Gun Street & Minster Street, Reading
A Description of 1808

"Crossing the [St. Mary's] churchyard, I entered another narrow street [Gun Street], in a part where half a dozen fat hogs were hanging across the footpath [at Edward Bernard's Butcher's Shop], apparently just killed, with their reeking entrails hanging on each side. Fortunately, as the path here was tolerably wide, I got by, without stumbling into the yawning street; but here I was not so fortunate, for, in endeavouring to pass between the shop and a carriage, I brought away with me nearly half a pint of blood in my coat sleeve, and very prettily laced my new beaver with hogs' lard; a convincing proof that in this famous place, "everyone doeth that which is good in his own eyes" if he considers it to be for his own advantage; without paying any attention to decency, good order, or the convenience and comfort of his neighbours. Passing on [into Minster Street], my attention was drawn to a bookseller's shop window [at Robert Snare's Bookshop at No 16], but while I was perusing the titles of the books exposed for sale, I inadvertently overset a whole row of earthenware, that, notwithstanding the narrowness of the footpath, had been ranged along the ground in the front of the next house [James Drover's China Shop at No 15]. Disgusted with repeated disasters, I made the best of my way out of the street, but not without apprehension of some of the houses falling on my head. They having been apparently built in the glorious days of good Queen Bess, with one story over-hanging the other, in the usual manner of those times, 'till they nearly met at the roof [Hounslow's & Horniman's Corners]. These, also, I am informed, are intended to be purchased by the town, and the entrance of the street widened, but as no period is fixed for its being done, I suppose it will be ad Calendas Graecas. I should have mentioned a large two-wheeled barrow, belonging to the grocer at the corner [Johnson's Grocery Store at No 1], but as this is generally placed in the high road, for the appar­ent purpose of overturning carts and carriages, and not with the kind intention of furnishing the foot-passengers with bro-ken legs, it appeared to be out of my line of observation."


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