Walks in London, vol. I
Hare, Augustus J. C.
Chapter III: By Fleet Street to St. Paul's.
Chapter III: By Fleet Street to St. Paul's.
In passing the site of we are in the City of London. It separates the City from the Shire, in allusion to which
(destroyed by the New Law Courts) was the nearest artery on its north-western side. We enter , which; like Fleet Market and Fleet Ditch, takes its name from the once rapid and clear, but now fearfully polluted river Fleet, which has its source far away in the breezy heights of Hampstead, and flows through the valley where now is, in which it once turned the mills which are still commemorated in . Originally (r ) it was called the
being fed by the clear springs now known as Sadler's Wells, , and the Clerks' Well or Clerkenwell, and it was navigable for a short distance. The river was ruined as the town extended westwards. Ben Jonson graphically describes in verse the horrors to which the increasing traffic had subjected the still open Fleet in his day, and Gay, Swift, and Pope also denounce them; but in the stream was arched over, and since then has sunk to the level of being recognised
|as the most important sewer--the Cloaca Maxima-of London.|
Having always been considered as the chief approach to the City, is especially connected with its ancient pageants. All the Coronation processions passed through it, on their way from the Tower to : but perhaps the most extraordinary sight it ever witnessed was in , when Eleanor Cobham, Duchess of Gloucester, aunt of King Henry VI., was forced to walk bare-headed through it to with a lighted taper in her hand, in penance for having made a wax figure of the young king and melted it before a slow fire, praying that his life might melt with the wax.
Just within the site of , on the right of the street, is , which deserves notice as the oldest Banking house in England, still kept where Francis Child, an industrious apprentice of Charles I.'s time, married the rich daughter of his master, William Wheeler the goldsmith, and founded the great banking family. Here
--the quaint old emblem of the expanded flower with the motto
which still adorns the banking-office and still appears in the water-mark of the bank-cheques-Charles II. kept his great account and Nell Gwynne her small , not to speak of Prince Rupert, Pepys, Dryden, and many others. Several other great Banks are in this neighbourhood. No. is , with the sign of the squirrels (represented in iron-work on the central window), founded in the reign of Charles II. No. is , which dates from : the sign of the Golden Bottle over the door, a leathern bottle (such as was used by hay-makers for their
|ale), represents the flask carried by the founder when he came up to London to seek his fortunes.[n.103.1]|
retains its old reputation of being occupied by newspaper editors and their offices, and it is almost devoted to them. But it also contains many taverns and coffee-houses, where lawyers and newspaper writers congregate for luncheon, and which are more frequent here than almost anywhere else in London, and, many of these, of great antiquity, are celebrated in the pages of the and
It was next door to Child's Bank that the famous
stood,[n.103.2] with the sign of St. Martin and the Devil, where the Apollo Club had its meetings, guided by poetical rules of Ben Jonson, which began-
We hear of Swift dining
[n.103.3] and of Dr Johnson presiding here at a supper-party in honour of the publication of Mrs. Lennox's book.
Bernard Lintot, the great bookseller of the last century, kept the stall on which Gay was so anxious that his works should appear.
In was the
(which met in at the house of a pastry-cook called Christopher Cat), where the youth of Queen Anne's reign were wont to-
Thither it was that Steele and Addison brought Hoadly, Bishop of Bangor, on the anniversary of William III., to drink to his
and thence, as Steele dropped drunk under the table, the scandalised bishop stole away home to bed, but was propitiated in the morning by the lines-
The members of this club all had their portraits painted by Sir Godfrey Kneller for Jacob Tonson, their secretary, and the half-size then chosen by the artist has always since caused the term
to be applied to that form of portrait. The pictures painted here by Kneller are now at Bayfordbury in Hertfordshire.
