Our next instalment from the Gonzales guide to London in the early part of the 18th century explores the ward of Farringdon Without. This ward contains many famous places such as the Fleet Prison, Newgate Prison, Old Bailey, Ludgate Hill and the Fleet river. However our guide concentrates on just two- Smithfield with St Bartholomew’s Hospital, the oldest in London, and Bridewell, Henry VIII’s palace that became an infamous prison.
Ludgate Hill in the Great Fire25. The Ward of Farringdon Without includes Ludgate Hill, Fleet Street and Fleet Ditch, Sheer Lane, Bell Yard, Chancery Lane, Fetter Lane, Dean Street, New Street, Plough Yard, East and West Harding Street, Fleur-de-Lis Court, Crane Court, Red Lion Court, Johnson’s Court, Dunstan’s Court, Bolt Court, Hind Court, Wine Office Court, Shoe Lane, Racquet Court, Whitefriars, the Temples, Dorset or Salisbury Court, Dorset Street, Bridewell, the Old Bailey, Harp Alley, Holborn Hill, Castle Street or Yard, Cursitor Alley, Bartlett’s Buildings, Holborn Bridge, Snow Hill, Pye Corner, Giltspur Street, Cow Lane, ***** Lane, Hosier Lane, Chick Lane, Smithfield, Long Lane, Bartholomew Close, Cloth Fair, and Duck Lane.West Smithfield–or, rather, Smoothfield, according to Stow–is an open place, containing little more than three acres of ground at present, of an irregular figure, surrounded with buildings of various kinds. Here is held one of the greatest markets of oxen and sheep in Europe, as may easily be imagined when it appears to be the only market for live cattle in this great city, which is held on Mondays and Fridays. There is also a market for horses on Fridays; nor is there anywhere better riding-horses to be purchased, if the buyer has skill, though it must be confessed there is a great deal of jockeying and sharping used by the dealers in horseflesh. As for coach-horses, and those fit for troopers, they are usually purchased in the counties to the northward of the town. The famous fair on the feast of St. Bartholomew also is held in this place, which lasts three days, and, by the indulgence of the City magistrates, sometimes a fortnight. The first three days were heretofore assigned for business, as the sale of cattle, leather, etc., but now only for diversion, the players filling the area of the field with their booths, whither the young citizens resort in crowds.The public buildings in this ward are Bridewell, Serjeants’ Inn in Fleet Street, the Temple, the Six Clerks’ Office, the Rolls, Serjeants’ Inn in Chancery Lane, Clifford’s Inn, the House of the Royal Society, Staple’s Inn, Bernards’ Inn, and Thavie’s Inn, Justice Hall in the Old Bailey, and the Fleet Prison, with the churches of St. Bartholomew, and the hospital adjoining, the churches of St. Sepulchre, St. Andrew, Holborn, St. Bride’s, and St. Dunstan’s-in-the-West.Bridewell is situated on the west side of Fleet Ditch, a little to the southward of Fleet Street, having two fronts, one to the east, and the other to the north, with a handsome great gate in each of them. It consists chiefly of two courts, the innermost being the largest and best built, four or five storeys high, on the south side whereof is a noble hall, adorned with the pictures of King Edward VI. and his Privy Council, King Charles, and King James II., Sir William Turner, Sir William Jeffreys, and other benefactors.It was one of the palaces of the Kings of England till the reign of King Edward VI., who gave it to the City of London for the use of their poor, with lands of the value of 700 marks per annum, and bedding and furniture out of the Hospital of the Savoy, then suppressed.Here are lodgings and several privileges for certain tradesmen, such as flax-dressers, tailors, shoemakers, etc., called art masters, who are allowed to take servants and apprentices to the number of about 140, who are clothed in blue vests at the charge of the house, their masters having the profit of their labour. These boys having served their times, have their freedom, and ten pound each given them towards carrying on their trades; and some of them have arrived to the honour of being governors of the house where they served.This Hospital is at present under the direction of a president, and some hundreds of the most eminent and substantial citizens, with their inferior officers; and a court is held every Friday, where such vagrants and lewd people are ordered to receive correction in the sight of the Court, as are adjudged to deserve it.Among the public buildings of this ward, that belonging to the Royal Society, situate at the north end of Two Crane Court, in Fleet Street, must not be omitted, though it be much more considerable on account of the learned members who assemble there, and the great advances that have been made by them of late years in natural philosophy, etc., than for the elegancy of the building.During the grand rebellion, when the estates of the prime nobility and gentry were sequestered, and there was no court for them to resort to, the then powers encouraging only the maddest enthusiast, or the basest of the people, whom they looked upon as the fittest instruments to support their tyranny; some ingenious gentlemen, who had applied themselves chiefly to their studies, and abhorred