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Title: London Signs and Inscriptions

Author: Philip Norman

Author of introduction, etc.: Henry B. Wheatley

Release date: September 20, 2016 [eBook #53105]

Language: English

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The Camden Library.






















In handsome post 8vo. size; tastefully printed in antique style.
On fine paper with rough edges, and bound in cloth, at 6s. per
volume; bound in roxburgh, with gilt top, price 7s. 6d.;
roxburgh binding, 10s. 6d. net. Large-paper copies,
21s. net.

THE FIRST VOLUME of The Camden Library, recently
published, is entitled


By HUBERT HALL, F.S.A., of H.M.’s Public Record Office.

With illustrations by RALPH NEVILL, F.S.A., and
an Introduction by Sir JOHN LUBBOCK, Bart., F.R.S., F.S.A.

‘This, the first volume of a valuable series, is perhaps one of the most interesting works of its kind. The facts and anecdotes which are woven into the pages are curious, and no doubt will be perfectly new to many readers.’—Public Opinion.

‘Will be immensely superior to the ordinary kind of serial handbooks,
if Mr. Hubert Hall’s scholarly and well-written book is a fair
sample.... His account of the origins of our national finance is
full of valuable information which cannot be easily found elsewhere.’—St.
James’s Gazette.

‘It does great credit to the persevering industry, discrimination,
and literary skill of its author.’—Daily Telegraph.




I HAVE been asked to write a short introduction to this volume of the Camden Library, and I do so with great pleasure.

The subject of sculptured signs is one of considerable interest, to which too little attention has hitherto been devoted, and the treatment of this important section of London antiquities could not have fallen into better hands than into those of Mr. Philip Norman, who has devoted many years of patient labour to the search for these signs, which are often found in very out-of-the-way localities. Mr. Norman possesses one most important qualification for the task he has undertaken, in that he is an accomplished artist. He is thus doubly well equipped both as an antiquary and as an artist.

It will, I think, surprise many readers to learn that so much is still left to us, and I hope that the attention drawn to some of the signs which have[viii] disappeared of late years may result in the discovery of their present hiding-places. Some years ago there was a curious sculptured sign over the entrance to Bull Head Court, Newgate Street. This represented William Evans, Charles I.’s gigantic porter, and Jeffrey Hudson, the Queen’s dwarf. When King Edward Street was widened this sign disappeared. If it be still in existence, we may hope that, in course of time, it may find a home in the Guildhall Museum, where so many interesting relics of old London are preserved.

Painted signs, which were once almost universal, were suddenly cleared away by the Act of Parliament of 1762, but these sculptured signs remained because they were a part of the houses to which they were attached, and they only pass away when the houses are rebuilt.

As the reader casually turns over the pages of this book, he cannot fail to be struck by the variety of objects which have been represented on the signs. Many of these may be considered as marks of ownership, and the crests and coats of arms of the City Companies are frequently found as signs.

In connection with the æsthetic revival there has been a considerable reappearance of signs in different parts of London, mostly of artistic ironwork; but although this helps to relieve the dull monotony of many streets it is not a custom that[ix] would be popular if it became universal. There can, however, be no objection to the more general adoption of artistic sculpture on the fronts of houses. When an old house is rebuilt, its story (if it have a story) may with advantage be graphically represented on the front of the new one. This has been done in some cases, and an extension of the custom would add to the beauty of the streets, and increase the interest of the passer-by in the almost forgotten history of his own town.

It is a satisfactory thing that the relics of former fashions of decoration should be registered for the information of those who desire to keep themselves in touch with the history of the past. Even in this materialistic age there are many who love to live in imagination in a former age, and a sculptured sign or inscription on an old house will often help them to do this.

For centuries London was remarkable for its gardens, but this has been changed at the end of the nineteenth century. Considering the great value of land in ‘the City,’ I suppose it cannot be a matter of surprise that almost every bit of garden or green place has been swept out of existence, but I think every lover of London will sympathize with the protest against this tendency which concludes Mr. Norman’s book.

I do not, however, wish to keep the reader longer[x] from learning what the author has to say, and I will only add that this volume will form a most useful and agreeable addition to the extensive literature which is gradually growing up in connection with the ever-increasing world of houses and men which is known as London.


Oppidans Road, N.W.,

March, 1893.



UNTIL the beginning of this century, I may almost say till the development of our railway system some fifty years ago, though London was continually spreading in all directions, its heart—the City—remained very much as Wren had left it. Here many a well-to-do trader was content to dwell in the substantial house in which his business was carried on, and to pray in the neighbouring parish church where his father had prayed before him. Now the church has, likely enough, disappeared, the monuments of his ancestors are bundled off no one knows where; perhaps the very street in which he lived is changed out of all power of recognition. In short, to meet our modern requirements, the City has become a mere mass of offices, warehouses, and gigantic railway-stations, whence issue each morning myriads of human beings who spend the day in[xii] struggling for wealth or a livelihood, and at night return to their homes, which are spread over an area some sixty miles in diameter, leaving the centre to be protected by a few porters and caretakers. The decrease in the resident population has now extended a considerable distance west.

To the observing eye, however, traces of a former state of things are still to be seen, not only in important buildings such as the City halls, the parish churches and the old merchants’ houses still existing; but in objects less conspicuous, for instance, the sculptured house and street signs which came into fashion after the Great Fire. These have no little artistic merit, and almost all are interesting from their associations. The greater part of my book is devoted to a careful description of such signs; not only the existing ones, but all of which I can find any mention. This description I have tried to make as complete as possible, and I have allowed myself some latitude, recording not only facts which appeared to me of interest concerning the particular house, court, or alley to which the sign belonged, but also its probable origin, and any story or legend that might be connected with it.

Sculptured signs are often heraldic, and from them the transition is natural to still existing crests and coats of arms carved on buildings in various parts of the town. A cognate subject is[xiii] that of old dates and inscriptions, suggestive as they are of the former ownership of property, of changes in the names of streets, sometimes even giving us glimpses of family history; as in the inscription to Denzil Lord Holles.

My researches naturally led me into the Guildhall Museum, where the need of a suitable catalogue (soon, I hear, to be supplied), induced me to put together a few suggestive notes on the curiosities relating to London which there find a home. I have added a short account of some half dozen of the painted signs still existing in the Metropolis which seemed to have more than common interest.

I have already referred to the extraordinary decrease of City inhabitants. On the other hand, in outlying districts the converse process has taken place. The little towns and villages of three hundred years ago, then some distance from London, and numbering among their inhabitants people of high birth unconnected with trade, became by degrees half rural suburbs, where well-to-do citizens sought amusement and repose. Folks of this class have now gone further afield, and for many years the speculative builder has been at work, providing for a humbler and far more numerous population. The space is covered with miles upon miles of dull monotonous streets; pleasant gardens have disappeared, hills are levelled,[xiv] valleys filled up, wells choked, the clear streams turned into sewers, nothing remaining to remind us of what has gone before except the names, and here and there an old house, a carving or inscription. The existence of a few of these mementoes has attracted me to Islington and Clerkenwell, and must be my excuse for describing in detail several of the spas and places of entertainment with which in the eighteenth century this region abounded. Thence I make my way back to the City, and while exploring the picturesque districts of Great St. Helen’s and Austin Friars, I give an account of two remarkable old City mansions lately destroyed, which may fairly claim a place; for one was distinguished by an elaborate coat of arms, and the other by an interesting date and initials. This latter was of no small architectural merit, while both were the homes of eminent citizens.

Perhaps I should add that the subject of sculptured signs has been briefly treated by me in the pages of the Antiquary, and that for the English Illustrated Magazine, of Christmas, 1891, I wrote and illustrated an article on old City mansions, including those which are here more completely described.

In the course of the text I have indicated sources of information, and have acknowledged[xv] help from several good friends. I wish here in an especial manner to thank Mr. Henry B. Wheatley, F.S.A. As I am indebted to him for an introduction to this volume, it would perhaps not be becoming to dwell over-much on the merits of his great work, ‘London Past and Present,’ based on Peter Cunningham’s Handbook; I find myself constantly referring to it, and always with advantage. Lord Tennyson has kindly allowed me to quote four lines dictated by his illustrious father, which have not before appeared in print.

The illustrations I venture to commend, for few of them are the work of my hand. They have at least one great merit, that of being scrupulously accurate.

Allusion is made in the text to Mr. Tarbolton’s valuable contribution. There is a fine drawing by Mr. F. E. Cox; while Mr. E. M. Cox contributes a whole series, the merits of which speak for themselves. The Three Kings, the Bell, and the Boar’s Head may be named as specimens. Mr. Fletcher did the charming little sketch of an inscription formerly over the entrance to Bagnigge Wells, with its grotesque head; and the editors of the Strand Magazine and the Builder have allowed me the use of blocks from their respective publications.

In conclusion, let me express a hope that the[xvi] kind reader will not class this volume in the category of ‘books which are no books,’ as Charles Lamb puts it, or even as one ‘which no gentleman’s library should be without,’ but that he will find here some useful and curious information, put together in a form sufficiently agreeable to make him wish for more.











‘Be sure observe the signs, for signs remain
Like faithful landmarks to the walking train.’

Gay: Trivia.

UNTIL the early part of the eighteenth century, when the plan of numbering came into vogue, not only inns and taverns, but shops and other houses, were distinguished by signs. The wholesale traders, indeed, were as a rule sufficiently well known not to require this distinctive mark. In the ‘Little London Directory’ for the year 1677—the oldest printed list of the kind—hardly any of the merchants have signs. The reverse is the case with the bankers, who, as ‘goldsmiths that keep running cashes,’ had[2] then hardly emerged from the shopkeeper class. Nevertheless, signs were exceedingly common; on the rebuilding of the city, immediately after the Great Fire, many of them, instead of being painted and hung out—though this continued to be the more usual method—were carved in stone and built into the plain brick fronts of the new houses, generally above or below a first-floor window. In some cases also, the name of a court or alley was thus indicated—a useful method when a large number of the population could neither read nor write. It is curious that signs of a very similar description were used by the Romans; for instance, the well-known terra-cotta bas-relief of two men carrying an amphora, and a figure of a goat, both found at Pompeii; the former almost identical in design with our conventional representation of the Two Brewers. These, however, were cast in a mould which was probably used again and again. They therefore, perhaps, indicated a trade rather than a particular house; like our modern pawnbrokers’, tobacconists’, and gold-beaters’ signs. I shall presently call attention to a London seventeenth-century sign repeated in the same way.

