The Ephemeral Saloop Stall: Examining the Stall, the Seller and Space in Georgian London, 1700-1820
Freya Purcell is a design historian who focuses on the Eighteenth and Nineteenth centuries. Her work frequently examines everyday life and urban living, a fact which has been reflected in her research during her MA at the V&A/RCA. Freya’s interest in design history stemmed originally from seeking to investigate histories of those less represented in textual sources.
Having previously worked at Leighton House Museum, Freya is keen to develop as a public historian; widening knowledge and interest in history and deconstructing popular myths. In response to the pandemic and events of 2020 she and two of her classmates founded the Word On The Street Archive; the UK’s first mapped archive collecting crowd-sourced photography created in the wake of COVID-19.
Freya’s dissertation topic was an investigation into the drink saloop, a popular street drink in eighteenth century London that derived from an Arabic drink sahlep. This work is the first critical engagement with saloop as a drink in the long eighteenth century, here considered to be 1700-1820s.
Her dissertation examines not only the drink itself but also offers an exploration of the designed space and materiality of the saloop stall in London. Saloop’s importance lies in how it deviates from the norm. Although introduced in a similar way to other exotic drinks, saloop has a unique "life-cycle" flourishing on London streets in the late Georgian era, where it was consumed by the labouring-class, but then fading into obscurity by the mid nineteenth-century.
This work takes a microhistorical approach; setting saloop and the saloop stall as its focus. For the first time in eighteenth-century studies, it examines saloop the drink and the material components of the saloop stall, seller, consumer, and space. Through this research Freya looks to add to the broader discussions of the eighteenth-century, for example labouring-class engagement with new consuming cultures, the construction of space and ideas of exoticism are considered.
Through examining a wide variety of sources, from court records to visual evidence, Freya explores the saloop stall, the material culture and the people that constructed these spaces within the long eighteenth-century. She asks how did the saloop stall fit within London life and why did it lose its cultural capital?