Old and New London, A Narrative of its History, its People and its Places.Illustrated with Numerous Engravings from the Most Authentic Sources. vol 6

Walford, Edward


St. George's Fields.

St. George's Fields.


Saint George's Fields are fields no more, The trowel supersedes the plough; Huge inundated swamps of yore Are changed to civic villas now.


In the above lines, the Brothers Smith, the authors of the

Rejected Addresses,

in , lamented the decline alike of sports and of rural beauty, which were once the chief characteristics of this locality; but even this description has long ceased to be applicable. Perhaps the following stanza, though less poetic, quoted from Tallis's

Illustrated London,

would present the reader of to-day with a more faithful character of Fields :

Thy civic villas, witty Smith, Have fled, as well as woodland copse; Where erst the water-lily bloomed Are planted rows of brokers' shops.

Fields were named after the adjacent church of St. George the Martyr, and appear once to have been marked by all the floral beauty of meadows, uninvaded by London smoke. We learn from Mr. Cunningham that Gerard came here to collect specimens of his


Of water-violets,

he says,

I have not found such plenty in any


place as the water ditches adjoining St. George his fielde near London.

And yet these


together with Marsh--which lies between them and the Thames --were at time almost covered with water at every high tide, and across which the Romans threw embanked roads, and on which they reared villas, after the Dutch summer-house fashion, on piles. Indeed, Fields were certainly occupied by the Romans, for large quantities of Roman remains, coins, tesselated pavements, urns, and bones have been found there. They formed probably of the , or summer camps; for in the winter a great part of them, now known as and Marsh Gate, were under water. It is not stated when all this ground was drained, but various ancient commissions are remaining for persons to survey the banks of the river, here and in the adjoining parishes, and to take measures for repairing them, and to impress such workmen as they should find necessary for that employment; notwithstanding which, these periodical overflows continued to do considerable mischief; and Strype, in his edition of Stow's


informs us that, so late as , owing to this cause and some great rains which had then fallen, all Fields were covered with water. Inundations, therefore, are no novelty to the lands on the south of the Thames near London.

In , as we have already had occasion to observe, Canute laid siege to London; but finding that the bridge was so strongly fortified by the citizens that he could not come up with his vessels to make any impression on the Thames side of the place, he projected the design of making a canal through Fields, then marshes, wide and deep enough to convey his ships to the west of the bridge, and to enable him by that means to invest the town on all sides. The line of this canal, called

Canute's Trench,

ran from the great wet dock, below , through , to the river Thames again at Reach; but its exact course cannot now be traced.

Dr. Wallis, in a letter to Samuel Pepys, dated in , speaks of having walked, years before, from Stangate, close by , to Redriff [],

across the fields

to , meaning there to cross the Thames to . On this occasion, he writes, a friend

showed me in the passage diverse remains of the

old channel which had been heretofore made from Redriff to


for diverting the Thames whilst

London Bridge

was a-building, all in a straight line or near it, but with great intervals which had long since been filled up; those remains which then appeared so visible, are now, I suspect, all or most of them filled up, for . . . people in those marshes would be more fond of so much meadow grounds than to let those lakes remain unfilled.

In the same letter he speaks of the southern shore of the river as

full of flags and reeds.

Fields have not been unvisited by royalty, for we are told that at the happy Restoration, on the , the Lord Mayor and Aldermen of London met Charles II., in his journey from Dover to London, in Fields, where a magnificent tent was erected, and the king was provided with a sumptuous banquet before entering the City.

These fields, according to Pepys and Evelyn, were of the places of refuge to which the poorer citizens retreated with such of their goods and chattels as they could save from the fire of London.

We read in Evelyn's


in September,
, that many of the poor people, who had lost their homes in the City, were dispersed about Fields;

some under miserable huts and hovels, many without a rag or any necessary utensils, bed or board, who from delicatenesse, riches, and easy accommodation in stately and wellfurnished houses, were now reduced to extreamest misery and poverty.

Fields, down to the commencement of the present century, comprised broad open meadows, and stretched from , Borough, to the . Dirty ditches intersected it, travelling show-vans and wooden huts on wheels were squatted there, and some rusty boilers and pipes rotted by the roadside. They were places, as we read in Malcolm, much resorted to by field-preachers, who, during the reign of the Stuart sovereigns, were not allowed to hold forth in London.

