Mr Bradshaw, if he had been so-minded, could have named his tour through District IV as ‘Crime and Retribution’ – I leave you with that thought…
Mr Bradshaw and I set off from St Paul’s Cathedral again, ‘..through the great bookselling district..’, (other sources say it was a ‘book publishing‘ area – no doubt both activities took place). Apparently Britain became a net exporter of books in the 18th century, and the secret was ‘serial‘ publishing – an idea successfully exploited by Hyperion in our own times.
I headed for Stationers’ Hall in Ave Maria Lane, the building which has belonged to the Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers since 1670. Here all books were registered to ensure copyright.
We are in an area now known as the Ludgate Hill Conservation Area. Ave Maria Lane is the southern section of Warwick Lane, between Amen Corner and Ludgate Hill. What odd names, I thought, and then Wikipedia told me that ‘..On the feastday of Corpus Christi, monks would say prayers in a procession to St. Paul’s Cathedral. They set off from Paternoster Row chanting the Lord’s Prayer (Pater noster being the opening words of the prayer in Latin). They would reach the final ‘Amen’ as they turned the corner into Ave Maria Lane, after which they would chant Hail Mary (Ave Maria in Latin)..’!
And Amen Court? The canons from St Paul’s Cathedral lived here.
Thomas Heatherwick brought us back to the present at Amen Corner:
Ave Maria Lane now continues as Warwick Lane, named after the Earls of Warwick, and this very charming plaque at the top of the Lane marks their association with the area.
The Royal College of Physicians, built by Robert Hooke in 1675, was in Warwick Lane but the physicians relocated to the more fashionable West end in 1799. The building was used as a butchery in Mr Bradshaw’s time and a foundry thereafter and was finally demolished in 1866. The site is now home to the Worshipful Company of Cutlers, with a wonderful freize on the facade of the building.
Newgate Market was the main meat market, as well as a slaughter house, for London and clearly very crowded and unpleasant – Mr Bradshaw was definitely in favour of the proposed move to Smithfield Market. ‘..Through the filthy lanes and alleys no one could pass without being either butted with the dripping end of a quarter of beef, or smeared by the greasy carcase of a newly-slain sheep. In many of the narrow lanes there was hardly room for two persons to pass abreast..’. None of this atmosphere now remains.
Christ’s Hospital, the Blue Coat School, was situated almost opposite the Market. The School was founded by Edward VI to take children off the streets of London and opened in 1552, on the site of the Grey Friars Monastery. The school has been funded by various endowments, including King Charles II (to qualify boys for service in the Royal Navy) and Mr Samuel Travers who both supported maths education. The school moved to Horsham in 1908 and today more than 88% of its students receive means tested bursaries. The two institutions are marked by plaques, side by side, on Newgate Street.
Mr Bradshaw reports that four boys were sent to Oxford and Cambridge each year and, an example of sponsorship, there were two scholarships of £80, founded by the Pitt Club and the proprietors of The Times.
The Grey Friars was a Franciscan Monastery that existed from 1225 to 1538. It included a church, a university, and a library, and equalled Oxford in importance and status at the time. The monastery was dissolved by Henry VIII, the church was eventually destroyed in the Fire and rebuilt by Wren (but destroyed in WWII), and Christ’s Hospital School was created in the old monastery buildings.
Mr Bradshaw describes the improvements made to Newgate Prison in recent years: ‘..clean, well-whitewashed, and well-ventilated wards, its airy courts, its infirmary, its humane regulations, and its strict but intelligent officers..’. Nevertheless, executions still took place outside the prison and were public spectacles and which Charles Dickens described as ‘..a sickening idea of London..’ in Great Expectations 1861. Who to believe?
The Central Criminal Court was down the road from the Prison. It was situated on the street called Old Bailey, which was on the line of the old City walls, and was rebuilt several times between 1673 and 1907. Today is it is known to us as ‘The Old Bailey’, and the current building covers the site of both the old Newgate Prison and the previous Court.
A church has been on the site of St Sepulchre’s Church, Snow Hill, since at least 1137, although rebuilt more than once. Because of the proximity to Newgate Prison and the Central Criminal Court there are close associations: the bells would toll as prisoners were taken for execution at Tyburn; and the Bell Man would go by underground passage to Newgate Prison and ring twelve tolls of the hand bell to the condemned prisoner on the eve of the execution. The current church, rebuilt by Wren in 1670-71, is the largest church in the City and nowadays associated with music, being the National Musicians Church.
And in the surrounding railings of the church I found:
And just beyond the church, in Giltspur Street, I notice this watch house, an early form of police station. The bust is of Charles Lamb, a student at Christ’s Hospital.
And a little further along the street is the Golden Boy of Pye Corner, marking the point at which the Fire was stopped.
The day so far had been rather depressing, and was certainly freezing cold; I needed some cheering up and took myself to Postman’s Park to check on the flowers.
St Bartholomew’s Hospital was founded, together with the Priory of St Bartholomew, by Rahere, a minstrel or jester, in 1123. Surely he must have been a remarkable man? In the early days the nuns and monks in the Priory cared for the sick, but by 1420 the two institutions had separated. It is now the oldest hospital in England which still occupies the site on which it was built. Mr Bradshaw tells us that the ill were received at all hours of the day and night, ‘..without charge or ceremony..’, and that the hospital was held in the highest regard. Mr Bradshaw also refers to a belief that ‘..a subterranean passage led from the crypts below the hospital to the house of the priors situated at Canonbury..’. In 1253 land was given to the Canons of St Barthomew’s Priory, Canonbury, and this continued as open land until it was developed into residential developments (now a suburb of Islington) in the early 19th century.
St Bartholomew the Less is the only one of five chapels associated with the hospital to survive the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII
St John’s Gate is all that remains of the Priory of St John of Jerusalem, or the Knights of St John, or Knights Hospitaller. ‘..The Order’s full title is The Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem. The Priory once occupied a 10-acre site, but it is very difficult to gain a sense of the site today. Its principal charitable foundations today are the St John Eye Hospital in Jerusalem, and St John Ambulance..’. (Good article and pictures here.)
Mr Bradshaw mentioned Aylesbury Street to the north which was named after the Earls of Aylesbury and it is suggested that Aylesbury House was situated in the grounds of St John’s Priory. As he did not suggest a deviation, and it was bitterly cold, I decided to curtail my walking for the day.