Latchford, the Loriner (and Grave Despoiler?)

If you find yourself in Trafalgar Square I would recommend visiting the crypt of St.Martin-in-the-fields for several reasons :
It is a remarkable brick built vaulted structure
They have an excellent cafe
And high up on one of the pillars is this stone, in which is carved the name of Benjamin Latchford, Churchwarden

Inscription in the crypt of St Martins

Could this be the same Benjamin Latchford who published “The Loriner : Opinions and Observations on bridle-bits and the suitable bitting of horses, with illustrations” in 1871 ? The short answer is yes.

Latchford's book The Loriner

The Loriner gives Latchford’s address as 11, Upper St. Martins Lane. It was evidently a popular book and ran to several editions, mine dates from 1883. In fact one can still buy re-prints today. The illustrations are excellent & Latchford had some interesting ideas for his time including the now famous line “I frequently tell my friends that out of every twenty bits I make, nineteen are for men’s heads and not more than one really for the horse’s head”, although he also wrote “the horse’s mouth and temper may be compared to a lock, so made that only one key will fit it…” The Loriner also includes Don Juan Segundo’s treatise “A New Method of Bitting Horses”.

Thinking about Latchford’s links with St Martins Lane reminded me of one of my bits that has confused me for a while. It is a check snaffle stamped “Latchford” & “Picadilly”
A steel check bit or snaffle

A little internet research revealed several Latchfords who were bit and spurmakers :

1791 The Universal British Directory lists a John Latchford, Bridle Bit Maker at 8, Little St.Martins Lane

1819 The London Post Office Directory lists Edward Latchford at 12, Little St.Martins Lane and John Latchford at 36 Piccadilly

1829 John Latchford, a bit and spur maker of Piccadilly appears in the records of the Old Bailey (Read the proceedings here). He had been robbed, but the thief was found not guilty, perhaps my favourite line explains this : “Prisoner. He was quite tipsy – he was there before me. Witness. I was not tipsy – he was there when I went down stairs; I do not know whether he was tipsy – I was not; I had not drank more than six glasses of wine.”

1833 John Latchford’s luck wasn’t improving – he appears in the Bankrupt Directory on August 6

1840 Benjamin Latchford was a witness in a court case – he stated his occupation as working for his uncle (presumably Edward) at St Martins Lane

1843 The Post Office Directory records Edward Latchford at 12 Little St Martins Lane and John Latchford still at 36, Piccadilly

1871 Benjamin Latchford published “The Loriner” with Don Juan de Segundo

1891 The Saddlery & Harness Journal reported that the Queen’s bit maker Mr Chavasse of Walsall, the principal of Messrs Latchford & Co of Upper St, Martins Lane, WC London was made an honorary freeman of the Loriners Company

Spurs by Latchford

Spurs by Latchford

spur by Latchford

Buxton by Latchford

Buxton by Latchford

Page from the Loriner

Page from the Loriner

And Benjamin Latchford’s link with graves ? He and Mr Petter, his fellow churchwarden were named in a court case concerning burials in a piece of land that the church was selling. It was thought that only a few burials had taken place there & permission was given to move those. The vicar of St Pancras brought the case when he believed that four or five hundred bodies had been disinterred. The whole case is reported in “The Jurist”

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