The Story of Ann Hicks

Ann Hicks was a little old woman who sold gingerbread and apples in Hyde Park in 19th-century London. She was apparently a very convincing writer, because a letter to a certain government official secured her permission to set up a little store-house for her goods.

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So she set up a house — but not just a storage shed. An actual house, which she immediately thereafter commenced to inhabit.

“Before anyone had quite realized what was taking place, Ann Hicks was living in Hyde Park in a comfortable brick-built house with a decent-sized private garden surrounded by stout fencing” (Arthur Bush, Portrait of London).

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But Ann Hicks’s house presented a problem for the builders of Queen Victoria’s Crystal Palace. You know, the iconic structure of iron and glass which was afterwards relocated to South London?

Ann held them off for a while, and it wasn’t until the intervention of Parliament and the Duke of Wellington that she was finally removed. She was, however, compensated with a small allowance.

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I think I’m going to build a hut in the park up the street, get them to kick me out, and then see if I can get a “small allowance” out of it. Nice going, Ann.

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