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Nell Gwyn in Drury Lane

11th May 2021

Drury Lane is one of the most famous theatre streets in the world...

So this is Drury Lane and as you see
it is quite nondescript - a narrow street,
one way, with no grand frontages or halls
and even the Theatre Royal Drury Lane
can only show its butt end to the road.
The tall blue door gives access to the stage
to bring in scenery although it's useful too
if anybody turns up wearing stilts.
The entrance is along the side street here. 
That entire length is all the playhouse 
with its columned ambulatory. 

Nell Gwyn grew up in Drury Lane or Coal
Yard Alley leading off it, which has gone 
now, cleared with other slums when Peabody
improved the street. Her mother ran a bawdy
house or brothel but the trade was slack
in Cromwell's London. Prostitution wasn't
something puritans went in for much 
or bawdy jokes and humour come to that.
The date and place of Nelly's birth are vague.
it's either sixteen forty-two or fifty
and in London, Hereford or Oxford.
The different places come from trying to trace
her father, Mr Gwyn, a soldier, Welsh,
but he's not present during Nelly's youth. 
Her single mother Ellen raised two girls 
Eleanor and Rose the elder one.
Their mother's been described as 'procuress'
(which is what Ghislaine Maxwell's been charged with)
but whether she procured her daughters to
the world's oldest profession isn't known.
She certainly had Rose and Nell to serve
the customers with drinks and it was said
they both sold oranges in Covent Garden
Market with the other destitute.
The puritans had nothing against fruit.