller parish, with a population of 350 in 1801 (Rogers, 531), and so close to those who might find him out. Another reason that Rogers selects this as the best option is that in order to marry in this parish, one of the parties had to have residence there for fifteen days (Rogers, 532). Laurie Kaplan adds that “the length of time required for residency functions perfectly for the elopement plot of the novel, for tension increases the longer Lydia and Wickham remain unmarried” (Kaplan, 7). But we know Wickham had no mind to marry Lydia … .another story entirely… (the text is very clear on this: Mrs. Gardiner relates to Elizabeth: “…it only remained, he [Darcy] thought, to secure and expedite a marriage, which in his very first conversation with Wickham, he easily learnt, had never been his design.” (357).

But perhaps in the end, we should just abide by Susannah Fullerton, where in her Celebrating Pride and Prejudice, she blames Lydia for the whole confusing mess: “How typical of Lydia to be inexact in her information!” (p. 94-95)

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London map - londonlives

Map of City boundaries: The City of London is indicated in dark blue, Westminster in purple, Middlesex in brown, and Southwark in green.  The base map is John Rocque’s, London, Westminster and Southwark, 1746. © Motco 2001 from LondonLives.org

Horwood panel 14

Horwood Map panel 14. [RICHARD HORWOOD – MAP OF LONDON, WESTMINSTER AND SOUTHWARK, 1813]
St Clement Danes is located at the heart of London, placed on an island in the middle of the Strand,
opposite the Royal Courts of Justice, the Temple and Fleet Street – on the map above circled in purple.
(Click on map and zoom in; map courtesy of Sue Forgue at Regency Encyclopedia, from the Guildhall Library, London)

St. Clement Danes: The first church on the site was founded by Danes in the 9th century, and named after St. Clement, patron saint of mariners. It has been rebuilt by William the Conqueror, later again in the Middle Ages, and rebuilt yet again in 1680-82 by Christopher Wren, a steeple added in 1719-20.  It was gutted during the blitz, only the walls and tower left standing, and since reconstruction has served as the central church for the Royal Air Force.

St Clement Danes - 1753

An early street view of the Strand and St Clement Danes Church, 1753. On the right is the original entrance to the building.
cTrustees of the British Museum; image from Christina Parolin, Radical Spaces (ANU, 2010).

St Clement Danes today: when in London in May 2011 I visited the Church for the first time, finding it a quite lovely and peacful setting on its little island in the midst of bustling London – here are a few shots, alas! not that well focused and no exterior shots of the facade, so I include one from Geograph.org.uk, with thanks.

St Clement Danes

St Clement Danes

St Clement Danes, interior

St Clement Danes, interior

St Clement Danes ceiling

St Clement Danes ceiling

St Clement Danes

flag in St Clement Danes

St Clement Danes - geographSt Clement Danes exterior – cPhilip Halling, Geograph.org.uk

[A movie aside: You will notice that there are no entrance steps, as there are no steps for St Clements Eastcheap – if you recall from the 1995 movie, Lydia is running up the steps to the church, so neither of these sites were used in the movie [and I find no picture of this scene – if anyone knows where that exterior shot was filmed, please let me know!]

St Clement Eastcheap - Harrison engraving 1777 - wikipedia

Facade St Clement Eastcheap

c.1760, from Walter Harrison’s History of London (1777) – wikipedia

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St. Clement Eastcheap:  located on St. Clement’s Lane between Lombard Street and Great Eastcheap [today on Clement’s Lane, off King William Street] and close to London Bridge and the River Thames – see here on the Horwood panel 15:

Horwood panel 15

Horwood Map panel 15. [RICHARD HORWOOD – MAP OF LONDON, WESTMINSTER AND SOUTHWARK, 1813]
The purple marks Gracechurch Street, home ot the Gardiners, and ends at the botton at Great Eastcheap,
go one block to the left to find St. Clement’s Lane, the Church is on the right.
(Click on map and zoom in; map courtesy of Sue Forgue at Regency Encyclopedia, from the Guildhall Library, London)

Though we are quite sure that this is not where Austen had Lydia and Wickham marrying, it is still worth noting – perhaps we are wrong in our assumptions after all, and Wickham was just “hiding in plain sight”?  This St. Clement has possible Roman origins; it was destroyed in 1666 in the Great Fire of London, and rebuilt in the 1680s and also designed by Wren.  And one should note that “cheap” is an old Saxon word meaning “market” and does not mean “cheap” as we associate it today.  Here are a few images:

