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IN THE NEWS
TOUR OF THE MONTH
ON THIS DAY IN LONDON
First Lady of Fleet Street
The home of the first female editor of a national newspaper.
Location: 7 Chesterfield Gardens, Mayfair
Description: This is where the first lady of Fleet Street, the first female editor of a national newspaper, lived in style. Rachel Beer was a renowned 19th century journalist who became editor of the Sunday Times and The Observer at the same time.
So significant was the pioneering success for women, that it was only until 1987 for the next female editor - Wendy Henry who became editor of The News of the World in 1987. To make it more remarkable was the fact that she also volunteered to work as an unpaid nurse at a local hospital too.
Rachel hosted great parties and society functions here, and by day she was using her opinion pieces in her newspapers to promote many of the same causes the evening events supported, such as the arts and women's advancement.
The biggest evetn they hosted here was when they hosted the Prince of Wales, his sister Princess Helena, and her husband and two daughters at a special theatrical event held at their home.
For three successive evenings at the end of February 1891, a procession of princes and princesses, dukes and duchesses, arrived at the Beers' residence for the sold-out, long anticipated Tableaux Vivant.
This upper-class amusement consisted of groups of costumed actors posing in various frozen compositions. The Beers went to great expense and trouble to perfect the show, and the famous Mrs. Bancroft, who had retired from acting six years earlier, agreed to direct and perform in the event. The show consisted of fourteen specially selected scenes with elaborate lighting effects, breathtaking costumes and props.