Mr Bradshaw leads us forth from St Paul’s Cathedral again, and in District V he will particularly point out newspapers and the law, very topical!
We start with The Times in Printing House Square, only I couldn’t find the square and the newspaper is now printed in Pennington Street E1W. The newspaper was founded by John Walter, a publisher, in 1785. According to Mr Bradshaw The Times was the leading newspaper in the world, with correspondents stationed both locally and internationally, and with an average daily circulation of 32,000. Now the circulation is c.400,000.
The Worshipful Society of Apothecaries is another of the City Livery Companies, or Guilds, and has a fascinating history. It was originally part of the Grocers’ Company, which originated in around 1180 with the Guild of Pepperers! Finally the Society was incorporated by Royal Charter in 1617. The Society dealt with the ‘..preparation of substances for medical purposes..’. The Hall was originally the Guest House of the Dominican Priory of Black Friars, but destroyed in the Fire and then rebuilt on the same site in 1672. The related Chelsea Physic Garden followed in 1673.
Blackfriars Priory, founded 1278, was a Dominican Friary and the site is now marked by a blue plaque in Ludgate Broadway (under wraps when I visited). (Interesting information in this document, and here.) It was a large establishment and enjoyed patronage from Edward I. A monk stands guard at the pub overlooking the bridge but I found it hard to get a sense of the Priory amidst the traffic and railway lines.
Blackfriars Bridge as seen by Mr Bradshaw was completed in Portland stone in 1769 to a design by Robert Mylne. However, the workmanship was faulty and a new bridge, the present bridge, was opened by Queen Victoria in 1869. The splendid view of St Paul’s is now obscured but an equally splendid view is possible from the Millennium Bridge.
Mr Bradshaw brings to our attention the steamboat pier on the eastern side of the bridge. Steamboats conveyed passengers in and out of London, and there were cross-river services at Westminster and Woolwich. Steamboats operated every five to ten minutes and by the mid-1850s almost 15,000 people travelled to work each day by this means. Some of the boats were built at Woolwich and the traffic on the alongside the river must have dense and continuous. The Woolwich Steam Packet Company offered transport from Woolwich into London and then further out into the Thames estuary into Kent and even Essex. But as a passenger service they were overtaken by the new railway services to south east London and into Kent which provided a safer and cheaper form of transport.
Bridewell, built on the banks of the Fleet River, was Henry VIII’s palace between 1515 and 1523. In 1553 Edward VI gave it to the City to house poor women and children – a hospital – and for use as a detention centre. It was mostly burned down during the Fire, but rebuilt, and finally demolished in 1863, shortly after Mr Bradshaw wrote about the institution. Only the doorway of the gatehouse remains on New Bridge Street, with a sculpture of Edward VI over the door. Mr Bradshaw particularly mentions that the treadmill was in ‘..active operation..’ in the prison.
There were many Holy or Healing Wells in London and St Bride’s Well gave its name to the palace/prison and St Bride’s Church. The end of the churchyard is raised above the level of the lane and Mr Bradshaw says that an iron pump was operating here in his time. The huge plane tree in the churchyard above probably marks the site of the well.
St Bride’s Church was rebuilt by Wren in 1680 and the steeple has given the church the name of ‘wedding cake’ church. It is an interesting spot, with remains of Roman paving in the Crypt, and an exhibition which shows that the site has been inhabited for over 2,000 years. It is suggested that the first church was built by St Bridget of Ireland in the 7th century and there has been a church on the site ever since. I found it to be a magical and quiet corner, just a row of buildings away from the noise and rather less dignified atmosphere in Fleet Street.
I couldn’t identify Milton’s house in the church surrounds but I did find The Old Bell Inn which was apparently built for the men rebuilding the Church
Coger’s Hall in Bride Lane was a pub where a debating society met in Mr Bradshaw’s time. The building was demolished in 1895 and replaced by the St Bride’s Tavern. The first meeting of the Cogers Society was in 1755 in an upper room in the pub. The society was a serious undertaking, attracting politicians and leading professional people as members. The Society continues to this day, the only one of the original coffee house debating societies to have survived.
Mr Bradshaw next points out two monuments of note: the statue of John Wilks, a ‘notorious’ and radical politician and a Lord Mayor of the City, and an obelisk to Alderman Robert Waithman, also a Lord Mayor and buried in St Bride’s Church .
And nearby, in Dorset Rise was Samuel Pepys birthplace –
To the west of St Bride’s was Whitefriars Priory, a Carmelite monastery which disappeared in the Dissolution of the monasteries. It was huge, stretching from the Temple to Whitefriars Street, and from Fleet Street to the Thames. It was also known as Alsatia, which meant it was a place of sanctuary, and outside the jurisdiction of the law. The Priory was situated was on the site of the City Gas Works in Mr Bradshaw’s time. (This is a marvellous blogsite with further information here.) I have been struck by the large number of religious orders in London in earlier times and this may be worth following up in greater detail when Mr Bradshaw and I have completed our journey. I noted from the Carmelite website that both St Theresa of Avila and St John of the Cross were Carmelites – do you know the magical translation by Seamus Heaney of St John’s poem beginning ‘How well I know that fountain, filling, running, although it is the night…’?
Back to the noise of Fleet Street, once the domain of the newspaper world, but no more and there remains nothing, apart from various plaques on walls and set into the pavements, to remind one of the newspaper trade. To the left lie the openings to The Temple and on the right side, the north, are various interesting lanes and courtyards, suddenly quiet and maintaining perhaps a flavour of what Mr Bradshaw might have seen, referred to as ‘tributaries of Fleet Street‘.
Gough Square is where Samuel Johnson lived and where he compiled the dictionary, and No.8 Bolt Court (no longer there) is where he died.
And then something quite unexpectedly contemporary – a vertical garden in Pemberton Row!
Johnson’s Courts was not named after Dr Johnson, although he lived there for a time, and Crane Court was the site of the Scottish Hospital (but no more). Anderton’s Hotel, the site of the Horn Tavern in the c.15, and finally demolished in 1939, was a significant institution, now only marked by a plaque inside a small lane.
St Dunstan’s in the West faces on to Fleet Street and has none of the peace and quiet of St Brides’, instead it felt rather deserted and sad, and somehow forgotten. The rather curious projecting clock is still in place:
And just outside the Church one of Mr Bradshaw’s drinking fountains –
Ye Old Cock Tavern in Fleet Street was originally known as Ye Cock and Bottle and dates back to 1549, although it moved from the north to the south side of the street in the 1880s. The pub was patronised by Charles Dickens, Dr Johnson and Samuel Pepys, amongst others, who all worked in the area.
The Rainbow Tavern, was originally established in 1657 as the first coffee house in London (information here.), is now a legal bookshop, Hammicks.
And at this point, frozen stiff, I decided to leave the legal wanderings for another day!
You may be interested in this post on Drinking Fountains and Cattle Troughs