by Walter Jerrold
Click on any thumbnail to see a larger version of that picture.
List of Illustrations
|Plate 1||The Tower Bridge|
|Plate 2||Remains of the George Inn, Southwark|
|Plate 3||In the Tower of London|
|Plate 4||In St. Olave's, Hart Street|
|Plate 5||Old Houses in Holborn and entrance to Staple Inn|
|Plate 6||St. Paul's and Ludgate Hill|
|Plate 7||The Gatehouse, St. Bartholomew the Great|
|Plate 8||Looking West up Fleet Street to the Law Courts|
|Plate 9||The Porch, Temple Church|
|Plate 10||Wine Office Court and the "Cheshire Cheese", Fleet Street|
|Plate 11||The Gateway, Lincoln's Inn|
|Plate 12||The Heart of London from Tower Bridge|
"Dear, damn'd, distracting town." - Alexander Pope.
Close upon a Hundred years ago a familiar essayist wrote: "The quickest mode of acquiring a good idea of any place is to take the earliest opportunity of ascending some tower or eminence, from which there is a commanding view, with some person who can point out the most remarkable objects." It may - close upon a hundred years ago - have been true even of London, but of London it is true no longer. From the dome, of St. Paul's Cathedral, from the tower of Westminster Cathedral, from the top of the Monument, and from different points on the Northern Heights, extensive views over London may be had, atmospheric conditions permitting; but a commanding and comprehensive view of the whole has become impossible, unless, maybe, it is to be had from an aeroplane; and then only from a detail-destroying height could London be brought into a coup d'œil.
The Tower Bridge
For centuries that which is now but the heart of London was the whole body of the capital city of the Kingdom. History and legend, romance and tragedy, great struggles and great deeds, have their story centred in that central portion of what has come to be regarded as the mother-city of our modern world. That central portion - sometimes termed "The City", sometimes "the square mile" - is in verity the heart of London, the pulsing centre of its manifold life to-day as it is the focal point of its long and famous history.
Even within its ancient limits, now lost to all outward seeming in expatiations in every direction, the City of London offers well nigh inexhaustible interests and attractions not only to the student of history, but to the ordinary sojourner in the streets and visitor to the buildings who has even a casual regard for the story of the past. Every thoroughfare has its tale to tell; each one takes us past or leads us on to some ancient edifice, so that it would be possible to start a survey of the heart of London from well nigh any point, confident that we should as it were be led on naturally from interest to interest until we had become acquainted with the whole. According either to one's personal views oreven the mood of the moment, we might choose, any one of a score of points: St. Paul's Cathedral, the religious centre; London Bridge, where the daily tides of active humanity that make London what it is, cross that river which may be said to have made London what it was; the Monument, memorial of a disaster from which London rose, phœnix-like, more than two centuries since; Guildhall or the Mansion House, centres whence civic ideals and civic examples have passed to all parts of the world inhabited by English-speaking peoples; the Tower, wherein is, as it were embodied much of the history not only of London but of the Kingdom. Each of these places might readily form an appropriate point from which to set out on a familiar ramble round the City in search of details concerning its wonderful past as they are to be found recorded or represented, either by standing stones, or by mere names of old-time significance; or for evidence of the infinite and far-reaching activities of the present.
"London Bridge was made for wise men to go over." - Old Proverb.
It may be assumed that few of the many millions of London's inhabitants or visitors who cross London Bridge are likely to have seen it as I remember seeing it a good many years ago - that is, at the hour of sunrise on a summer Sunday morning. With the early sunlight irradiating the river and the wisps of mist that were passing away, the waterway crowded with shipping, the tall Tower Bridge, then newly completed, and such portion of the Tower buildings as was visible, it was impossible to avoid reflecting on the fact that here was a view of rare beauty that was missed by the vast majority of those who, day after day of the working week, cross the bridge to and from their tasks in City offices or warehouses. The view, which is one that at any time is sufficiently memorable, is at the hour of summer sunrise one that might move a new Wordsworth to a new sonnet.
Taking our stand here, somewhere about the middle of the bridge on its eastern side - turning our back, that is, on the stark ugliness of Cannon Street's railway station and bridge - and looking down at the shipping in the Pool and at the wharfs stretching down-stream into the river haze, is to realize something of the important part that has been played by the Thames in the forming of London, indeed, probably in the very selection of a site for some settlement in days long anterior to those of the Roman invasion. Along that left bank of the river from near the Tower Bridge to a point about twice as far behind us, and extending inland to Bishopsgate and Moorgate, the Romans established their walled city of Londinium. Ahead of us on the left bank, the dingy white stone of the Tower tells of the coming of the Normans, one of whose great churchmen architects erected the massive place, now dwarfed by its modern namesake bridge and hemmed in by the buildings of new potentates and powers.
Between us and the Tower are hints of the intervening ages. From near St. Magnus's Church, with its minaret-like spire, to near St. Olave's Church, the low tower of which is seen on the south side, ran the old stone London Bridge - superseded just upon a century ago by the one on which we are standing - and also the yet earlier one of wood along which was erected a street of houses. Behind the spire of St. Magnus's is the Monument commemorating the Great' Fire; beyond it along the riverside come Billingsgate Fish Market and shipping wharfs with various fishing and other North Sea craft crowding the Pool. Beyond again is the columned front of the Custom House, with, moored near by, those Dutch eel-boats that have retained their form since Tudor times, and have been granted rights here ever since the time of the Great Fire - boats which are at long last, we are told, threatened with supersession by steam vessels. Then, beyond the Tower itself, rises the most modern addition of note to the river scene here, the fine Tower Bridge. That same Tower Bridge, seen against the early morning sky, or as rising through some low-lying river mist, seems to me to be one of the most impressive of our later material achievements in relation to the metropolis. Its tall towers, its upraising roadways, its high footways, suggest something at once modern, romantic, mediæval, fairy-like, and strangely moving. A French visitor who has written enthusiastically of it says: "The Tower Bridge, the water-gate of the Capital, is a colossal symbol of the British genius. Like that genius the bridge struck me as built on lines of severe simplicity, harmonious, superbly balanced, without exaggeration or emphasis; sober architecture, yet with reasonable audacities, signifying its end with that clearness which is the hallmark of everything English." It is a curious thing that the most notable feature of the bridge, those high paths for the use of foot-passengers when the roadway of the Tower Bridge was open for passing vessels, should have fallen into desuetude within little more than a dozen years of the completion.
