Story Of London

The City Wards in 1731: VI

Our next instalment from the Gonzales guide to London in the early part of the 18th century explores the three great wards in the centre of the Square Mile – Cheap ward with its market, Coleman Street Ward which housed the infamous Bedlam and Basinghall Ward which included the woollen market whose profits endowed the famous Christ’s Hospital and school. Our perambulation also takes in a tour of the Guildhall and the Lord Mayor’s court.

16. Cheap Ward. The principal streets and places in this ward are Cheapside, the Poultry, part of Honey Lane Market, part of the Old Jewry, part of Bucklersbury, part of Pancras Lane, part of Queen Street, all Ironmonger Lane, King Street, and St. Lawrence Lane, and part of Cateaton Street, part of Bow Lane, and all Guildhall.The public buildings in this ward are, Guildhall, Mercers’ Chapel and Hall, Grocers’ Hall, the Poultry Compter, the churches of St. Mildred, Poultry, and St. Lawrence Jewry.Guildhall, the town house of this great City, stands at the north end of King Street, and is a large handsome structure, built with stone, anno 1666, the old hall having been destroyed by the Fire in 1666. By a large portico on the south side we enter the principal room, properly called the hall, being 153 feet in length, 48 in breadth, and 55 in height. On the right hand, at the upper end, is the ancient court of the hustings; at the other end of the hall opposite to it are the Sheriff’s Courts. The roof of the inside is flat, divided into panels; the walls on the north and south sides adorned with four demy pillars of the Gothic order, painted white, and veined with blue, the capitals gilt with gold, and the arms finely depicted in their proper colour, viz.,at the east the arms of St. Edward the Confessor, and of the Kings of England the shield and cross of St. George.At the west end the arms of the Confessor, those of England and France quarterly, and the arms of England.On the fourteen demy pillars (above the capital) are the king’s arms, the arms of London, and the arms of the twelve companies. At the east end are the King’s arms carved between the portraits of the late Queen, at the foot of an arabathram, under a rich canopy northward, and those of King William and Queen Mary southward, painted at full length. The inter-columns are painted in imitation of porphyry, and embellished with the portraitures, painted in full proportion, of eighteen judges, which were there put up by the City, in gratitude for their signal service done in determining differences between landlord and tenant (without the expense of lawsuits) in rebuilding this City, pursuant to an Act of Parliament, after the Fire, in 1666.Those on the south side are, Sir Heneage Finch, Sir Orlando Bridgeman, Sir Matthew Hale, Sir Richard Rainsford, Sir Edward Turner, Sir Thomas Tyrrel, Sir John Archer, Sir William Morton.On the north side are, Sir Robert Atkins, Sir John Vaughan, Sir Francis North, Sir Thomas Twisden, Sir Christopher Turner, Sir William Wild, Sir Hugh Windham.At the west end, Sir William Ellis, Sir Edward Thurland, Sir Timothy Littleton.And in the Lord Mayor’s Court (which is adorned with fleak stone and other painting and gilding, and also the figures of the four cardinal virtues) are the portraits of Sir Samuel Brown, Sir John Kelynge, Sir Edward Atkins, and Sir William Windham, all (as those above) painted in full proportion in their scarlet robes as judges.The late Queen Anne, in December, 1706, gave the City 26 standards, and 63 colours, to be put up in this hall, that were taken from the French and Bavarians at the battle of Ramillies the preceding summer; but there was found room only for 46 colours, 19 standards, and the trophy of a kettle-drum of the Elector of Bavaria’s. The colours over the Queen’s picture are most esteemed, on account of their being taken from the first battalion of French guards.From the hall we ascend by nine stone steps to the Mayor’s Court, Council Chamber, and the rest of the apartments of the house, which, notwithstanding it may not be equal to the grandeur of the City, is very well adapted to the ends it was designed for, namely, for holding the City courts, for the election of sheriffs and other officers, and for the entertainment of princes, ministers of State, and foreign ambassadors, on their grand festivals.
