Tate Kids


William Logsdail, St Martin-in-the-Fields, 1888

This is a painting of a little Victorian girl selling flowers in Trafalgar Square in London. The artist William Logsdail was well-known for his large-scale realistic scenes of London. He painted this picture sitting in a carriage in Trafalgar Square, his feet covered with straw to protect them from the cold. It is the most famous of his London scenes.

Logsdail is highlighting the plight of child street sellers like this little girl. It was a very hard life for them, as they had to get up very early and not go home until very late, if they had a home to go to. What do you think she is thinking? What kind of home and family do you think she will go back to tonight? Look at the lovely clothes of the lady and her daughter behind the flower girl. What different lives they must have!

Sorry! Image no longer available due to copyright restrictions.

14 stories about “William Logsdail, St Martin-in-the-Fields, 1888”

  1. Lydia, age 13, from Scotland

    My name is Henry Westmore and I always walked through the market in Trafalger Square on a monday morning to the bank. There was always a little girl selling flowers. They were the most beautiful, bright yellow carnations you have ever seen.

    Then suddenly the girl selling flowers disappeared. Although i didn’t really know her to well i always wanted her to be alright. So i went to see if i could find her….

    I looked down every alleyway, and every street. But she was know where to be seen. Then one cold, winter morning, i saw her.. She was selling flowers again in the market. I was going to go up to her, to see if she was alright. I didn’t want to for some reason i had to leave her alone and let her get on with her live and i getting on with mine…

  2. Allison, age 13, from USA

    From the Diary of Anna Dale
    February 9, 1888

    ‘Today was cold and cloudy. Every once in a while the winds would gust up, misting us with rain. Flower sales was slow until Mrs. Montgomery bought a dozen daffodills to “liven up her dining room” she said. Sometimes I feel like kicking those smart-mouthed rich people when they grin down at me and speculate, “My, aren’t you a dirty little child!” Mother says I shouldn’t even think of such things; that we should be thankful for everything the Lord has given us. Well, that’s not much. A small room in the back of a clothing store where mother works as a seamstress; a few tattered blankets and clothes; a chipped china cup father had bought me for my fifth birthday. Father, oh dear father. We need you so much right now. Peter is having to work in the fields like a grown man, though he’s only 12. And poor mother is taking care of baby Jonas, on top of her seamstress work. I won’t complain about my job selling flowers, but in every other aspect, our life is falling apart. Why did you have to die, Father? Why?’

  3. Danielle, age 10, from England

    Dear Diary
    I woke up at 6:00am to go and pick the prettiest flowers in the fields to go and sell them for 20p. After that i would walk through the beautiful Trafalgar square.

    At 7:00am I had enough flowers to sell to people. Whilst i was walking through the rain at Trafalgar square this rich woman with her daughter and her dog. When I looked at her but she just put her chin up and walked away.

    By this time I had sold 3 flowers for 60p, which wasn’t enough for any food that I like. The 3 flowers went to Mr Johnson who was a kind and caring man.

    I have sold 9 flowers and so that means I have enough money for a sausage roll and a drink in St Martin’s cafe. I met the same rich woman in the café with a big plate full of food; she had a big plate for her daughter and also a big lamb chop for the dog.

    I sold 21 flowers and I spent £1.80 worth of flowers. So I have got £4.20 but suddenly this strange man jumped out at me and took all my flowers and money. I was crying for 20 minutes until Mr Johnson came and said ‘you poor dear, hear take this five pound note’
    I said ‘thank you, thank you’.

    I went back to go and pick some more flowers because a strange man stole my flowers that I picked earlier at 6:00pm.

    I went home to my mum and dad with £30.00 and they were so pleased about it. That night I went to bed with a great big smile on my face.

  4. Jamie, age 11, from England

    I woke up on the cold hard pebbles of Trafalgar square and the sound of a market place. I saw a young girl selling flowers as i aprouched her i thought of something to say in the end isaid” hi have you sold any flowers” the young girl said in a tense voice” none at all oh i do wish someone would buy a bouquet of flowers so i could earn some money to buy some food.

    I walked along the windy path where i saw a stray dog and after a while i began to get atached to the dog so i named him lucky hoping he might bring me some luck maybe finding a shiiling or two.

    Then out the very far corner of my eye i saw a man leave his stawl so i ran swiftly to the mans stawl and stole a cabbage, a bag of apples and a water melon the girl was still there so i went up to her and gave her the water melon. that was Thursday 26th May hopfully i might have another adventure tomorrow

  5. Georgia, age 10, from England

    The little flower-carrying girl wandered around the streets desperately, offering flowers to anyone who she passed. She needed to sell the flowers to pay for her mother’s medicine, and so far, she wasn’t very successful.