Remains of the George Inn, Southwark
Thus, from our position against the stone balustrade of London Bridge, we may by glancing around us see various points of interest linked with London's many centuries of history; and though much the same experience may be realized in various parts 'of the City, there is no other point from which we can get so much of that history in one comprehensive view. Roughly parallel with the river, from near by Blackfriars to the eastern extremity of the old City, runs that thoroughfare known, in two unequal portions, as Upper and Lower Thames Street. More interesting than picturesque, this yet remains one of the oldest of the thoroughfares of any length within the limits of the square mile; for though divided into Upper and Lower it is in effect one street separated from the river by wharfs and warehouses, arid though many of these have been rebuilt, the street yet retains much of an old-time aspect - but rather that of a somewhat grimy utilitarianism than of any picturesque antiquity. Passing directly from the bridge to the Tower, we find ourselves at what may be regarded as the starting-point of historic London, as it is to be seen to-day. There are, it is true, scraps of Roman London still existing - slight fragments of the wall that surrounded Londinium, and tessellated pavements, coins, and other treasure trove that must now be looked for in the museums - but the Tower was erected in the years that followed immediately upon the Norman Conquest, "and the bricks are alive at this day to testify"; for a period of more than eight centuries it has .formed the background for historic events, and it is, therefore, the most appropriate place for beginning to look at what remains to us of historic London.
At the top of Great Tower Hill is the spot on which the execution of traitors - and many others - took place, a spot of many tragic memories, marked by a flat stone in the turf to be seen through the railings of Trinity Square. This Square, as Mr. Charles G. Harper points out in his full story of The Tower of London, may be looked upon as the last remaining fragment of that Open common which anciently, and up to the close of the sixteenth century, stretched about the Tower. From parts of Great Tower Hill are to be had varied views of the extensive group of buildings known collectively as The Tower, backed by the linked towers of the bridge to which it has given a name. Though the broad moat has been drained and its banks have been tree-planted, turfed, and softened by cultivation and have become public promenades, it is not difficult to visualize what it must have looked like when the water of Thames ran into the moat and lapped the outer walls of the great grey stone fortress-prison; when in one or other of its towers were immured prisoners of state who were destined all too often to close their careers under the headsman's axe, where the grim stone lies within the railing above, or on that other place of execution, Tower Green, which is to be found by the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula within the Tower walls.
Looking thus on the great group of buildings - the stone, almost black and white in strong sunshine, chequered in various tones of grey by time and smoky atmosphere, we get scarcely more than a hint of the manifold points of interest, the story without an end, unfolded as we wander about within the confines of this "mass of ramparts, walls, and gates, the most ancient and most poetic pile in Europe".
Quite a considerable literature has grown up about His Majesty's Towers - to give the place its official designation - from pamphlet handbooks to stately histories. Here it is not possible to do more than hint at the variety of attractions, to be found in a place in the very stones of which are worked much of the history of the country during a period not far short of a thousand years, if we accept the well-founded belief that the building was begun after the arrival of the Normans under William - and more than twice as long if we are to believe in the romantic tradition which says that the Norman Keep was erected on the site of an already then ancient Roman fort established by Julius Caesar. The dominating, seemingly quadrangular but slightly irregular, White Tower was long popularly known by the name of Caesar's Tower, and Shakespeare has made use of the traditional legend in Richard III where the boy-King Edward mislikes the idea of sojourning in the Tower as suggested by his sinister uncle, the Duke of Gloucester.Prince.
I do not like the Tower, of any place.Buckingham
He did, my gracious lord, begin that place;Prince.
Is it upon record, or else reportedBuckingham.
Upon record, my gracious lord.
The nobleman was of course not historically correct - though there may then have been a tradition that it was still "upon record" in Tudor times.
We do not, however, need tradition to inspire, though it may well serve to deepen, our interest in this place which, though it stood without the walls of the old City of London, may yet be regarded as the very vivifying centre of the heart of London in that it - is the oldest building that the ancient capital has to show. As Hepworth Dixon, one of its first historians, put it: "Looking at the Tower as either a prison, a palace, or a court, picture, poetry, and drama crowd upon the mind; and if fancy dwells most frequently on the state prison, this is because the soul is more readily kindled by a human interest than fired by an archaic and official fact. For one man who would care to see the room in which a council met or a court was held, a hundred men would like to see the chamber in which Lady Jane Grey was lodged, the cell in which Sir Walter Raleigh wrote, the tower from which Sir John Oldcastle escaped. Who would not like to stand for a moment by those steps on which Ann Boleyn knelt; pause by that slit in the wall through which Arthur de la Pole gazed; and linger, if he could, in that room in which Cranmer, Latimer, and Ridley searched the New Testament together?"
All the places indicated by the historian of the Tower - and how many more! - are within the limits of that storied pile. Here also are to be seen the Crown Jewels - well caged against any attempt by some would-be emulator of that Colonel Blood who stole them in 1671; and here are some fascinating pages of history to be made wonderfully real to us by the great miscellany of weapons and suits of mail exhibited in the Armoury. Here of old, too, was long kept the Royal Menagerie of wild beasts - a menagerie finally done away with in 1834, a few years after the Zoological Society of London had been formed and had established the beginnings of those Gardens now familiarly known as the Zoo. To the care of that Society the animals remaining in the Royal collection were transferred.
The old Tower menagerie is worth recalling from its having given rise to the popular phrase about "seeing the lions" of a place, and the describing of notable persons as social, literary, or other "lions". In the old days the going "to see the lions at the Tower" was a holiday entertainment for Londoners and visitors alike - until "seeing the lions" came to be a summary sentence signifying seeing the sights generally. Though the king of the beasts has gone - and even the Tower to which he lent his name, so that we now find the first one of the many towers that go to form The Tower is, by a seeming misnomer, designated the Middle one - yet in the figurative sense, the "lions" of this extensive group of varied buildings within the boundary of the ancient moat are so numerous as to preclude the possibility of detailed mention here.
In the Tower of London
Very diverse are the views to be obtained of the Tower, from Great Tower Hill, from the wharf that divides it from the river, or from the bold slope that carries the roadway from Little Tower Hill on to Tower Bridge. From the wharfside - with its array of trophy guns - we get a glimpse of the low dark entry of the Traitors' Gate, access to which was by a waterway beneath the wharf on which we stand. About this tragic way into the Tower it was said that those who were brought by it were already doomed. For the manifold details of interest and association to be seen or considered in and about this storied pile, the visitor would be well advised to provide himself with one of the official handbooks.
East of the Tower, shut off by immense ugly warehouses, lies the great extent of the docks, beginning with the St. Katherine's Dock, the name of which keeps in memory the interesting old church and hospital of St. Katherine by the Tower. North-east on Little Tower Hill is seen a handsome stone building, curiously disfigured by the wholly inharmonious buildings which flank it at either end of the railings through which it is seen. This is the Royal Mint, erected at the beginning of the nineteenth century, before which the country's minting operations had been carried on within the Tower itself.
