Londina Illustrata. Graphic and Historical Memorials of Monasteries, Churches, Chapels, Schools, Charitable Foundations, Palaces, Halls, Courts, Processions, Places of Early Amusement, and Modern Present Theatres, in the Cities and Suburbs of London and Westminster, Volume 1

Wilkinson, Robert


Paul's Cross, (and Preaching There.)

Paul's Cross, (and Preaching There.)


Friers and faytours, haue fōuden such questions,

To plese with the proud men, sith the pestilēce tyme,The great plague in the reign of Edward III. See Barne's Hist. of that King.

And preachen at S. Paul's, for pure enui fō clarkes,

That praiers haue no powre the pestilence to lette.Visions of Pierce Plowman, ed. 1561, Passus Quintus.

The early celebrity of Paul's Cross, as the great seat of pulpit eloquence, is evinced in the lines above quoted, which inform us that the most subtil and abstract questions in theology were handled here by the friars, in opposition to the regular clergy, almost at the settlement of that popular order of preachers in England.

Of the custom of preaching at crosses, it is difficult to trace the origin; it was doubtless far more remote than the time alluded to, and probably, at , merely accidental.

The sanctity of this species of pillar,

says a late topographical writer,[*] 

often caused a considerable resort of people, to pay their devotion to the great object of their erection. A preacher, seeing a large concourse, might be seized by a sudden impulse, ascend the steps, and deliver out his pious advice from a station so fit to inspire attention, and so conveniently formed for the purpose. The example might be followed till the practice became established by custom.

The famous Paul's Cross, like many others in various parts of the kingdom (afterwards converted to the same purpose), was doubtless, at , a common cross, and coëval with the church. When it was covered and used as a pulpit cross, we are not informed.[*]  We hear, however, of its being in use as early as the year , when Henry III. in person, commanded the mayor to swear before him every stripling of years old and upwards to be true to him and his heirs. From this time its name continually occurs in history. It was used, observes the writer above quoted, not only for the instruction of mankind by the doctrine of the preacher, but for every purpose, political or ecclesiastical; for giving force to oaths; for promulgating of laws, or rather the royal pleasure; for the emission of papal bulls; for anathematizing sinners; for benedictions; for exposing of penitents under censure of the church; for recantations; for the private ends of the ambitious; and for the defaming of those who had incurred the displeasure of crowned heads.

Stowe, and his commentators, having noticed the principal transactions which gave celebrity to this Cross, we shall merely add, that the last sermon of any particular note, preached here, was before James I. when he came in great state on horseback from on Midlent Sunday , attended by his court, to consult about repairing the cathedral. The sermon was preached by Dr. John King, Bishop of London, himself a great benefactor to that work. The King sat in a prepared place, and was afterwards regaled with a magnificent banquet.[*] 



The Cross represented in the Plate is probably the same which was built by Bishop Kempe[*]  in , who finished it in the form, says Godwin,[*]  in which we see it at present. The more ancient Cross had been overthrown by an earthquake in , and that interval had elapsed previously to the erection of the new . Dean Nowel, in a sermon he preached at this Cross, wishing to retaliate on the Romish clergy for some calumnies which those of that persuasion had thrown on the Protestants, tells us, that William Courtney, Archbishop of Canterbury, collected great sums towards rebuilding it, which he applied to his own use. The Dean, however, was probably misinformed, as Courtney was a most munificent prelate, and not likely to abuse the charity of his flock.

Paul's Cross stood until the year , when it was demolished by order of Parliament, executed by the willing hands of Isaac Pennington, the fanatical lord mayor of that year, who died a convicted regicide in the Tower.[*] 


[*] Pennant.

[*] Stowe describes it as being in his time, a pulpit crosse of timber mounted upon steppes of stone, and covered with leade, standing in the midst of the churchyard, the very antiquitie whereof was to him vnknowne. Ed. 1598.

[*] This sermon, part of which is extracted below, is a curious specimen of the quaint eloquence of the day. It is called A Sermon at Paule's Crosse, on behalfe of Paule's Church, March 26, 1620, by the Bishop of London, both preached and published at His Majestie's Commandement. Text, Psal. cii. vers. 13, 14. Alluding to the great object of his discourse, the preacher says, I am now to speake to you, of a literall and artificiall Sion, a Temple without life, yet of a sickly and crazie constitution, sicke of age itselfe, and with many aches in his joynts, togither with a lingring consumption, that hath long lien in her bowels, the timber in her beames whereof cryeth, I perish, and the stones in the walles answereth no lesse, and part is already moultered away to stone, part to dust; and (that which is more), symbolizing with that other Sion, not onely in her fates and casualties, but in the very returnes and revolutions of those fates. After hir first building (which was 600 after Christ) about 500 years, salted with fire, sacrificed to the anger of God, with so small part of the city; and being raised as a phœnix out of those first ashes, betwixt 4 and 500 more (twice in a thousand yeares) touched with a qei_on, from an invisible hand, a coal from the Altar of God;Alluding to the steeple of St. Paul's church having been fired by lightning in the year 1561. that was never blowne, which wholy consumed the crest and verticall poynt, the top and top-gallant of it, and so scorched and defaced the rest, that ever since that day, it hath remayned valitudinary and infirme, rather peeced out with an ordinary kind of physicke of but needfull reparation, then restored to the sound plight it had before time. P. 36. He adds by way of conclusion, Set it as a seal vpon your hearts, that your King is come vnto you. Such commings are not often. Queene Elizabeth once, and now your soveraigne once. But will it always be beleeued, that a King should come from his court to this Crosse, where princes seldome or neuer come; and that comming to be in state, with a kinde of sacred pompe and procession; accompanied with all the faire flowers of his field, and the fairest rose of his owne garden. To make a request to his subjects, not for his priuate, but for the publike; not for himselfe, but for God; not out of reason of state and policy, but of religion and piety; no lesse fruit of honour and fauour, with God and man, accruing thereby to his people, then to his sacred Majesty. You that see it value and prize it, &c. Page 50.The following are titles of three sermons preached here by the same Dr. King, and Dr. Henry King his son:A Sermon of Publicke Thanksgiving for the happie Recouerie of His Majestie from his late dangerous Sicknesse, preached at Paule's Cross the 11 of Aprill 1619, by the Bishop of London. Text, Isay, xxxviii. 17.A Sermon preached at Pavl's Crosse the 25 of November 1621, upon occasion of that false and scandalous Report (lately printed), touching the supposed Apostasie of the right reverend Father in God John King, late Lord Bishop of London, by Henry King his eldest Sonne. Text, John xv. verse 20.A Sermon at Paul's Cross, preached March 27, 1640, the Anniversary of His Majestie's happy Inauguration to the Crowne, by Dr. Henry King. Text, Jer. i. 10.