Several of the names of the particular plots of land, during the unbuilt state of Fields, are transmitted to us in old writings, as well as some amusing notices of certain places here, or in the neighbourhood, in scarce books. Among other documents, the parish records of St,


Saviour's mention Checquer Mead, Lamb Acre, and an estate denominated the Chimney Sweepers, as situated in these fields and belonging to that parish; as also a large laystall, or common dunghill, used by the parishioners, called Dunghill. The open part, at the commencement of the last and end of the preceding century, like , and some other void places near the metropolis, was appropriated to the practice of archery, as we learn from a scarce tract published near the time, called

An Aim for those that shoot in

St. George's


Here were the

Apollo Gardens

and the

Dog and Duck,

both standing till the Regency of George IV. In point of fashion they were a direct contrast to Ranelagh, and even to , to which

the quality

repaired. The former stood opposite the Asylum in the , and they were fitted up on the plan of , though on a smaller scale, by a Mr. Clayett. In the centre of the gardens was an orchestra, very large and beautiful.

A want of the rural accompaniment of fine trees, their small extent, their situation, and other causes, soon made them the resort ot only low and vicious characters and

The Freemasons' Charity School, St. George's Fields. (From An Engraving By Rawle, In 1800.)

after an ineffectual struggle, lasting through




seasons, they were finally closed, and the site was built over.

The old orchestra of the gardens, when taken down, was removed to Sydney Gardens, at Bath, to be re-erected there.


Dog and Duck

grounds were far more obstinate and also far more unworthy of patronage. At this place there was a long room, with tables and benches, and an organ at the upper end, so that in all probability the place was used for

popular concerts.

The audience was composed of the riff-raff and scum of the town. Becoming a public nuisance, the gardens were at length put down by the magistrates, and Bethlehem Hospital now occupies the spot which once they covered. The spot was a noted place of amusement for the lower middle classes; and as the name indicates, it was of the chief scenes of the brutal diversion of duck-hunting, which was carried on here, less than centuries ago, in a pond or ponds in the grounds attached to the house. The fun of the sport consisted in seeing the duck make its escape from the dog's mouth by diving. It was much practised in the neighbourhood of London till it wys out of fashion, being suiperseded by pigeony


shooting, and other pastimes equally cruel. In the century the place was celebrated for its springs. The

Dog and Duck,

in its later days, bore but a bad repute as a regular haunt of thieves and of other low characters. After a long existence, during which it frequently figured in connection with trials for highway robbery and other crimes, it was suppressed by the order of the magistrates. Garrick thus alludes to the tavern and its tea-gardens in his Prologue to the , :--

t. George's Fields, with taste of fashion struck,

Display Arcadia at the Dog and Duck;

And Drury misses here, in tawdry pride,

Are there Pastoras by the fountain side.


It will be remembered that of the best scenes in Hannah More's



is laid in the infamous Dog and Duck Fields.

The following interesting extract from a MS. by Hone, the author of the


is printed by Mr. Larwood, in his :--

It (the

Dog and Duck

) was a very small public-house till Hedger's mother took it; she had been a barmaid to a tavern-keeper in London, who at his death left her his house. Her son Hedger was then a postboy to a yard at Epsom, I believe, and came to be master there. After making a good deal of money, he left the house to his nephew,


Miles, who, though it still went in Hedger's name, was to allow him

£ 1,000

a year out of the profits; and it was he that allowed the house to acquire so bad a character that the licence was taken away. I have this from


William Nelson, who was servant to old Mrs. Hedger, and remembers the house before he had it. He is now (


) in the employ of the

Lamb Street

Water- Works Company, and has been for


years. In particular, there never was any duck-hunting since he knew the gardens; therefore, if ever, it must have been in a very early time indeed. Hedger, I am told, was the


person who sold the water (whence the

St. George's

Spa). In


, when Hedger applied for a renewal of his licence, the magistrates of Surrey refused; and the Lord Mayor came into


and held a court, and granted his licence, in despite of the magistrates, which occasioned a great disturbance and litigation in the law courts.

A fort, with half-bulwarks, at the

Dog and Duck,

in Fields, is mentioned among the defences of London, set up by order of the Parliament in .

The old stone sign of the

Dog and Duck

tea-gardens is still preserved, embedded in the
brick wall of the garden of Bethlehem Hospital, visible from the road, and representing a dog squatting on its haunches with a duck in its mouth, and bearing the date .

A well of water, celebrated for its purgative qualities, formerly existed near the

Dog and Duck

grounds. Dr. Fothergill tells us that this water had gained a reputation for the cure of most cutaneous disorders, in scrofulous cases, and that it was useful for keeping the body cool, and preventing cancerous diseases; but the exact site of this well is no longer known.