In St. Olave's, Hart Street
It is in his wonderful Diary that we get the most vivid impressions of that terrible chapter in London's history, a chapter of which we are reminded again and again wherever we turn in exploring the City's highways or byways. Pepys records how one of the maids, on the night of 1st September, 1666, roused him with an account of a great fire in the city. In the morning it seemed diminished, but "By and by Jane comes and tells me that she hears that above 300 houses have been burned down to-night by the fire we saw, and that it is now burning down all Fish Street, by London Bridge. So I made myself ready presently, and walked to the Tower; and there got up upon one of the high places, Sir J. Robinson's little son going up with me; and there I did see the houses at that end of the bridge all on fire, and an infinite great fire on this and the other side the end of the bridge: which among other people did trouble me for poor little Michell and our Sarah on the bridge. So down, with my heart full of trouble, to the Lieutenant of the Tower, who tells me that it began this morning in the King's baker's house in Pudding-lane, and that it hath burned down St. Magnus's Church and most part of Fish Street already."
So great was the devastation wrought by this fire that burnt westward to the Temple and to Pye-Corner by Smithfield, and so frequently do we find reference to it in our inquiries about the heart of London, that we may take another glance at the disaster as Pepys saw it from his garden - a garden in Hart Street! - on the fourth evening of the outbreak.
"Only now and then, walking into the garden, saw how horribly the sky looks, all on fire in the night? was enough to put us out of our wits; and indeed, it was extremely dreadful for it looks just as if it was at us, and the whole heaven on fire. I, after supper, walked in the dark down to Tower Street, and there saw it all on fire, at the Trinity House on that side, and the Dolphin Tavern on this side, which was very near us; and the fire with extraordinary vehemence. Now begins the practice of blowing up of houses in Tower Street, those next the Tower, which at first did frighten people more than any thing; but it stopped the fire where it was done, it bringing down the houses to the ground in the same places where they stood, and then it was easy to quench what little fire was in it, though it kindled nothing almost. W. Hewer this day went to see how his mother did, and comes late home, telling us how he hath been forced to remove her to Islington, her house in Pye Corner being burned; so that the fire is got so far that way, and to the Old Bailey, and was running down Fleet Street; and Paul's is burned, and all Cheapside. I wrote to my father this night, but the post house being burned, the letter could not go."
"I went again to the ruins, for it was now no longer a city," wrote the other diarist of that time, John Evelyn, just a week after the beginning of the outbreak.
A great part of the heart of London had to be rebuilt in consequence of the disaster, so this chapter in its history is recorded everywhere we go. It is, however, more especially commemorated in The Monument, erected for this specific purpose, 1671-77, a pillar which on a clear day amply rewards us for the slow climb of 345 stone steps to its cage-balcony, affording as it does a wonderful view in all directions. This fluted column was designed by Sir Christopher Wren, who however intended that it should have been surmounted by a statue of King Charles the Second, toga-clad, instead of the vase of conventionalized flames finally decided upon. The height of the Monument, 202 feet, denotes the distance, immediately to the east, of that baker's shop in Pudding Lane at which the Great Fire broke out. The fact that Alexander Pope wrote of the spot –
"Where London's Column, pointing to the skies,
is not infrequently referred to; less often is it made clear why it was that the poet wrote thus of the pillar. Pope was a Roman Catholic, and one of the old-time inscriptions at the base of the Monument - finally done away with only so recently as 1831 - ascribed the Great Fire in no uncertain terms to the machinations of the Papists. Yet less widely known is the fact that when the baker's shop in Pudding Lane was rebuilt, there was set up on it "by authority" the following inscription: "Here by the permission of Heaven Hell broke loose upon this protestant city, from the malicious hearts of barbarous papists, by the hand of their agent Hubert: who confessed and on the ruins of this place declared this fact, for which he was hanged, viz., That here began the dreadful fire, which is described and perpetuated, on and by the neighbouring pillar, erected 1681 in the mayoralty of Sir Patience Ward, Knt"
Though that fire forms an important part of the history of central London in that it necessitated the rebuilding of so much - there are still picturesque and interesting things to be seen that escaped destruction. We may find scraps to take the memory back even to the first century of our era and to the Roman occupation of London. The most interesting of these will be found on the north side of Cannon Street, a little to the east of the railway station. There, let into the wall of St. Swithin's church and encaged by a sturdy iron grille, is all that is left of that ancient relic known as London Stone. About this relic, guarded with care apparently from time immemorial, little has been definitely ascertained. Conjecture makes of it a central milestone of the Romans whence their ways radiated from mid-Londinium. Behind the grille to-day we see but a small fragment of the original, for one of the earliest mentions of the stone - that of the Tudor antiquary Camden - runs:
"On the south side of this high street (Candlewick or Cannon Street) near unto the channel, is pitched upright a great stone, called London Stone, fixed in the ground very deep, fastened with bars of iron, and otherwise so strongly set, that if carts do run against it through negligence, the wheels be broken and the stone itself unshaken. The cause why this stone is set there, the time when, or other memory, is none."
A century or so later and it was already reduced to "a stump" and was cased over for protection, and then in the middle of the eighteenth century its remnant was removed to the north side of the street, and some years later this mere fragment was placed within a niche in the wall of St. Swithin's church. It may be that the fragment preserved is but the top of - the "stump" and that the main portion, "very deep", was left underground in its original position. Here, according to Shakespeare - who closely followed the account of the chronicler, Holinshed - when Jack Cade invaded the city with his rabble, he struck his staff on London Stone and then, sitting on it, declared himself "Mortimer, lord of this city". This suggests the possibility of there being some lost tradition associating the stone if not with the kingdom at least with possession of its capital. Watling Street, a little to the west, in its brief course to the cathedral, represents the old" Roman highway of the same name.
When the Romans finally left London (A.D. 412) they left it a walled city - the wall running from just west of the Tower to Aldgate, and then by Bishopsgate, Aldersgate, Newgate, and Ludgate back to the neighbourhood of the Thames, and then east again by Dowgate and Billingsgate. Scraps of this London Wall have from time to time, during building operations along its course, been brought to light, the most notable for the sightseer being those preserved and duly tableted opposite St. Alphage's Church in the street that, running from Bishopsgate to near Aldersgate, is specifically known as London Wall.
Old Houses in Holborn and entrance to Staple Inn
"Above my head, above the house-tops, co-elevate almost with the clouds, I saw a solemn, orbed mass, dark-blue and dim - the Dome." - Charlotte Brontë.