Hard by, also in , was the tavern-
which was appropriately chosen by Jack Sheppard for many of his orgies, for it was possessed of a
|trapdoor, through which, in case of pursuit, he could drop unobserved into a subterranean passage communicating with , an alley which is associated with Pope, who used to come thither to visit his friend Fortescue, afterwards Master of the Rolls.|
Opposite the gate of the Temple, No. in , marked by its golden bird over the door, is the ,
| of the few ancient taverns remaining unaltered internally from the time of James I., with its long low room, subdivided by settees, and its carved oak chimney-piece of that period. It was hither that Pepys, to his wife's great aggravation, would come gallivanting with pretty Mrs. Knipp, and where they |
with the lines-
As we pass the angle of we must recollect that the gentle Izaak Walton lived as a hosier and shirtmaker in the corner house from to , and that, just beyond, in the bow-windowed house which is still standing (No. , ), lived the poet Drayton. In a house close by, now demolished, Abraham Cowley was born in I , being the son of a grocer, and studied, as a child, the large copy of Spenser's which lay on his mother's window-sill, till he became, as he himself narrates-
The chief feature of as seen on entering it, is the , built by , , on the site of the church in which the great Lord Strafford was baptized. This old church was famous for its clock, in which giants struck the hour: they are commemorated by Cowper in his Table-talk:
It was here that Baxter was preaching when there arose an out-cry that the building was falling. He was silent for a moment, and then said solemnly,
[n.107.1] In the middle of the last century the church became well known from the lectures of William Romaine, author of When he preached, the crowds were so great as entirely to block up the street. The opposition of the rector, who placed all possible hindrances in his way, and prevented his having more than a single- candle, which he held in his hand during his sermon, only secured for him the firmer support of the people.
Over the side entrance towards the street is a holding the orb and sceptre, which is of much interest as having survived the Great Fire of London, when the building in which it stood was consumed, and as of the few existing relics of the old city gates, for it formerly adorned the west front of Ludgate, of the ancient entrances to the city.
In , opposite St. Dunstan's, was the office of Wynkyn de Worde, the famous printer, whose sign was the Falcon.
At the corner of (named from the professed beggars, called Faitours or Fewters), which opens now upon the left, Lords Eldon and Stowell were upset in their sedan chair in a street row.[n.107.2] Here is a Moravian Chapel (No. ) replete with memories of Baxter, Wesley, Whitfield, and in later times of Count Zinzendorf. Dryden and Otway lived opposite to each other in this street, and used to quarrel in verse. In obtained notoriety as the abode of Elizabeth Brownrigg, the prentice-cide, who lived
| in the house on the right of the entrance of Flower de Luce (Fleur de Lis) Court. She is commemorated in the inscription for her cell in Newgate in the poetry of |
On the left of is the magnificent new , erected - from designs of to contain the National Records, hitherto crowded into Chapel in the White Tower, the Chapter House of and other offices. It is a stately Gothic building, but is perhaps most effective when seen from the north-east angle. The greatest of the many treasures preserved here is the , compiled in the time of the Conqueror and written in volumes on vellum.
On the left of , beyond , is the opening of (formerly -Crane Court), rebuilt immediately after the Fire and retaining many houses of Charles II.'s time. In the house on the right (rebuilt) Dryden Leach, the printer, was arrested at midnight on suspicion of having printed Wilkes's , No. . The site at the end of the court was purchased by the Royal Society from Dr. Nicholas Barebone, son of the who gave his name to a
| parliament of which he was a conspicuous member. It is said that the son was christened |
but he was generally known by the name of
The situation of the house was recommended by Sir Isaac Newton, then President, as
The Society removed hither in from Gresham College, to accommodate the Mercers' Company, and here they remained in the house built for :them by Sir Christopher Wren for years, till in they moved to .
The house in Crane Court was sold by the Royal Society to , an excellent national charity, founded soon after the accession of James I., for relief of persons of Scottish parentage who have fallen into distress, and which now gives constant assistance to as many as indigent persons of Scottish birth within miles of London.
The Hall of the Royal Society, where Sir Isaac Newton sat as President, exists in its ancient condition, with a
| richly stuccoed ceiling of . It is hung with pictures, including-
The adjoining room, which the Royal Society employed for their larger meetings, and where the ladies' gallery with its narrow oak staircase still remains, is now used as the chapel of the Scottish Corporation.
is peculiarly associated with Dr. Johnson, who admired it beyond measure. Walking day with Boswell on the beautiful heights of Greenwich Park, he asked
replied the great critic. Thus, passing over the recollections of a tavern called
where Pepys enjoyed many a supper-party, and the
whither Boswell came so often to meet Johnson, let us, if we care for them, visit in the swarthy courts and alleys on the left, a number of the different scenes in which Johnson's life was passed.
