Monday, November 10, 2008

Holland's Leager

The previous entry, though written from the top of my mind gave me a taste of history, so I decided to try my hand at it again, and at a similar subject. We are a brothel (yes, ok, a Gentlemen's Club AND brothel) , so why not write something about great Houses from the past ?
No such dissertation would be complete without "Holland's Leager". The House was acquired around 1600 by a woman calling herself "Donna Britannica Hollandia" (but also Dame Elizabeth Holland) , presumably because she wanted to advertise the fact that she was a Flemish Madame, i.e skilled at running a brothel. The lady was said to have been a beauty herself, and in possession of a "strong and imperious character". She was very protective of her girls and would not tolerate unruly behaviour.
The House, situated at the southern banks of London, was more than a mansion; it was nothing less than a fortified island, with ditches, a moat, a drawbridge , a portcullis and who knows what else. The woodcut shown supposedly is very near to the real thing. The house also seems to have boasted nice gardens, on the other hand, so once in, it must have been nice. Any visitors had to pass "Cerberus", the drawbridge guard, and pay an entry fee. If they misbehaved after entering the premises, they were summarily thrown into the ditch. Aside from that, visitors seem to have been treated with respect for their person and wishes.
Around 1631 the lease on the house seems to have been acquired by other persons, who subsequently tried to drive her out by manipulating a yearly event, basically a riot by the apprentices, hoping that the druken, unruly lot would destroy the house. Some damage was suffered, but the house still stood afterwards. After that they blackened the name of the establishment , resulting in the authorities sending in armed troops to arrest Dame Holland. It didn't end well for them. They were halfway the drawbridge, when Holland ordered its collapse, landing the hapless soldiers into the stinking moat, after which the girls pelted them with everything that came to hand, including chamberpots. The soldiers, watched from a distance by the gleeful southwark mob, subsequently tried several times to enter the house, but to no avail.
Eventually, the formidable lady had to submit to better organized assaults. Holland's fame was immortalized in song, as can be found at this spot (very nice music, by the way), where a soldier spends his possesions in his dallying with the girls. Another song's lyrics can be found here (where I also found the woodcut).

most of the information presented here is from
J.L. Simon's "A place for Pleasure",
J .A Browner's article in Essays in History vol 36, "Wrong Side of the River: London's disreputable South Bank in the sixteenth and seventeenth century" , see
"The borough of Southwark manors " , see

No comments: