From: London Lies Beneath (2016), by Stella Duffy:
“Edward Lovett looked out at his audience, some listening rapt, some taking notes, one or two, sadly, almost dozing, he picked up his pace, this bit would wake them up, “Mr Booth and his team have given us an exhaustive analysis of our city, but I would suggest that neither Mr Booth nor the Fabians are looking at the depth, the breadth, of the lives of these people.”
Yes, that had done it, the dozers were roused.”
“Edward Lovett was an English folklorist, recognised for his collections of charms, amulets, and objects used in children’s games.
He was born in Islington and lived in Outram Road, Croydon, later residing in Caterham, and is reported to have worked as a chief cashier at branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland in the City of London. Lovett spent his spare time collecting, writing, and lecturing on folk-lore, usually focused on objects he had collected on his walks around London, Sussex and Surrey.
After his retirement in 1912, he dedicated himself full time to this endeavor, and to sharing his love of alpine plants. An early work, self-published, is “How to Make A Rock Garden and Grow Alpine Plants”, not dated, but presumably around 1900. The two interests overlapped when Lovett was able to exchange small alpine specimens, grown in seashells, for amulets and charms from the people he met in London.
He also reports having made collections in Belgium and Holland. Lovett’s exhibitions in England and Wales were reviewed in the national press, some becoming permanent exhibits, and donated many objects to the Pitt Rivers Museum between 1896 and 1911. He lectured at many schools, colleges, special interest groups and societies, and reached a wide public through regular articles in local papers, describing contemporary superstitions and beliefs.
Over his long career collecting folklore, Lovett corresponded with many museum curators and collectors, including Henry Wellcome. The exhibition ‘Folklore of London’, curated by Lovett, was held at the Wellcome Historical Medical Museum in 1916.
During the late 1880s he served as President of the Croydon Microscopical and Natural History Club. After joining the Folklore Society in 1900, he presented it with talks and published papers in its Journal. Lovett did not venture into theorising on folklore, confining his research to the collection of talismans and other objects with superstitious claims. A major work, Magic in Modern London, was published in 1925.
Edward Lovett’s donations can be found in many museums, including the *Cuming Museum in Southwark, the Pitt Rivers Museum at the University of Oxford, the V&A Museum of Childhood, and the Museum of Childhood in Edinburgh (on long term loan from the National Museum of Wales).
An exhibition Charmed Life: The solace of objects held at the Wellcome Collection from 6 October 2011 to 26 February 2012, displayed many of Lovett’s amulets alongside contemporary films and medals by artist and curator Felicity Powell.”
*On 25 March 2013, a fire seriously damaged the Walworth Town Hall. The collections suffered only a very small loss, but the museum galleries were very severely affected. Around 98% of objects on display at the time of the fire were recovered and were placed in storage awaiting a solution to the display of the collections and public access to them.