St. George's


as Malcolm informs us,

abounded with gardens, where the lower classes met to drink and smoke tobacco. But those were not their only amusements. A Mr. Shanks, near

Lambeth Marsh

, contrived to assemble his customers in


with a grinning match. The prize was a gold-laced hat; the competitors were exhilarated by music and dancing; the hour of exhibition was


at noon; the admission sixpence. The same was repeated at



A century ago Fields became the scene of very fierce gatherings of the

Wilkes and Liberty

mobs; and the populace were very riotous, clamouring for the release of their dissolute and witty favourite from the King's Bench. During the riot which ensued, a young man named William Allen was killed by of the soldiers. Allen was pursued to the

Horse-shoe Inn,

Stones End, and shot in the inn-yard. He was buried, as we have seen, in the churchyard at , where a monument was erected to his memory.

It is not a little strange that the pains-taking and conscientious antiquary, Pennant, though he wrote


in , when their memory must have been still fresh, makes no mention of these fields having been the head-quarters of the rioters under Lord George Gordon, who years before had wellnigh set fire to all London. He simply speaks of these fields as

now the wonder of foreigners approaching our capital by this road, through avenues of lamps of magnificent breadth and goodness.

Whether the

breadth and the goodness

was predicated by Pennant of the


or the


is a little doubtful, more particularly since he refers, in a foot-note, to some new process of adulteration of the oil, and tells the following story almost in the same breath :--

I have heard that a foreign ambassador, who happened to make his entry at night, imagined that these illuminations were in honour of his arrival, and, as he modestly expressed himself, more than he could have expected!

In previous volumes of this work we have already spoken of the effects of the Gordon Riots in different parts of the metropolis, particularly in the burning of Newgate and the destruction of Lord Mansfield's house in ; but as Fields formed the rallying-point, whence the excited mob was to be led on the , some further particulars of the proceedings of the rioters may not be out of place here.

A so-called Protestant Association had been formed in , for the purpose of opposing Sir George Savile's bill for the abolition of Roman Catholic disabilities; and a fanatical Scotch nobleman, Lord George Gordon, son of William, Duke of Gordon, then in his thirtieth year, consented to become president of the association, which was fast gaining an influence over the lower classes. Various meetings to arrange for the presentation of a petition to Parliament against the repeal of these disabilities had been held in April and , in the

Crown and Rolls Tavern,

, and in the Coachmakers' Hall, and the presentation was finally agreed upon at Coachmakers' Hall, on the . At this meeting, which was attended by upwards of excited people, under Lord George Gordon's presidency, a petition was then proposed and carried to the following effect:--

Whereas no hall in London can contain 40,000 persons: resolved, that the Association do meet on Friday next, in St. George's Fields, at ten o'clock in the morning, to consider the most prudent and respectful manner of attending their petition, which will be presented the same day in the House of Commons.

Resolved, for the sake of good order and regularity, that this Association, in coming to the ground, do separate themselves into four distinct divisions: viz., the London division, the Westminster division, the Southvwark division, and the Scotch division.

Resolved, that the London division do take place upon the right of the ground towards Southwark, the Westminster division second, the Southwark division third, and the Scotch division upon the left, all wearing blue cockades, to distinguish themselves from the Papists and those who approve of the late set in favour of Popery.

Resolved, that the magistrates of London, Westminster, and Southwark be requested to attend, that their presence may overawe and control any riotous or evil-minded persons who may wish to disturb the legal and peaceable deportment of His Majesty's Protestant subjects.

By order of the Association,

Signed, G. Gordon, President.

Dated. London, May 29.

The enthusiastic and eccentric president then addressed the billowy meeting, informing them that the system of different divisions would be useful, as he could then go from to the other, and learn the general opinion as to the mode of taking up the petition. As it was very easy for person to sign or names to a petition, he thought it was better that every who signed should appear in person to prove that the names were all genuine. He begged that they would dress decently and behave orderly, and, to prevent riots and to distinguish themselves, they should wear blue cockades in their hats. Some had suggested that, meeting so early, people might get drinking; but he held that the Protestant Association were not drunken people, and apprehended no danger on that account. Some had also hinted that so great a number of people being assembled might lead to the military being drawn out; but he did not doubt all the association would be peaceable and orderly; and he desired them not to take even sticks in their hands, and begged that if there was any riotous person the rest should give him up.

If any


was struck, he was not to return the blow, but seek for a constable. Even if he himself should be at all riotous, he would wish to be given up, for he thought it a proper spirit for Protestants, remembering the text,

If they smite you on one cheek, turn the other also.