Our plan seems to have been adopted from the Continent, where many stone signs are still to be found. They are commonest in Holland and the[3] Low Countries. Here, perhaps ever since the Roman occupation, certainly since the days of Charlemagne, brick has been the usual building material, for it must have been that which was most easily available. Fortunately many of the old Dutch houses still survive; they hang together with wonderful pertinacity in spite of bad foundations, and beautiful specimens of picturesque architecture they are, with their step gables and stone ornamentation. The Dutch signs are often spirited and elaborate in design; they are to be found of all ages from about the year 1550 till near the end of the eighteenth century, but as might be expected, the earlier ones, which are often historical, are the best. They were placed like those in London, and generally had an ornamental border. Sometimes in place of a sign there was a pious distich or inscription, sometimes merely a date. A capital book on Dutch signs by J. Van Lennep and J. Ter Gouw has lately been published. Many of these signs from buildings now destroyed are to be seen in an annexe of the fine modern picture-gallery in Amsterdam. I am glad to say that our City authorities have shown a like respect for similar relics of old London, and some interesting specimens have found a home in the Guildhall Museum. Others have disappeared, and a certain number are still more or less in their original positions.


In the following pages I shall try to describe all the London sculptured signs of which we have any record; for convenience I have classified them, and naturally begin with those in which human beings are represented. One of the most interesting and best known is the sign of the Boy and Panyer, which is still to be seen, its base resting on the ground, and let into the wall between two houses on the eastern side of Panyer Alley, a narrow passage leading from Paternoster Row to Newgate Street. It represents a naked boy seated on a pannier or basket, and holding what, in Strype’s time, appeared to be a bunch of grapes between[5] his hand and foot, ‘in token perhaps of plenty,’ as he suggests. Within an ornamental border, apparently on a separate stone below, is the following inscription:

‘When ye have sought the Citty round,
Yet still this is the highest ground.

August the 27, 1688.’

Height fifty-two inches, breadth in the broadest part twenty-six inches. It is now much dilapidated, and seems to be in some danger of destruction, for one of the houses against which it stands is shortly to be pulled down.[1] However, I am assured that proper steps will be taken for its preservation. The property belongs by right to the parish of St. Michael-le-Querne, having been left in 1620 by Sir John Leman and Cornelius Fishe for parochial uses, but it is now handed over to the Trustees of City Parochial Charities.

The sign no doubt dates from after the Great Fire; it seems, however, to represent a previous one. Stow, writing in 1598, says that Panyer Alley was ‘so called of such a sign,’ and confirming his statement, a Panyer, Paternoster Row, appears in a list of taverns of about the year 1430, which Mr. Charles Welch, F.S.A., lately discovered among the documents of the Brewers’ Company, the landlord, John Ives, having been a member of that company. From ‘Liber Albus,[6]’ which relates to the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, one learns that in those days the sale of bread was not allowed to take place in the bakers’ houses, but only in the King’s markets. It was sold in bread-baskets or ‘panyers,’ and, the coarser kinds at any rate, occasionally in boxes or hutches.

Mr. H. T. Riley in his introduction to ‘Liber Albus’ (p. lxviii.) stated it as his opinion that the child is handing out a loaf, and that at a period somewhat later than the date of that volume (1419) Panyer Alley was noted as a standing place for bakers’ boys with their panniers. If, as seems not unlikely, this was the case, the sign would be similar to the Baker and Basket, still existing in Whitechapel and in Finsbury. Another idea—that the pannier is in point of fact a fruit-basket—seems to arise from Strype’s statement that the boy has in his hand a bunch of grapes. Fruit and vegetables were doubtless landed from the river in the neighbourhood of St. Paul’s. Porters carrying such produce may have passed through, and rested themselves in this short passage on their way to Newgate Market, which, originally for corn and meal, was after the Fire used for poultry, fruit, and vegetables,[2] before it became exclusively a meat market.

Mr. Kerslake, in a passage since referred to with approval by Professor Earle in his work on[7] ‘Land Charters and Saxonic Documents’ (1888), tries to connect the sign with a far more remote antiquity. He argues that it may have been placed there to transmit the tradition of a wheatmaund-stone (maund being a basket or pannier), mentioned in a grant of King Alfred, a.d. 889, which indicated the site of the ancient corn market, and was, in point of fact, a place where a porter carrying a load of wheat could rest it, or the base of a market cross.[3] It seems that the question of a town house for the Bishop of the Mercians having come before Alfred, he gave to Bishop Werfrith a mansion or court, ‘æt hwæt mundes stane’—thus it is spelt in the document—and probably granted him a toll on the neighbouring market. I am not aware of any further evidence in support of this theory.

The church of St. Michael-le-Querne, ad Bladum, or at the Corne, which was destroyed in the Great Fire, and not rebuilt, stood close to Panyer Alley, at the extreme end of Paternoster Row, and Stow says it was so called ‘because in place thereof was sometime a corn market, stretching by west to the shambles.’ The Rev. W. J. Loftie tells us that at present the sign of the Boy and Panyer is not on the highest point in the City,[8] being fifty-nine feet, while the site of the Standard in Cornhill is sixty feet above sea-level. Certainly it is not on the highest point of Panyer Alley. A writer in Notes and Queries has lately suggested that the highest point in the City was at or near Leadenhall Market, or the chancel of the primitive St. Peter’s Church on Cornhill.

A statuette, also representing a naked boy, not sculptured in stone, but carved in wood, is placed on a pedestal affixed to the wall of a public-house, at the corner of Giltspur Street and Cock Lane, called the Fortune of War. The spot was commonly[9] known as Pie Corner: it is hardly necessary to add that here ended the Great Fire of London. The figure in question was put up after that event; an engraving of it in Pennant’s account of London shows the following inscription on the breast and arms:

‘This boy is in Memory Put up for the late Fire of London, occasioned by the Sin of Gluttony, 1666.’

Burn tells us that its propriety was on one occasion thus supported by a Nonconformist preacher on the anniversary of the Fire. He asserted that the calamity could not be occasioned by the sin of blasphemy, for in that case it would have begun in Billingsgate; nor lewdness, for then Drury Lane would have been first on fire; nor lying, for then the flames had reached them from Westminster Hall. ‘No, my beloved; it was occasioned by the sin of gluttony, for it began at Pudding Lane and ended at Pie Corner.’

The inscription has long been obliterated, and no trace is to be seen of the little wings with which, in Pennant’s illustration, the boy is furnished; in 1816, however, they were still conspicuous, and were painted bright yellow. In that curious work—the ‘Vade-Mecum for Malt-worms’—which was written about the year 1715, the Fortune of War is mentioned as a well-known tavern. Within the memory of man it had the unpleasing reputation of being a house of call for resurrectionists,[10] who supplied the surgeons of St. Bartholomew’s Hospital with subjects for dissection. It was here that John Bishop, the body-snatcher, met his accomplice Williams, before the murder of the Italian boy Ferrari, for which and similar crimes they were hanged in 1831.

Our quaint old chronicler, John Stow, says that Pie Corner was ‘a place so called of such a sign, sometime a fair inn for receipt of travellers, but now divided into tenements.’ Strype in 1720 describes it as noted chiefly for ‘Cooks’ Shops and Pigs drest there during Bartholomew Fair.’ There are several allusions to it in Ben Jonson’s ‘Alchemist’ and other plays. The sign of the Pie probably implied the bird now usually called a magpie, but it might have been derived from the Pye,[4] or rules for finding out the service of the day in the Roman Breviary, or from the good cheer provided in this immediate neighbourhood. Larwood and Hotten mention[11] a stone sign of a Naked Boy with the date 1633 at Skipton-in-Craven.

A stone bas-relief of that mythical person, Guy, Earl of Warwick, is still preserved on a house at the corner of Warwick Lane and Newgate Street. The figure is represented standing on a pedestal in chain armour, with a conical helmet, a sword in his right hand, and on his left arm a shield chequy, or and azure, with a bend sinister ermine. This seems to be wrongly copied from Guy’s shield in the Rows Roll, which has a chevron ermine, but one arm of the chevron is, from the position of the shield, so foreshortened that it can hardly be seen; hence the mistake. Above is the date 1668, on one side the letters G. C., standing, I suppose, for guido comes; on the other a coat of arms, three mascles on a bend, to whom belonging I cannot say, so many families have this charge. Below is the inscription: ‘Restored 1817. J. Deakes, Archt.’

The general design somewhat resembles that of a large figure in the chapel of St. Mary Magdalen at Guy’s Cliff, near Warwick, which, as we learn from a modern inscription in Latin, was hewn out of the living rock by order of Richard de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, in the reign of Henry VI., to mark the spot where Guy was thought to have ended his days. This Richard de Beauchamp obtained license to found here a[12] chantry for two priests, and annexed land thereto to the value of twenty-four marks per annum. It had before been a hermitage. Stow tells us that ‘Eldernesse lane, which stretcheth north to the high street of Newgate market, is now called Warwicke lane, of an ancient house there, built by an Earl of Warwicke, and since called Warwicke Inn.’ Elsewhere he says: ‘In the 36th of Henry VI. the greater estates of the realm being called up to London, Richard Nevill Earl of Warwick came with six hundred men all in jackets embroidered with ragged staves before and behind, and was lodged in Warwicke Lane, in whose house there were oftentimes six oxen eaten at breakfast, and every tavern was full of his meat, for he that had any acquaintance in that house might have there so much of sodden and roast meat as he could prick and carry away upon a long dagger.’ At the beginning of this century the house to which the statuette belonged was occupied by a Mr. Parry; an inscription over the door stated that it had been a tobacconist’s shop since 1660, no doubt rebuilt.

