Farringdon Without History of the Most Interesting Places, Leading Events; and Some Account of the Eminent Men connected therewith, since the year 1600

Francis, Adolphus Decimus

1870

Fleet Street

Deriving its name from the river Fleet, has always been renowned for exhibitions, out-door games, and processions. Scarcely a century has passed since football was a pastime publicly permitted in this great thoroughfare, and the cry of " Bat," would at the same period bring a swarm of "prentices " to the rescue of a friend in trouble, or a stranger in distress. Its coffee-houses and taverns have won for Fleet Street world-wide celebrity; in some of them were congregated the immortality of intellect, leaving their " mots," not for a generation but for all time. Ever a centre for booksellers, stationers, and printers, Fleet Street has been the hotbed of genius and the nurse of thought. The houses were badly built until the fire of London cleared away the rubbish nearly to St. Dunstan's Church, north and south ; we still have records of the reign of him who " never spared man in his anger, nor woman in his lust," although it is doubtful whether Henry VIII. ever lived in the gable-fronted over

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hanging house which bears his name. Fleet Street was badly paved until John Macadam, at the commencement of the present century, revolutionized our road-making. It is scarcely within the province of this brochure to detail the animated scenes that oft took place in Fleet Street in the olden times; those curious in such matters will find in Sir Walter Scott's "Fortunes of Nigel" life-like word painting and richly-dressed descriptions of this neighbourhood in . Thirty-four streets, lanes, and alleys run into or out of Fleet Street, each and every one memorable in its way: each and every one having been a pioneer on the highway towards civilization. At No. 192, Fleet Street, was born Abraham Cowley (B. , D. ), whose father kept a grocer's shop on these premises. The sublime, the moral, and the witty Cowley, though educated at Westminster, matured his thoughts 'neath his father's roof. After passing through various hands, these premises becamethe "King's Head" tavern, and Titus Oates here, in , hatched his nefarious schemes, and with a "tongue" that perjured and a perjured tongue revealed a pretended popish plot that unjustly overwhelmed many innocent of crime. Here, also, was held the "Green Ribbon Club," a society almost analogous to the Fenians of our day. In they were again opened as a grocer's, by North and Co., who sold tea there at 16s. per lb., and this business is still carried on.

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At No. 17, nearly opposite, erroneously called the " palace of Henry VIII. and Cardinal Wolsey," may be seen a very fine specimen of wood carving on the frontage, though its being gilt somewhat militates against its charming finish; here was conducted, in , "Mrs. Salmon's moving wax-work exhibition," that achieved European fame. Two doors west of Chancery Lane, in Fleet Street, lived Izakk Walton, the author of the "Complete Angler," a book replete with all the charms of nature, and overflowing with unaffected simplicity and adoration of divine perfection. At 184 and 185 lived Michael Drayton, the author of the Barons' Wars," and the " Poly-Albion," a description of England, the former containing many passages of great poetic beauty that Milton deigned to copy, the latter overflowing with antiquarian, geographical, and historical learning, and abounding in chaste imagery. At No. 134, formerly the Globe tavern, long the house of the Robin Hood Club, Oliver Goldsmith hob-nobbed with Charles Macklin, who played Shylock in the " Merchant of Venice" when he was one hundred years old; and to such perfection did he bring the delineation, that Alexander Pope said

"This is the Jew

That Shakespeare drew."

Macklin was the author of an undying comedy, " The Man of the World." At No. 103, now the "Sunday

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Times" office, lived Alderman Waithman, lord mayor of London in , and so worthily did he fulfil his duties as alderman and mayor, that the citizens of London elected him six times their representative to parliament, and at his death raised a monument to his memory near the house he so long inhabited.

In this year of grace, , we have No. 85, used as the publishing office for " Punch, or the London Charivari," the first satirical and humorous periodical established in England, and the best: containing more genuine Attic wit, and having a larger scope of satirical humour, than any other journal ever published. At 135, 136, and 137, is published and printed " The Daily Telegraph," the most wonderful modern newspaper: established about fifteen years only, it has, by consistently advocating popular rights, vaulted into the foremost rank of journalism, and acquired a circulation equal to nearly all the other daily papers put together. No. 129 is "The Standard" office, the organ of Conservative principles, which with great power disseminates its party's opinions, and is rising to the highest pinnacle of newspaper fame.

The churches in Fleet Street are St. Dunstan's, an Italianized gothic structure, with circular-headed windows; the clock was formerly one of the wonders of London, it overhung the pavement, and had two gilt life-size figures of savages wielding clubs, with which they struck each quarter

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of an hour, and at the same time moved their heads. Cowper refers to this:

"When labour and when dulness, club in hand,

Like the two figures at St. Dunstan's stand."

St. Bride's, or St. Bridget's church, one of the most charming creations emanating from Wren's genius, with its graceful steeple, its fine stained-glass windows-a splendid copy of Rubens' " Descent from the Cross," on the east side, and its brilliant peal of twelve bells, make it a favourite resort. In this churchyard are buried Samuel Richardson and Alderman Waithman, both ward celebrities.

At the Portugal Hotel, Fleet Street, is held, weekly, "The City of London Tradesmen's Club"-an institution established some fifty years since for the purpose of discussing or debating the important political and social questions of the day, and enabling its members, and the ratepayers of the Ward of Farringdon Without, to ventilate their opinions; affording opportunities to its representatives at the Court of Common Council to express their views and ascertain the feelings of their constituents. This club, formerly called "The Farringdon Club," was established at the Ram Inn, Smithfield, and the notorious Galloway was a member. It then removed to Anderton's Hotel, and the name was changed to the present title; subsequently it held its meetings for some years at Salter's Hotel, in the

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valley at the bottom of Snow Hill, and remained there until the premises were pulled down for the building of the Viaduct. At the commencement of the year , it was again removed near the scene of its early triumphs--its present locale. It consists of seventy members--professional and trading gentlemen, carrying on their avocations in the City of London. The Alderman and Common Council representing the Ward of Farringdon Without have from time immemorial been members of this club.