It has been suggested that, as it were, the very heart of the heart of London is to be found in St. Paul's Cathedral, for in one of the most engaging of the whole library of books that have been written about London, it is recorded as being at least more than probable that here was a burial ground of the ancient Britons, " because when Sir Christopher Wren dug for a foundation to his cathedral, he discovered abundance of ivory and wooden pins, apparently of box, which are supposed to have fastened their windingsheets. The graves of the Saxons lay above them, lined with chalk-stones, or consisting of stones hollowed out: and in the same row with the pins, but deeper, lay Roman horns, lamps, lachrymatories, and all the elegancies of classic sculpture. Sir Christopher dug till he" came to sand and sea-shells, and to the London ' clay, which has since become famous in geology,, so that the single history of St. Paul's Churchyard carries us back to the remotest periods of tradition; and we commence our book in the proper style of the old Chroniclers, who were pot content unless they began with the history of the world". (The Town, its Memorable Characters and Events, by Leigh Hunt)
St. Paul's and Ludgate Hill
It is that particular approach which has inspired the notable description that forms part of the exordium to Alfred Noyes's "Tales of the Mermaid Tavern", wherein we have the view realized for us at one of the most impressively picturesque of those moments known to students of the varying aspects of London:
" Under that foggy sunset London glowed
Such views as we have from a distance are of the dome or the western bell-towers; it is only when we reach the churchyard - by one of those three main ways that terminate by it, Ludgate Hill, Cannon Street, or Cheapside, or by one of the half-dozen by-ways that give on to it - that we get an adequate idea of the massive grandeur of the whole pile, in all its fascinating chequering of black and white, where the Portland stone has got smoked or weathered.
This stupendous work of Christopher Wren's - of whom it is now becoming the fashion seemingly to say belittling things - was summed up in the wandering Latin inscription which Leigh Hunt has translated thus:
"Here found a grave the founder of this church,
The reader does look around, comments Leigh Hunt, and the whole interior of the Cathedral seems like a magnificent vault over the body of its architect. As Tennyson said of another great man buried more than a century and a quarter later under the same magnificent vault:
"Here in streaming London's central roar,
Lest description of Wren's epitaph as a wandering Latin inscription should prove misleading, it may be said that it was first placed over the tomb in the crypt, where it was certainly less felicitously applicable than in the choir to which it was later promoted, being inscribed upon the organ gallery. From there it was again transferred to the north entrance where it is still to be seen, bringing to mind that it is just two centuries since the death of Sir Christopher and since he was buried here - his being the first interment in the cathedral which he had rebuilt.
The architect of the edifice and the victor of Waterloo are but two of the great dead whom Britain has honoured by burial in the City Valhalla, and it is perhaps the monument of a poet that should first claim attention, for it is the only one that was preserved in practically its pristine condition when the Great Fire had run its destructive course. This striking statue has in recent times been replaced as near as may be in the position which it occupied when originally put up in 1631. It is the statue of John Donne, the poet - Dean of St. Paul's, shroud-enwrapped, and is one of the most remarkable pieces of personal sculpture of the period to which it belongs. The most prominent - and least pleasing - monuments of the Cathedral are those of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, groups of figures, human and angelic, on the heroic scale, mostly commemorating naval or military leaders. The Nelson monument in the south transept is by no means the worst of these, but can scarcely be regarded as worthy. The Wellington canopied memorial on the north side of the nave appears somehow to be less dignified since it has come to be neighboured by the noble recumbent effigy of Lord Leighton. Another fine modern memorial is the bronze statue of Bishop Creighton, though here again it may be thought that a more appropriate position might have been chosen for this vivid presentation than one immediately facing the beautiful old marble of .the enshrouded Donne, with which it is in almost ludicrous contrast. A statue of Samuel Johnson, toga-clad, to be seen in the north. transept, is not to be taken as indicating that "the great lexicographer" is buried here - he lies in Westminster Abbey.
For the appreciation of the interior of St. Paul's Cathedral a day of bright sunshine is desirable, especially for the visitor who contemplates visiting the library, the whispering gallery, the golden gallery, and the ball, and thus getting the wide view which on all too many days is greatly minished by haze, smoke, or fog. But a bright day, with sunlight through the windows, is also best for those who have no such aspirations; it gives us the finest impression of the pictured interior of the dome, and of the choir with 4s carvings by Grinling Gibbons and its rich mosaic decorations by the late Sir William B. Richmond, R.A. Among the memorable things that should not be over-looked is Holman Hunt's painting, "The Light of the World " - one of the most famous examples of religious painting of the Victorian era - which hangs on a pillar in the south side of the nave.
Externally there is much about St. Paul's Cathedral that may well hold our attention. It has been said that the very fact that we can only see the magnificent mass of its buildings by a close approach tends to, make the whole but the more impressive. Impressive it certainly is from whichever point it is approached, while to wander about the scanty shrub-grown gardens - all that remains of the old Cathedral churchyard - is to get a feeling of almost overwhelming size from the massy walls that rise there from. In the southern portion of those gardens may be seen some small vestiges of the fire-destroyed Cathedral, while on the north-east is a modern representative of the old St. Paul's Cross from which preachers (and others) used to hold forth to the Londoners.
All round about the Cathedral we find thoroughfares that bear names appropriate to their position, such as Paternoster Row, Ave Maria Lane, Amen Corner, Creed Lane, and Amen Court. The last named is perhaps not quite fittingly described as a thoroughfare, for it is shut off by gates from Amen Corner and from Warwick Lane. Beyond the gate across Amen Corner, as that good lover of London, Sir Walter Besant, put it in one of his novels, "there is a row of quiet-looking houses, and there one turns into a broad court covered with ground-ivy instead of grass, but with a few flower-beds and trees and red gabled buildings with an archway in red brick like a college". Besant's "ground-ivy", it may be surmised by a later visitor to this delightful elusive bit of central London, was but ordinary ivy trained over the ground and not the hedgerow labiate of our country places. This corner - at what is in effect a western extension of Paternoster Row - is a delightful backwater, as it were, off the tumultuous stream of city traffic. The dignified, creeper-clad, red-brick houses, with their ornamental old link extinguishers by the front doors, though shut off but by a few yards from the traffic of Ludgate Hill and the Old Bailey, might be part of the cathedral precincts of some sleepy city far from the " central roar".
To the south-west of the Cathedral, in the brief thoroughfare of Dean's Court, is another old-time brick residence that contrasts strikingly with the neighbouring warehouses and business premises of the Churchyard and Carter Lane. This is the residence of the Dean of St. Paul's, and it stands back, behind a high wall, in a small courtyard in which are a couple of tall plane trees. The Deanery has the distinction of being probably the only detached residence in the City.
