Walks in London, vol. I

Hare, Augustus J. C.
1878

Chapter VII: Aldersgate and Cripplegate.

Chapter VII: Aldersgate and Cripplegate.

 

Let us now return to and turn to the left down , so called from the northern gate, of the original gates of Anglo-Norman London. Some derive its name from the Saxon Aldrich, its supposed founder; others, including Stow, from the aldertrees which grew around it. The gate (removed in ) as restored after the Fire was rather like , with the addition of side towers, and was surmounted by a figure of James I. It was inscribed with the words of Jeremiah-

Then shall enter into the gates of this city kings and princes, sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their princes, the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and this city shall remain for ever.

The rooms over the gate were occupied by the famous printer John Day, who printed the folio Bible, dedicated to Edward VI., in , as well as the works of Roger Ascham, Latimer's Sermons, and Foxe's In the frontispiece of of his books, he is represented in a room into which the sun is shining, arousing his sleeping apprentices with a whip, and the words--

Arise, for it is day.

On the right of , behind the Post-office, is an ugly Church, built by Wren, called -a name very inappropriate to it now. The curious monuments in this church were removed at the end of the last century. to Peter Heiwood, , recorded the fate of his grandfather, the Peter Heiwood who arrested Guy Fawkes, and, in revenge, was stabbed to death in Hall by John James, a Dominican friar, in .

St. Anne's Lane is the scene of Sir Roger de Coverley's adventure-

This worthy knight, being but a stripling, had occasion to inquire which was the way to St. Anne's Lane; upon which the person whom he spoke to, instead of answering the question, called him a young popish cur, and asked him who made Anne a saint? The boy being in some confusion, inquired of the next he met, which was the way to Anne's Lane; but was called a prick-eared cur for his pains, and, instead of being shown the way, was told that she had been a saint before he was born, and would be one after he was hanged. Upon this, says Sir Roger, I did not think fit to repeat the former question, but going into every lane of the neighbourhood, asked what they called the name of that place; by which ingenious artifice he found out the place he inquired after, without giving offence to any party.--Spectator, No. 125.

On the left is (Boulogne Mouth) curiously commemorating, in its corrupted name, the capture of Boulogne Harbour by Henry VIII., in . The Bull and Mouth Inn was of the great centres from which coaches started before the time of railways. It was here that George Fox, founder of the Quakers, preached during the Commonwealth. After the Restoration the inn became celebrated in the story of Quaker persecutions: it was there that () Ellwood was seized and carried to , afterwards to Newgate.

On the left of , the branches of a planetree waving over a small Gothic fountain will draw attention to the , of , which contains the monument of Dame Anne Packington, supposed to have written A brotherhood of the Holy Trinity was attached to this church. The Palmer in John Heywood's describing his pilgrimages in different parts of the world, says that he has been-

At Saint Botulphe and Saint Anne of Buckstone,

Praying to them to pray for me,

Unto the blessed Trinitie.

(commemorating the mansion of John, Duke of Bretagne and Earl of Richmond, temp. Edward II.), a tributary of on the left, was as great a centre for booksellers in the reigns of the Stuarts as is now. It is the place where, according to Richardson, the Earl of Dorset was wandering about on a book-hunt in , when, coming upon a hitherto unknown work called and dipping into it here and there, he admired it rather, and bought it. The bookseller begged him, if he approved of it, to recommend it, as the copies lay on his hands as so much waste paper. He took it home, and showed it to Dryden, who said at once,

This man cuts us all out and the ancients too.

The street has still much of the character, though it has lost the picturesqueness, described by Washington Irving.