A well-modelled bas-relief of a woman’s head, probably intended to represent Minerva, is on a house belonging to the Leathersellers’ Company, at the corner of Old Jewry and Gresham Street. She has a helmet or diadem, and on her breast the Gorgon’s head; an ægis also seems to be[13] suggested. On each side are festoons of fruit and flowers; the material I believe to be terra-cotta, but it is so thickly coated with paint that one cannot be sure. Archer, who drew this sign, thought it was a fragment of sculpture from a building of the early part of the sixteenth century, and it seems to have something in common with Italian terra-cotta work of that period; for instance the medallions[5] executed by Joannes Maiano for Cardinal Wolsey, and still existing at Hampton Court. Before the house was modernized, on the brick wall, below the head of Minerva, there was a carving of the Leathersellers’ Arms; and so, being used as a tavern during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, until 1871 it was known by the sign of the Leathersellers’ Arms, or latterly the Three Bucks’ Heads. Of the sculptured head of Minerva no record exists. This property seems to have belonged to the Leathersellers’ Company ever since the year 1565, when Edward Taylor, who had been its master, left by will to the company two messuages in St. Olave’s, Jewry, to distribute among the poorest people in the Poultry Compter a kilderkin of beer and twelve pennyworth of bread, and the same to Wood Street Compter, Newgate, the Fleet, King’s Bench, and the Marshalsea. In 1878 all arrears of these[14] payments to each prison at £1 1s. per quarter, viz. for a kilderkin of beer £1, and for bread 1s., having been paid to this date, and the full payment being £25 4s. a year, the company transferred to the official trustees of charities stock sufficient to produce that amount. The name of Cateaton Street was in 1845 changed to Gresham Street, no one knows why. Here, in the days of John Taylor the water-poet, there was an important inn called the Maidenhead, but this, I imagine, had for its sign the arms of the Mercers’ Company, whose headquarters were in its immediate neighbourhood. Later a seventeenth-century trade token was issued from the Roxalana’s Head in Cateaton Street, the sign no doubt commemorating Elizabeth Davenport the actress, whose favourite part was Roxalana in the ‘Siege of Rhodes.’ Her sham marriage with the last Earl of Oxford of the de Vere family, who deceived her by disguising a trumpeter of his troop as a priest, is told in ‘Gramont,’ and in the ‘Countess Dunois’ Memoirs.’ Pepys saw her in 166⅔, in the chief box at the Duke’s theatre, ‘in a velvet gown, as the fashion is, looking very handsome.’

The Woman’s Head, dated 1671, which was on a house in Paternoster Row, and has been lately added to the Guildhall Museum, was hardly a sign. Similar heads are still on the keys of a first and second floor window belonging to the old-fashioned[15] house of Messrs. W. and R. Chambers, 47, Paternoster Row. Another bas-relief in the Guildhall Museum represents a gardener holding a spade in his right hand, with the date 1670; it is rudely designed. This is a street rather than a house sign; as late as the year 1856 it was in Gardiner’s Lane, Upper Thames Street, near Broken Wharf. Mr. J. T. Smith, who drew it, in 1791, for his ‘Antiquities of London,’ adds this description: ‘Against Mr. Holyland’s stables, Gardiner’s Lane, the corner of High Timber Street, is this sculpture, but why put up I cannot learn. Tradition says the site was once gardens.’ Perhaps it was a rebus on the name of Gardiner.

Two bas-reliefs of St. George and the Dragon were erected as signs in London soon after the Great Fire, and, on the principle Detur digniori, should be described in this chapter. It was only natural that the figure of St. George should become one of our most popular inn signs; for he was regarded as the patron saint and special protector of this our realm of England. Shakespeare speaks of

‘St. George that swindg’d the Dragon, and e’er since
Sits on his horseback at mine hostess’ door.’

‘King John,’ Act i., Scene I.

A capital specimen of such a sign, though unfortunately in bad condition, is at the Guildhall Museum—presented by Mr. W. Hayward, C.E.[16] It came from a house—81, Snow Hill—which had formed part of a famous old galleried inn. Snow Hill was the thoroughfare between Holborn and the City, till in 1802 it was superseded by Skinner Street, named after Alderman Skinner, which has now in its turn ceased to exist. Snow Hill is called in Stow’s ‘Survey’ Snor or Snore Hill, and by Howell Sore Hill, perhaps from the steepness and difficulty of the ascent. Strype, in 1720, speaks of the George Inn as ‘very large and of a considerable trade, the passage to the yard being through Cow Lane.’ In Sampson’s ‘History of Advertising,’ an advertisement is given from the British Chronicle of January 18 to 20, 1762, which informs us that

The Reading Machine

Is removed from the Three Kings, Piccadilly, to the George
Inn, Snow Hill, London; sets out from the Broad Face,[6]
Reading, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, at seven
o’clock in the morning, and from the George Inn,
Snow Hill, every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday,
at seven o’clock in the morning; carries passengers to
And from Reading, at 6s. each; children in lap
and outside passengers at 3s.

Performed by { Thomas Moore and
Richard Mapleton.

N.B.—Takes no charge of Writings, Money, Watches, or Jewels, unless entered and paid for as such.


A second representation of the subject of the George and Dragon was formerly to be seen on Bennet Hill, opposite the Heralds’ College, and stood over the entrance to a small court, to which it gave a name. On it were the initials p r m, and date 1667. In ‘Remarks on London,’ by W. Stow, 1722, mention is made of ‘George Court, against the Heralds’ Office at Paul’s Chain.’ The ‘Constitutions of the Order of the Garter’ (c. iii.) ordain that ‘the Sovereign shall put upon his (the knight elect’s) neck a collar, or little chain or lace, having pendant therefrom a massive golden image of an armed knight (i.e., St. George) sitting on horseback.’

A relic of a most interesting old building is the figure of Gerard the Giant,[7] ‘carved from a twisted block of timber, distorted and ill at ease,’ which stood in the niche between the first-floor windows of Gerard’s Hall Hotel, on the south side of Basing Lane. It is about 6 feet high, and painted more or less to imitate life. Gerard’s Hall is described by Stow as ‘one great house, of old time built upon arched vaults, with[18] gates of stone from Caen in Normandy. The same is now a common hostrey for receipt of travellers, commonly and corruptly called Gerrardes Hall, of a giant said to have dwelt there. In the high-roofed hall of this house sometime stood a large fir pole, which reached to the roof thereof, and was said to be one of the staves that Gerrarde the giant used in the wars to run withal.—John Gisors, mayor of London in the year 1245, was owner thereof, and Sir John Gisors, mayor and constable of the Tower 1311, and divers others of that name and family since that time, owned it.—So it appeareth that this Gisor’s Hall, of late time by corruption, hath been called Gerrard’s Hall.’ The upper part of the building was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666, but the crypt remained,[8] and on this was built a brick house, with no remarkable feature except the above-named grotesque wooden figure, by way of sign. This house[19] was destroyed in April, 1852, when the new Cannon Street was being formed. For some months the crypt—a fine specimen of thirteenth-century Gothic—continued in existence; but as the crown of the arched roof stood 2 feet or more above the roadway, it was also pulled down. Mr. Wheatley tells us that the stones were carefully numbered, and presented to the Crystal Palace Company, with a view to its re-erection. After a time, however, they were used in making the foundations for a new engine-house. Some of the stones are even said to have found their way to Kensington, to be broken up for mending the roads. There is a good view of the crypt of Gerard’s Hall in Burn’s ‘Catalogue to the Beaufoy Trade Tokens,’ and a descriptive article in the Builder for April 10, 1852, which also gives drawings of several devices of the nature of merchants’ marks, and an unfinished inscription, cut on the wall of the entrance.

A curious sculptured sign, representing King Charles I.’s gigantic porter and dwarf, used to stand over the entrance to Bull Head Court, Newgate Street, but disappeared some years ago on the widening of King Edward Street, formerly Butcher Hall Lane. This part of Newgate Street was in Strype’s time named Blowbladder Street, and before that Stinking Lane, on account of the smell which arose from slaughter-houses and[20] poultry-shops there. Pennant has an illustration of the sign, but wrongly describes it as being over Bagnio Court, farther east, which was afterwards Bath Street, and has now been ridiculously called Roman Bath Street, though the ‘Royal Bagnio,’ whence the court derived its name, was not erected till 1679. The house to which the bas-relief belonged was No. 80, occupied in 1816 by Mr. Payne, a hatter; at that time the figures were painted, their coats being red, the King’s livery, and their waistcoats white. Not unlikely, the sign may still be in existence.

The two persons represented were William Evans and Jefferey Hudson. Evans, the porter, a Monmouth man, was 7 feet 6 inches high. On one occasion, at a Court masque, he drew the dwarf out of his pocket, ‘to the amazement and amusement of all present.’ There is an allusion to him in the contemporary ballad of ‘The Little Barleycorn.’ Jefferey Hudson, the dwarf, was born at Oakham, Rutland, in 1619. His father, a butcher, kept and baited bulls for George Villiers, first Duke of Buckingham. At nine years of age he was scarcely 18 inches high, and, according to Fuller, ‘without any deformity, wholly proportionable.’ Having entered the service of the Duchess of Buckingham, at an entertainment given by her husband to Charles I. and Henrietta Maria, he was brought to table concealed[21] in a large pie, from which he emerged before the company. The Queen took a fancy to him, so he became her page, and in 1630 was sent to France to fetch a midwife for his royal mistress, but fell into the hands of a Flemish pirate, and was taken to Dunkirk. By this misfortune he was said to have lost about £2,500. Sir William Davenant makes a supposed combat between the dwarf and a turkey-cock the subject of a burlesque poem called ‘Jeffreidos,’ published in 1638, the scene of which is laid at Dunkirk. How Hudson bore the insult is not recorded; but we shall see that he was quite capable of holding his own. During the Civil Wars the dwarf appears to have been a captain of horse, and he followed the Queen into exile. One of his adventures in France is referred to by Sir Walter Scott in ‘Peveril of the Peak.’ This was his duel with Crofts, a young gentleman of the Court, who had provoked him. The duel was fought on horseback with pistols. Crofts came on the ground armed with a syringe only; but a more serious weapon being substituted, he was killed at the first discharge. It seems to have been later that Hudson was again taken prisoner at sea, this time by Turkish pirates, and brought to Barbary, where he was sold as a slave. He asserted that his sufferings in captivity made him grow taller. After many vicissitudes he found his way back to England,[22] probably before the year 1658. In 1679, being a Roman Catholic, he was confined in the Gatehouse at Westminster, for supposed complicity with the Popish Plot. Mr. Inchbold points out, in the ‘Dictionary of National Biography,’ that he did not die there, as Scott and others have affirmed; for, ‘in June, 1680, and April, 1681, “Captain” Jefferey Hudson received respectively £50 and £20 from Charles II.’s secret service fund.’ He died in 1682. Three portraits of him were painted by Mytens, and he also figures in a portrait of Queen Henrietta Maria, by Vandyke, at Petworth. His waistcoat, breeches and stockings are, it is said, preserved.

