Romance of London: A London Recluse

Romance of London: Strange Stories, Scenes And Remarkable Person of the Great Town in 3 Volumes

John Timbs

John Timbs (1801-1875), who also wrote as Horace Welby, was an English author and aficionado of antiquities. Born in Clerkenwell, London, he was apprenticed at 16 to a druggist and printer, where he soon showed great literary promise. At 19, he began to write for Monthly Magazine, and a year later he was made secretary to the magazine’s proprietor and there began his career as a writer, editor, and antiquarian.

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Suttle House, in Carlisle, Cumbria, belonged to a George Blamire and may have been the property George inherited from his mother Jane.

A London Recluse: Mr. George Blamire

Seclusion in a vast metropolis like London—that maelstrom of human affairs—is an anomalous state of existence, which is often set down by unthinking persons as madness; or at least, not sanity:

Thin partitions do their bounds divide.

Nevertheless, this phase of life has been enjoyed by persons of a reflective turn of mind, without being associated with selfishness, or caring nothing for the outside world, but loving,

through the loopholes of retreat

To peep at such a world: to see the stir

Of the great Babel, and not feel crowd.

In one of the fine houses of the Adelphi—No. 1, in Adam Street, the house in which lived Dr. Vicessimus Knox, the “British Essayist”—there died, in September 1863, a recluse of the better class, both as regards station and intellect, and whose sympathies were with the world, though he was, as it were, shut out from its stir. Such was Mr. George Blamire, son of Dr. Blamire, of Carlisle, a gentleman possessed of considerable property, and formerly a barrister. Mr. Blamire had, for nearly twenty years, lived in Adam Street, in almost total seclusion; no person, under any pretence whatever, being allowed to enter the three rooms in his occupation on the first floor. His meals were prepared by his housekeeper, and were left on a tray at the door of the ante-room and then taken in by the deceased; and although many times in a state of ill-health, he refused to have medical aid, but used to have sent in from a chemist’s a quantity of different medicines. All communications to him were received in the same way as his meals, and for more than twelve months he never left his house. He is stated to have been a person of considerable ability, and, although very eccentric in his habits, of perfectly sound mind, and capable of managing his property, which consisted among others of large estates in Cumberland and Cardiff. Death, in such seclusion, must have come with twofold awe. It appears that Mr. Blamire’s housekeeper went up, as usual, with his dinner, but received no reply at the door, and although she frequently called him, she did not again see him alive. In two days, becoming alarmed, she made a communication to the police, and the door was broken open. The floor of the ante-room was strewn with newspapers, writings, &c., chairs, table, and other articles of furniture. The left-hand room… presented even a more extraordinary appearance. At one end was a chimney-glass some twelve feet in height, covered with dust and cobwebs. The furniture, of very handsome description, was in an equally dusty state, while the dust lay on everything to nearly an inch in thickness. The floor was strewn with trunks, papers, and books of science and law of much value. There were also three large bags filled with new boots, several silver spoons lay upon the sideboards; and packages of candles, clothing, &c, were heaped up in the utmost of confusion. Near the doorway was a painting of the Crucifixion, about 12 ft. by 4 ft., said to be of great value. In the right-hand room, furniture, books, paintings, &c., were piled together in dirt and disorder. The deceased was found lying in decomposition, having no doubt been dead several days. He was dressed, but in a very dirty state, and by his side lay the remains of some food. There was neither bed nor bedding; the deceased is stated for twenty years to have slept in the same chair. In other parts of the room were scraps of bread, bottles of wine, and medicine. Upon a further search, 7l. 17s. in a bag, a gold and silver watch, twenty-six silver articles, and other valuables, were found; while upon the floor were scattered thirty keys. Dr. Alfred Harvey afterwards examined the body and made a post-mortem examination, from which it was shown that death had resulted from exhaustion, from low fever accelerated by neglect; the verdict returned by the coroner’s jury. The deceased was a bachelor, and had no near relatives; but he was said to have been very charitable and honourable.


Jan Steen: The Satyr and the Peasant Family, once in the possession of George Blamire, was believed to have been held by the Nazis in 1940 and now found at the J. Paul Getty Museum.

Mr. Blamire’s estate was found to include a vault of very old wines, including some 1720 rum that was recorked in 1826 and was upwards of 144 years old when sold at Blamire’s death. The whole stock realized above 1,700l.

Longmont's Magazine, Vol. 16

Longman’s Magazine, Vol. 16

Susanna Blamire (1747–1794), an English poet, known as The Muse of Cumberland, was likely a relative. Her poems, collected in 1842, depicted Cumbrian life and manners.



Romance of London Series

  1. Romance of London: The Lord Mayor’s Fool… and a Dessert
  2. Romance of London: Carlton House and the Regency
  3. Romance of London: The Championship at George IV’s Coronation
  4. Romance of London: Mrs. Cornelys at Carlisle House
  5. Romance of London: The Bottle Conjuror
  6. Romance of London: Bartholomew Fair
  7. Romance of London: The May Fair and the Strong Woman
  8. Romance of London: Nancy Dawson, the Hornpipe Dancer
  9. Romance of London: Milkmaids on May-Day
  10. Romance of London: Lord Stowell’s Love of Sight-seeing
  11. Romance of London: The Mermaid Hoax
  12. Romance of London: The Bluestocking and the Sweeps’ Holiday
  13. Romance of London: Comments on Hogarth’s “Industries and Idle Apprentices”
  14. Romance of London: The Lansdowne Family
  15. Romance of London: St. Margaret’s Painted Window at Westminster
  16. Romance of London: Montague House and the British Museum
  17. Romance of London: The Bursting of the South Sea Bubble
  18. Romance of London: The Thames Tunnel
  19. Romance of London: Sir William Petty and the Lansdowne Family
  20. Romance of London: Marlborough House and Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough
  21. Romance of London: The Duke of Newcastle’s Eccentricities
  22. Romance of London: Voltaire in London
  23. Romance of London: The Crossing Sweeper
  24. Romance of London: Nathan Mayer Rothschild’s Fear of Assassination
  25. Romance of London: Samuel Rogers, the Banker Poet
  26. Romance of London: The Eccentricities of Lord Byron
  27. Romance of London: A London Recluse


5 thoughts on “Romance of London: A London Recluse

  1. Pingback: Romance of London: A London Recluse | spiritofnlm

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