Here we may fancy him as Miss Burney describes him-
There is no figure out of the past with which we are able to be as familiar as we are with that of Samuel Johnson: his very dress is portrayed for us by Peter Pindar:--
The dismal court called still exists, where he resided (at No. ) from to , in which his wife died, and where he wrote the greatest part of his Dictionary and began the and the ; in the narrow blackened (not named from him), he dwelt (at No. ) from to ; after which he lived at No. in ,[n.112.1] till in , he lay upon his death-bed, surrounded by the faithful friends of his life. With Johnson, in Bolt Court, dwelt a curious collection of disappointed, cross, and aged persons, chiefly old ladies, who depended upon the bounty of the man whose bearish exterior ever covered a warm heart. It was not a very harmonious household.
he wrote to Mr. and Mrs. Thrale, speaking of of these ladies,
was Goldsmith's answer when some expressed his surprise at of the objects selected for the friendship of the lexicographer.
While Johnson was living in this neighbourhood, Goldsmith was residing at No. , , and the favourite seat of the friends, in the window of the Cheshire Cheese Tavern, is still pointed out. It was in this court that Goldsmith received Johnson for the
| time at supper, who came-his clothes new and his wig nicely powdered, wishing, as he explained to Percy (of the |
), who inquired the cause of such unusual neatness, to show a better example to Goldsmith whom he had heard of as justifying his disregard of cleanliness and decency by quoting his practice. It was from hence, while Goldsmith's, landlady was pressing him within doors and the bailiff without, that Dr. Johnson took the manuscript of a novel he had written to James Newberry, sold it for , and returned with the money to set him free. The manuscript lay neglected for years, and was then published without a notion of its future popularity. It was
An offshoot of , a narrow entry on the left, called
was connected with the sad fate of another poet, Richard Lovelace the Cavalier, who died here of starvation.[n.113.1] Anthony Wood describes him when he was presented at the Court of Charles I. at Oxford, as
From to the King's death, he was imprisoned in the Gatehouse at for his devotion to Charles I., and when he was released, he went to serve in the French army, writing to his betrothed, Lucy Sacheverell, the lines, ending-
|But he was left for dead upon the field of Dunkirk, and when he came back his Lucy was married. He never looked up again: all went wrong, he was imprisoned, ruined, and died here in miserable destitution.|
Bangor House, the town residence of the Bishops of Bangor, stood in till , and, hard by, the entry of in still marks the site of Poppingaye, the town palace of the abbots of Cirencester. No. , near this, is an admirable specimen of a modern house in the olden style.
of the streets which open upon the right of still bears the name of , which it derives from the convent of the Brotherhood of the Virgin of Mount Carmel, founded by Sir Richard Grey in .[n.114.1] The establishment of of the earliest Theatres in London in the monastic hall of Whitefriars was probably due to the fact of its being a sanctuary beyond the jurisdiction of the Mayor and Corporation, who then and ever since have opposed theatrical performances within the City. The playhouse was at Blackfriars, and Whitefriars followed in . After the Dissolution, this district retained the privilege of sanctuary, and thus it became the refuge for troops of bad characters of every description. It obtained the name of Alsatia, a name which is found in Shadwell's Play, and to which Sir Walter Scott has imparted especial interest through
In the reign of James I., almost as much sensation was created here by a singular crime in high life, as in Paris by the murder of the Duchesse de Praslin in our own time. Young Lord Sanquhar had his eye put out while taking lessons in fencing from John Turner, the famous fencing-master of the day. Being afterwards in France, the young King Henry IV., after inquiring kindly about his accident, said condolingly but jokingly, and
From that time it became a monomania with Lord Sanquhar to compass the death of the unfortunate Turner, though years elapsed before he was able to accomplish it- years in which he dogged his unconscious victim like a shadow, and eventually had him shot by hired assassins at a tavern which he frequented in Whitefriars. The deputy murderers were arrested, and then Lord Sanquhar surrendered to the mercy of the Archbishop of Canterbury, but he was sentenced to death, and was hung before the entrance of Hall.