[*] Thomas Kempe, Bishop of London, was a younger son of Sir Thomas Kempe, Knight ( brother to John Kempe, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Cardinal), by his wife Emmeline, daughter and heir of Henry Chicke, who was of the family of Henry Chicheley, Archbishop of Canterbury, and founder of All Souls College, in Oxford.—He (Thomas Kempe) was appointed Bishop of London, by a papal bull, dated August 21, 1448, which did not receive the royal assent till February 3-4, 1450. On the eighth of the same month, he was consecrated at York Place, now Whitehall, by his uncle the Primate. He died on the 28th March 1489, and was buried in a sumptuous chapel in his cathedral church of Saint Paul.

[*] Presul. Angl. 248. Godwin published his book in 1616.

[*] The Cross stood at the north-east end of St. Paul's Churchyard, near the spot where a small tree some time since grew, now decayed. A print of the Cross, and likewise the shrouds, where the company sat in wet weather, may be seen in Speed's Great Britain.

View all images in this book
 Title Page
 Howell's View of London
 View of the Fire of London
 City Wall
 The Conduits of Cheapside and Cornhill
 Plan of the Fire in Bishopsgate Street, Cornhill, and Leadenhall Street: November 7th, 1765
Frost Fair on the River Thames
 Part of the Strand: St. Clement's Danes
 Ancient Structure in Ship Yard: Temple Bar
 St. Paul's Cross and Cathedral: With King James I and his Court at a Sermon
 Ancient Cathedral Church of St. Paul, London
 Paul's Cross (and Preaching There)
Elsinge Spital, Sion College, and the Church of St. Alphage, London Wall
 Elsinge's Hospital; or, as it is otherwise denominated, Elsynge Spittle
 Sion College
 The Priory and Church of St. Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield
 The Church of St. Bartholomew the Less: Giltspure Street, West Smithfield, in the Ward of Farringdon Without
Crosby Hall, Bishopsgate Street
The Priory and Church of St. Helen, Bishopsgate Street
 Monument of Sir Andrew Judde, Knight: In the Church of St. Helen, Bishopsgate Within
St. Michael's Church: Cornhill
The Parish Church of St. Paul, Shadwell: In the County of Middlesex
 The Parish Church of St. Peter upon Cornhill: In Cornhill Ward
Extracts from the Vestry Books of the Church of St. Peter upon Cornhill
 St. Saviour's Church
 St. Saviour's Church, Southwark
 Winchester Palace, Southwark
 Chapels at the Eastern End of the Church of St. Saviour, Southwark
 Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem
 An Account of Bermondsey, its Manor, Priory, and Abbey
 Priory of the Holy Trinity: In the Ward of Aldgate
 St. Martin-le-Grand College, and St. Vedast, Foster Lane
 Guildhall Chapel
 A short Account of Lazar Houses in and near London
 Knightsbridge Chapel
 Lambe's Chapel and Alms-Houses: Monkwell Street, Cripplegate
 The late Mr. Skelton's Meeting House, Erected Near the Site of the Globe Theatre, Maid Lane, Southwark
 Zoar Street, Gravel Lane, Meeting House and School
 Oratory, Under the Antient Mansion, or Inn, of the Priors of Lewes in Sussex
 Whitehall: Plate I
 Whitehall: Plate II
 Whitehall: Plate III
 St. James's Palace
 Fawkeshall, or Copped Hall, Surrey
 Toten-Hall, Tottenham Court Road
 King John's Palace
 Clarendon House, called also Albemarle House
 Somerset House
 Suffolk House
 York House
 Durham, Salisbury, and Worcester Houses
 Sir Paul Pindar's House
 Montagu House: Great Russel Street, Bloomsbury
 The British Museum
 Bedford House, Bloomsbury Square
 Peterborough House, afterward Grosvenor House, Millbank, Westminster
 Craven House, Drury Lane
 Ancient Mansion called Monteagle House: Montague Close, Southwark
 Oldbourne Hall, Shoe Lane: In the Parish of St. Andrew, Holborn