In the centre of the great City of London lies a small neighbourhood, consisting of a cluster of narrow streets and courts, of very venerable and debilitated houses, which goes by name of Little Britain. Christ Church School and St. Bartholomew's Hospital bound it on the west; Smithfield and Long Lane on the north; Aldersgate Street, like an arm of the sea, divides it from the eastern part of the City; whilst the yawning gulf of Bull and Mouth Street separates it from Butcher's Hall Lane and the regions of Newgate. Over this little territory, thus bounded and designated, the great dome of St. Paul's, swelling above the intervening houses of Paternoster Row, Amen Corner, and Ave Maria Lane, looks down with an air of motherly protection. This quarter derives its appellation from having been, in ancient times, the residence of the Dukes of Brittany. As London increased, however, rank and fashion moved off to the west, and trade, creeping on at their heels, took possession of their deserted abodes. For some time Little Britain became the great mart of learning, and was peopled by the busy and prolific race of booksellers; these also gradually deserted it, and emigrating beyond the great strait of Newgate Street, settled down in Paternoster Row and St. Paul's Churchyard, where they continue to increase and multiply even at the present day. But though thus fallen into decline, Little Britain still bears traces of its former splendour. There are several houses ready to tumble down, the fronts of which are magnificently enriched with oaken carvings of hideous faces, unknown birds, beasts, and fishes; and fruits and flowers which it would puzzle a naturalist to classify. There are also, in Aldersgate Street, certain remains of what were once spacious and lordly family mansions, but which have in latter days been subdivided into several tenements. Here may often be found the family of a petty tradesman, with its trumpery furniture, burrowing amongst the relics of antiquated finery, in great rambling time-stained apartments, with fretted ceilings, gilded cornices, and enormous marble fire-places. The lanes and courts also contain many smaller houses, not on so grand a scale, but, like your small gentry, sturdily maintaining their claims to equal antiquity. These have their gable ends to the street; great bow windows, with diamond panes set in lead; grotesque carvings, and low-arched doorways.There are still such houses in the neighbouring Cloth Fair. Little Britain may truly be called the heart's core of the City; the stronghold of true John Bullism. It is a fragment of London as it was in its better days, with its antiquated folks and fashions.-The Sketch Book.

A little beyond, on the right of Aldersgate, leads into , which contains of the pretty quiet breathing-places bequeathed by the Fire to the City. A

262

stone tells

This was the parish church of St. Olave,

Silver Street

, destroy'd in the dreadfvll fire in the yeare,

1666

.

No. , , is the , incorporated . Amongst their portraits of benefactors is of William Roper, son-in-law of Sir Thomas More.

On the left of is , containing (left,. No. ) the (their Hall is destroyed, and their Company consists neither of Barbers nor Surgeons), approached by an old porch of Charles II.'s time. Here are several good pictures--the Countess of Richmond (with a lamb and an olive-branch) by ; Inigo Jones by ; and a grand of Henry VIII. giving a charter to the Barber-Surgeons.[n.262.1]  The Company have refused offers of for this picture in later years, though Pepys somewhat contemptuously says-

29th Aug. 1668

. Harris (the actor) and I to the Chyrurgeons' Hall, where they are building it now very fine; and thence to see their theatre, which stood all the Fire, and (which was our business) their great picture of Holbein's, thinking to have bought it, by the help of W. Pierce, for a little money: I did think to give A

200

for it, it being said to be worth

£ 1,000

; but it is so spoiled that I have no mind to it, and it is not a pleasant, though a good picture.

The picture is a noble and most minutely finished, even to the details of the ermine on the king's robe and the rings on his fingers. Henry, seated in a chair of state, is giving the charter to Thomas Vicary, the then master, who was sergeant-surgeon to Henry VIII., Edward VI., Mary, and Elizabeth, and is said to have written the earliest work

263

on anatomy in the English language. The principal members, who kneel in gowns trimmed with fur, bear their names on their shoulders. The on the right, Chamber, Butts, and Alsop, were all past masters of the company, at the time of the giving of the Charter. Dr. John Chamber was the king's chief physician and Dean of College, , where he built the cloister; Dr. Butts, also physician to the king, had been admitted to the company as

vir gravis; eximia literarum cognitione, singulari judicio, summa experientia, et prudenti consilio Doctor:

his conduct, on the presumed degradation of Cranmer, is nobly pourtrayed by Shakspeare. Dr. J. Alsop is represented with lank hair and uncovered. Sir John Ayliffe, who kneels on the left, was also an eminent surgeon, and had been sheriff of London in ; according to the inscription on his monument in the Church of St. Michael Bassishaw, he was

called to court,

by Henry the ,

who loved him dearly well;

and was afterwards knighted for his services to Edward VI. The picture furnishes an example of the beginning of a change of costume, in respect to shirts: the wrists of Henry being encircled by small ruffles, and the necks of several of the members displaying a raised collar.[n.263.1] 

A curious leather screen in the Court-Room is said to commemorate the gratitude of a man who, after being hung at Tyburn, was discovered to be still living, and resuscitated by the efforts of the Barber-Surgeons, when his body was brought to them for dissection. Such a recovery did occur () in the case of William Duel, aged , who, after being hanged at Tyburn for minutes,

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recovered in the Surgeons' Hall, just as he was about to be cut up by the anatomists.