The sculptured stone sign of the Three Morris Dancers was formerly in front of a public-house numbered 36, Old Change, which is said to have been pulled down about the year 1801. An illustration of the sign exists: the central figure is a woman. A seventeenth-century trade-token issued from here reads thus:

O. = Three Morris Dancers.

R. old.change = I.A.L.

The word ‘morris’ is derived from the Spanish ‘morisco,’ and is equivalent to Moorish. The Morris or Moorish pike was a weapon much used in England in the reign of Henry VIII.; Shakespeare refers to it in the ‘Comedy of Errors,’ Act iv., Scene 3. Elsewhere he uses the word in[23] its commoner sense; thus, in ‘All’s Well that Ends Well’ he speaks of a morris for May Day, and in ‘King Henry V.,’ Act ii., Scene 4, the Dauphin is made to say:

‘And let us do it with no sign of fear;

No, with no more than if we heard that England
Were busied with a Whitsun morris-dance.’

According to Brand, the Spanish morris was danced at puppet shows by a person habited like a Moor. Strutt, in his ‘Sports and Pastimes of the English People,’ connects it with the fandango. Some curious dancing figures carved in wood once formed part of the decorations in the mediæval town-hall of Munich; the series was known as the Maurscha tanntz. In England the dance derived from the Moors seems to have been grafted on to the rustic May games and sports, which perhaps were falling into disuse. The characters in the English morris-dance were usually Maid Marian (a boy dressed up in girl’s clothes), Robin Hood, Friar Tuck, the Fool, Tom the piper with pipe and tabor, and the hobby-horse. A rare pamphlet[9] of 1609 tells us about a morris-dance in Herefordshire, where the united ages of the twelve dancers were supposed to amount to twelve hundred years; but, unfortunately, it[24] does not give details of the performance. Waldron, in his edition of the ‘Sad Shepherd,’ 1783, p. 255, mentions seeing a company of morris-dancers from Abington, at Richmond in Surrey, in the summer of 1783. They appeared to be making a kind of annual circuit. Even so late as the time of the Queen’s coronation, there was morris-dancing of a kind in Hyde Park, as recorded by a writer in Notes and Queries.

One still sees occasionally on May Day, in the less-frequented streets of London, a dance performed by two or three sweeps to the sound of fife and drum. They are dressed fantastically; one of them is, as a rule, half concealed in a frame covered with leaves and flowers, and is called a Jack-in-the-green. They are generally accompanied by a woman. These may be considered to a certain extent descendants of the morris-dancers, and their black faces happen to carry out the old idea.

Over the doorway of No. 13, Clare Street, at the corner of Vere Street, Clare Market, is a stone sign carved in low relief, which represents Two Negroes’ heads facing each other, with the date 1715 and initials wsm. The house is occupied by a baker; its destruction is imminent, should Government adopt the plan of the London County Council for a new street from the Strand to Holborn. The neighbourhood is now squalid,[25] and many of the buildings have lately been cleared away, but we know that in the seventeenth century it was well inhabited. I may remark, as a curious coincidence, that the continuation of Clare Street towards Drury Lane is called Blackmoor—in old maps Blackamore—Street. Seventeenth-century trade-tokens with signs of negro heads are in existence; one was issued from Drury Lane, and is thus described by Boyne:

O. = A negro’s head.

R. lane.his.halfe.penny = An arched crown.

The following advertisement, which appeared in a London Gazette for 1695, has a distinctly local flavour:

‘A Black boy, an Indian, about thirteen years old, run away the 8th instant from Putney, with a collar about his neck, with this inscription: “The Lady Bromfield’s black, in Lincoln’s Inn Fields.”’

Black attendants were common in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In more than one celebrated portrait a black boy serves to enhance the charm of a fair lady’s complexion. Sir John Hawkins, after his voyage of 1564, which was partly for slave-trading purposes, was authorized to have as his crest the half-length figure of a negro prisoner called heraldically a demi-Moor, bound and captive. The Black Boy was a frequent tobacconists’ sign, still sometimes seen.




‘Gaspar and Melchior and Balthazar
Came to Cologne on the broad-breasted Rhine,
And founded there a temple, which is yet
A fragment, but the wonder of the world.’

Lord Tennyson: MS.

AN interesting group of City signs is that connected with the Three Kings, showing as it does what a hold the sacred legend, handed down to us from a remote past, continued to have on popular imagination till comparatively recent years. In the Guildhall Museum there is a stone bas-relief of the Three Kings, brought from No. 7, Bucklersbury when the house was rebuilt some years ago. The figures are represented standing in similar attitudes; they have sceptres in their right hands, the left arm being in each case folded across the breast. The figure to the spectator’s left has flowing hair; that in the centre is of negro type; the one to the right is distinguished[27] by a large moustache. A bas-relief from Lambeth Hill, also in the Guildhall Museum, is somewhat similar in design; the king on the left has a crown, the others diadems; it is dated 1667. Another sign from Lambeth Hill—the Three Crowns—was also put up in 1667, and may possibly have belonged to the same house.

The sign of the Three Kings was an appropriate one for inns, because on account of their journey they were considered the patron saints of travellers: it is also said to have been used in England by mercers, because they imported fine linen from Cologne. Bearing on this is a passage[28] to be found among the Harleian manuscripts, No. 5910, vol. i., fol. 193, which, though already quoted by Larwood and Hotten in their ‘History of Sign-boards,’ is so much to the point that I venture to give it again:

‘Mersers in thouse dayes war Genirall Marchantes and traded in all sortes of Rich Goodes, besides those of scelckes [silks] as they do nou at this day; but they brought into England fine Leninn thered [linen thread] gurdeles [girdles] finenly worked from Collin [Cologne]. Collin, the city which then at that time of day florished much and afforded rayre commodetes, and these merchāts that vsually traded to that citye set vp their singes ouer ther dores of ther Houses the three kinges of Collin, with the Armes of that Citye, which was the Three Crouens of the former kings in memorye of them, and by those singes the people knew in what wares they deld in.’

This was written by Bagford, the antiquary and ‘biblioclast,’ whose spelling was original, to say the least.

Innumerable traditions, myths, and allegories, have by degrees been grafted on to the brief Gospel narrative of the Three Magi; St. Matthew, the only Evangelist who mentions them,[10] gives no authority for fixing their number at three, nor for[29] assigning to them a higher rank than that of Magi, or disciples of Zoroaster; but we may with reason hold that they are referred to in Ps. lxxii. 10, 11: ‘The Kings of Tharsis and of the Isles shall give presents, the Kings of Arabia and Saba shall bring gifts.’ This passage is recited in the Roman Catholic offices of the Epiphany, and on it no doubt is founded their claim to kingly rank. It has been generally said that to Leo the Great, or to St. Maximus of Turin, may be ascribed the traditional number; Dr. Northcote,[11] however, considers that Origen, who was born at Alexandria, a.d. 185, had the same idea. St. Augustine taught that they were three in number, from the three kinds of gifts that they offered—gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Few subjects have been oftener treated in Christian art than that of these astronomer kings who, guided by a star from the East, came to worship the infant Saviour at Bethlehem. The early Christians painted the scene, but, following literally the words of St. Matthew, they varied their number, and showed no signs of royalty. De Rossi in his ‘Roma Sotteranea,’ speaks of upwards of twenty representations of the subject in the Catacombs. The Virgin Mother is, in these paintings, generally represented[30] sitting at the side, with the Child in her lap and the three Magi before her, but sometimes she is in the middle; and here, in order, perhaps, to keep the balance of the composition, the number of Magi is either increased or diminished; there are four, as in the cemetery of St. Domitilla, or only two, as in that of SS. Peter and Marcellinus. In Harper’s New Monthly Magazine for January, 1888, an illustration is given of this latter painting.[12] The two Magi approach from either side; they are plainly dressed with short tunics, cloaks, and Phrygian caps, and bear their gifts on golden trays or dishes. De Rossi assigns it to the second half of the third century; that of St. Domitilla is supposed to be somewhat earlier.

Let us see how the subject was treated in early mosaics. A very famous one is that in the Basilica of S. Maria Maggiore at Rome, dating, it seems, from about a.d. 432-440. Here the Child sits alone on a large chair or pedestal, His hand raised in benediction; a nimbus surmounted by a cross marks His divine origin. The mosaic is said to have been altered in the time of Pope Benedict XIV.[13]; the Magi would appear to have[31] been originally three in number, and without the insignia of royalty. In the great mosaic of St. Apollinare Nuovo at Ravenna, they approach with measured steps, and bending in attitudes of reverence: on their heads were crowns, since exchanged for baronial caps. The Virgin sits enthroned in state, the Child on her lap; two angels on either side attend them. According to the ‘Liber Pontificalis’ of Ravenna, this work was executed a.d. 553-556, under the direction of Bishop Agnellus.

The legend as it has come down to us gradually assumed concrete form. Our first detailed account of the appearance of the Three Kings is from the pen of a Western writer—the Venerable Bede—who founded it, probably, on reports from Italy or the East. In his treatise ‘De Collectaneis,’ he names and describes them thus:[14] ‘The first is said to have been called Melchior, an old man gray-headed, with flowing beard and locks; he presented gold to the Lord, the King. Gaspar, the second, was young, beardless, and ruddy; he with frankincense, as an oblation worthy of God, honoured God.[32] The third, by name Baltassar, was dark-complexioned,[15] and had a full beard; he by means of myrrh signified that the Son of Man should die.’ He then describes their dresses.

It has been said[16] that this account may probably be traced to early quasi-dramatic representations. ‘In any such performance, names of some kind would become a matter of necessity, and were probably invented at random.’ Though the names given in the above passage are those with which we are familiar, many others have, perhaps with equal authority, been applied to them.

