Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

enlarged. The late King of Sardinia presented the altar furniture, which cost 1000 guineas. Victor Emmanuel attended service here when visiting this country.

SPANISH CHAPEL, Spanish Place, Manchester Square, is attended by the Spanish embassy.

GREEK CHURCH. A striking edifice, the first in London appropriated to the Greek form of worship, was opened in 1850 in London Wall, City. The style is Byzantine, the plan a Greek cross, and the cost is said to have been nearly £10,000. The service partakes of the magnificence of the Roman Catholic ritual, but no instruments are employed to assist the singing. Mass is celebrated at the richly-adorned altar with lights, etc. The priest preaches with his hat on. During the performance of service the whole congregation is standing. The Greeks in London probably do not much exceed 300.

JEWISH SYNAGOGUES. There are several Synagogues in London. The chief one is in Great St. Helen's, Bishopgate, City. The West London Synagogue, Margaret Street, Cavendish Square, was completed in 1850. The New Synagogue, Upper Bryanston Street, Bryanston Square. The Jewish Sabbath commences at sunset on Friday, and terminates at sunset on Saturday, during which time all the shops kept by members of the Hebrew persuasion are closed. The service, with its peculiar style of singing, is highly interesting. The men worship with their hats on, and the women

sit apart.

CHAPTER THE EIGHTH.

GOVERNMENT BUILDINGS AND PUBLIC OFFICES.

General Post Office-Mint-Somerset House—Treasury Buildings

Horse Guards -Admiralty-Burlington House Trinity House-
Herald's College.

THE GENERAL POST OFFICE, ST. MARTIN'S-LE-GRAND, CITY, was erected in 1825-9, from the designs of Sir R. Smirke. The locality derives its name from a church and collegiate buildings, dedicated to St. Martin,' and founded so far back as the year 700 by Withred, king of Kent. Receiving large privileges from subsequent kings, who now and then came to reside here, it had the addition of le-grand made to its name. William of Wykeham was one of the deans and rebuilt the church. On clearing the site for the erection of the Post Office very numerous remains of the Romans were discovered. The west façade of the present Post Office is 400 feet long, in a plain Grecian style, with three porticos, the central one of which has six columns, and leads to a great hall, 80 feet long and 60 wide. This hall extends to the entire width and height of the building. The receiving offices are on the north side of this hall, and here, at the evening post time may be witnessed a lively scene of bustle. It is said that about 130 houses, and nearly 1000 people, were displaced when this huge edifice was erected, and it is now too small for the transaction of business. The nominal chief of this Government establishment is styled the Postmaster-General, who is a member of the ministry, and usually a peer. The actual working head is the secretary, Sir Rowland Hill, K.C.B., who, in the face of strenuous opposition from the authorities, succeeded in bringing about the system of a universal penny rate, in January 1840, a system which has had the most beneficial result for the entire community, assisting commerce, and furthering the work of education. The Government derives a large income from this institution, which is admirably managed throughout, and continually receiving improvement.

The number of letters delivered through the post-office in England in 1860 was 462 millions, which is at the rate of 22 letters for every unit of the population. In London, the average number of letters for each person was 43 for the year. Then nearly 71 millions of newspapers were delivered in that year,

and about 11,700,000 book-packets. To convey this immense mass of correspondence the mails travelled daily over 144,000 miles, and the persons employed throughout the British isles were 25,200. The gross revenue for 1860 was £3,267,662 from postages, and £121,693 from money orders. The amount disbursed in salaries and pensions was £1,066,920, and for carriage, etc., £1,184,397, leaving as the net revenue of the year £1,102,479.

Small sums of money can be remitted from one place to another by means of money-orders, which are obtained and paid at money-order offices. A money-order can be obtained for any sum up to £10; and the charges are, for a sum under £2, threepence ; above £2, and not exceeding £5, sixpence ; not exceeding £7, ninepence ; not exceeding £10, a shilling. The total amount remitted during 1860 by money-orders was upwards of thirteen millions sterling. The chief money-order office in London is a distinct building near the General Post Office, but on the opposite side of St. Martin's-le-Grand.

The number of misdirected and nondirected letters in the course of twelve months is something quite extraordinary. The property in such letters amounts to £200,000 a year. If the person to whom a letter is addressed cannot be found, the letter is retained for a month, and is then turned over to the Dead Letter Office.