Amongst the plate of the Company is a very curious cup, made by order of Charles II., and presented by him, the Master at the time being Sir Charles Scarborough, his chief physician. It is of silver, partially gilt, the stem and body representing the oak of Boscobel, and the acorns which hang around containing little bells, which ring as the cup passes from hand to hand.

Smollett, who painted many of the events of his own life in Roderick Random, describes his appearance at Barber- Surgeons' Hall to pass his examination before obtaining the appointment of surgeon's mate, which he did in .

, , commemorates the townhouse of the Lords Windsor. The modern houses on the right of the street occupy the site of of St. James-in-the-Wall, a cell of Quorndon Abbey in Leicestershire. At the Dissolution it was granted by Henry VIII. to William Lambe, a clothworker, who built (c. ) an interesting chapel, pulled down in , over its fine old Norman crypt, of which a portion is preserved in the garden of the Clothworkers' Hall in .

Returning to , , on the left, mark the site of the town-house of the Nevils, Earls of Westmoreland. On the right of the street, conspicuous from its front by pillars, is a fine old house built by Inigo Jones, formerly called Thanet House, from the Tuftons, Earl of Thanet, but which has been known as since it was inhabited by the Earl of Shaftesbury, Anthony Ashley Cooper, the of Dryden, so graphically described by him.

265

For close designs, and crooked counsels fit,

Sagacious, bold, and turbulent of wit;

Restless, unfixed in principles and place,

In power unpleased, impatient of disgrace;

A fiery soul, which working out its way,

Fretted the pigmy body to decay,

And o«er-informed the tenement of clay.

A daring pilot in extremity,

Pleased with the danger when the waves went high,

He sought the storms; but, for a calm unfit,

Would steer too nigh the sands to boast his wit.

 

Lord Shaftesbury chose this house as a residence that he might the better influence the minds of the citizens, of whom he boasted that he

could raise

ten thousand

brisk boys by the holding up of his finger.

His animosity to the Duke of York obliged his retirement in to Holland, where he died. The house, as Maitland says, is

a most delightful fine residence, which deserves a much better situation, and greater care to preserve it from the injuries of time.

Close by was Bacon House, the private residence of Sir

266

Nicholas, father of the great Lord Bacon--the fat old man of whom Queen Elizabeth used to say

my Lord Keeper's soul is well lodged,

and of whom so many witticisms are remembered, especially his reply to the thief Hogg, who claimed his mercy on plea of kindred between the Hoggs and the Bacons,

Ah, you and I cannot be kin until you have been hanged.

Opposite Shaftesbury House was London House, which, being at time the residence of the Bishops of London, was the place to which the Princess Anne fled in the revolution of . An old house with the low gables and projecting windows which stood near it, and which still exists, is called, without reason,

Shakspeare's House,

but, as the

Half Moon Tavern,

it was a well-known resort of the wits of the century. Much curious carving, seen in prints of this old building, is now destroyed. Lauderdale House, at the end of (right), was the residence of John Maitland, Duke of Lauderdale, introduced in

leads into , to the right of which leads eastwards.

The oldest way in or about London is perhaps that which bears the names of Old Street, Old Street Road, and (further eastward) the Roman Road, leading to Old Ford; probably a British way and ford over the Lea, and older than London itself-forming the original communication between the eastern and western counties north of the Thames.-Archaeologia, xli.

The whole of this neighbourhood teems with associations of Milton, who lived in

a pretty garden house

in after his removal from Churchyard. In he went to live in (on the right of Aldersgate, formerly the Jews' Garden and the only place

267

where Jews had a right to bury before the reign of Henry II.). It was here that Milton, who had already been blind for years, married his wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Edward Minshul, of a Cheshire family, in , the year before the Plague.