The nationality of the Three Kings has been as much discussed as the time taken on their journey. The natural inference would appear to be that they belonged to the priestly caste of Persia; Cornelius à Lapide considers that they were Eastern Arabians. He says: ‘The more common opinion of the Fathers and Doctors is that the Magi came on the thirteenth day from the first[33] appearance of the star and the birth of Christ, whence the Church celebrates the mystery on the twelfth day after Christmas.’[17] In their old age they were said to have been baptized by St. Thomas, and to have associated with him in preaching the Gospel. Lastly, some have asserted that they were slain by idolaters; L. Dexter in his chronicle, under a.d. 70, adds: ‘In Arabia Felix, in the City of Sessania, took place the martyrdom of the three royal Magi; Gaspar, Balthazar, Melchior.’

We are told that early in the fourth century their bodies were discovered, and moved to Constantinople by the pious Empress Helena. Thence they found their way to Milan, being enshrined in the church of San Eustorgio. A few years later their fame was increased by the institution of the Feast of the Three Kings, which has been ascribed to Pope Julius, the first of that name. After the taking of Milan[18] by the[34] Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, in the year 1162, the precious relics were granted to Reinaldus, Archbishop of Cologne, who brought them to that city, which proved to be their final resting-place. Cologne, proud of the honour, adopted as her arms, argent, on a chief gules, three royal crowns or; and so we have an interesting heraldic record of this event.

In course of time, however, each of these Three Kings[19] has had a shield of arms assigned to him. Perhaps the earliest examples yet known are on the roof of Norwich Cathedral. Here we find three bosses which date from the time of Bishop Lehart, who ruled that see from 1446 to 1472; on one is a blazing star, the next has seven stars, the third a star and crescent moon. The first and last of these appear on bosses at Winchester, placed there in the days of Richard Foxe, successively Bishop of Exeter, Durham and Winchester, and founder of Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He also gave relics of the three Epiphany Kings to Portchester Old Church.[20] Lord Ashburnham’s picture of the Adoration, exhibited at Burlington House in 1891, may be considered one of the[35] most noteworthy examples illustrating this branch of the subject. It is attributed to Mabuse, and in Mr. Weale’s opinion was evidently painted about the year 1509, under strong Franciscan influence. In it are three processions in the background, of the Three Kings meeting at the Jordan. Each procession has an azure banner; on one is a blazing star, on another seven stars, and on the third a star and crescent moon. These same charges are embroidered on their robes in the foreground of the picture, and as on two of the Kings the names of Jasper[21] and Balthazar appear, we see that the star and crescent are assigned to Jasper, the blazing star to Balthazar, and the seven stars to Melchior. Different versions of the arms exist; for instance, those in a manuscript book of heraldry, which Sir David Lyndsay of the Mount, Lyon King of Arms in Scotland, caused to be executed in the year 1522, and of which Mr. David Laing published a facsimile in 1878. Here Balthazar is called King of Saba, whose assigned shield of arms is, or, on a mount vert an Ethiopian proper, habited in a tunic per pale, azure and gules, holding in the dexter hand a spear with a pennon per pale, gules and azure, and wreathed round the temples, argent and azure. Jasper is called King of Tarshish; his shield is azure, with an estoile on the dexter, and a large[36] crescent moon on the sinister, both proper. Melchior is called King of Araby, and on his azure shield are six estoiles proper. In the British Museum, on a superb jug of stoneware, made at Raaren near Achen, about 1590, are the three shields of arms of the Three Kings of Cologne. On this jug, Balthazar has the star and crescent moon; Casper, as he is here called, the seven stars; and the Ethiopian is assigned to Melchior. A work of art truly delightful, but conveying no heraldic lesson, is the long fresco of the journey of the Three Kings by Bennozzo Gozzoli, in the Riccardi Palace at Florence, wherein the rich cavalcade is shown, winding about by rock and river and wooded landscape, on which the painter has lavished all his poetry of invention and feeling for fresh nature.

In England the story of the Three Kings was often introduced into plays and pageants.[22] In the ninth report Hist. MSS. Com., Part I., is a full description, dated 1501, of a pageant given at the Guildhall, entitled ‘The 3 Kyngs of Coleyn.’ It[37] seems that managers of sacred plays were fined if they failed to give satisfaction, for in the records of the town of Beverley, under the year 1519, occurs the following entry: ‘Also 2s. received of Richard Trollop, Alderman of the Painters, because his play of the Three Kings of Cologne was badly and disorderly performed.’ Mr. Thomas Wright, F.S.A., in his edition of the Chester Mysteries, shows that they took place on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of Whitsun week. To each City company was assigned a play, twenty-four in all; to the Vintners the journey of the Three Kings, and to the Mercers their offerings and return.

The lives of the Three Kings were printed by Tresyrel in Paris in 1498, and by Wynkyn de Worde in 1516. The gifts of these Kings were recorded in the following Latin verses, which, if written with blood from the little finger of a person troubled with falling sickness, and hung about the neck, were according to an old book—‘The Myrrhour of a Glasse of Healthe’—an infallible cure; it will be observed that they do not quite agree with the description given by the Venerable Bede:

‘Jaspar fert myrrham, thus Melchior, Balthazur aurum,
Hæc tria, qui secum portabit nomina regum,
Solvitur à morbo, Christi pietate, caduco.’

A mediæval ring was found some time ago at Dunwich, whereon the above lines were inscribed;[38] it is figured in Fairholt’s ‘Rambles of an Archæologist,’ 1871. In 1794 Mr. Craven Ord, F.S.A., described a bas-relief of alabaster, in the church of Long Melford, Suffolk, representing the offerings of the Magi. It still exists in good condition; an illustration of it appeared as frontispiece to a monograph on the church printed in 1887. Another interesting memento was a leaden box found in the Thames, and drawn for Mr. Roach Smith’s ‘Collectanea Antiqua,’ i. 115; on which, in six compartments, are delineated the story of the Salutation of the Virgin and the offerings of the Three Kings.

In the Gentleman’s Magazine for February, 1749, vol. xix., p. 88, it is stated that the following prayer for protection was found in the linen purse of William Jackson a smuggler, who had been condemned to death for taking part in the murder of Galley and Chater, two Custom-house officers, but was so struck with horror on being measured for his irons that he died (a Roman Catholic) in Chichester Gaol a few hours after the sentence was pronounced upon him:

‘Sancti tres Reges,

Gaspar Melchior Balthazar,
Orate pro nobis nunc et in hora

Mortis nostræ.

Ces billets ont touché aux trois testes de SS. Roys à Cologne. Ils sont pour les voyageurs contre les malheurs de chemins, maux de teste, mal caduque, fievres, forçellerie, toute sorte de malefiee, mort subite.’


This paper had a rude illustration: Mr. Roach Smith gives a copy of it from a drawing by Fairholt. A similar prayer is still distributed at the shrine of the Three Kings.

Throughout Christendom the feast of the Epiphany, or Twelfth Day, holds an honoured place, as commemorating the appearance or manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles, more especially to the Kings or Wise Men, who came from the East to do Him homage. In Spain it is called Fiesta de los Reyes, in France La Fête de Rois. In the year 1792 it was there pronounced an anti-civic feast which made every priest that kept it a Royalist, and the name was for a time changed to Fête de Sans-Culottes.

It is hard to say whether the sign of the Seven Stars had its origin from the shield of an Astronomer King, Gaspar or Melchior, or from the seven bright stars of the constellation usually called the Great Bear,[23] or whether it was suggested by the mystic pages of the Apocalypse; but from whatever source derived, it was common in London about the time of the Great Fire. A fine sculptured specimen with ornamental border was to be seen in Cheapside as[40] late as the year 1851, when Archer drew it. A cognate sign was the Sun,[24] a stone carving of which was formerly imbedded in the front of a house in the Poultry. It had at the corners the date 1668. The neighbourhood was at one time rich in astronomical signs. In 1532 Richard Collier, citizen and mercer of London, left his messuage called the Sun, in the parish of St. Mary le Bow, to be sold, and the proceeds to be devoted to the founding of a free school at Horsham in Sussex, which still exists, and is in the hands of the Mercers’ Company. Other signs of this description in Cheapside, were the Star, the Man in the Moon, and the Half-Moon—the sign of a celebrated tavern on the north side, close to Gutter Lane, rebuilt after the Great Fire. Here in 1682 Elias Ashmole presided at a dinner, given at the charge of newly accepted Freemasons; and, from a rare print of the early part of the eighteenth century, it seems that here one of their lodges was[41] held. The following appeared in the General Advertiser in 1748:

Half-Moon Tavern, Cheapside.—Saturday next, the 16 April, being the anniversary of the Glorious Battle of Culloden, the Stars will assemble in the Moon, at six in the evening. Therefore, the choice spirits are desired to make their appearance and to fill up the joy.’

The house belonged to the Saddlers’ Company, and was burnt down in 1821; No. 140 is said to occupy the site.

A sculptured bas-relief of a Half-Moon still appears to the left of a doorway, on the north side of the Half-Moon Inn Yard, Borough High Street. It is about four feet from the ground and has on it the initials i t e, with date 1690; the size is only 13 by 10-1/2 inches. This, as far as I know, is the only inn sign of the kind in London which still remains in its original position[42] and retains its use. The Half-Moon, though not one of the most famous Southwark hostelries, has a record of its own worth alluding to. In a rough map of about the year 1542, now in the Record Office, an inn appears to be marked on this site, but the name cannot clearly be made out. The great Southwark fire of 1676 did not extend so far east. The first undoubted note I have of it, is contained in a broadsheet printed at Fleet Bridge, September, 1689, and now in the Guildhall Library, entitled ‘A Full and True Account of the Sad and Dreadful Fire that happened in Southwark, September 22, 1689;’ from which we learn that houses were blown up, and the Falcon and Half-Moon on opposite sides of the High Street were on fire at the same time. Our sign gives the date of rebuilding in the following year, and the initials of the owner or landlord. In 1720 Strype speaks of the Half-Moon as ‘a pretty large inn and of a good trade.’ It was then in the thick of Southwark Fair, and is alluded to in the following advertisement (September, 1729):

‘At Reynolds’ Great Theatrical Booth, in the Half-Moon Inn, near the Bowling Green, during the Fair, will be presented the Beggar’s Wedding, or the Sheep Shearing, an opera called Flora, and the Humours of Harlequin.’

