Jacobs Island & Oliver Twist


Jacobs Island & Oliver Twist

Bill Sikes came to a grizzly end here in Oliver Twist

Location: off Jacob Street

Description: Jacob's Island was a notorious rookery in Bermondsey, on the south bank of the River Thames in London. It was separated from Shad Thames to the west by St Saviour's Dock, the point where the subterranean River Neckinger enters the Thames, and on the other two sides by tidal ditches, one just west of George Row and the other just north of London Street (now named Wolseley Street).

Jacob's Island was immortalised by Charles Dickens's novel Oliver Twist, in which the principal villain Bill Sikes meets a nasty end in the mud of 'Folly Ditch'. Dickens provides a vivid description of what it was like:

... crazy wooden galleries common to the backs of half a dozen houses, with holes from which to look upon the slime beneath; windows, broken and patched, with poles thrust out, on which to dry the linen that is never there; rooms so small, so filthy, so confined, that the air would seem to be too tainted even for the dirt and squalor which they shelter; wooden chambers thrusting themselves out above the mud and threatening to fall into it - as some have done; dirt-besmeared walls and decaying foundations, every repulsive lineament of poverty, every loathsome indication of filth, rot, and garbage: all these ornament the banks of Jacob's Island.
Dickens was taken to this then-impoverished and unsavory location by the officers of the river police, with whom he would occasionally go on patrol. When a local politician attempted to deny the very existence of Jacob's Island, Dickens gave him short shrift, describing the area as the filthiest, the strangest, the most extraordinary of the many localities that are hidden in London. The area was once notoriously squalid and described as The very capital of cholera and The Venice of drains by the Morning Chronicle of 1849. The ditches were filled in the early 1850s, and the area later redeveloped as warehouses.


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Jacobs Island & Oliver Twist

Bill Sikes came to a grizzly end here in Oliver Twist

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Was Bill Sikes killed by a large bear from America, a Grizzly Bear, perhaps? I think youll find that "grisly" is the word that should be on the plaque (plack?). (Bob Pike)
Posted by Bob Pike on 2012-02-07

Other places nearby:


Mervyn Peake lived here», 4.9km

Home of poet Robert Browning», 5.0km

Where Was Wych Street?», 2.1km

Author JG Ballard lived here», 17.km

The Old Nicholl», 236km

Novelist James Hilton lived here», 7.6km

Dr Johnson's Dictionary House», 1.8km

Walter Pater lived here», 5.6km

Cash in the Wind», 1.1km

A meeting of Literary Minds», 2.9km

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