St Clement Eastcheap - London Views

St Clement Eastcheap – London Views

St Clement Eastcheap today - wikipedia

St Clement Eastcheap today – wikipedia

There are a number of fine images of St. Clement Eastcheap on flickr here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/costi-londra/sets/72157621338588177/

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The St Clement argument does not just revolve around Jane Austen [and indeed may she just been throwing out a very sly reference to her sailor brothers? – just a thought, St. Clement being the patron saint of sailors] … The Churches apparently have a long-standing “quibble” over which is the St. Clement referred to in the nursery rhyme “Oranges and Lemons” – here is the full rhyme: [the long version from wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oranges_and_Lemons ].  It is the bells of St. Clement Danes that ring out the tune of the rhyme three times a day.

Bouvier - oranges lemons - wp

 “Oranges And Lemons”, Nicholl Bouvier Games 1874, “The Pictorial World” by Agnes Rose Bouvier (1842 – 1892) – wikipedia

Gay go up and gay go down, To ring the bells of London town.

Oranges and lemons, Say the bells of St. Clements.

Bull’s eyes and targets, Say the bells of St. Margret’s.

Brickbats and tiles, Say the bells of St. Giles’.

Halfpence and farthings,  Say the bells of St. Martin’s.

Pancakes and fritters, Say the bells of St. Peter’s.

Two sticks and an apple, Say the bells of Whitechapel.

Pokers and tongs, Say the bells of St. John’s.

Kettles and pans, Say the bells of St. Ann’s.

Old Father Baldpate, Say the slow bells of Aldgate.

You owe me ten shillings, Say the bells of St. Helen’s.

When will you pay me? Say the bells of Old Bailey.

When I grow rich, Say the bells of Shoreditch.

Pray when will that be? Say the bells of Stepney.

I do not know, Says the great bell of Bow.

Here comes a candle to light you to bed,

Here comes a chopper to chop off your head.

Chip chop chip chop, The last man’s dead!

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You can hear more of the history of the rhyme here on youtube; and you can listen to the rhyme here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9hzYkh-lp0

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And finally, to bring this back to Jane Austen, where all begins and ends after all, there is behind the St Clement Danes church a statue, by Percy Hetherington Fitzgerald and erected in 1910, of all people, Jane Austen’s very own Dear Dr. Johnson.  I think she would be pleased, don’t you?

Samuel Johnson - St Clement Danes

Samuel Johnson – St Clement Danes

Further reading:

1. Laurie Kaplan. “London as Text: Teaching Jane Austen’s “London” Novels In Situ.” Persuasions On-Line 32.1 (2011).

2. Pat Rogers, ed. Pride and Prejudice: The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jane Austen. Cambridge UP, 2006. Google link: http://books.google.com/books?id=yxIHAemJKM4C&lpg=PA531&ots=DK3PxqM79J&dq=st.%20clements%20pride%20and%20prejudice&pg=PA531#v=onepage&q=st.%20clements&f=false

3. Susannah Fullerton.  Celebrating Pride and Prejudice (Voyageur Press, 2013).

4. Pemberley.com has maps and commentary: http://www.pemberley.com/images/landt/maps/pp/StClements.html

5. Patrick Wilson in his Where’s Where in Jane Austen … and What Happens There, (JASA), says it is Danes church in Strand: see JASNA.org http://www.jasna.org/info/maps-london-key.html

6. At Austen.com: http://www.austen-beginners.com/index.shtml

7. Google Maps of Jane Austen places in the novels: this site notes that the St. Clements in is Eastcheap – you can zoom in here in the London area and choose locations.

8. St. Clement Danes website:  http://www.raf.mod.uk/stclementdanes/

9. English Heritage: http://list.english-heritage.org.uk/resultsingle.aspx?uid=1237099

10. London Lives: http://www.londonlives.org/static/StClementDane.jsp

11. Geograph interior image [better than mine!]: http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1017806

12. St. Clement Danes at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Clement_Danes

13. St. Clement Eastcheap at wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Clement_Eastcheap

c2013 Jane Austen in Vermont