Bordering on Alsatia is , marking the site of the town-house of the Bishops of Salisbury. Here we have again literary reminiscences, Richardson having written and printed his there, and Goldsmith having sat there as his press corrector.
was erected, which was destroyed in . It was rebuilt in , in Dorset Gardens near the river, and attained great celebrity under the name of
Being burnt in the Fire, it was rebuilt by Wren in , and decorated by Gibbons. Dryden describes it as
It faced the river and had a
| landing-place for those who came by water, and a quaint front resting on open arches. Pepys was a great admirer of the performances at The Duke's Theatre. Here he saw - |
and here he reports that while he was watching Sir W. Davenant's opera of the
The theatre declined in , but was still in existence in . The site is now occupied by the City .
Through Alsatia, the abode of the rogues, we descend appropriately upon the site of their famous prison of , which was demolished in -. It was founded, like , by King Edward VI., under the flush of emotion caused by a sermon on Christian charity which he had heard from Bishop Ridley, who urged that there was
and it was used as a refuge for deserted children, long known as
Gradually, from a Reformatory, it became a prison, and the horrors of the Prison are described by Ward in The prisoners, both men and women, used to be flogged on the naked back, and the stripes only ceased when the president, who sat with a hammer in his hand, let it fall upon the block before him.
became afterwards often a cry of reproach against those who had been imprisoned in . Here died Mrs. Creswell, a famous criminal of Charles II.'s reign, who bequeathed
| to a divine of the period upon condition that he should say nothing but what was good of her. It was a difficult task, but the clergyman was equal to the occasion. He wound up a commonplace discourse upon mortality by saying- |
[n.117.1] The prison was, as we have said, founded upon the old place of , which, in its turn, had occupied the site of the tower of Montfiquet, built by a Norman follower of the Conqueror. The palace embraced courts, cloisters, and gardens, and close against the walls ran the Fleet. It was to this Palace that Henry VIII., after he had been captivated by Anne Boleyn, summoned the Members of Council, the Lords of the Court, and the Mayor and Aldermen, and communicated to them that scruples had
Shakspeare makes the whole act of his . pass in the palace at , which is historically correct. It was there that the unhappy Katherine received Wolsey and Campeggio,
The name of comes from or St. Bridget's Well, a holy spring with supposed miraculous
|powers like that of St. Clement, which we have already noticed in . The well here, of which Milton certainly drank, has shared the fate of all the other famous wells of London, and has become a pump. was rebuilt by Wren after the Fire, and its steeple is of those on which he bestowed particular pains, though it is often not unjustly compared to the slides of a telescope drawn out. It stands effectively at the end of a little entry at the foot of , but it should be remembered that, owing to its having been twice struck by lightning, it is somewhat shorn of the lofty proportions which were originally given to it by the great architect ( ft. instead of ). Its bells, put up in , are dear to the Londoner's soul. Wynkin de Worde, the famous printer, who rose under the patronage of the mother of Henry VII., and published no less than works, was buried in the old church, which also contained the graves of the poets Sackville () and Lovelace (), and of Sir Richard Baker (), who died in the , author of the very untrustworthy beloved by Sir Roger de Coverley. In the existing building are monuments to Samuel Richardson (), who is buried here with his wife and family, and to John Nichols, the historian of Leicestershire. John Cardmaker, who suffered for his faith in Smithfield, -, was vicar of this church.|
Here, in the churchyard of St. Bride, still a quiet and retired spot, John Milton came to lodge in in the house of Russell a tailor; here he wrote his treatises
and others; and here he instructed, and very often whipped, his sister's
| boys. |
Her parents also, reports Milton's nephew Phillips,
At length the poor young wife found married life
This visit was indefinitely prolonged, and the poet's letters remained unanswered. He sent a messenger to bring her back, who was scornfully dismissed; but after a time Mrs. Milton's jealousy was excited by the belief that the poet was paying attentions to the beautiful Miss Davis, and she entreated for a reconciliation of her own accord, an event which had a happy result for the Powell family as they were able to take refuge in the house of their republican son-in-law, when the royalist cause became desperate. The poet's royalist wife Mary died in , leaving her husband, who was then becoming blind, with little daughters, of whom the eldest was only years old.