The Gatehouse, St. Bartholomew the Great
There were in London at one time no fewer than fifty-two churches that had been built or rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren, so that it would have been possible co worship in a different church of his designing on every Sunday in the year. Of these churches some have been swept away by time, while others are threatened with demolition by the disappearance of parish congregations in consequence of the constant movement of population to the suburbs, and by the demands that their sites shall be made available for utilitarian development. Many, however, remain and are likely to remain; far more than can, indeed, be indicated here; go where we may along the City high-ways or byways, we are never far from some old church that may well call for our lingering, while now and again we happen upon some small ivied scrap of ground, with a few wall-set time-worn tombstones that announce the fact that here stood of old-time a place of worship.
One church that calls for individual mention is that which stands out from all others in London lore owing to traditions associated with it. St. Mary-le-Bow, which stands at the corner of Bow Lane, about the middle of the south side of Cheapside, is successor of "a massy Gothic pile, decorated with lofty arches, which the vulgar of that time called bows", that had been erected in the time of William the Conqueror. According to Stow, this was the first church in London to be built with such arches, and from them was derived the title of the ecclesiastical court known as the Court of Arches that had its meetings here. As we approach, it is the greatly varied tower and steeple that hold the attention. Of this a mid-eighteenth century enthusiast wrote, "it is thought to be the most beautiful thing of its kind in Europe", while one, who at the same period was surveying the public buildings of London, said:
"The steeple of Bow church is a masterpiece in a peculiar kind of building, which has no fixed rules to direct it, nor is it to be reduced to any settled laws of beauty: without doubt if we consider it only as a part of some other building, it can be esteemed no other than a delightful absurdity: but if either considered in itself, or as a decoration of a whole city in prospect, it is not only to be justified, but admired. That which we have now mentioned is beyond question as perfect as human imagination can contrive or execute; and till we see it outdone, we shall hardly think it to be equalled."
This steeple-crowned tower stands curiously at the north-western corner of the church to which it belongs, having been placed there to give it a frontage on Cheapside when Wren rebuilt the church after it had been destroyed in the Great Fire. On the western wall of the red-brick building, an inscription tells us that the parish of the destroyed church of All Hallows in Bread Street - wherein John Milton was baptized - has been united with that of St. Mary-le-Bow. Closer is the connection of Bow Church with tradition. It was the ringing of its bells that brought back the disheartened apprentice, Richard Whittington, with a confident resolve to try, try again. He had got as far as Highgate Hill, and was resting there, when the speaking bells called out their message across the intervening meadows:
"Turn again Whittington,
He turned, returned - and in due course the prophecy of the bell was faithfully fulfilled. Then, too, there is the tradition that the title of Cockney does not belong to any Londoner, or even to any native of the southern counties, as some of the reference books would have us believe, but is to be claimed only by those who were born within the radius in which the sound of Bow bells is to be heard.
Most of the churches within the heart of London were more or less completely destroyed in the Great Fire, and most of those that were rebuilt had Christopher Wren for architect. Though some of these have been demolished in the two centuries since Wren's death, and more are threatened, the wanderer in London is likely long to have about him varied examples of the resourceful architect's work, and to find an interest in seeing with what ingenuity Wren managed to give something of distinct individuality to each fresh task he undertook.
"Over the gate of the Temple bar were placed the waites of the cittie, and at the same barre the Lord Maior and his brethern the aldermen in scarlet received and welcomed her Majestic to her cittie and chamber, delivering to her hands the scepter, which after certaine speeches had her Highness redelivered to the Maior." - John Stow.
Looking West up Fleet Street to the Law Courts
The especially civic aspects of the heart of London are interesting not alone for what they have to tell us of the growth of civic institutions, or for the antiquities by which they are represented, but also because the City of London has come to be regarded as the mother city not only of the British Empire, but of all places where the Anglo-Saxon has come to be the dominating race. There are, however, some ways in which the Lord Mayor of London has, during the year in which he holds office, a position transcending that of any other Lord Mayor or Mayor; within the limits of the City he takes precedence of everybody other than the Sovereign. London of old claimed the right of having a voice in the election of the King, and its. Mayor is still summoned to the first Privy Council after the accession of a new Sovereign and from time immemorial has taken part in the ceremonial attendant upon a coronation. That is but an infrequent demonstration of the important position occupied by the Lord Mayor of London. An annual demonstration has long been made in the form of the Lord Mayor's Shows on 9th November, when the induction of each new occupant of the office is made the occasion of street pageantry which has at times degenerated into a somewhat tawdry display that has appeared to bring the time-honoured custom near to its abolition.
The most interesting example of ancient civic London, apart from the customs and traditions already touched upon, is to be found in the old-time Guildhall, which, though for the most part rebuilt after the Great Fire, has still the extensive crypt over which the earlier hall had been erected in 1411. This ancient crypt is said to be at once the finest and most extensive undercroft, as the old builders termed it, that remains in London, and it is to the credit of the "mid-Victorians" that after it had long been used as a vast cellar for lumberage, the crypt should have been cleared and cleaned and made newly visitable. .Indeed, it is recalled that when this was done, Queen Victoria visited the crypt in 1851, and was there given a civic banquet.
In the Great Hall of Guildhall many remarkable banquets and other gatherings have been held, demonstrating not only the festal hospitality of the City Fathers, but also the hospitality which the City has shown to new ideas and great ideals. It is not necessary to particularize, but mention may be made of the fact that here the national welcome has been made manifest to distinguished visitors from abroad; here great conferences have taken place, and momentous movements been initiated, as in the case of International Arbitration - the first practical step towards that ideal of ensured international peace which has since come to be ever more passionately desired.
Guildhall, the traditional centre of London's civic life, has much to claim the attention, not only architecturally, in its restored entrance and Great Hall, but also in that here are housed a museum into which have been brought many treasures of the past, a fine picture gallery, and a great public library. Here, too, are to be seen the two great wooden figures of those traditional city giants Gog and Magog, as to the origin of which there has been much antiquarian speculation. The present figures, rather more than two hundred years old, are successors of others made in wicker work, which were wont to be borne in the procession on the Lord Mayor's Show day. This use of monster figures on such occasions is by no means peculiar to London. I have seen them, for example, in festivities in northern Spain, and have come across references to them in many places. The generally accepted story of our City giants is that they were originally Corineus and Gogmagog, who in some dim past fought against invaders, and that in course of time the one name fell out of use and the other by division served for the two.
