Wednesday, 19 September 2012
Doctor Who's Alex Kingston finds out great-granny ran a brothel
In the episode of Who do you think you are, which airs tonight on BBC 1 at 9pm reveals some details about the life of Alex Kingston and her family history. In a shocking turn of events she finds out her great-grandmother ran a brothel (a whore house).
Viewers see Alex baffled at first, when told the facts. “Almost all of the women are heads of the street which seems extraordinary,” she says. “The men seem absent.”
When the penny drops she looks shocked and says: “Are they prostitutes, are they really? Oh my god, oh no.”
Great great great great grandma Elizabeth Braham was convicted of running a house of ill repute in Westminster.
Before she died in 1873 aged 84 she was a single mum with four children struggling to make ends meet. On a census, Elizabeth’s listed profession is lodging housekeeper.
The show’s historian Catherine Arnold goes on to say not all the women were actually prostitutes but they did run the houses where men paid for sex, like motels.
They could earn up to 10 times the amount servants did at the time.
The programme reveals a total of 50-80,000 prostitutes worked in London in the19th Century and there were even guidebooks helping men to find the relevant district for their type of woman.
Alex adds: “When I heard she took in lodgers I thought it was like my nan.
“But the difference is the lodging Elizabeth established was a brothel.
“This afternoon I found my inner whore. I was not expecting that.”
Elizabeth was also convicted of running another brothel near Leicester Square which led to her being cautioned for public disturbance effects.
“She was a force of nature,” says Alex.