Hogarth introduced a hanging sign of the Half-Moon into his celebrated picture of Southwark Fair, which represents the High Street looking[43] towards old St. George’s Church, just before its demolition. The foundation-stone of the present church was laid April 23, 1734, this picture having been painted in the previous year. In a quaint little book of 1815, called the ‘Epicure’s Almanack,’ the Half-Moon is described as ‘a large establishment; its convenient accommodations for entertaining and lodging guests extend on either side the inn yard, and are connected by a well-contrived bridge from gallery to gallery,’ which still exists.

Sir Thomas Browne was of opinion that the human face on alehouse signs, on coats of arms, etc., for the sun and moon, are relics of paganism, and that their visages originally implied Apollo and Diana. Butler in ‘Hudibras’ asks a shrewd question, as yet not effectually answered:

‘Tell me but what’s the nat’ral cause
Why on a sign no painter draws
The full moon ever, but the half?’

The crescent moon, as we have seen, appears among the armorial bearings of the Three Kings of Cologne. It was also a badge of the Percy family; Drayton in his ‘Barons’ Wars’ alludes to one of them thus:

‘The noble Piercy, in this dreedful day,
With a bright crescent in his guidon came.’

Retainers of the Percies no doubt often adopted it as a sign on this account.


According to Burn, a mark shaped like a half-moon represented sixpence in the alewife’s uncancelled score. He points out that in ‘Master W. H., his Song to his Wife at Windsor,’ printed in Captain Llewellyn’s ‘Men-miracles, and other Poems,’ 1656, duod., p. 40, mention is made of ‘the fat harlot of the tap,’ who

‘Writes at night and at noon,
For tester, half a moon;
And great round O, for a shilling.’

The woodcut attached to the ballad of ‘My Wife will be my Master,’ printed in J. P. Collier’s ‘Booke of Roxburghe Ballads,’ 1847, p. 89, clearly indicates such an alewife’s score.

Before I leave this branch of my subject, it will be well to call attention to the Half-Moon sign which projects over a shop numbered 36, about half-way up Holywell Street on the south side. This is the last—still in situ—of another class of London house-signs, and will doubtless soon be swept away together with the picturesque old street to which it belongs. The material is wood, boldly carved and gilt, with the conventional face in the centre. One of the horns was damaged, but has lately been repaired. Diprose[25] says it was once the sign of a tradesman who was staymaker to George III. About forty years ago the shop[45] was occupied by a mercer, and the bills made out for the customers were adorned with this sign: since then it has been a bookseller’s.

The corner-post of an alley beside it, leading into the Strand, used formerly to be decorated with a carved lion’s head and paws, painted red, and acting as a corbel to support the old timbered house to which it belonged. This may have been associated with the neighbouring Lyons Inn, once a hostelry with the sign of the Lion, demolished about twenty-five years ago, and the site of which is occupied by the Globe and Opera Comique Theatres. The alley remains, and is now called, after the sign, Half-Moon Passage, but might still be described by the unsavoury name given to it in the old maps, as Strype says, ‘in contempt.’ The old house disappeared not long since, and the lion has found a home in the Guildhall Museum.




‘Lions, talbots, bears,

The badges of your famous ancestries.’

Drayton: Barons’ Wars.

ONE or two of the signs to be dealt with under this heading are purely heraldic; others are allied to nature, and have, as far I am aware, no connection with heraldry. The stone carving of an ape seated on its haunches and eating an apple belonged to this class; it had on it the initials b m with date 1670, and some years ago was to be seen built into a wall on the west side of Philip Lane, exactly opposite the Ward School of Cripplegate Within. The space at the back was occupied by a court, the whole being now swallowed up in the premises of Messrs. Rylands and Sons. This marked the site of an ancient galleried inn of which it had been the sign. A similar piece of sculpture is or was lately in a street called the Sporrengasse at Basle. A little[47] further east in Philip Lane a modern sculptured cock commemorates Cock Court, now destroyed, where another ancient inn had once stood. Drawings of both are preserved in the British Museum.

Not far from Philip Lane, at 17a, Addle Street, there is a fine bas-relief of a bear with collar and chain; it is above the first-floor window of a house rebuilt about twelve years ago, and has on it the initials n t e and date 1670—not 1610, as we are told by Archer. Munday and Dyson, in the fourth edition of Stow’s ‘Survey’ (1633), assert that Addle Street derived its name from Athlestane or Adlestane, whose house was supposed to have been hard by, in Wood Street, with a door into Addle Street.

An interesting sculptured sign of a Bear was dug up in 1882, when the house numbered 47, on the south side of Cheapside, was being rebuilt. It was found in a damaged state 7 or 8 feet below the surface, and is now let into the wall inside the shop of Messrs. Cow and Co., india-rubber manufacturers. An old arched cellar or undercroft of considerable height still exists in the basement, and extends to a distance of some 30 feet below the street. This sign, which represents a bear chained and muzzled,[26] and in heraldic[48] language contourné, or facing to the right instead of the left, has neither date nor initials. A suggestion has been made that this is the White Bear, the sign of Robert Hicks, a mercer at Soper’s Lane end, and father of Sir Baptist Hicks, born there in 1551, who built Hicks Hall[27] and who, says Strype, was one of the first citizens that after knighthood kept their shops (eventually he became Lord Campden). This, however, is by no means probable; the sign resembles others put up after the Great Fire; moreover, Soper’s Lane, now Queen Street, is some distance east of St. Mary-le-Bow Church, while No. 47 is to the west, near Bread Street. On the opposite side of the way was a house with a similar sign, as appears from the following advertisement in the London Gazette of October 5, 1693:


‘Lost from the Brown Bear, next door to Mercers’ Chapel, in Cheapside, a large broken silver candlestick, having on the bottom James Morris engraven; also two double silver scroles of sconces, and a small scrole of a silver sconce, &c.’

Yet another sculptured sign of a chained bear exists in the City, more or less in its former position. It has on it the initials M E with date 1670, and is to be found let into a modern wall at the entrance to Messrs. Cox and Hammond’s quays, between Nos. 5 and 6, Lower Thames Street, having fortunately escaped a fire which in part destroyed the premises some years since. A far more terrible fire occurred in the neighbourhood in January, 1714-15, when above 120 houses were said to have been either burnt or blown up, and many persons perished. It was caused by an explosion in a little gunpowder shop near Bear Quay, and burned eastward as far as Mark Lane. The sign belonged perhaps originally to this Bear Quay, the site of which is now covered by the Custom House, and which in the eighteenth century was chiefly appropriated to the landing and shipment of wheat.

A Great Bear Quay and a Little Bear Quay are marked close together in Strype’s map of the Tower Ward. Beer Lane, further east, leading from Great Tower Street to Lower Thames Street, was in Stow’s time called Beare Lane. From a writ dated at Windsor, October 30, in the[50] thirtieth year of Henry III., it appears that the Sheriffs of London were commanded to provide a muzzle, an iron chain, and a cord, for the King’s white bear in the Tower of London, and to use him to catch fish in the water of the Thames; and six years afterwards, namely in 1252, the Sheriffs were commanded to supply fourpence per diem for the maintenance of the King’s white bear and his keeper in the Tower. Burnet tells us that on May 29, 1542, the French Ambassadors, after they had supped with the Duke of Somerset, went to the Thames, and saw the bear hunted in the river. Anne, daughter of the Earl of Warwick, and consort of Richard III., adopted the white bear as a badge. In 1539 a ‘Manual of Prayers’ was printed by John Mayler, at the sign of the White Bear in Botolph Lane. A seventeenth-century trade token was issued by a grocer from the sign of the White Bear, Thames Street. Another trade token, ascribed by Boyne and others to Southwark, is far more likely to have been issued from here; it reads thus:

O. philip = a bear.
R. = p.s.s.

A curious stone bas-relief of Bel and the Dragon is preserved by Messrs. Corbyn and Co., the eminent chemists, at No. 7, Poultry, being let into the wall of a back room; the idol is represented[51] by an actual bell. Larwood and Hotten say that the sign was not uncommon, especially among apothecaries; it is alluded to in the Spectator, No. 28. At Messrs. Corbyn’s there is also a very handsome mortar of bell-metal, said to have been used by the firm in early days, with an inscription in Flemish or old German, and the date 1536. Messrs. Corbyn have had a copy of the above sign inserted in the wall of their new establishment, at the corner of Bond Street and Oxford Street; it came originally from their old house of business in Holborn.

The stone sign of the house which succeeded the Shakespearean Boar’s Head has happily been preserved, and is now in the Guildhall Museum. It is well designed and tastefully coloured, that fact having come to light when a thorough process of cleansing took place some time since. Above[52] the snout are the initials i. t., and date 1668; size 18-1/2 by 16 inches. The Boar’s Head tavern will be famous for all time, as the scene of the revelries of Falstaff and Prince Hal; how far it was really connected with Shakespeare’s immortal creation has been discussed at length by the late Mr. Halliwell Phillipps. In the time of Henry V., Eastcheap was noted for its cooks’ shops, as appears from the ballad of London Lickpenny, by John Lydgate, monk at Bury St. Edmunds, in which, while giving a countryman’s description of London, he says:

‘Then I hyed me into Est-Chepe;
One cryes rybbs of befe, and many a pye;
Pewter pottes they clattered on a heape.
There was harpe, pype, and minstralsye.
Yea, by cock! nay, by cock! some began crye;
Some songe of Jenken and Julyan for there mede;
But for lack of mony I myght not spede.’

Stow, mentioning an affray in which King Henry IV.’s sons Thomas and John were concerned, adds in a note, ‘there was no taverne then in Eastcheape.’

Curiously enough, there is also no distinct authority in any of the early editions of Shakespeare’s plays for the name of the tavern in Eastcheap at which Falstaff and the Prince are supposed to meet. Theobald was the first, in 1733, to place[53] the Boar’s Head in the stage directions. Shakespeare never mentions it at all, and his only apparent allusion is in the second part of ‘Henry the Fourth,’ where the Prince asks (speaking of Falstaff): ‘Doth the old boar feed in the old frank?’ and Bardolph answers: ‘At the old place, my lord, in Eastcheap.’ A suggestion of the house may also possibly be intended in ‘Richard the Second,’ where the Prince is mentioned as frequenting taverns ‘that stand in narrow lanes.’ In the play of the ‘Famous Victories of Henry the Fifth,’ 1594, on which Shakespeare’s drama was partly founded, the Castle tavern is mentioned as the place of meeting in Eastcheap. An allusion, however, to ‘Sir John of the Boar’s Head in Eastcheap,’ in Gayton’s ‘Festivous Notes’ (1654, p. 277), may be considered to prove that this was, in truth, the tavern to which Shakespeare referred. His contemporary, Dekker, in the play of ‘The Shoemakers’ Holyday, or, The Gentle Craft,’ has the following: Eyre. ‘Rip you chitterling, avaunt, boy; bid the tapster of the Bores-head fill me a doozen cans of beere for my journeymen.’