 

Here, in his blindness, he gave instruction by ear to Ellwood the Quaker in the foreign pronunciation of Latin, which he aptly said was the only way in which he could benefit by Latin in conversation with foreigners. It was this Ellwood who, when the Plague broke out in , gave Milton the cottage-refuge at Chalfont St. Giles, in which he

268

wrote his He returned to London to reside in Bunhill Fields in , and there, on , he died, and was attended to the grave, says Toland (), by

all his learned and great friends in London, not without a friendly concourse of the vulgar.

leads into , so called, says

Maitland,

from the cripples who begged there.

The gate of the City here was of great antiquity, for the body of St. Edmund the Martyr was carried through it in from Bury St. Edmunds, to save it from the Danes, and, according to Lidgate, the monk of Bury, it worked great miracles beneath it. Here, as we stand in (so called from a cross which once stood in ), we see

269

rising above a range of quaint old houses built in , and so displaying the architecture in fashion just before the Great Fire, the tower of , the church oft the hermit of the Rhone, who was the especial saint of cripples and lepers. Its characteristics cannot be better described than in the words of the author of -

Turning into Redcross Street they beheld the bold shape of the tower they sought, clothed in every neutral shade, standing clear against the sky, dusky and grim in its upper stage, and hoary grey below, where every corner of stone was completely rounded off by the waves of wind and storm. All people were busy here: our visitors seemed to be the only idle persons the city contained; and there was no dissonance--there never is-between antiquity and such beehive industry; for pure industry, in failing to observe its own existence and aspect, partakes of the unobtrusive nature of material things. This intramural stir was a fly-wheel transparent by infinite motion, through which Milton and his day could be seen as if nothing intervened. Had there been ostensibly harmonious accessories, a crowd of observing people in search of the poetical, conscious of the place and the scene, what a discord would have arisen there.

The church, which is celebrated for the burial of Milton and the marriage of Cromwell, has been grievously mauled and besmeared with blue and white paint internally. A foolish Gothic canopy with tawdry alabaster columns has been raised over the fine bust of Milton by , placed here in by Mr. Whitbread. The poet was buried in in the grave of his father (),

an ingenuous man,

says Aubrey,

who delighted in music.

The parish books say that Milton died

of consumption,

fourteen

years after the blessed Restoration.

In his bones were disinterred, his hair torn off, and his teeth knocked out and carried off by the churchwardens, after which, for many years, Elizabeth Grant, the female

270

grave-digger, used to keep a candle and exhibit the mutilated skeleton at twopence and threepence a head. This sacrilege led to Cooper's lines-

Ill fare the hands that heaved the stones Where Milton's ashes lay, That trembled not to grasp his bones, And steal his dust away. O, ill-requited bard! neglect Thy living worth repaid, And blind idolatrous respect As much affronts the dead!

Whoever has any true taste and genius, we are confident, will esteem Paradise Lost the best of all modem productions, and the Scriptures the best of all ancient ones.-Bishop Newton.

On the south wall is an interesting bust to Speed, the topographer, ; and, near the west door, the slab tomb of Foxe the martyrologist, . On the north wall are the tombs of the daughter and granddaughter of Shakspeare's Sir Thomas Lucy. The latter is represented rising in her shroud from her tomb at the resurrection, which has given rise to a tradition that she was buried alive and roused from her trance by the sexton, who opened her coffin to steal of her rings. The parish register records the marriage of Oliver Cromwell and Elizabeth Bowchier, .

In the sunny of St. Giles is a well-preserved bastion of the of Edward IV.'s time. The lower portion is formed of rude stones and tiles, the upper of courses of flint laid in cement. The battlements of the old wall adjoining were removed in and a stupid brick wall erected in their place

at the expense of the parish.

The bells of are celebrated, and

Oh, what a preacher is the time-worn tower,

Reading great sermons with its iron tongue.

Not far from the church was Crowder's Well

(commemorated in ), of which we read in Childrey's ( ) that its waters had

a pleasant taste like that of new milk,

and were

very good for sore eyes;

moreover that there was

an ancient man who whenever he was sick would drink plenteously of this Crowder's Well water, and was presently made well, and whenever he

was overcome of drink, he would drink of this water, which would presently make him sober

! The curious

Williams Library,

founded in Redcross Street by Dr. Daniel Williams, the dissenting divine ( - ), which contained an original portrait of Baxter, was pulled down in . Its books ( volumes) are now at .