He concluded by saying that lie hoped no


who had signed would be afraid or ashamed to show himself in the cause; and he begged leave to decline to present the petition unless he was met in

St. George's

Fields by


people, with some mark of distinction on, such as a blue ribbon in their hats, so that he might be able to distinguish their friends from their foes. He would not present the petition of a lukewarm people. They must be firm, like

the Scotch, to carry their point. He himself would be there to meet them, and would be answerable for any that were indicted for meeting there; indeed, he wished so well to the cause that he would go to the gallows for it (deafening cheers).


true Protestant

rabble, estimated variously at from to men, all wearing blue ribbons, some of which had the words

No Popery

upon them, met at the appointed day and hour in Fields--on the very spot, singularly enough, as tradition says, where the high altar of the present Roman Catholic Cathedral is raised : such is the irony of history. Blue banners were flying; and it is said that in the Scotch division bagpipes were playing. In each of the divisions the

true Protestants

marched, singing hymns, or abreast, the enormous tree-trunk of a petition being carried on men's heads in a conspicuous part of the procession. They began to advance towards soon after , division marching by , the others by and . The march was orderly and decorous; hitherto the passions of these fanatics had been restrained; it was only when the rabble joined, and a sense of new-felt power came over them, that they turned to wild beasts. When they reached the Houses of Parliament, about half-past , the

true Protestants

gave such a shout as that before which fell the walls of the fated Jericho. Gibbon, the historian, then a member of the , describes the scene

as if


Puritans of the days of Cromwell had started from their graves.

In Boswell's

Life of Johnson

we read that just when the great doctor was engaged in preparing a delightful literary entertainment for the world,

the tranquillity of the metropolis of Great


was unexpectedly disturbed by the most horrid series of outrages that ever disgraced a civilised country. A relaxation of some of the severe penal provisions against our fellow-subjects of the Catholic communion had been granted by the legislature, with an opposition so inconsiderable, that the genuine mildness of Christianity, united with liberal policy, seemed to have become general in this island. But a dark and malignant spirit of persecution soon showed itself in an unworthy petition for the repeal of the wise and humane statute. That petition was brought forward by a mob, with the evident purpose of intimidation, and was justly rejected. But the attempt was accompanied and followed by such daring violence as is unexampled in history.

Of this extraordinary tumult, Dr. Johnson has given the following concise, lively, and just account in his

Letters to Mrs. Thrale :


On Friday the good Protestants met in Saint George's Fields, at the summons of Lord George Gordon, and, marching to


, insulted the Lords and Commons, who all bore it with great tameness. At night the outrages began by the demolition of the mass-house by

Lincoln's Inn

. An exact journal of a week's defiance of government I cannot give you. On Monday, Mr. Strahan, who had been insulted, spoke to Lord Mansfield (who had, I think, been insulted too) of the licentiousness of the populace; and his lordship treated it as a very slight irregularity. On Tuesday night they pulled down Fielding's house, and burnt his goods in the street. They had gutted, on Monday, Sir George Savile's house, but the building was saved. On Tuesday evening, leaving Fielding's ruins, they went to Newgate to demand their companions who had been seized demolishing the chapel. The keeper could not release them but by the Mayor's permission, which he went to ask; at his return he found all the prisoners released and Newgate in a blaze. They then went to Bloomsbury, and fastened upon Lord Mansfield's house, which they pulled down, and as for his goods they totally burnt them. They have since gone to Caen Wood, but a guard was there before them. They plundered some Papists, and burnt a mass-house in


the same night.

Boswell speaks of these riots as

a miserable sedition, from which London was delivered by the magnanimity of the sovereign himself.

Miss Priscilla Wakefield, in her

Perambulations in London,

writes as follows concerning these riotous proceedings :--

The metropolis was thrown into a dreadful consternation, in


, by a lawless mob, which caused the most alarming scenes of riot and confusion. On the

2nd of June

an immense multitude assembled in

St. George's

Fields, in consequence of an advertisement from the Protestant Association, in order to proceed to the

House of Commons

with a petition for the repeal of the law passed the last session in favour of the Roman Catholics. Lord George Gordon condescended to be their leader. They preserved tolerable order till they approached the Houses of Parliament, when they showed their hostile disposition by ill-treating many of the members as they passed along. Lord George encouraged these proceedings by haranguing this tumultuous assembly from the lgallery-stairs of the

