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In Pictures: London's Obsession With The Monument Suicides

Will Noble
By Will Noble Last edited 8 months ago
In Pictures: London's Obsession With The Monument Suicides

A favourite fact of London's tour guides is that more people died jumping off the Monument to the Great Fire of London, than perished in the fire itself.

While that may or may not be true, Georgian and Victorian London had an infatuation with those who did leap to their deaths from the 62m tall plinth. Guildhall Library's collection of 'broadsides' — single-sided sheets of paper containing just one story, document these tragic deaths.

Caps, exclamation marks and excitable descriptives were the order of the day, much like today's tabloids:

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Some publishers went the extra mile to reel readers in. Here's another account of Margaret Moyes's death, set to poetry:

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All of the Monument broadsides featured an image of the suicide plummeting to their fate. Some illustrations were more accomplished than others. The artist here appears to have used a static looking woodcut, minus the legs:

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Looks a little awry, don't you think?

Because of their throwaway nature, most broadsides perished long ago, and many in the Guildhall Library's collection may be one-of-a-kind.

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Suicides from the Monument became such an issue — with six reported deaths between 1788 and 1842 — that a cage was eventually positioned over the viewing platform. It remains there today.

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See the Guildhall's full collection of Monument broadsides here.

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Last Updated 07 September 2016