The earliest notice of the original house which has been handed down to us occurs in the testament of William Warden, who, in the reign of Richard II., gave all his tenement called the Boar’s Head, in Eastcheap, to a college of priests[54] or chaplains, founded by Sir William Walworth, Lord Mayor, in the adjoining Church of St. Michael, Crooked Lane. The endowments of this college were forfeited in the year 1549, when the house above alluded to is described as all the said William Warden’s tenement called the Boar’s Head, Eastcheap, ‘worth by year £4.’

The Boar’s Head is first called a tavern in the year 1537, when it is expressly described in a lease, as ‘all that tavern called the Bore Hedde, cum sollariis et aliis suis pertinentiis in Estchepe, in parochia Sancti Michaelis, prædicti in tenura Johanne Broke vidue.’ An apparently genuine memento was discovered about the year 1834 in moving away soil from Whitechapel Mount.[28] It is a carved boxwood bas-relief of a boar’s head set in a circular frame formed by two boar’s tusks mounted in silver; diameter, 4½[55] inches. An inscription pricked on the back is as follows:

‘William Brooke Landlord of the Bores Hedde Estchepe 1566.’

This now belongs to Lady Burdett Coutts, and was shown two years ago at the Tudor Exhibition. In the year 1588, the inn was kept by Thomas Wright, a native of Shrewsbury: ‘Thear was chosen with me at that time out of the school, George Wrighte, son of Thomas Wrighte of London, vintener, that dwelt at the Bores Hed in Estcheap, who sithence, having good inheritance descended to him, is now clerk of the king’s stable, and a knight, a very discreet and honest gentleman;’ as we learn from the ‘Liber Famelicus’ of Sir John Whitelocke, edited by J. Bruce (p. 12). On March 31, 1602, the Lords of the Council wrote to the Lord Mayor, granting permission to the servants of the Earl of Oxford and the Earl of Worcester to play at the Boar’s Head in Eastcheap:[29] which seems to indicate that the house was an important one, probably with a yard. In the year 1623, ‘John Rhodoway, vintner at the Bore’s Head,’ was buried at St. Michael’s, Crooked Lane. This person may have kept the tavern in Shakespeare’s[56] time. Two seventeenth-century trade tokens were issued from ‘the Bore’s Head, neere London Stone,’ as it is called in the rare tract called ‘Newes from Bartholomew Fayre.’ These tokens are undated, but it seems likely that they were struck before 1666. One of them gives the name of John Sapcott as the landlord.

The Boar’s Head tavern was burnt in the Great Fire, and rebuilt of brick four stories high, with its door in the centre. Many allusions to this second Boar’s Head have been preserved; one of the quaintest was an inscription on a tombstone in the neighbouring churchyard of St. Michael’s, Crooked Lane, which I lately saw at the back of St. Magnus Church, whither it migrated when its first resting-place was covered by the approaches to new London Bridge. The epitaph runs thus:

‘Here lieth the bodye of Robert Preston, late drawer at the Boar’s Head Tavern Great Eastcheap who departed this life March 16 Anno Domini 1730, aged twenty-seven years.’

‘Bacchus to give the toping world surprise,
Produc’d one sober son, and here he lies.
Tho’ nurs’d among full hogsheads, he defyd
The charm of wine, and every vice beside.
O reader, if to justice thou’rt inclined,
Keep honest Preston daily in thy mind.
He drew good wine, took care to fill his pots,
Had sundry virtues that outweighed his fauts (sic).
You that on Bacchus have the like dependence,
Pray copy Bob in measure and attendance.’


In the second edition of Maitland’s ‘London,’ 1756, we are told that under the sign of the Boar’s Head, the following inscription was then to be seen: ‘This is the oldest tavern in London.’ Goldsmith was there in 1758, getting material for his charming ‘Reverie at the Boar’s Head,’ in which, however, he assumed that he was in the actual tavern immortalized by Shakespeare; and in 1818 another gifted author—Washington Irving—after a similar visit, wrote an essay as charming and as inaccurate. During their tour to the Hebrides in 1773, Boswell mentioned to Dr. Johnson a club held at the Boar’s Head, the members of which all assumed Shakespearean characters, one was Falstaff, another Prince Hal, another Bardolph, and so on. Johnson’s remark on the occasion was: ‘Don’t be of it, sir. Now that you have a name you must be careful to avoid many things, not bad in themselves, but which will lessen your character.’ Scruples of this kind do not seem to have troubled the great William Pitt, at any rate when he was young. In the ‘Life of William Wilberforce,’[30] by his son, the following anecdote is told by the philanthropist: ‘I was one of those who met to spend an evening in memory of Shakespeare at the Boar’s Head, Eastcheap.[58] Many professed wits were present, but Pitt was the most amusing of the party, and the most apt at the required allusions.’ This social gathering took place in the year 1780.

An interesting addition has lately been made to the Guildhall Museum, a bequest of the late Dr. Burgon, Dean of Chichester. It is a water-colour drawing of a figure from the house in Eastcheap, supposed to represent Falstaff, but so lean that it by no means embodies the idea contained in his words to the Lord Chief Justice: ‘I would that my means were greater, and my waist slenderer.’ The costume seems to be of the sixteenth century. This was copied no doubt from the figure carved in oak, 12 inches high, which was exhibited by Mr. Kempe to the Society of Antiquaries in December, 1833, and which once decorated the portal of the tavern. The figure had supported an ornamental bracket over one side of the door, a corresponding figure of Prince Henry sustaining that on the other. It was at that time the property of Mr. Thomas Shelton, brazier, Great Eastcheap, whose ancestors had lived in the shop he occupied since the time of the Great Fire. He well remembered the last grand dinner-party, which had taken place at the Boar’s Head about fifty years before. The guests came from the west end of the town, and the long string of carriages which conveyed them filled the street[59] at Eastcheap. Hutton, writing in 1785, gives a somewhat different account of the figures. He says,[31] ‘On each side of the entrance to the Boar’s Head there is a vine branch carved in wood rising more than three feet from the ground, loaded with leaves and clusters, and on the top of each a little Falstaff eight inches high, in the dress of his day.’

Peter Cunningham says that the Boar’s Head stood in Great Eastcheap, between Small Alley and St. Michael’s Lane, four taverns filling up the intervening space—the Chicken, near St. Michael’s Alley, the Boar’s Head, the Plough, and the Three Kings. The statue of King William IV. is considered to be a few feet east of the site. The house had ceased to be a tavern before Pennant wrote in 1790. It was divided into two tenements, and became Nos. 2 and 3, Great Eastcheap. Part was occupied by a gunsmith, when in June, 1831, the building, having been bought by the Corporation for £3,544, was immediately pulled down to make room for the approaches of new London Bridge. It is a curious fact that, on the opposite side of the river, at about an equal distance, stood another famous old Boar’s Head Inn, the site of which is also now covered by the approaches to London Bridge, and this had without doubt once belonged to that notable man, Sir[60] John Fastolfe,[32] who must at least have furnished the name to Shakespeare’s matchless creation. The back part of the City inn looked upon the burial-ground of St. Michael’s, Crooked Lane, as did the other on the Flemish burial-ground in Southwark. Of this latter and of the man who owned it, a rather full account is given in the ‘Inns of Old Southwark and their Associations,’ by Rendle and Norman.

From J. T. Smith and others I learn that in the early part of this century, not far from the Boar’s Head in Eastcheap, and nearly facing Miles Lane, there was a bold and animated figure of a Mermaid carved in relief, with her dishevelled hair about her shoulders, and holding in her right hand something resembling ‘a bundle of flax or a distaff’; more likely a looking-glass. I mention the sign here for the sake of convenience, though I own its classification is a difficulty, one writer placing it with human signs, and another with ‘fishes and insects.’ There still exists a Mermaid carved in relief at No. 21, East Street, Gravesend. The material seems to be cut brick or terra-cotta; it has an ornamental border with cleft pediment. Seafaring people are always more or less attracted by the supernatural, and so the sign has been a favourite one here and in Holland, where also the[61] merman, with helmet, sword, and buckler, was not uncommon. A merman and a mermaid are supporters of the arms of the Fishmongers’ Company, a fine carving of which is to be seen at the back of their present hall. The badge of the Byrons was a mermaid argent, crined and finned or, holding in the left hand a comb, in the right a mirror. It is recorded by Strype that ‘Boniface Tatam of London, vintner, buried in the parish of St. Peter’s Cornhill on the 3rd Feb., 1606, gave 40s. yearly to the parson for preaching 4 sermons every year so long as the Mermaid, a tavern in Cornhill so called, shall endure.’ But the most famous Mermaid, perhaps the most famous of all Elizabethan taverns, was that in Bread Street, Friday Street, and Cheapside, for they were all one and the same—the house standing back from Bread Street, with passage entrances from Cheapside and Friday Street.

‘Souls of poets dead and gone,
What Elysium have ye known,
Happy field or mossy cavern,
Choicer than the Mermaid Tavern?’

Another famous hostelry in old days was the Bull, Bishopsgate Street Within, which stood on the west side, opposite St. Helen’s Place. This was one of the inns used for theatrical purposes in the sixteenth century. In 1594, Anthony Bacon, brother of Francis, was lodging in Bishopsgate[62] Street, to the regret of his mother, because he was near the Bull Inn, where plays and interludes were acted, which might corrupt his servants. It was the house frequented by old Hobson, the Cambridge carrier, on whom Milton wrote his famous lines. Here, as the Spectator tells us, there was a portrait of Hobson, with a hundred-pound bag under his arm, having on it the inscription:

‘The fruitful mother of a Hundred more.’