House of Commons

, and telling them that they were not likely to succeed in their request, to which he added the imprudence of naming the members who opposed it. Some of them, ripe for active mischief, filed

off, and demolished the chapels belonging to the Sardinian and Bavarian ambassadors. The guards being called out,


of the rioters were taken into custody. All remained quiet till Sunday, the


, when riotous parties collected in the neighbourhood of


, and satiated their vengeance on the chapels and dwelling-houses of the Catholics. The next day different parts of the town presented a repetition of the same disgraceful scenes; and in the evening an attempt was made to rescue the rioters confined in Newgate, which, from the firmness of Mr. Akerman, the keeper, they were unable to execute, till, by breaking the windows, battering the entrances of the cells with pick-axes and sledge-hammers, and climbing the walls with ladders, they found means to fire Mr. Akerman's house, which communicated to the prison, and liberated

three hundred

prisoners. This success increased their fury. They divided into different quarters, with the most mischievous designs. Many were great sufferers from their attacks; but none in whose loss the public was so much interested as Lord Mansfield, in whose house they not only destroyed a great deal of property, and a valuable collection of pictures, but likewise some very scarce manuscripts, besides his lordship's notes on the constitution of England and on important law cases, which, from his advanced age, could never be replaced. The occurrences of Wednesday were still more dreadful. The city was in a state of anarchy; and the evening presented a most awful scene. Flames issued on all sides. The insurgents had set fire to the King's Bench and Fleet prisons, New


, the toilgates on

Blackfriars Bridge

, and private houses in all directions. The civil magistrate had no longer any power. The military were obliged to act to preserve the metropolis from destruction. All parts of the town, particularly those near the Bank and the Court, were guarded by soldiery. Multitudes perished by intoxication, &c.

It might be added that the Marshalsea was broken open by the mob on this occasion.

Mr. H. Angelo, in his


thus writes :--

I soon hurried away, and arrived near the obelisk in

St. George's

Fields, the space before the King's Bench being then quite open, with no houses. On seeing the flames and smoke from the windows along the high wall, it appeared to me like the huge hulk of a man-of-war, dismasted, on fire. Here, with amazement, I stood for some time, gazing on the spot, when, looking behind me, I beheld a number of horse and foot soldiers approach, with a quick step. Off I went, in an instant, in a contrary direction; nor did I look back till I was on

Blackfriars Bridge

. That night, if my recollection be correct, must have been the time when the dreadful conflagrations in different parts of the metropolis took place. I recollect it was said that




fires might be seen blazing from

London Bridge

. When the bridge was assailed by the mob, the latter were repulsed by Alderman Wilkes and his party, and many were thrown clean into the Thames.

Horace Walpole sarcastically calls these riotous proceedings



conflagration of London, by Lord George Gordon.

The number of persons who perished in these riots could not be accurately gathered. According to the military returns, persons died by shot or sword in the streets, and in the hospitals; and were wounded and captured. How many died of injuries, unknown and unseen, cannot be computed. Many more perished in the flames, or died from excesses of kind or other. Justice came in at the close, to demand her due. At the , eightyfive persons were tried for taking part in the riots, and finally out of these eighteen were executed, woman, a negress, being of the number. By a Special Commission for the County of Surrey prisoners were tried, and of them capitally convicted, though or were reprieved.

But what, it has been asked, did Lord George Gordon all this while?

Filled with consternation at the riots,

as his counsel on trial said,

he, on the

7th of June

, the terrible Wednesday, sought an audience of the king, professing that it would be of service in checking the riots. No doubt the poor young nobleman would have asked the king to proclaim the intention of repealing the Relief Bill, as if such a step would have had the slightest effect. But the king told him


to go and prove his loyalty by checking the riots, if he could. Lord George did really go into the City; but the

President of the Protestant Association

was now powerless, and does not seem even to have spoken to the mobs.

Every reader of knows the fearful state of London during the continuance of these riots; and act of Lord George, in his presumed attempt to quell the tumult, is particularly referred to by the author of that work. A young man came to the door of his coach, and besought his lordship to sign a paper drawn up for the purpose, which ran thus :--

All true friends to the Protestants, I hope, will be particular, and do no injury to the property of any true Protestant, as I am well assured the proprietor of this house is a staunch and worthy friend to the cause.

It has been insinuated that Lord


George Gordon wrote for friends many protectionpapers like this, the language of which certainly implies a knowledge and approval of the intent to attack those who were considered enemies. But the young man proved that it was written by himself, and that Lord George signed it hurriedly in compassion. When shown to the mob, it saved the man's house.