the usurpation, proposed the erecting a society for the improvement of natural knowledge, which might be an innocent and inoffensive exercise to themselves in those troublesome times, and of lasting benefit to the nation. Their first meeting, it is said, were at the chambers of Mr. Wilkins (afterwards Bishop of Chester) in Wadham College, in Oxford, about the year 1650, and the members consisted of the Honourable Robert Boyle, Esq., Dr. Ward (afterwards Bishop of Salisbury), Sir Christopher Wren, Sir William Petty, Dr. Wallis, Dr. Goddard, and Dr. Hook (late Professor of Geometry), the above-named Bishop Wilkins, and others. In the year 1658 we find them assembling in Gresham College, in London, when were added to their number the Lord Brounker (their first president), Sir Robert Murray, John Evelyng, Esq., Sir George Ent, Dr. Croon, Henry Shingsby, Esq., and many others. And after the Restoration, his Majesty King Charles II. appeared so well pleased with the design, that he granted them a charter of incorporation, bearing date the 22nd of April, 15 Charles II., anno 1663, wherein he styled himself their founder, patron, and companion; and the society was from thenceforward to consist of a president, a council of twenty, and as many fellows as should be thought worthy of admission, with a treasurer, secretary, curators, and other officers.When a gentleman desires to be admitted to the society, he procures one of the Corporation to recommend him as a person duly qualified, whereupon his name is entered in a book, and proper inquiries made concerning his merit and abilities; and if the gentleman is approved of, he appears in some following assembly, and subscribes a paper, wherein he promises that he will endeavour to promote the welfare of the society: and the president formally admits him by saying, “I do, by the authority and in the name of the Royal Society of London for improving of natural knowledge, admit you a member thereof.” Whereupon the new fellow pays forty shillings to the treasurer, and two-and-fifty shillings per annum afterwards by quarterly payments, towards the charges of the experiments, the salaries of the officers of the house, etc.Behind the house they have a repository, containing a collection of the productions of nature and art. They have also a well-chosen library, consisting of many thousand volumes, most of them relating to natural philosophy; and they publish from time to time the experiments made by them, of which there are a great number of volumes, called “Philosophical Transactions.”The Hospital of St. Bartholomew, on the south side of Smithfield, is contiguous to the church of Little St. Bartholomew. It was at first governed by a master, eight brethren, and four sisters, who had the care of the sick and infirm that were brought thither. King Henry VIII. endowed it with a yearly revenue of five hundred more yearly for the relief of one hundred infirm people. And since that time the hospital is so increased and enlarged, by the benefactions given to it, that it receives infirm people at present from all parts of England. In the year 1702 a beautiful frontispiece was erected towards Smithfield, adorned with pilasters, entablature, and pediment of the Ionic order, with the figure of the founder, King Henry VIII., in a niche, standing in full proportion; and the figures of two cripples on the pediment: but the most considerable improvements to the building were made in the year 1731, of the old buildings being pulled down, and a magnificent pile erected in the room of them about 150 feet in length, faced with a pure white stone, besides other additions now building.There are two houses belonging to this hospital, the one in Kent Street, called the Lock, and the other at Kingsland, whither such unfortunate people as are afflicted with the French disease are sent and taken care of, that they may not prove offensive to the rest; for surely more miserable objects never were beheld, many of them having their noses and great part of their faces eaten off, and become so noisome frequently, that their stench cannot be borne, their very bones rotting while they remain alive.This hospital is governed by the Lord Mayor and Aldermen, with about three hundred other substantial citizens and gentlemen of quality, who generally become benefactors; and from these and their friends the hospital has been able to subsist such numbers of infirm people, and to perform the surprising cures they have done; for the patients are duly attended by the best physicians and surgeons in London, and so well supplied with lodging and diet proper to their respective cases, that much fewer miscarry here, in proportion, than in the great hospital of invalids, and others the French so much boast of in Paris.Those that have the immediate care of the hospital are, the president, the treasurer, the auditors of accounts, viewers of their revenues, overseers of the goods and utensils of the hospital, and the almoners, who buy in provisions and necessaries for the patients.A committee, consisting of the treasurer, almoners, and some other of the governors, meet twice a week to inspect the government of the house, to discharge such persons as are cured, and to admit others.