St. Olave Jewry17. Coleman Street Ward. The principal streets in this ward are the Old Jewry, part of Lothbury, Coleman Street, part of London Wall, and all the lower part of Moorfields without the walls.The public buildings are Bethlem or Bedlam Hospital, Founders’ Hall, Armourers’ Hall, the churches of St. Olave Jewry, St. Margaret, Lothbury, and St. Stephen, Coleman Street.New Bethlem, or Bedlam, is situated at the south end of Moorfields, just without the wall, the ground being formerly part of the town ditch, and granted by the City to the governors of the hospital of Old Bethlem, which had been appropriated for the reception of lunatics, but was found too strait to contain the people brought thither, and the building in a decaying condition.The present edifice, called New Bedlam, was begun to be erected anno 1675, and finished the following year. It is built of brick and stone; the wings at each end, and the portico, being each of them adorned with four pilasters, entablature and circular pediment of the Corinthian order. Under the pediment are the King’s arms, enriched with festoons; and between the portico and each of the said wings is a triangular pediment, with the arms of the City; and on a pediment over the gate the figures of two lunatics, exquisitely carved. The front of this magnificent hospital is reported to represent the Escurial in Spain, and in some respects exceeds every palace in or about London, being 528 feet in length, and regularly built. The inside, it is true, is not answerable to the grand appearance it makes without, being but 30 feet broad, and consisting chiefly of a long gallery in each of the two storeys that runs from one end of the house to the other; on the south side whereof are little cells, wherein the patients have their lodgings, and on the north the windows that give light to the galleries, which are divided in the middle by a handsome iron gate, to keep the men and women asunder.In order to procure a person to be admitted into the hospital, a petition must be preferred to a committee of the governors, who sit at Bedlam seven at a time weekly, which must be signed by the churchwardens, or other reputable persons of the parish the lunatic belongs to, and also recommended to the said committee by one of the governors; and this being approved by the president and governors, and entered in a book, upon a vacancy (in their turn) an order is granted for their being received into the house, where the said lunatic is accommodated with a room, proper physic and diet, gratis. The diet is very good and wholesome, being commonly boiled beef, mutton, or veal, and broth, with bread, for dinners on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, the other days bread, cheese, and butter, or on Saturdays pease-pottage, rice-milk, furmity, or other pottage, and for supper they have usually broth or milk pottage, always with bread. And there is farther care taken, that some of the committee go on a Saturday weekly to the said hospital to see the provisions weighed, and that the same be good and rightly expended.18. Basinghall, or Bassishaw Ward, consisteth only of Basinghall Street, and a small part of the street along London Wall.christs Hospital
The public buildings of this ward are Blackwell Hall, Masons’ Hall, Weavers’ Hall, Coopers’ Hall, Girdlers’ Hall, and St. Michael Bassishaw Church.Blackwell Hall is situated between Basinghall Street on the east, and Guildhall Yard on the west, being formerly called Bakewell Hall, from the family of the Bakewells, whose mansion-house stood here anno 1315, which falling to the Crown, was purchased by the City of King Richard II., and converted into a warehouse and market for woollen manufactures; and by an act of common council anno 1516, it was appointed to be the only market for woollen manufactures sold in the City, except baize, the profits being settled on Christ’s Hospital, which arise from the lodging and pitching of the cloth in the respective warehouses, there being one assigned for the Devonshire cloths, and others for the Gloucester, Worcester, Kentish, Medley, Spanish cloths, and blankets. The profits also of the baize brought to Leadenhall are settled on the same hospital. These cloths pay a penny a week each for pitching, and a halfpenny a week resting; stockings and blankets pay by the pack, all which bring in a considerable revenue, being under the direction of the governors of Christ’s Hospital. This hall was destroyed by the Fire, and rebuilt by Christ’s Hospital, anno 1672. The doorcase on the front towards Guildhall is of stone, adorned with two columns, entablature, and pediment of the Doric order. In the pediment are the King’s arms, and the arms of London under them, enriched with Cupids, etc.