Link To The Past: What Stands There Now?
Where is 225 Piccadilly? Is it any surprise that in 2015, on the site where Saartjie Baartman was privately exhibited in the early 1800s, there is now a souvenir gift shop?
This is a very rich part of London, it forms part of the Crown Estate, as in, wealth set-up shop sans gentrification and to this day makes money off of retailers in the area.
Baartman’s tragic life story, for me, reinforced the fact that the rebuttal “oh it was in the past, we must look to the future” when it comes to our histories, colonialism, slavery etc. are words of arrogance and cowardice.
TW: Grotesque Violence*
Early on in Rachel Holmes’ The Hottentot Venus, I had to put the book down, I was shocked, tearful and angry when I read *Body parts such as the breasts of Khosian women made into souvenir tobacco pouches were kept as trophies…* To someone unaware of the full extent of the savagery committed against Saartjie, that would be an early indication of what befell her.
When I have enough money on my oyster card, I tend to go on bus journeys, just to mentally document the changing landscape of London and when I don’t have enough money I walk. I tend to notice the blue English heritage plaques on buildings much more when walking around central London. After seeing the advert printed in the book, I decided to find out where 225 was and after reading that notable individuals of the time would either arrange to have Saartjie visit their residence or attend Piccadilly; I put two-and-two together.
What if the notable people of the time, posthumously recognised as residents in wealthy parts of London, went to see or arranged to see Saartjie during her time in London?
History impacts the present…