Naomi Clifford and London walking guide Jonnie Fielding aka Bowl of Chalk visit an outdoor exhibition of the forgotten businesswomen of 18th-century Cheapside in the City of London. 

Many women worked in luxury manufacturing and sales in the Cheapside area (between St Paul’s and the Royal Exchange) making clothing, jewellery, prints, fans, trunks and furniture; they also ran some of the businesses. These women, all of whom were members of London’s livery companies, employed thousands more.

Some of these elite employers, for example, fanmaker Esther Sleepe and milliners the Hogarth sisters, produced highly ornamental trade cards to advertise their business. These represent only a fraction of all the business women trading over the 18th century. Others we know of through their printed products, for example, merchant Eleanor Coade through an insurance policy.

Erratum: The business making Coade stone is in Wiltshire, not in Hampshire.

The exhibition finished on 19 October 2019 but lives on as a virtual show.

With thanks and appreciation to Dr. Amy Erickson, whose research and efforts have led to the opening up of this wonderful resource. 

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