    She was about to explode into tears, when a large horse-and-carriage almost ran her over.

    “Shoo! Shoo, little girl!” shouted the driver, but as soon as he had finished his last sentence the carriage door flung open, and out stepped a large, royal-looking man.

    The man stood in front of the little girl and his shadow covered her like a giant cloud.

    “W-would you like a f-flower, s-sir?” she asked and closed her eyes, waiting to be struck or slapped, but when she opened them, a large handful of money was cupped in her hands, and every last petal of her flowers were gone.

    She smiled. Her mother would be up and well in no time.

  6. Annabel, age 10, from England

    I was out selling my flowers when a masive thunderstorm came. I kept on walking through the dull street, it was a normal day for me. My mum had to work all day too, she did the cleaning on the streets every day and I of course sold flowers. People normally took one look at me and turned away so we sold hardly anything, then somone called out “flower girl”
    I turned around “yes you” she said pointing at me
    “Yes” I said
    “I would like flowers for my party and I would like my house cleaned from head to foot”
    “Ok how many”
    “About 1000″
    ” Ok here you are ”
    So I handed over the flowers
    then I said “how much will we get paid”
    ” About 1500″
    ” Thank you, I will go and and tell my mum”
    I was running down the street I told mum
    so the next day we got to work
    I was so exticed I was singing well i was cleaning
    and a month later we find a house and got so new clothes and lots of different flowers and we made lots of money now so we was ok from then on.

  7. Kirsty, age 10, from England

    One wet and cold day I was throwing some flowers out to make the life around me brighter. I was angry because nobody would say hello or talk to me i was very cold and upset. When suddenly a dog came up to me and I stroked him slowly and softly. He was a stray dog so I thought to myself could I keep him, from that day on I kept the dog under my wing until it ran away it had very sad eyes so I kept him. I had to mind where i was walking because I might get hurt if a horse is in the way and it trod on me. There was big tall buildings sorrounding me closly. There was a womon and child I asomed it was her daughter I went up to her very calmly and asked her if she would like a flower she said yes please very calmely back she also gave me a six pence that made me very pleased. I nearly got trod by a horse but I turned out ok. The floors was very wet and slippy. I paced up the road for a bit until i came to a very large and tall building. I asomed it was a library but it was for rich people and I was a poor victorian pauper i lved in a very old building which didnt have much furniture in it but it was good enough for us. It was very busy in the market at this time because every body was geting the grocerys for the weekly shopping. So you had to be very careful. It was time for me to go home so I walked up the street to home.

  8. Jade, age 10, from England

    One dull, drousy day I stood in anger, just watching all of the pedestrians walking passed me, without even noticing that I was throwing flowers to make life better and brighter, when a little girl and her mother walked passed. I asked her very kindly if she would like to buy a flower, but she just said ” No”! in a very stricted voice and walked away.

    So there I was in the middle of the cold streets of London, with all of the tall buildings surrounding me, I felt very scared and I wondered if anyone would buy a flower today. I was very eager just to wait there until someone would buy something.

    I had been there for nearly 6 hours just standing. Why wasn’t anyone buying a flower ,was it that they just couldnt be bothered to? Then suddenly something caught my eye It was a stray dog just lying without any comfort, so I picked it up and took it to shelter. It happened to have runaway from a women who didnt look after me. I asked the man who was going to look after him, he answered” yes” and he also gave me 10 shilings for bringing the dog back to shelter. My life changed since then and I lived happily with the dog and I wasnt poor anymore because I got a new dog to look after and if I did the flower job and looked after the dog it would be twice as hard.

  9. Lauren, age 11, from England

    It was a normal day for me. I got up, didn’t have much for breakfast, got my basket of flowers and headed outside into the freezing cold, wet, dull and dreary weather. You see… my mum is too ill to work, my father went to work and never came back and as I have no brother or sister I have to earn the money for our food. But it soon changed from being a normal day when someone shouted my name, I think they where shouting to me, I turned around stopped shouting and there was a lady staring right at me. “You there” said the lady,
    “What me” I said with a shudder
    “Yes, I need 1200 flowers for a wedding of mine do you have as much”
    ” But it would be 5 shillings a flower I have to earn me living.”
    “Do what you must but do you have them now”
    “Yeah ”
    I handed over the flowers as she handed over the money. The money wasn’t enough to last forever so I still had to work but my mum got better because we now had the money to visit a doctor. Now I have got a little brother or sister coming i’m so excited and all because of that women in the street that day.