It was in defence of this house in Churchyard that, on the advance of Prince Rupert's troops after the Battle of Edgehill, Milton wrote his sonnet:
At the entrance of the passage down which the tower of is seen from , the well-known figure of will always attract attention to the office whence so much fun has emanated since the establishment of the Paper in .
was not the only prison which was waiting on the outskirts of Alsatia for its frequenters. The great prison of the was only demolished in , having been used for those who were condemned by the Star Chamber. It is an evidence of the size of the river Fleet in old days, difficult as it is to believe possible now, that the prisoners used to be brought from by water, and landed at a gate upon the Fleet like the Traitor's Gate upon the Thames at the Tower. It was here that poor old Bishop Hooper was imprisoned () before he was sent to be burnt at Gloucester, his bed being
and here, to use his own words, he
in his desperate sickness, but the Warden charged that none of his men should help him, saying,
Here Prynne was imprisoned for a denunciation of actresses, which was supposed to reflect upon Queen Henrietta Maria, who had lately been
| indulging in private theatricals at , was condemned to pay a fine of , to be burned in the forehead, slit in the nose, and to have his ears cut off. Hence, years later, for reprinting of Prynne's books, |
was whipped to , and then brought back to be imprisoned, till he was triumphantly released by the Long Parliament. The cruelties which were discovered to have been practised in the Fleet led, in , to the trial of its gaoler, Bambridge, for murder, when horrors were disclosed which appalled all who heard of them. Bambidge was found to have frequently beguiled unwary and innocent persons to the prison gate-house, and then seized and manacled them without any authority whatever, and kept them there until he had extorted a ransom. In several cases the prisoners were tortured, in others they were left for so many days without food that they died from inanition, in others Bambidge having ordered his men to stab them with their bayonets, they perished from festered wounds. Hogarth rose to celebrity by his picture of the Committee. Horace Walpole describes it:
| The formation of the Fleet Committee found a more lasting eulogium in the lines in Thomson's |
The precincts of the prison were long celebrated for the notorious
which were performed, without license or publication of banns, by a set of vicious clergymen confined in the prison for debt, and therefore free from fear of the fine of usually inflicted on clergymen convicted of solemnising clandestine marriages. No less than marriages are shown by the Fleet registers to have been sometimes celebrated there in day I The
as they were called, were generally kept by the turnkeys of the prison, and the different degraded clergymen of the Fleet maintained touts in the street to beguile any arriving lovers to their especial patrons. Pennant, walking past the Fleet in his youth, was often tempted with the question,
In the curious poem called we read-
Before leaving the Fleet we may recollect that Dickens paints Mr. Pickwick as having been imprisoned there for several months, and that he has given a vivid picture of the latter days of the old debtors' prison.
With the Fleet was swept away
called , especially connected with the iniquities of Jonathan Wild and his companions, who are said to have disposed of many of their murdered victims by letting them down from a back-window into the silent waters of the Fleet. The surrounding streets bore the name of
from the number of persons hung at Tyburn and Newgate whose houses were in its courts and alleys.
Crossing ,[n.123.1] where the now invisible Fleet still pursues its stealthy course beneath the roadway, and where it was once crossed by Fleet Bridge, we reach, at the foot of , the site of of the great ancient gates of the city--the Lud Gate-destroyed .[n.123.2]
[n.123.3] The name of the gate is described as having been derived from the legendary king Lud, who is said to have built it years before the birth of Christ. Speed, the historian, relates
| upon the western face of this gate that the statue of Queen Elizabeth stood, which we may still see over the door of St. Dunstan's in the West. On the eastern front were statues of King Lud and his sons, Androgeus and Theomantius, which have now disappeared. Adjoining the gate was a prison, and the poor prisoners used to beg piteously from those who passed beneath it. Jane Shore was immured here by Richard III. The gate itself was restored by the widow of of these prisoners, Stephen Forster. She had admired his good looks through the grating, obtained his release, and married him, and he lived to be Lord Mayor of London in the time of Henry VI.[n.124.1] In the chapel of the gatehouse was inscribed-
Instead of the old gateway, the Railway Viaduct now crosses the street, entirely spoiling the finest view of .