It may be said that there is a second main centre of central London's civic life in the Mansion House, which, though it lacks the historic appeal of Guildhall, yet occupies an important position as the official residence of the Lord Mayor. Such it has been since it was built for the purpose in 1752, on the site of the old Stocks Market. Before then the Lord Mayor had exercised his civic authority from the Hall of the Company to which he belonged or from his own private residence. The market which stood on this site before, it may be mentioned, had nothing to do with stocks and shares; it had been erected in the thirteenth century on the spot whereon "had stood a pair of Stocks for punishment of offenders". That ancient purpose may be said to remain associated with the spot, for the City Police Court is held in the basement of the Mansion House.
The central position of this building - at the junction of several of central London's important thoroughfares and opposite the Bank of England and. the Royal Exchange - is such that it would be a good centre from which to follow its eight radiating ways. South-ward from it goes the narrow Walbrook, following the course of a streamlet of the same name that, when London was a walled city, came through the wall to the west of Bishop's Gate and, cutting the city into two almost equal parts, reached the Thames at what is now Dowgate; south-westerly goes the broad name-dated Queen Victoria Street to Blackfriars Bridge and the Embankment; westward goes the Poultry, merging almost immediately in Cheapside, which later trifurcates into St. Paul's Churchyard, Paternoster Row, and Newgate Street; south-eastward King William Street leads to London Bridge; Lombard Street and Cornhill start curves that meet again at Aldgate and so lead to the East End generally; while from either side of the Bank, Princes and Threadneedle Streets may be followed for the northerly neighbourhoods.
Here by the pillared facade of the Mansion House, where all these ways meet, we have one of the busiest centres of street traffic in the world. The intersecting and opposing streams of vehicles of all characters have something of a phantasmagoric effect upon the onlooker who pauses here for long. It is as though the manifold activities of London, reduced to terms of street transport, were daily passed in review by the Lord Mayor. Certainly those to whom it fell in the mid-eighteenth century to select a position on which to erect the official residence of the city's chief magistrate, could not have found one better fitted for the purpose.
So closely are the various strands of City life and tradition interwoven that it is not possible to separate the historical from the civic, the civic from the commercial, and so on. Such differentiation can only be of the broadest and most general character. Thus the building up of London as a civic centre is inextricably bound up with those trade guilds which played so important a part in mediæval times, and with those great merchants who devoted the wealth which they had gained to the glorifying of the city in which they had gained it. Again and again as we go about the heart of London we come upon the hall of one or other of the many City Companies that still exist. For, though the most of the old halls were destroyed in the Great Fire, many were rebuilt and are deeply interesting centres of London lore in general. Thus, though the Hall of the 'Fishmongers' Company (by London Bridge) was rebuilt nearly a hundred years ago, it is on much the same spot as it occupied six centuries since, and among its treasures is preserved the dagger with which Sir William Walworth slew Wat the Tyler in 1381. The Mercers' Company, the Hall of which (in Cheapside) was rebuilt within the past half-century, is regarded as the premier one of the City Companies - administering as it does in perpetuity the charitable bequests of those great Londoners, Sir Richard Whittington and Dean Colet. In its hall are to be seen fine old portraits and some rich plate. The Hall of the Goldsmiths' Company (in Foster Lane, Cheapside) is interesting from the fact that this Company still exercises its function of assaying plate and duly certifying its purity and date by that mark which thence derives its familiar name of "hall" mark. Another hall - that of the Clothmakers' Company (in Mincing Lane) is interesting as having marked the bounds, in that direction, of the Great Fire, which but partly destroyed it. In the hierarchy ,of the City Companies the Clothworkers occupy the position of the twelfth or last of the "great" companies - the "minor" ones, it may be noted, are numbered by scores - and arising as it did out of the ancient guild of Shearers may perhaps be regarded as one of the oldest. Its importance was indicated in the high-falutin of Elkanah Settle, a writer of City "pageants", who died two hundred years ago: "The grandeur of England is to be attributed to its golden fleece (which is the crest of this Company), the wealth of the loom making England a second Peru, and the back of the sheep, and not the entrails of the earth, being its chief mine of riches. The silkworm is no spinster of ours, and our wheel and web are wholly the Clothworkers. Thus, as trade is the soul of the Kingdom, so the greatest branch of it lies in the Clothworkers' hands, and though our naval commerce brings us in both the or and the argent, and indeed the whole wealth of the world, yet, when thoroughly examined, it will be found 'tis your cloth sends out to fetch them. And thus, whilst the Imperial Britannia is so formidable to her foes and so potent to her friends, . . . to the Clothworkers' honour it may justly be said, 'Tis your shuttle nerves her arm, and your wool that enrobes her glory'."
All these City Companies - many of which possess halls with old plate, pictures, or specimens of interest connected with their particular trade or craft - may be said to represent much of that civic spirit which has through the centuries gone to build up the City and its traditions that we have inherited. From among them came those bands of Merchant Adventurers who began the building up of that great world-commerce that has made London the main business centre of the world; from them have come many outstanding organized efforts on behalf of "charity and good learning", and these have taken the form of great scholastic foundations and institutions for the befriending and succouring of those "broken by fortune". It is pleasant to recall these things as we come upon the head-quarters of the ancient guilds and fraternities in the streets and lanes of the ever-changing city which they have helped to build.
"Those bricky towers
Porch, Temple Church
Though the Inner Temple Hall, was rebuilt but little more than half a century ago, it has two small rooms at the western end which are of much the same date as the older part of the church, and the Hall is built on the site of the old Knights Templars' refectory. Middle Temple Hall, which belongs to the latter half of the sixteenth century, and was in February, 1601, the scene of one of the earliest performances of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, has a very beautiful oak screen dating from 1575. It was in the gardens of the Temple, by the way, that Shakespeare placed that scene of contention which led to the taking sides under the respective badges of red rose and white:Plantagenet.
Since you are tongue-tied and so loath to speak,Somerset.
Let him that is no coward nor no flatterer,Warwick.
I love no colours, and without all colourSuffolk.
I pluck this red rose with young Somerset
Out of the division here dramatically begun developed the long conflict known to our history books as the Wars of the Roses.
The riverside aspect of the Temple has been greatly changed by the formation of the Thames Embankment; indeed an old engraving shows the river flooding up to near the parapet along the south side of delightful Fountain Court. Now, seen from the Embankment, broad lawns afford a pleasant foreground of greenery to the irregular masses of old and new buildings that, intersected by numerous courts and lanes, extend from Essex Street on the west to King's Bench Walk and Whitefriars on the east. Generally speaking, it may be said that the older parts of the Temple are those neighbouring Fleet Street, and at the top of Middle Temple Lane are some old houses of the late sixteenth century. The fine gatehouse at the top of the Lane, just within Temple Bar, is a handsome structure of stone and brick erected in 1684 from the design of Sir Christopher Wren.
