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Story Of London

The City Gates in 1598: V


John Stow, who grew up in Elizabethan London, was the earliest of the a long line of antiquarian scholars who have provided us with vivid descriptions of the City at various stages of her development. His Survey of London first appeared in 1598 and was re-issued “Since by the same Author increased, with divers rare notes of Antiquity” in 1603. In our third extract, we move west from Moorgate and come to Cripplegate. Stow recalls for us the legend of the miracles wrought by the body of Edmond the Martyr here and also presents evidence that tee gate was used as a debtor’s prison in the reign of Edward I.

Stow's monument in the church of St Andrew Undershaft.The next is the postern of Cripplegate, so called long before the conquest. For I read in the history of Edmond, king of the East angles, written by Abbo Floriacensis and by Burchard, sometime secretary to Offa, king of mercia, but since by John Lidgate, monk of Bury, that in the year 1010, the Danes spoiling the kingdom of the East Angles, Alwyne, bishop of Helmeham caused the body of King Edmond the maetyr to be brought from Bedrisworth (now called Bury St. Edmondes), through the kingdom of the east Saxons, and so to London at Cripplegate; a place, saith mine author, so called of cripples begging there: at which gate, it was said, the body entering, miracles were wrought, as some of the lame to go upright, praising God. The body of King Edmond rested for the space of three years in the parish church of St Gregorie, near unto the cathedral church of St. Paul.Cripplegate.Moreover, the charter of William the conqueror, confirming the foundation of the college in London, called St. Martin the Great, hath these words:”I do give and grant to the same church and canons, serving God therein, all the land and the moore without the postern, which is called Cripplegate, on either side of the postern.”More I read that Alfune built the parish church of St. giles, nigh a gate of the city called Porta Contractorum, or Cripplesgate, about the year 1099.This postern was sometimes a prison, whereunto such citizens and others, as were arrested for debt or common trespasses, were committed, as they be now, to the comptors , which thing appeareth by a writ of Edward I. in these words:”Rex vic. London. Salutem: esx graui querela B. capt. & detent. In prisona nostra de Criples gate pro x. l. quas coram Radulpho de Sandwico tunc custod. Ciuitatis nostra London, & I. de Blackwell ciuis recognit. Debit etc.
[“The King to the citizens of London, Greetings. Arising from a serious complaint B. has been captured and detained in our prison of Criples gate for the sum of 10 pounds sworn in the presence of Radolphus de Sandwich then Sheriff of our City of London and I. de Blackwell, citizen, certifying the debt etc.” trans. BMc. ]this gate was new built by the brewers of London in the year 1244, as saith Fabian’s manuscript. Edmond Shaw, goldsmith, mayor in the year 1483, at his decease appointed by his testament his executors, with the cost of four hundred marks, and the stuff of the old gate, called Cripplegate, to build the same gate of new, which was performed and done in he year 1491.