Lord George was arrested on the , and conveyed to the Tower under a strong guard. The Government thought it prudent to allow months to elapse before trying him, and he was then acquitted; though it seems strange that the ringleader should have been absolved from blame, when a score of his poor dupes were executed for their subordinate share in this bloody work.

Some time after this event a person begging alms from him in the street remarked,

God bless you, my lord! you and I have been in all the prisons in London.

What do you mean, fellow?

cried Lord George;

I never was in any prison but the Tower.

That's true, my lord,

replied the sturdy beggar;

and I've been in all the rest.

In Lord George Gordon coolly wished to offer himself as a candidate for the representation of London, but he withdrew, on finding that the City did not choose to be burnt down once a year for his amusement.

The after-life of this nobleman was marked by vagaries which confirmed the probability of his being really afflicted with insanity. In he openly embraced the Jewish faith, and soon after was convicted of a libel on the Queen of France. He fled to escape the sentence, but was re-taken in a few months and confined in Newgate, where he lived until fever cut short his career on the Ist of , at the age of . He was much beloved by the prisoners, and with good reason, being generous and humane. Jewish maid-servants, partly through enthusiasm, waited on him daily up to his death. The last words of Lord George Gordon were characteristic. The French Revolution had attracted him as a glorious event, and he died crazily chanting its watchword,

Northouck, writing in , anticipates the early arrival of a day when Fields will no more resemble fields, but be covered with buildings, as an ultimate consequence of the erection of and Blackfriars Bridges. He was right. In the course of the next decades of years, the hand of the builder had been at work, and streets and terraces were fast rendering the name of Fields but a meaningless title.

The pleasant and open aspect of Fields, and indeed the whole neighbourhood of the , at the above-mentioned date, and it may, perhaps, be added the moderate price of the land, induced the locality to be selected as the site of several charitable institutions. Foremost among them was the , which for just a century stood near the southern end of . It was originally opened, under the name of Magdalen House, by the founders, Robert Dingley and Jonas Hanway, in a large building, formerly the London Infirmary, in Prescott Street, , in . The good founders were readily assisted by others, and the fame of the institution even reached to Calcutta; and Omichund, the rich native merchant, who figures conspicuously in the history of Warren Hastings, left more than rupees to the funds of the hospital, though, we are sorry to add, his executors contrived to seize and appropriate to themselves the greater portion of the sum.

Jonas Hanway's larger schemes of benevolence have connected his name not only with the Marina Society and the Foundling, but also with the Magdalen; and to his courage and perseverance in smaller fields of usefulness (his determined contention with extravagant veils to servants not the least), the men of Goldsmith's day, as we have seen in our account of , were indebted for liberty to use an umbrella.

At home no was more zealous in support of the Magdalen than Dr. Dodd, the fashionable preacher, who was its chaplain, and whose unlucky exit from this world of trouble at Tyburn we have already mentioned. The doctor, we are informed, was unrivalled in his power of extracting tears and loose cash from his fair hearers, and appealed so effectually in sermons, that the fashionable ladies, sympathising, perhaps, with female frailty, contributed liberally. The charity was incorporated in , and and a half acres in Fields purchased, on which a new hospital was erected. Accordingly, the hospital is called

The New Magdalen

in the


in .

The character of this excellent institution is well described in the will of Mr. Charles Wray, who was for many years a governor of the hospital.

I bequeath to the

Magdalen Hospital

£ 500

as a farewell token of my affection, and of my sincere good wishes for the everlasting success and prosperity of that humane and truly Christian institution, which, from my own knowledge, founded on many years' experience, and beyond my most

sanguine expectations, hath restored a great number of unfortunate young women to their afflicted parents and friends, to honest industry, to virtue, and to happiness.

Thousands of young women who have strayed from the paths of virtue have been admitted, restored to their friends, or placed in service; and it is an invariable rule that no female shall be discharged, unless at her own desire or for misconduct, until means have been provided by which she may obtain an honest livelihood. No recom mendation is necessary to entitle the unfortunate to the benefits of this hospital more than that o repentant guilt.

The hospital consisted of brick buildings forming a quadrangle. The chapel belonging t( the institution was an octangular building, erectec at of the back corners. In the year the institution was removed to Streatham, as we hav( already seen. The unhappy women, for whose benefit this hospital was erected, are received bj petition; and there is a distinction in the wards according to the education or the behaviour of the

persons admitted, the inferior wards consisting of meaner persons and of those degraded for their behaviour. Each person is employed in such kind of work as is suitable to her abilities, and has such part of the benefits arising from her industry as the committee think proper. Allen, in his

History of Surrey,

in dealing with the (and the description so far is applicable to it in its new situation, as well as when it stood in Fields), writes :--

A probationary ward is instituted for the young women on their admission, and a separation of those of different descriptions and qualifications is established. Each class is entrusted to its particular assistant, and the whole is under the inspection of a matron. This separation, useful on many accounts, is particularly so to a numerous class of women, who are much to be pitied, and to whom this charity has been very beneficial, namely,

young women who have been seduced from their friends under promise of marriage, and have been deserted by their seducers.

