“If England is a garden,/We ought to have more manure.”*

*from a song of 1952 (see link below) by Noel Coward, who was born on 16th December, 1899 in Teddington, Middlesex.

The Mount Pleasant Postal Sorting Office and the adjacent Post Office building (pictured) are part of a 12 acre site in Clerkenwell that includes a huge open yard for postal vehicles.

From: Online Etymology Dictionary:

manure (v.)
c. 1400, “to cultivate (land, a garden) by manual labor,” also “to hold property, rule,” from Anglo-French meynoverer (late 13c.), Old French manovrer “to work with the hands, cultivate; carry out; make, produce,” from Medieval Latin manuoperare (see maneuver (n.))
Sense of “work the earth” led to “put dung and compost on the soil, treat (soil) with fertilizing materials” (1590s) and to the noun meaning “dung spread as fertilizer,” which is first attested 1540s. Until late 18c., however, the verb still was used in a figurative sense of “to cultivate the mind, train the mental powers.”
It is … his own painfull study … that manures and improves his ministeriall gifts. [Milton, 1641]
Related: Manured; manuring. Another Middle English word for “manuring” was donginge.”

From: An Economic History of the English Garden (2019), by Roderick Floud:

“London did not have an effective sewage disposal system until the 1850s or later. The horse dung had to be collected, day and night, from the streets and stables, while human waste was gathered at intervals from cesspits under privies by ‘nightmen’. Some of it was dumped close by – the ironically named ‘Mount Pleasant’, later the site of Coldbath Fields Prison and then of the largest postal sorting office in Britain, was a dung heap of 8.5 acres by 1780. But much was taken to the River Thames, especially to Dung Wharf in Puddle Dock – later the site of the Mermaid Theatre – and to Water Lane nearby. From there it was loaded on to barges and taken, upriver, to the nurseries and market gardens of west London and probably further afield. This had been going on for centuries. In 1618, Father Busoni, chaplain to the Venetian ambassador to London, visited the city’s market gardens and reported that the gravel that had lain below the surface had been dug out and sold, to be replaced with the ‘filth of the city’, manure ‘as rich and black as thick ink’. The manure combined with the high water table, on the low-lying lands close to the Thames, to create ideal conditions for nursery and market gardening. Presumably the citizens of London knew – but did not care – that the fruit and vegetables they bought at Covent Garden market had been nourished by human and equine waste.”

From: the Hidden London website:

“This locality used to be known as Coldbath (or Cold Bath) Fields, from the cold baths established here in 1697 for the cure of rheumatism, convulsions and other nervous disorders. The street (originally a country track running down to the Fleet River) called Mount Pleasant gained its name in the 1730s after locals had begun to dump cinders and other refuse here. Wherever a place is called ‘Mount Pleasant’, the name usually has ironic origins.”

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