The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 1

Allen, Thomas


The great consequence which London had acquired at this early period, may be deduced from the celebrated Itinerary of Antoninus, from which it appears, that no fewer than of the iters commence or terminate here. The commerce of this port was also so extended, that as early as , vessels were employed in the exportation of corn alone. Of the roads formed to and from the metropolis by the Romans, little can be gleaned; time has long since obliterated every vestige. The Roman stations in Middlesex appear to have been confined to or (London), (Brockley Hills, near Elstree), and (Staines). The principal roads concentrated in London, from which city they branched off as from a centre. The , a British trackway, improved by the Romans, had its southern termination at Dover; its course through Kent was over Blackheath, along the present Kent-road, by St. Thomas a Watering, to the east side of Kent


Street, and thence to Bellings-gate, on the north side of the Thames, and along the present to Aldersgate, where it quitted the city; along to the west of , through Hagbush Lane, now in part destroyed, to (St. Albans). Another branch of the diverged in a north-westerly direction from St. Thomas a Watering, passing to the north of Church, over Fields, to Stane Gate, adjoining , and thence to the Edgeware Road, skirting Paddington, and along the high road to St. Albans. The led northwards; its course was from , (Woodstock, in Surrey,) pretty near in the present road to London, by Streatham, , and , by to the point now called Dowgate; thence by London Stone to Bishopsgate, where it left the city; and pursuing the course of the present road, northwards, went to (Braughing). Another road was through Newgate, by and , to (Staines). From this road, at or about the end of , diverged a road in a north easterly direction, by , Clerkenwell, , and Hackney, to (Low Leyton); this was probably the , a British trackway. The last of the leading roads from the metropolis was the , which left London at ; and pursuing the present course of road, led to (Colchester). These are the principal roads; and various opportunities will offer in the course of the work, to illustrate the positions laid down, which, in many points, widely differ from previous writers on the subject.

The correct period, at which the original walls of London were erected, is not ascertainable. Stow imagines that they were not built so late as ,

because, in that year, when Alectus the tyrant was slaine in the field, the Frankes easily entered London, and had sacked the same, had not God of his great favour, at the very instant brought along the river of Thames certeine bandes of Romaine souldiers, who slew those Frankes in everie streete of the cittie.

noteStow's London, p. , . The same author states, on the authority of Simeon of Durham, that Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great, was the that walled the city,

aboute the year of Christ,



Camden says, the work was executed by Constantine himself, through the persuasions of his mother; and Maitland ascribes the raising the walls to Theodosius, who was Governor of Britain in . Certain it is, both from the testimony of various authors, and from the fact of many Roman remains having been found in and about them, that their erection may with safety be ascribed to them. The course of the city walls was as follows:--

Beginning at a fort that occupied a part of the present Tower


of London, the line was continued by the , between Poor Jury Lane and the Vineyard, to Thence forming a curve to the north-west, between Shoemaker Row, , , and , it abutted on , from which it extended in nearly a straight line through Bishopsgate Church-yard, and behind and , to At a short distance further on, it turned southward by the back of and Cripplegate Church-yard, and thence continuing between Monkwell and Castle Streets, led by the back of Barber-Surgeons' Hall, and , to Dolphin Court, opposite ; where, turning westerly, it approached Proceeding hence towards the south-west, it described a curve along the back of St. Botolph's Church-yard, , and old from which it continued southward to , passing at the back of the , , Stationers' Hall, and the London Coffee-house, on . From Ludgate it proceeded westerly by Cock Court to ; where, turning to the south, it skirted the Fleet Brook to the Thames, near which it was guarded by another fort. The circuit of the whole line, according to Stow's admeasurement, was miles and furlong. Another wall extended the whole distance along the banks of the Thames, between the forts; but this, which measured mile and about yards,

was long since subverted,

says Fitz-Stephen, who lived in the reign of Henry the ,

by the fishful river, with his ebbing and flowing.

The walls were defended at different distances by strong towers and bastions; the remains of of which, of Roman masonry, were, in Maitland's time, to be seen in the vicinity of and .

Dr. Woodward, who had an opportunity to examine the foundation of the wall in , near the site of Bishopsgate, about the year , says, that it lay about feet beneath the present surface; and that almost to the height of feet, it was composed of rag-stone, with single layers of broad tiles interposed. each layer being at the distance of feet from each other. The tiles were all of Roman make, and of the kind called , or in English measure, inches - in length, inches - in breadth, and inch - in thickness. The mortar was so firm and hard, that the stone itself might as easily be broken. The thickness of this part, which was the whole that remained of the Roman masonry, was feet.

The wall was carried up to the height of about or feet more, chiefly with rag stone, having only a few bricks occasionally interposed, and that without regularity. On the outside the stone was squared and wrought into layers of inches in thickness; between these were double courses of large bricks,


inches long, broad, and and a half thick, but not a single Roman tile; neither was the mortar of that strength and durability as that before mentioned. Another line of wall erected upon the last, and composed of statuteable bricks, having battlements coped with stone, rose to the height of feet more.


[] Vide Letter from Dr. Woodward to Sir Christopher Wren.

This object is in collection Subject Temporal Permanent URL
Component ID:
To Cite:
TARC Citation Guide    EndNote
Detailed Rights
View all images in this book
 Title Page
 Chapter I: History of London and its environs, from the earliest period of authentic record to the defeat of the Britons by Suetonius
Chapter II: Historical account of Roman London, with notices of remains discovered.
 Chapter III: History of London from the departure of the Romans till the time of the Conquest
 Chapter IV: History of London from the Conquest to the reign of Henry the Third
 Chapter V: History of London from the reign of Henry the Third to the reign of Edward the Second
 Chapter VI: History of London from the reign of Edward the Second to the reign of Richard the Second
 Chapter VII: History of London from the reign of Henry the Fourth to the reign of Edward the Fourth
 Chapter VIII: History of London from the reign of Edward the Fourth to the reign of Henry the Eighth
 Chapter IX: History of London during the reign of Henry the Eighth
 Chapter X: History of London from the reign of Edward the Sixth to the accession of Elizabeth
Chapter XI: History of London, during the reign of Elizabeth.
 Chapter XII: History of London during the reign of James the First
Chapter XIII: History of London during the Reign of Charles the First
 Chapter XIV: History of London during the Commonwealth and the reign of Charles the Second
 Chapter XV: History of London during the reign of James the Second