Redcross Street leads into , where the name of on the right, connecting this with , is a memorial of the. ancient

Fortune Theatre

erected in on that site: it was last used in the time of Charles II. This theatre is considered by some to have been

The Fortune

by which Edward Alleyne, the founder of Dulwich College, made his wealth, having been the son of the innkeeper of

the Pye

in : others identify it with Killigrew's playhouse called

The Nursery,

which was intended as a school for young actors. Pepys records his visit to the theatre by saying,

I found the musique better that we looked for, and the acting not much worse, because I expected as bad as could be.

On the left is , so called from a watch-tower on the city-wall-

A watch-tower once, but now, so fate ordains, Of all the pile an empty name remains. Dryden.

Here Milton lived -, and here he wrote , , , and In Beechland, by , was the palace of Prince Rupert. It was in these narrow streets of Cripplegate that the Plague raged worst of all.

On the left of is , formerly the notorious Grub Street, well known as the abode of small authors, who, writers of trashy pamphlets and broadsides, became the butts for the wits of their time: thus Grub Street appears in the -

Not with less glory mighty Dullness crown'd,

Shall take through Grub Street her triumphant round,

And her Parnassus glancing o«er at once,

Behold a hundred sons, and each a dunce.

Pope's answers are so sharp, and his slaughter so wholesale, that the reader's sympathies are often enlisted on the side of the devoted inhabitants of Grub Street. He it was who brought the notion of a vile Grub Street before the minds of the general public; he it was who created such associations as author and rags-author and dirt-author and gin. The occupation of authorship became ignoble through his graphic description of misery, and the literary profession was for a long time destroyed.-Thackeray.

The name

Grub Street,

as opprobrious, seems, however, to have been applied by their opponents to the writings of Foxe the Martyrologist, who resided in the street, as did John Speed the Historian. Oddly enough, in this neighbourhood full of memories of him, the modem name of the street is not derived from the poet, but from Milton a builder. In Sweedon's Passage, opening out of this street, was a curious old building called Gresham House, pulled down in ; it was shown as the house of Sir Richard (

Dick

) Whittington in the reign of Henry IV., and of Sir Thomas Gresham in that of Elizabeth.

Returning a few steps, Cripplegate Buildings lead into the street called , opposite the picturesque modern , which recalls the old buildings of Innsbruck, and is decorated with the banner-bearing stags, which are the crest of the Company.

Close by, with a fine old brick and stone front towards Philip Lane, is , founded by Dr. Thomas White, vicar of St. Dunstan's in the West, for the use of the London clergy-

where expectants may lodge till they are provided with houses in the several parishes in which they

Sion College

serve cure.

[n.274.1]  The story of the Good Samaritan is represented on its seal. The college has a chapel, library, and hospital attached to it. Half of the library was consumed in the Great Fire. Fuller resided in the quiet courts of Sion College while he was writing his

The neighbouring (dedicated to the Archbishop of Canterbury, murdered by the Danes in ), might easily escape observation. Its tower belonged to an earlier church, St. Mary Elsing Spittal, founded in , of which the Early English doorway is a relic. The interior, rebuilt , is little better than a square room, but on its north wall is preserved the handsome Corinthian monument of Sir Rowland Hayward (), twice Lord Mayor, and at his death

the antientest alderman of the city.

He kneels under the central niche, on a red cushion, facing the spectators, and at the sides are his wives and the

happy children

of each.

Opposite St. Alphege, a fragment of its Churchyard is preserved (in a garden formed ) for the sake of the fine fragment of the old which it contains.

Postern was a small gate in the Wall close to this, which led into Finsbury Fields, much frequented by the Londoners in summer evenings.

On the right is the opening of , named (with Bassishaw Ward) from the Basings, who lived hard by in Blackwell Hall, from the reign of John to that of Edward III. Here, in a quiet court, is the (Basings haugh), of Wren's worst rebuildings. It contains the tomb of Dr. T. Wharton, remarkable for his devotion to the sufferers in the great Plague of . In the old church, destroyed in the Fire, Sir John Gresham, Lord Mayor in , uncle of Sir Thomas, was buried with solemnities like those which still attend the funerals of the Roman princes.