The post-offices in London are now very numerous. To faci. litate the posting of letters, iron pillar boxes have been erected at the corners of the streets, from which the letters are collected several times a-day. The postage-label stamps, which have now been imitated by all civilized nations, came into use in 1841, and the system of dividing them by perforations, the invention of Mr. Archer, was first employed in 1854. They are to be purchased at all post-offices. The cost of their production and gumming is fivepence per thousand.

When letters are addressed, “ Post Office, London,” or “ Poste Restante,” they can only be obtained between 10 and 4 at the General Post Office (St. Martin's-le-Grand), and foreigners must produce their passports.

London and the neighbourhood have been recently divided into ten postal districts, and there is a list of streets published by the Post Office indicating the district of each. By placing the initials of these districts on the backs of letters their early delivery will be accomplished. The districts are— -East Central (E.C.), West Central (W.C.), North (N.), North-East (N.E.), East (E.), South-East (S. E.), South (S.), South-West (S. W.), West (W.), and North-West (N.W.)

THE ROYAL MINT, TOWER HILL. This is the place where the current coins of the United Kingdom, and of several of the colonies, are struck. The mint was originally within the walls of the Tower. The present buildings were commenced in 1806, and upon them and the machinery £250,000 have been expended. At the head of the establishment is a master, who was formerly a man of mark in political affairs; but of late years the office was the award of high scientific attainments. Sir Isaac Newton held the appointment. Sir John Herschel was the last master; the present one is Thomas Graham, Esq., the eminent chemist. 'The machines employed are of highly ingenious construction ; and it is said that such is its efficiency, that if £50,000 worth of gold bullion be sent to the mint one day, the coins will be ready for delivery the next day. Of late years such has been the influx of gold from Australia and elsewhere, and such the extension of our commerce, that the work executed here has been astonishingly great, as will be perceived from the following statement of the numbers of gold and silver coins that have been struck at the mint during the ten years ending with 1860 :Sovereigns

48,911,848 Half sovereigns

14,416,569 Crowns

466 Half crowns

1,493 Florins

15,633,372 Shillings

23,025,506 Sixpences

21,735,183 Groats

1,880,874 Fourpences

41,580

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

.

Threepences

13,605,101 Twopences.

47,520 Pence

78,408 The precious metal to be coined is first alloyed, and then cast into small bars, which are passed through rollers in order to be reduced to the exact thickness required. The sheets are then subjected to the action of the punching machines, which cut out circular disks. The blanks, as these are called, are separately tested for weight and soundness. After the rim has been raised they are taken to the coining presses, which nick the edges and stamp both sides at the same stroke, all the time feeding itself with blanks. A single press will coin from 4000 to 5000 pieces in the hour. The dies that impress the figures on the coin are made in this way.

A matrix is cut by the mint engraver in soft steel, and after this has been hardened it will strike many dies.

It may perhaps interest our readers to learn the approximate number of the coins in circulation at the present time, all of which have been issued from the Royal Mint. Of gold coins (sovereigns and half sovereigns), about one hundred millions. Of silver coins, as follows Crowns, 2,320,000 ; half-crowns, 37,500,000; florins, 10,000,000 ; shillings, 112,554,000 ; sixpences, 76,132,000; fourpences, 30,142,000; threepences, 7,572,000 ; making a total of 276,220,000 pieces of silver money. Of copper money there are about 500 millions in circulation, which would weigh 6000 tons.

We will now give a short account of the mode of converting bar gold into coins. The gold goes to the mint from the Bank. of England in the shape of ingots 8 inches long, 3 inches wide, and i thick, each of which is worth £800. On receipt it is assayed, and is then transferred to the melting-house, which is at the back of the edifice that fronts the Tower. Here a certain quantity is placed in a crucible along with the copper, which appears to be necessary from the assayer's report, to reduce the gold to the standard, and the crucible is subjected to the heat of a furnace. When melted, the mass is poured off into cast iron moulds, from which, when cold, the solid gold is extracted in the shape of bars from 21 to 24 inches long, and 1 inch thick. These bars are assayed in order to make sure that the standard has been obtained, that is, that there are exactly two parts of copper to every 22 parts of gold. This being ascertained, the bars are handed over to the coiners, who transmit

« AnteriorContinua »