The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 3
Debtors' Prison for London and Middlesex.
This prison occupies an extensive plot of ground between and Redcross-street. It was built between and , for the humane purpose of distinguishing the confinement of debtors from that of criminals, who were crowded together in Newgate and the Compters. The stone was laid by alderman Wood, in . The centre in consists of the keeper's house and offices; the lower basement is rusticated in stone; the upper portion of the building is of brick. The interior has distinct divisions. Ludgate-side, for those who are freemen of the city of London, and who, on commitment, produce a certificate of their being freemen; London-side, for all other debtors arrested within the jurisdiction of the city, including such freemen, as at the time of arrest, neglect to procure a certificate; and Middlesex-side, the and largest division, for those arrested in the county. There is also a separate division for all females, whether of the city or county.
Opposite the prison is the city green-yard, established here in .
This street, with Grub-street, , and , in Cripplegate parish, remained unpaved until the of Henry VIII. when they were become almost impassable; in consequence of which, an act of parliament was made for paving them.
Opposite to is Redcross-street, a wide and well built street; on the east side of which, near the middle, is a library founded by Daniel Williams, D. D., a Presbyterian minister, for
|the use of the Presbyterian, Independent, and Baptist persuasions.|
This gentleman, in , bequeathed his valuable collection of books and manuscripts for this purpose, with a handsome salary for a librarian and a housekeeper, and, in pursuance to his will, a neat building was erected in Redcross-street, with a genteel apartment for the librarian, &c. and a room capable of containing volumes, though not more than volumes are at present in this apartment. In this library is a register, in which dissenters may record the births of their children.
This foundation, which has been greatly augmented since its institution, is under the direction of trustees, viz. ministers and laymen, who must be all Presbyterians, under whom there is a secretary and a steward.
In the front library are the following portraits:
In the back library are the following paintings:-- In this apartment is also a bust of Dr. I. Watts.
On the staircase are portraits of
Among the scarce and curious books in this library, may he noticed the following:--
In the library are several curiosities, as an Egyptian mummy, and a glass basin which held the water wherewith queen Elizabeth was baptized.
A short distance from the east end of Cripplegate church was a water-conduit, brought in pipes of lead from Highbury, by John Middleton, of the executors to sir William Eastfield. The inhabitants adjoining castellated it at their own costs and charges. about the year . At a common council afterwards held, it was agreed, that the chamberlain should, at the costs of the chamber, cause the common well and spring at , to be covered with a house of brick. There was also a boss of clear water in the wall of the church-yard, made at the charges of Richard Whittington, sometime mayor. The same was afterwards turned into a pump, and so quite decayed.
There was also a pool of clear water near the parsonage, on the west side thereof, which was filled up in the reign of Henry VI. The spring was cooped in, and arched over with hard stone; and stairs of stone to go down to the spring on the bank of the town ditch. And this was also done of the goods, and by the executors of sir Richard Whittington.
From the south-west end of Redcross-street runs , in which are several ancient houses. on the south side is traditionally said to have been the residence of the poet Milton.
This was originally the Jews' garden, as being the only place appointed in England wherein to bury their dead, till the year , the of Henry II. that it was permitted them, after long suit to the king and parliament at Oxford, to have special place assigned them iii every quarter where they dwelt.
This plat of ground remained to the said Jews till the time of their final banishment from England, and was afterwards turned into garden plats and summer-houses for pleasure.
It is now called , being a continued street of houses on each side of the way, and leads into . This place, with its appurtenances, was anciently called Leyrestrowe; which king Edward I. granted to William de Monte Forte, dean of , London; being a place (as it is expressed in a record) without Cripplegate, and the suburbs of London, called Leyrestowe, and which was the burying place of the Jews of London; which was valued at per annum.
Nearly fronting the north end of Redcross-street, in former times, stood a watch-tower, called Burgh-Kenning, or , a kind of advanced post for Cripplegate. These barbicans were considered
|of such importance, that the custody of them was always entrusted to some person of consequence in the state. This tower being granted by Edward III. to the earl of Suffolk, became his city residence. He rebuilt it, and it was afterwards the residence and property of Peregrine Bertie, lord Willoughby. He probably inherited it from his mother, Catherine, baroness Willoughby of Eresby, and duchess of Suffolk, as there are entries of this family in the parish register of St. Giles, Cripplegate. It seems as if part of these premises had been let out on building leases, in the reign of Elizabeth; for the said Peregrine, by his will, dated at Berwick, , bequeaths to his son, Peregrine Bertie, his messuages, lands, &c. with the appurtenances, known by the name of Willoughby Rents, situated in and , to enjoy the same after the death of his sister Susan, countess of Kent. Several of the earls of Kent and their family are buried in St. Giles, Cripplegate, as appears by the register, and probably from this house. The name of the is still preserved in that of the street which runs from this spot to .|
Adjoining to the , on the east, was another stately edifice, called the Garter-house, which was erected by sir Thomas Wriothesley, garter king at arms, uncle to the earl of Southampton. On the top of the building was a chapel, called by the name of The site is now occupied by Garter-place.
Robert Glover, Somerset herald, lived in the same parish, which probably brought about the friendship which subsisted between that herald and Catherine, duchess of Suffolk, and her son Peregrine, lord Willoughby, those personages standing sponsors to several of his children baptised in the parish of St. Giles, Cripplegate.