As I have said, it is by its literary associations that the Temple appeals to a large proportion of those who wander about its fascinating ways. Quite apart from the famous writers who have lived there, the bede-roll of members of the two Inns includes many names that gleam on the greater bede-roll of literary fame. Gorboduc, first English tragedy of any merit, says Leigh Hunt, was written in the Temple by Thomas Norton and Thomas Sackville, while the succession of literary Templars includes Raleigh, Selden (who died in Whitefriars); Lord Clarendon, Beaumont; two other of our old dramatists, Ford and Marston (the latter of whom was lecturer in the Middle Temple); Wycherley, whom, it is said, the Duchess of Cleveland used to visit in the habit of a milliner; Congreve, Rowe, Fielding, Burke, and Cowper. The list might be extended almost indefinitely.
Wine Office Court and the "Cheshire Cheese", Fleet
"The man of letters can but love the place which has been inhabited by so many of his brethren, or peopled by their creations as real to us at this day as the authors whose children they were - and Sir Roger de Coverley walking in the Temple Garden, and discoursing with Mr. Spectator about the beauties in hoops and patches who are sauntering over the grass, is just as lively a figure to me as is old Samuel Johnson, rolling 'through the fog with the Scotch gentleman at his heels on their way to Dr. Goldsmith's chambers in Brick Court; or Harry Fielding, with inked ruffles and a wet towel round his head, dashing off articles at mid-night for the Covent Garden Journal, while the printer's boy is asleep in the passage."
Thackeray himself had, indeed, triple personal associations with the Temple, for he "read" with a special pleader at No. 1 Hare Court, and for a time shared chambers at No. 10 Crown Office Row with Tom Taylor, who later became editor of Punch. When Crown Office Row was demolished for re-building in 1859, Tom Taylor contributed to Punch, with which both his and Thackeray's names are so intimately associated, a tribute which must express the feelings of many who have spent the hopeful early years of manhood in these inspiriting surroundings. The following are the first and last of the ten stanzas:
"They were fusty, they were musty, they were grimy dull and dim,
Though Thackeray had pleasant memories of the Temple and utilized them when writing. Pendennis and other of his works, the man of letters most intimately connected with the Temple is of course Charles Lamb. He was the "Templar" of letters. Born at No. 2 Crown Office Row in 1775, as "a Rechabite of six years old" he used to drink at a pump in Hare Court; from 1801 to 1809 he lived at Mitre Court Buildings, and from 1809 to 1817 at 4 Inner Temple Lane opposite the entrance to the Temple Church. "I have two rooms on third floor and five rooms above, with an inner staircase to myself, and all new painted and all for £30 a year! . . . The rooms are delicious, and the best look backwards into Hare Court, where there is a pump always going. Just now it is dry. Hare Court trees come in at the window, so that it's like living in a garden." The friendly, shy figure of Charles Lamb haunts all parts of the Temple, yet none of all the houses therein which were successively home to him remains - " all, all are gone, the old familiar places", all have within the past century been rebuilt more in accord with modern requirements.
The Gateway, Lincoln's Inn
Northwards again on the farther side of Holborn - from which it is reached by one of those narrow ways that are the usual links between these homes of Law and the highways of the city - lies Gray's Inn. Here again we may happen upon crowding memories of many famous men associated with the Inn, from the sententious Bacon and the gossiping Izaak Walton (who died here) to Southey and Macaulay. Here in the gardens, of the Inn, under the famous elms that have been superseded by planes, was a noted promenade in the days of Samuel Pepys. Here, until within comparatively recent years, was the last rookery of Central London; it would be interesting to know if the last of the elms and rooks went together. The quadrangles and courts of Gray's Inn are mostly comfortable-looking buildings of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but the glory of the place is the Hall, which, built about 1560, is an admirable example of its period, and has a fine carved oak screen comparable with that of the Middle Temple Hall. Like Middle Temple Hall, too, it can claim Shakespearean associations, for here at Christmas, 1594, "a Comedy of Errors was played by the players", so that it is in the Inns of Court that we get the only direct links with Shakespeare.
"Industrious merchants meet and market there
The Heart of
London from Tower Bridge
As far back as the time of the Roman occupation, London was the chief centre of British commerce, and it has been pointed out that from the earliest records such commerce was so largely in the hands of foreigners that the capital was "mainly a city of foreigners". These facts, which may be found here and there indicated in place-names associated with what is now the heart of London, render it appropriate that we should specially consider those aspects which pertain more particularly to the London of trade and commerce, as exemplified in exchanges and markets.
Directly and obliquely in front of the Mansion House, as has been already said, are the Bank of England and the Royal Exchange. The latter, founded in the reign of Elizabeth and rebuilt after its second destruction by fire in the reign of Victoria, bears in great letters of gold above its handsome pillared portico an inscription showing the names of the two queens in whose widely separated reigns London, as a centre of the world's commercial activities, may be said to have made its most notable advances. The grasshopper-vane above the tower at the eastern end of the building is worth a special glance as having survived the two conflagrations of 1666 and 1838, and as a relic of Sir Thomas Gresham's original Exchange. Within the building a tesselated pavement also links us with the original, while various modern artists have depicted there great scenes in the history of the City of London. Still here may the visitor feel something of the genial philosophizing spirit of the eighteenth-century essayist who found in the relations of representatives of all races something of a foreshadowing of the League of Nations, a couple of centuries before the idea of such a league came to be, familiar in the minds of men.
"I must confess", wrote Joseph Addison, "I look upon High 'Change to be a great council in which all considerable nations have their representatives. Factors in the trading world are what ambassadors are in the politic world; they negotiate affairs, conclude treaties, and maintain a good correspondence between those wealthy societies of men that are i divided from one another by seas and oceans, or live on the different extremities of a continent. I have often been pleased to hear disputes adjusted between an inhabitant of Japan and an alderman of London; or to see a subject of the Great Mogul entering into a league with one of the Czar of Muscovy. I am infinitely delighted in mixing with these several ministers of commerce, as they are distinguished by their different walks and different languages. Sometimes I am jostled among a body of Armenians; sometimes I am lost in a crowd of Jews; and sometimes make one in a group of Dutchmen. I am a Dane, Swede, or Frenchman, at different times; or rather, fancy myself like the old philosopher who, upon being asked what countryman he was, replied that he was a citizen of the world."