As we ascend , on the left is , which is generally supposed still, as it was by Addison, to derive its odd name from the popular story of the patient Griselda, but which is really named from Savage, its innkeeper, and his hostelry
A curious woodcut of shows the courtyard of the Belle Sauvage surrounded with wooden balconies, filled with spectators to witness the wonderful tricks of the
| horse Marocco, which was publicly exhibited in Shakspeare's time by a Scotchman named Banks. This Inn was altogether closed during the Great Plague, when its host issued advertisements that |
might exchange them for the usual currency: for the Belle Sauvage, like many other taverns, then had its own
It was in the Belle Sauvage Yard that Gibbons, introduced to the notice of Charles II. by Evelyn, became known as a sculptor, by having carved
It is recorded that Sir Thomas Wyatt, the rebel of Mary's reign, being refused admittance to Ludgate, rested him awhile on a bench opposite the Belle Sauvage, before he turned back towards , where he was taken prisoner.
is very picturesque, and leads worthily up to . On its north side were the offices of Rundell and Bridge, Jewellers to the Crown, with the sign of golden salmon: their strong cellars remain under the warehouse of Messrs. Daldy and Isbister. , with a good and simple tower by Wren, combines admirably with the view of the cathedral, and greatly adds to its effect, as was doubtless intended by the architect.
Cadwallo, king of the Britons, who died in , is said to have been buried in , of which Robert of Gloucester declares him to be the founder-
To this church belongs the well-known epitaph:
In St. , on the other side of the street, jammed in between crowded shops and swallowed up in the present, a thick black grimy fragment of the may be discovered, of the only known fragments remaining.
In Stationers' Hall Court, a quiet courtyard on the left, is the , incorporated . It was rebuilt after the Great Fire and refronted in . A musical festival used annually to be held in the on St. Cecilia's Day, and Dryden's ode, was performed here. In the are a number of portraits, including those of Richard Steele, of Vincent Wing the astronomer (), and of Samuel Richardson (Master of the Company in ) and his wife, by . In the is
| picture of |
well known from engravings.
Formerly the Stationers' Company enjoyed the monopoly of printing all books-and long after that privilege was withdrawn, it maintained the sole right of printing almanacks, which was only contended with success in . The Company, however, continue to derive a great revenue from their almanacks, which they issue on or about the . The copyright of books is still secured by their being
The grimy little garden at the back of the Hall has its associations, for, at the time of the Star Chamber, the Archbishop of Canterbury, of its most active members, used frequently to send warrants to the Master and Wardens of the Stationers' Company, requiring them on pain of the penalties of the Church and forfeiture of all their temporal rights, to search every house in which there was a press for seditious publications, which they were to seize, and burn in the Hall garden.
[n.103.1] Sir R. Colt Hoare considers it a sign adopted by James Hoar of Cheapside from his father Ralph having been a citizen and cooper of the City of London.
[n.103.2] Taken down in 1788.
[n.103.3] Journal to Stella.
[n.107.1] Bates's Funeral Sermon for Baxter.
[n.107.2] Horace Twiss's Life of Eldon, i. 49.
[n.112.1] The Bolt Court house of Dr. Johnson was burnt in 1819
[n.113.1] Though Aubrey says, in a cellar at Long Acre.
[n.114.1] It contained the tombs of Sir Robert Knolles, the builder of Rochester Bridge, celebrated in the French wars (1407); of Robert Mascall, Bishop of Hereford, who built the choir and steeple (1416); of William Montacute, Earl of Salisbury and King of Man, killed in a tournament at Windsor (1343); and of Stephen Patrington, Confessor of Henry IV. and Bishop of St. David's and Chichester (1417). King Henry VIII. gave the chapter-house of Whitefriars to his physician, Dr. Butts, the enemy of Cranmer.
[n.117.1] In the court-room of the prison hung a huge picture of Edward VI. granting a charter for the endowment of Bridewell to the mayor. It was attributed to Holbein, but could not be his, for the simple reason that it represented an event which occurred ten years after his death,
[n.123.1] Faringdon Ward is named from William Faringdon, a goldsmith, sheriff in 1281.
[n.123.2] It was sold July 30, 1760, with two other gates, to Blagden, a carpenter of Coleman Street. Ludgate fetched £ 148; Aldgate, £ 177 10s.; and Cripplegate, £ 91.
[n.123.3] Riley, p. 92.
[n.124.1] The story of Stephen Forster is commemorated in Rowley's Widow Never Vest, or the Widow of Cornhill.