Covent Garden’s Little Piazza burned down on 20th March, 1769, after a fire started in John Bradley’s distillery under the property on the corner of Russell Street. John Bradley did indeed live in, and run his business from, the house mentioned in this book. A bawd named Mother Gould ran the brothel above it in 1769. George Carpenter had a coffee house in a rude shack in the centre of Covent Garden. It was called The Finish because it was the last place to close at night.

James Townsend, Lord Shelburne and others were involved in a scheme to build up a fund of East India Company stock to split at the election of directors. When the market crashed in May 1769, Townsend helped to meet Shelburne’s financial responsibilities.

By the mid-18th century, men had been experimenting with electricity for over a century. Otto Von Guericke invented an electrostatic generator in 1650. By 1745, static electricity was stored in an early form of capacitor called the Leyden Jar. Benjamin Franklin coined the word ‘battery’, after likening a row of such jars to a ‘battery of cannons’. He also gave us the lightning conductor. Methodist minister, John Wesley, used a machine very like that in The Finish to ‘heal’ his parishioners. James Graham launched a ‘Temple of Hymen’ and created an electrical celestial bed to aid sexual congress. Far from being science fiction, 18th century electricity was science fact.


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