Their relations, in the


moments of resentment, refuse to receive, protect, or acknowledge them; they are abandoned by the world, without character, without friends, without money, without resource;

and wretched indeed is their situation! To such especially this house of refuge opens wide its doors; and instead of being driven by despair to lay violent hands on themselves, and to superadd the crime of self-murder to that guilt which is the cause of their distress, they find a safe and quiet retreat in this abode of peace and reflection.

[extra_illustrations.6.350.1] [extra_illustrations.6.350.2] 

A large block of Peabody Buildings now covers the site of the old Magdalen. The trees which stood in front of the latter are still made to do duty by screening the windows which front the street.

Shortly after the foundation of the Magdalen, another valuable institution, the [extra_illustrations.6.350.3] , was established, principally through the exertions of Sir John Fielding, the active magistrate, and Fields was chosen for its site. Like the Magdalen, this institution has migrated further into the country, having within the last few years taken up its quarters at Bedington --the fine old Elizabethan dwelling-house of the Carews-near Croydon. While the is limited to the reception of infants, the Asylum for Female Orphans has been founded for the reception of destitute children, who are admitted at a more advanced age. The children are educated and industriously employed until sufficiently old to be apprenticed out, when the utmost care is taken that they are provided with suitable situations. The Asylum stood originally at the junction of and , on the spot now covered by . The old building formed sides of a square, but its dimensions appeared contracted, and not of that commanding character expected from the celebrity of this charity.

[extra_illustrations.6.350.4] , in Elizabeth Place, , of which we give an illustration on page , was founded about the commencement of the present century, for the maintenance and education of the daughters and orphans of decayed members of the Masonic body. The schools were removed a few years ago, to make room for improvements in the neighbourhood.

In the Philanthropic Society established an industrial school in Fields, for the rescue of young children from a career of crime. The place of reception of the Philanthropic Society was at a small house on , but the prosperous encouragement it received induced the directors to contract with the Corporation of London for a piece of ground in the , at the corner of , not far from the Obelisk; and on this site it remained till about the year , when the operations of the society were transferred to a more convenient building near the Red Hill station of the Brighton Railway. St. Jude's Church, in , was till the Philanthropic Society's chapel.

[extra_illustrations.6.350.5] , occupying considerable space on the southern side of the , and shown in our illustration of the Obelisk on page , was originated at the premises of the old

Dog and Duck.

When new Bethlehem Hospital was erected, in , the site was required, and the Blind School was removed to its present site. Of institutions like this, Dr. Lettsom observed, that

he who enables a blind person, without excess of labour, to earn his own livelihood, does him more real service than if he had pensioned him to a greater amount.

While the poor blind were thus cared for in Fields, those deprived of speech and hearing found a home in the , where we have already paid them a visit.

The , which forms a continuation of the to the

Elephant and Castle

tavern, may be dismissed with remark. The South London Palace of Amusement, on the eastern side of the road, was, from to , in which last-named year Cathedral was completed, the principal chapel for the Roman Catholics of this part of the metropolis.

Besides witnessing the events mentioned above as having occurred here, Fields have borne their share of celebrity in the annals of England. They were very often the scenes of royal pomp and knightly cavalcades, as well as the rendezvous of rebellion and discord. It was to this place that Wat Tyler's and Jack Cade's rebels resorted, in order to raise the standard of opposition to the royal authority; and it was hither that the former retired, after the arrest of their leader in , and were compelled to yield to the allegiance which they had violated.



are now entirely covered with streets and spacious roads. From each of the bridges-Westminster, Waterloo, and Blackfriarsbroad thoroughfares converge to a point, about a mile distant from the river, at what is now called [extra_illustrations.6.350.6] , whence roads diverge in various directions.