Though the passage of time inevitably brings about its countless changes of detail in the scene, the broad effects remain much the same, and the wanderer about London cannot fail to be struck, not maybe by the groups of foreigners, as Addison was, but by the traditional cosmopolitanism of the commercial life of the capital. This the careful observer will realize from the variety of the faces encountered in the crowded City ways, and from the columned names of occupants of the piles of City offices.
Over against the Royal Exchange is that junior institution, the Bank of England, which, though it has come to symbolize stability, only dates from the closing years of the seventeenth century. "As safe as the Bank" has come to be a proverb, yet in 1694, when the project for setting it up was afoot, as Macaulay put it, "all the goldsmiths and pawnbrokers set up a howl of rage. Some discontented Tories predicted ruin to the monarchy. It was remarkable, they said, that Banks and Kings had never existed together. Banks were republican institutions. There were nourishing banks at Venice, at Genoa, at Amsterdam, and at Hamburg. But who had ever heard of a Bank of France or a Bank of Spain? Some discontented Whigs, on the other hand, predicted ruin to our liberties. Here, they said, is an instrument of tyranny more formidable than the High Commission, than the Star Chamber, than even the fifty thousand soldiers of Oliver." To-day the Bank of England is a national institution that has long outlived the gloomy prognostications of interested partisans, and the great group of its buildings fronting on Threadneedle Street and bounded by Princes Street and Lothbury is one of the notable features of this mid-most part of the city. Plans are afoot for the rebuilding of the Bank of England in the early future on a loftier scale than the present It has so grown in the two centuries of its existence as to make it difficult to realize that at first its business was carried on in the halls of the Mercers' and Grocers' Companies.
The Royal Exchange and the Bank of England may be said to represent the trade and commerce of the nation, and something of the same may be said of the Port of London Authority, whose magnificent new building on Tower Hill we glanced at earlier. Strikingly impressive as is this notable addition to the architectural sights of London as seen from the approach up Tower Hill, the best view of all is that from the railings to the north of the Tower, when the great edifice is seen with its lower portion partly hidden by the trees of Trinity Square enclosure. Though "wholly out of keeping" with Trinity House, which it dwarfs, and with its other historic neighbours, this recent addition to the "lions" of the neighbourhood is one that exercises something of a peculiar fascination over many people. From the upper part of the massy tower of this building there must be a wonderful view down-stream and along that great chain of docks which has been established along the Thames, and to which the merchandise of all the world is brought. "Dockland", from the Tower to Tilbury is, as it were, an unknown London to a large proportion of those who may be known as Londoners, and one full of that sense of romance which pertains to all gathering-places of vessels that have sailed or churned the waters from the far places of the world.
Leaving the fine building of the Port of London Authority - focal point, as it were, of London's overseas commerce generally - we may then turn to some of those spots in the city which are associated with the merchanting of particular commodities. A little to the west are to be found successively Mark Lane and Mincing Lane, the one the centre of the corn trade and the other of the trade in tea and groceries generally - as they have been for centuries since the merchants who dealt in such things had their residences in and about these lanes. A little way to the south from Mincing Lane - across Great Tower Street and down Harp Lane - is the great Billingsgate Fishmarket at which we glanced in our preliminary survey from London Bridge, and neighbouring it along the riverside come the great buildings of the Custom House and the Coal Exchange.
Billingsgate calls for something more than a mere passing reference, both on account of its inherent interest as a world-famous centre of food distribution and its long history as such a centre. When business is in full swing it is a remarkable scene that is before the visitor who penetrates into the extensive covered market, where hundreds of salesmen and porters in their long, supposedly white overalls, and stacks of fish crowd the place in seeming confusion. In the same way Lower Thames Street outside, and the turnings therefrom, seem an inextricable confusion of varied vehicles and laden porters - yet out of these seeming confusions comes the orderly distribution of fish and its punctual appearance in the menu of a million meals. And for a thousand years, it is said, has this been London's great centre for the distribution of that fish which has always formed an important part of the people's dietary. In Billingsgate - the old-time fishwives of which have given a name to language more forcible than polite - we have, indeed, a market the beginnings of which are lost in the dim mists of pre-Conquest days.
Yet, if London can show us no other market of like age that is still active in the twentieth century in supplying the needs of its ever-growing population, wherever we go about this central part of the City we find either markets, memory of past markets, or whole districts that have come to be associated with the trade in some particular kind of goods. So numerous indeed are these that it is only possible to glance at them.
If we take up old books printed in the latter part of the sixteenth and earlier part of the seventeenth century, we shall find that a goodly proportion of them were printed for booksellers dwelling "over against the great South door of Paul's," or "at the little North door of Paul's", or more vaguely " in Paul's churchyard". Though about the same period there were booksellers at other City centres, for the most part the Cathedral appears to have been the chief centre, and today Paternoster Row, Warwick Lane and Square, and the lesser thoroughfares lying immediately to the north and west of the Cathedral form a district still greatly favoured by the publishers. The churchyard itself and many of its tributary ways are in a great measure given over to the offices and warehouses of "dry goods" merchants, the district for such wares extending along several of the by-ways that branch south and north from Cheapside. Here we have indeed a continuity comparable with, if not equal to, that of Billingsgate, for in that revelation of social life in the early part of the fifteenth century, Lydgate's ballad concerning the wanderings of "London Lackpenny", we find that Cheapside and Cannon Street were even then associated with the wares still sold there.
"Then to the Chepe I began me drawn,
Another market centre of considerable antiquity is that of Smithfield, of which it was written more than a century and a half ago: "this is the greatest market for black cattle, sheep, and horses in Europe; and also a considerable market for hay and straw; for the sale of which it was famous five hundred years ago". Anciently known as Smoothfield - "planus campus re et nomine", says a twelfth-century writer - this place appears to have been associated with a market and fair (that of St. Bartholomew) from time immemorial and though the market for live cattle has been removed, Smithfield, with its expatiation into Farringdon still remains one of the great food distributing centres of London - its meat no longer being driven in from the home counties or the neighbouring "shires", but coming, in a state of suspended dissolution by means of refrigeration, from the far prairies of North America, the vast pampas of South America, and from Australasia. London's market for live cattle has been removed from the central portion of the great city. Smithfield, being a main centre for the distribution of "frozen" meat from abroad, has also come to be a great distributing centre for imported and other poultry, and at the Christmas season is the chief market for turkeys, which are to be seen displayed here in their thousands.
The market, however, that is more especially connected with the poultry trade is that of Leadenhall - a little to the east of the Royal Exchange. This was described in the eighteenth century as being "the largest market in the City of London, and perhaps in Europe". It can no longer claim that position of pre-eminence even in London, but is interesting as combining a market in live as well as dead poultry and game and also as being another of London's really old markets, dating as it does from the thirteenth century.
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