Monday, March 13, 2006

Angel Alley

This photograph shows the entrance to Angel Alley off Whitechapel High Street. Angel Alley was only a short distance from George Yard, running parallel to it, although it was narrower. The image from an 1894 Ordinance Survey map below shows how close. The red arrow points to the White Hart public house, the green one to the entrance to Angel Alley.

Pearly Poll was said to be a very tall woman in her mid forties, with rather masculine looks and a reddened drink-sodden face. Many of the estimated 1,200 prostitutes who operated within the Whitechapel district were said to work on a more or less occasional basis, selling their bodies as and when they were unable to scrape together money for bed and food any other way. For Poll, however, prostitution seems to have been her main source of income.

The cost of a quick jump would have been very small, probably no more than a couple of pennies. The actual sex act would have been brief. Poll would have taken her soldier to a dark part of the alley, leaned against the wall and lifted the back of her skirts. The deed would have been done standing up with his entering her from behind and humping away until he was done. There was very little that was romantic or erotic about the occasion. It was a means to an end, nothing more, for both of those involved.


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