In the centre of the circus is an [extra_illustrations.6.351.1] , erected in , during the mayoralty and in honour of Brass Crosby, Esq., who is stated by Allen, in his

History of Surrey,

to have been imprisoned in the Tower

for the conscientious discharge of his

magisterial duty,

and to commemorate the independent and patriotic spirit with which he released a printer who had been seized, contrary to law, by the . Full particulars of the proceedings which led to the committal of Brass Crosby to the Tower will be found in the pages of the for , from which it appears that the printers of several London newspapers had been apprehended on warrants issued against them by order of the . On being taken before the Lord Mayor and Alderman Wilkes, the printers were at once discharged, his lordship saying that

so long as he was in that high office he looked upon himself as a guardian of the liberties of his fellow-citizens, and that no power had a right to seize a citizen of London without an authority from him or some some other magistrate.

In consequence of this Wilkes and Crosby became martyrs; but while the name of the former has been handed down to posterity from his connection with the that of the latter is now almost forgotten. On the north side of the obelisk is inscribed,




feet from

Fleet Street


on the south side,

Erected in XIth year of the reign of King George the


, MDCCLXXI., the Right Hon. Brass Crosby, Lord Mayor;

on the east side,




feet from

London Bridge


and on the west side,


mile from

Palace Yard




Several Acts of Parliament were passed, at the close of the last and beginning of the present centuries, for the improvement of this part of the metropolis. In an Act was passed which enabled the City to sell some detached pieces of land, 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 estate in Fields more compact.


[] See ante, p. 132.

[extra_illustrations.6.344.1] Old Houses in Ewer Street

[] See ante, p. 263.

[] See Vol. II., p. 442.

[] See Vol. IV., p. 539.

[] See Vol. IV., p. 471.

[] See Vol. V., p. 193.

[] See ante, p. 318.

[extra_illustrations.6.350.1] Philanthropic Society's Chapel and Female Reform

[extra_illustrations.6.350.2] Tower of Blind School

[extra_illustrations.6.350.3] Asylum for Female Orphans

[extra_illustrations.6.350.4] The Royal Freemasons' Charity School for Girls

[extra_illustrations.6.350.5] The School for the Indigent Blind

[] See ante, p. 252.

[extra_illustrations.6.350.6] St. George's Circus

[extra_illustrations.6.351.1] obelisk

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 Title Page
 Chapter I: Introductory -- Southwark
 Chapter II: Southwark (continued) -- Old London Bridge
 Chapter III: Southwark (continued) -- St. Saviour's Church, &c.
 Chapter IV: Southwark (continued) -- Winchester house, Barclay's Brewery, &c.
 Chapter V: Southwark (continued) -- Bankside in the Olden Time
 Chapter VI: Southwark (continued) -- High Street, &c.
 Chapter VII: Southwark (continued) -- Famous Inns of Olden Times
 Chapter VIII: Southwark (continued) -- Old St. Thomas's Hospital, Guy's Hospital, &c.
 Chapter IX: Bermondsey -- Tooley Street, &c.
 Chapter X: Bermondsey (continued) -- The Abbey, &c.
 Chapter XI: Rotherhithe
 Chapter XII: Deptford
 Chapter XIII: Greenwich
 Chapter XIV: Greenwich (continued) -- The Hospital for Seamen, &c.
 Chapter XV: Greenwich (continued) -- The Parish Church, &c.
 Chapter XVI: Greenwich (continued) -- The Park, The Royal Observatory, &c.
 Chapter XVII: Blackheath, Charlton, and its Neighbourhood
 Chapter XVIII: Eltham, Lee, and Lewisham
 Chapter XIX: The Old Kent Road, &c.
 Chapter XX: Newington and Walworth
 Chapter XXI: Camberwell
 Chapter XXII: Peckham and Dulwich
 Chapter XXIII: Sydenham, Norwood, and Streatham
 Chapter XXIV: Brixton and Clapham
 Chapter XXV: Stockwell and Kennington
 Chapter XXVI: St. George's Fields
 Chapter XXVII: St. George's Fields (continued) -- Bethlehem Hospital, &c.
 Chapter XXVIII: Blackfriars Road -- The Surrey Theatre, Surrey Chapel, &c.
 Chapter XXIX: Lambeth
 Chapter XXX: Lambeth (continued) -- The Transpontine Theatres
 Chapter XXXI: Lambeth (continued) -- Waterloo Road, &c.
 Chapter XXXII: Lambeth Palace
 Chapter XXXIII: Vauxhall
 Chapter XXXIV: Vauxhall (continued) and Battersea
 Chapter XXXV: Wandsworth
 Chapter XXXVI: Putney
 Chapter XXXVII: Fulham
 Chapter XXXVIII: Fulham (continued) -- Walham Green and North End
 Chapter XXXIX: Hammersmith
 Chapter XL: Chiswick
 Chapter XLI: General Remarks and Conclusion