27 Nov: The Berners St Hoax

We reveal how, on 27th November, 1809, a respectable house on the well-to-do Berners Street in London became ground zero for one of the most disruptive practical jokes in history: the Berners Street Hoax.

First a chimney sweep turned up at the address, then another and another, then cake makers, surgeons, lawyers, physicians, obstetricians, butchers, priests and more. The archbishop of Canterbury also showed his face, as did the Governor of the Bank of England, the chairman of the East India Company, and even the Duke of York.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly revisit the practical joke that brought London to a standstill; discuss why exactly 54 Berners Street was the chosen address for the prank; and debate whether it was funny or just incredibly tiresome…

Further Reading:

• ‘Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine: Volume 42’ (J.B. Lippincott Company, 1888): https://www.google.co.uk/books/edition/Lippincott_s_Monthly_Magazine/JbURAAAAYAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=berners+street+hoax&pg=PA415&printsec=frontcover

• ‘The Berners Street Hoax, History’s Most Audacious Prank’ (Curious Historian, 2020): https://curioushistorian.com/the-berners-street-hoax-historys-most-audacious-prank

• ‘On Punning by Theodore Hook’ (LibriVox Audiobooks, 2019): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p44rcxOlp78

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