He was buried with a standard and pennon of arms, and a coat of armour of damask, and four pennons of arms; besides a helmet, a target, and a sword, mantles and the crest, a goodly hearse of wax, ten dozen of pensils, and twelve dozen of escutcheons. He had four dozen of great staff torches, and a dozen of great long torches. The church and street were all hung with black, and arms in great store; and on the morrow three goodly masses were sung.-Stow.

The last State Lottery in England was held at Cooper's Hall in , .

Farther down , on the right, at the entrance of , is the , erected from designs of . Many will remember with bitter regret the noble old building which was destroyed when this was built--the staircase and vestibule adorned with exquisite medallions from designs of Bacon; and the hall, so picturesque without, and so full of glorious oak carving within- of the best of the buildings which survived the Fire. On its western wall were frescoes illustrative of the carpenters art, which had been white-washed in Puritan times and re-discovered in , viz.:--

Noah receiving the instructions of the Almighty as to building the Ark.

Josiah repairing the Temple (his workmen in the costume of Henry VIII.).

Our Lord gathering chips in the workshop of Joseph, who was represented at work, with the Virgin spinning by his side.

The Teaching of the child Jesus in the Synagogue. Is not this the carpenter's son?

The Hall, built

by citizens and carpenters of London,

was erected in on land leased in this neighbourhood from the Priory of St. Mary Spittal.

Passing the ugly Church of , built in , containing an altar-piece by , we may enter and turn to the right.

Where falls into a gateway on the right leads into the quiet courts of , occupying the site of a famous Augustinian convent founded in by Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford and Essex. At the Dissolution it was granted by

Henry VIII. to William Paulet, Marquis of Winchester; but the church, which was retained for the king, was granted by Edward VI.

to the Dutch nation in London to have their service in (as he says in his journal of

June 29, 1550

), for avoiding of all sects of Ana-Baptists, and such like.

The Dutch still own the building, which has some handsome

278

Decorated windows. The tombs in this church-once like a cathedral, the present edifice being only part of the ancient nave--were amongst the most magnificent in London-and it still contains the remains of a vast number of eminent persons, including Richard Fitz Alan, Earl of Surrey, beheaded in by Richard II. for joining the league against Vere and De la Pole; Humphrey de Bohun, godfather of Edward I., who fought in the Battle of Evesham; Hubert de Burgh, Earl of Kent, who was so powerful in the reigns of John and Henry III.; Edward, eldest son of the Black Prince and of the Fair Maid of Kent, who died in his year, ; the Earl of Arundel, executed at in ; John de Vere, Earl of Oxford, beheaded on in ; the barons who fell in the Battle of Barnet, buried together in the body of the church in ; William, Lord Berkeley (), and his wife Joan; and Edward Bohun, Duke of Buckingham, beheaded in , through the jealousy of Cardinal Wolsey,of whose death Charles V. said that

a Butcher's son (Wolsey) had devoured the fairest buck in all England.

It will scarcely be believed that the monuments of all these illustrious dead were sold by the Marquis of Winchester for ! The monastery had been granted by Henry VIII. to the Marquis, who is celebrated as having lived under sovereigns, and who, when asked in his old age how he had contrived to get on so well with them all, said

by being a willow and not an oak.

He was the builder of Winchester House in , which was sold to a city merchant by the Marquis, but only pulled down in . In this house the famous Anne Clifford, who

knew everything from predestination to

slane silk,

[n.279.1]  married her husband, Richard, Earl of Dorset, -. Winchester House is commemorated in , which till lately contained more ancient houses than almost any street in London. Now many of them are rebuilt, but the street has an old-world look, and ends in a quiet court surrounded with ancient brick houses, with a broad stone staircase leading to the principal doorway. The is in this street.

Turning to the right from the gate of , we find ourselves at the western front of the , before which is the seated

 
 
Footnotes:

[n.262.1] In that time and long afterwards, barbers officiated as surgeons in bleeding, as still in Italy. The well-known staff which sticks out above a barber's door commemorates this, as it was customary for the patient about to be bled to hold a staff at full length to keep his arm upon the stretch during the operation.

[n.263.1] See Allen's Hist. of London.

[n.274.1] Defoe, Journey through England, 1722.

[n.279.1] Dr. Donne.