The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 4
St. George's Fields.
This tract was anciently a broad portion of marsh land, till the
|embankment of the river Thames rendered it tenable. That it was known by the Romans is sufficiently authenticated by the remains of tesselated pavements, coins, bones, &c. and it might have been used as an , or summer camp; for it could not have been any other, the situation having been too damp for a residentiary station; for, even till the century, Lambeth-marsh was overflowed. The idea entertained by dean Gale and Dr. Salmon of the ancient Londinium being placed on this side of the Thames, has been sufficiently examined to admit of any further investigation.
These fields, however, have borne their share of celebrity in the annals of this country; they were very often the scenes of grandeur and cavalcade, and sometimes the rendezvous of rebellion and discord. It was to this place that Wat Tyler's and Jack Cade's rebels resorted to oppose the royal authority; and it was here that the former retired after the arrest of their leader in , and were compelled to yield to the allegiance they had violated. Here also the infatuated mob commenced the riots of , which threatened the existence of the metropolis, had they not been speedily quelled.
These fields now form different roads; and from circus open communications with all the south and south-east counties, and the continent.
In the centre is an obelisk. This was erected in the year , during the mayoralty, and in honour of Brass Crosby, esq. who had been confined in the Tower for the conscientious discharge of his magisterial duty. It is a plain but neat structure, and forms a centre at the meeting of the great south road from London, the road from , from Waterloo-bridge, from , from , and from . side is inscribed with the cause of its erection; the other sides mark the distances from , London-bridge, and , as follows:
As this is of the most considerable improvements that took place in the last reign, it will be very proper in this place to notice that on the , the lord mayor, aldermen, and commons of the city of London in common-council assembled, presented, by the sheriffs, a petition to the house of commons, which set forth:
That by an act passed in the year of
| king George II. the petitioners were empowered
The bill, ordered in consequence of this petition, passed into an act, of which the following are the heads:
In , another act was passed for the further improvement of St. George's-fields, enabling the city to sell some detached pieces of their lands, mentioned in a schedule annexed to the act, and to invest the purchase money, and a further sum of in the purchase of other land there, so as to make their premises more compact.
Of the benevolent institutions with which the metropolis and its neighbourhood abounds, many are placed in St. George's-fields, a situation chosen not only for the facility it affords to the visits of the medical gentlemen and the governors, but from the circumstance of ground being obtained on reasonable terms, and not too much encumbered with buildings at the time when most of them were established.
On the south side of circus are the extensive range of buildings, called
 Vide ante, vol. i. p. 3 and 4.