The Story of the Stone

Modern school-keepers had washed down the stone regularly, but its history was lost. What is probably the oldest engraved stone in Paddington appeared to have dropped from the skies. This stone, at that time was so mysterious and unknown that Michael Marland's immediate, modern problems lifted for a moment and a longer time scale became apparent.

1714 was the year Queen Anne died and George I began his leisurely journey across Europe from Germany, to take up the Crown of England. Only a year later came the First Jacobite Rebellion, with its attempt to bring back the Stuart dynasty.

In 1713, the Peace of Utrecht brought about a partition of the Spanish Empire. Spain had been the great power in Europe since soon after Columbus discovered America and with it the gold which would pay for mercenary soldiers. South American gold had allowed Spain to fight wars all over Europe and to challenge the Turks in the Mediterranean. Now Spain had been defeated and the victors were dividing up the spoils.

Great Britain obtained Gibraltar, Minorca, Nova Scotia Newfoundland, the Hudson Bay territories, and the monopoly of the slave trade with Latin America. In 1714 carne the Peace of Rastatt and Baden.  Britain's balance of power policy had been successful and Great Britain became 'the arbiter of Europe', and the political power able to grant the largest subsidies as a result of what one of our politicians called 'this most businesslike of all our wars',  (Seeley).

From Penguin 'Atlas of World History', p. 269

Paddington Almshouses, by Thomas Hosmer Shepherd

Today the Highgate Alms Houses, in Southwood Lane, are almost identical to those seen in this water colour, with its stone plaque displayed prominently in the chimney. At this time, almshouses were built  by the local people for local people, and paid for by a special Poor Tax. Their charity was well advertised so that people could see the results of their tax and be pleased.


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Updated June 8, 2012