  10. Gilberto, age 10, from Spain

    It’s a cloudy day. I am in Sant Martin’s in the field’s, a big place in London covered every day with thousands of well – dressed people. I’m sitting on a bench, a bench that is old and scruffy with chewing gum on it all sticky and horrible. I look forward with a little bit of interest to see what’s happening in front of my eyes. I see a girl, a girl with a bunch of flowers all put neatly on a brownish coloured tray. She walks up to me from the distance, with a black dog chasing her quietly. It seemed that the dog belonged to the little not well dressed girl. I didn’t know. Then I saw a man with a horse pulling of a big red trolley so that people could enter inside it and go to different places of London without walking. I never saw that thing with the big wheels, but what I saw were the unfriendly intentions of the old man. The horse that pulled the trolley were going to bump into the little girl, I was going to yell. BE CAREFUL!!!!! But the horse bumped into the little girl by the back. The bunch of flowers jumped into the air and then I saw that the girl was crying laying on the floor, whispering to herself “ I’m never going to win any money because nobody buys me any roses and because I haven’t got a family “. I heard that. My eyes are squirting with sadness and I am inpatient to help her. I stand up and I run up to her, I put my arms around her and then I go with her to my house in Greenwich. I say to my self I’m never going to forget this whether I’m alive or dead.

  11. Ruairidh, age 11, from Spain

    The Flower girl

    There was a poor flower girl in front of an almighty building she was trying to sell her flowers to people. She was not rich like all the others. There was a man with the softest silk and a top hat matching in red and black.

    The building was absolutely gigantic it looked like some museum of some sort. Then the grand carriage came by and hit the tiny flower girl no one helped her, it was because she was a poor girl it was a natural reaction just prejudice. But one man did help her he worked in the massive building.

    He took her into the building to see if he could help her. She was from that part of London her mum and dad died in a fire in France. They found out that she had broken both her legs. She started to cry, she was scared she would never walk again. The man became depressed he let her go round the museum for free if they found a way for her to walk or move.

    His brother was a carpenter he made a base and four sides and two holes so she could get her legs through and wheels on the bottom. So he pushed her round in it for a test drive. She adored it she could finally move again and the young man kept his promise and she went round the museum and in the end he bought the whole box of flowers.

  12. Philippa, age 11, from Swindon

    As i look around the streets, i see the rich people happy and warm, rushing around. And me poor and cold selling flowers to buy food. I call out for people to buy the flowers. I see one family turn up there noses and they walk away. My family depend on me to get money for food.I stand there in the cold, hoping for someone to help me but i knows that i am just dreaming and hoping for something almost impossible for me.

  13. Chaz, age 12, from England

    The young girl stood there in the rain, selling flowers to the passers by. Yet no one would take a flower. The young girl looked sad and decided to start again.

    The girl awoke the next morning, it was still raining the little tears of water on the window of her shelter hit each other as if playing a game of tag and then running away to find the ground and go to the clouds again. She picked up her basket of roses but she noticed the patels were beining to get fraid and fall of there stems. She went out in the rain to find an old man on a step and he offered her money for the flower.

    But instead of letting him have money she gave him the flower and went to many others in the street and many of them took a flower. The flowers died in the end but the little girl was happy after all even though it wouldn’t stop raining at least someone had taken a flower!

  14. Charlotte, age 13, from England

    It had been another fruitless day for Martha the flowergirl. People in London were just too busy to buy wilting violets, but what else could she sell? A woman in a red coat behind her drew her small son away from a stray dog sniffing around them, but Martha bent down and scratched its ears. It spat some mud out and wagged its tail. Martha loved animals.

    “Can you tell me about a guardian Angel, doggie? You could, I know, if only you could speak. What’s this on your collar? Martin. There is a St Martin, you know. I’ve prayed to him, but he’s done nothing. Oh, have you got something stuck in your throat? Let me help you. Mama got something stuck in her gullet; we can’t afford a doctor, but if she was well she could claim all the hundreds of pounds owed to her and she could have fifty doctors. She’s tried, but she’s too sick, and we have no trusty relations to help us. Here; what is it in your mouth? Spit it out, doggie.”

    The dog spat something into her outstretched hand, licked her face, and ran away. Martha stared. She was glad, now, that the woman in the red coat had not stopped to pet the dog; if she had, Martha would not have the glittering gold coin that the dog had spat into her hand. Martha stood up and began to walk home, knowing as she did so that St Martin had answered her prayer and come to her aide.