At the Bull Inn a mutiny broke out in a troop of Whalley’s regiment on April 26, 1649, for which one of the troopers was shot in St. Paul’s Churchyard, and others were condemned but pardoned. The inn was pulled down in 1866. A curious relic then rescued from the ruins consisted of a stone 9-1/2 inches wide at the top, 7 inches at the bottom, and 10 inches deep, shaped therefore like a keystone, and having a narrow margin, within which was a carving of a bull with a vine and its tendrils, and a bunch of grapes; it was dated 1642. This stone had doubtless served as a sign or commemorative decoration, and was the oldest of its kind in London: I have not been able to find out what became of it. The Herts Guardian for March 11, 1865, records that ‘under the yew-tree, against the steeple of All Saints’ Church, Hertford, is a small ordinary-looking[63] gravestone having the following quaint inscription:

‘Here lyeth Black Tom of the Bull Inn in Bishopsgate, 1696.’

From the Bull in Bishopsgate it is not a far cry to the Bull and Mouth in Aldersgate. There are two versions of this sign, and though comparatively modern they are worth describing, partly for their quaintness, partly from their interesting associations; they are both preserved in the Guildhall Museum. One was placed over the front entrance of the Queen’s Hotel, St. Martin’s-le-Grand, formerly known as the Bull and Mouth, which was built in 1830 on the site of the old coaching inn with that sign. A statuette of a bull appears within the space of a gigantic open mouth; below are bunches of grapes; above, a bust of Edward VI. and the arms of Christ’s Hospital, to which institution the ground belonged. Beneath is a tablet, perhaps from the old inn, inscribed with the following doggerel rhyme:

‘Milo the Cretonian an ox slew with his fist,
And ate it up at one meal, ye Gods what a glorious twist.’

Another version of the sign, which is said to have been put up about the beginning of the century, was over the entrance to the Great Northern Railway receiving-house in Angel Street, formerly the back entrance to the inn yard. This, together[64] with the Queen’s Hotel and all the ground as far as Bull and Mouth Street north, has now been taken by the Post-Office authorities; the amount of compensation paid to the Great Northern Company having been £31,350.

The Bull and Mouth was one of the most famous coaching inns. Strype, writing in 1720, describes it as ‘large and well built, and of a good resort by those that bring Bone Lace, where the shopkeepers and others come to buy it.’ He also tells us that ‘in this part of St. Martin’s is a noted Meeting House of the Quakers, called the Bull and Mouth, where they met long before the Fire.’ The name is generally supposed to be a corruption of Boulogne Mouth, the entrance to Boulogne Harbour, that town having been taken by King Henry VIII. This elucidation is said to have originated with George Steevens, who has been called a mischievous wag in literary matters. Boyne thinks it might have been originally the Bowl and Mouth, both known London signs. A seventeenth-century trade token was issued from a house with the sign of the Mouth in Bishopsgate Street, and the Mouth appears in the rhyming list of taverns, which is to be found in Heywood’s ‘Rape of Lucrece.’ Stow mentions the custom of presenting a bowl of ale at St. Giles’s Hospital to prisoners on their way from the City to Tyburn, and according to[65] Parton there was a Bowl public-house at St. Giles’s. Bowl Yard, a narrow court on the south side of High Street, St. Giles’s, disappeared about 1846. Mr. Wheatley, points out in ‘London Past and Present’ that our inn is probably identical with ‘the house called the Mouth, near Aldersgate in London—then the usual meeting place for Quakers,’ to which the body of John Lilburne was conveyed on his death, August 29, 1657. Five years afterwards, namely on October 26, 1662, it appears from Ellwood’s ‘Autobiography’ that he was arrested at a Quakers’ meeting held at the Bull and Mouth, Aldersgate, and confined till December in the old Bridewell, Fleet Street.

The Bull and Mouth was at its zenith as a coaching inn during the early part of this century, just before the development of railroads. Mr. Edward Sherman was then landlord, having succeeded Mr. Willans in the year 1823; he also had the Oxford Arms, Warwick Lane. It was he who rebuilt the old house, and made stabling underground for a large number of horses. When the business of coaching came to an end, the gateway from St. Martin’s-le-Grand was partially blocked up and became the main entrance to the hotel, which, under a new name, flourished till its final closing in the autumn of 1886. On September 28 of that year, the stock of wine,[66] amounting to 750 dozen, was sold; during the winter the house was used as an adjunct of the General Post-Office. In July, 1887, the Jubilee fittings of Westminster Abbey were sold by auction in the large coffee-room. They consisted of Brussels carpets, hangings, cushions, etc., and produced upwards of £2,000. In the space cleared shortly afterwards for the new post-office, a large piece of the City wall has been discovered. The old Bull and Mouth Inn, destroyed in 1830, with its three tiers of galleries, was very picturesque: many illustrations of it exist.

A seventeenth century trade-token was issued from a Bull and Mouth in Bloomsbury, still represented by a modern public-house at No. 31, Hart Street.

A wooden carving of a Civet Cat was some years since the appropriate sign of an old-fashioned perfumer’s shop in Cockspur Street. An illustration of it appears in the Illustrated London News for December 13, 1856.




‘Figures strange—and sweet,
All made out of the carver’s brain.’

Coleridge: Christabel, pt. I.

THE sign of the Dog and Duck is to be found imbedded in the garden wall of Bethlehem Hospital, in the district formerly called St. George’s Fields. Size, 4 feet by 2 feet 6 inches.

It is in two divisions, and is dated 1716; the part[68] to the right represents a spaniel sitting on its haunches with a duck in its mouth, and appears to me a capital specimen of grotesque art. This was the sign of the Dog and Duck public-house.

In 1642, when London was threatened by Charles I., the citizens hastily encircled it with a trench and a series of forts. Among these was one with four half bulwarks at the Dog and Duck, in St. George’s Fields. In 1651 a trade-token was issued from the Dog and Duck; it has the initials E M S, and on the obverse is a design almost identical with the one I have described. There were, however, other houses with this sign in Southwark: one in Deadman’s Place near St. Saviour’s Park, and another in Bermondsey Square. Till about the middle of the eighteenth century the Dog and Duck in St. George’s Fields seems to have been only a small public-house, doubtless with a pond attached to it, in which was carried on the cruel sport of duck-hunting, then dear to cockneys. The amusement consisted in the duck diving among the reeds with the dog in fierce pursuit; a good idea of it is given by Davenant in the ‘Long Vacation in London,’ p. 289, where reference is made to another district famous for ducking-ponds:

‘Ho ho to Islington; enough!
[69]Fetch Job my son, and our dog Ruffe!
For there in Pond,[33] through mire and muck,
We’ll cry hay Duck, there Ruffe, hay Duck.’

When this ceased to be an attraction in St. George’s Fields is not recorded, but towards the middle of last century the place came into the hands of a Mrs. Hedger, who had been a barmaid. While she was landlady, Sampson, an equestrian performer, who had previously ridden at the Three Hats, Islington, set up his temporary circus in a field opposite the Dog and Duck. Crowds followed him, and caused a great increase in Mrs. Hedger’s business, so she sent for her son, afterwards called ‘the King of the Fields,’ who was[70] said to have been at the time a post-boy at Epsom, and he shrewdly made the most of his chance. The money as it came in was invested in building and other improvements; soon a mineral spring was discovered—or invented—and the place became for a time a popular health resort. A correspondent of the St. James’s Chronicle in 1761 asks, as a matter not admitting denial, ‘Does Tunbridge or Cheltenham or Buxton Wells come up to (inter alia) the Dog and Duck in St. George’s Fields?’ No less a man than Dr. Johnson recommended the waters to his friend Mrs. Thrale. An advertisement tells us of a bath there 200 feet long, and nearly 100 in breadth, and old newspapers record dinners, concerts, assemblies and all kinds of gaiety at St. George’s, or the Dog and Duck Spa. It must already have begun to go downhill when Garrick described it thus in his Prologue to ‘The Maid of the Oaks,’ 1774:

‘St. George’s Fields, with taste and fashion struck,
Display Arcadia at the Dog and Duck;
And Drury misses, here in tawdry pride,
Are there Pastoras by the fountain side,
To frowsy bowers they reel through midnight damps,
With fauns half drunk, and dryads breaking lamps.’

Finally it was closed by the magistrates, and after being occupied for a time by the School for the Indigent Blind, was pulled down in 1811, when, the Committee of the Bridge House Estate having, in the previous year, agreed to exchange[71] 11 acres 3 roods here for the ground then covered by Bedlam in Moorfields, which amounted to about 2½ acres, the erection of the present Bethlehem Hospital was begun on the site.[34] It was then or soon afterwards that our stone sign was built into the new garden wall. Several illustrations of the Dog and Duck Inn have been preserved. A water-colour in the Crace collection by T. H. Shepherd, purporting to be from a drawing of 1646, represents it as a gable-ended public-house, with a gallery on one side, standing in the fields. A view of the outside in Hedger’s time shows a brick building of considerable dimensions. Then there is a rather indecent design called ‘Beauty in distress,’ with the Dog and Duck in the distance. Lastly, a rare stippled engraving of the interior, dated 1789, shows us ladies frail and fair, with their attendant beaux, walking about and seated at tables in a long room, which has an organ at the end; the sign appears below.

Much might be written about the curious device which appears in the left-hand division of the stone sign imbedded in the wall of Bethlehem Hospital. This is the mark of the Bridge House Estate, and though in no sense heraldic, has been described as an annulet ensigned with a cross pattée, interlaced with a saltire conjoined in base.[72] It is sometimes, but wrongly, called the Southwark Arms, for arms cannot in truth be borne by any public body, which has not received a charter of incorporation, with a right to use a common seal; and Southwark was never more than a ward of the City. The device resembles a merchant’s mark, but its origin has not hitherto been satisfactorily explained. Perhaps a letter in the Gentleman’s Magazine for October, 1758, from Joseph Ames, secretary to the Society of Antiquaries, may throw some light on the subject. It seems that in pulling down a part of old London Bridge, three inscriptions were found engraved on stone tablets. The oldest dated from 1497. The second, which most concerns us, had perhaps been inserted in the building on the completion of repairs, rendered necessary by a great fire at the northern end of the bridge which occurred in 1504, and has now found a home in the Guildhall Museum. It measures 10 inches by 13-3/4, and is inscribed in Gothic characters ‘Anno Domini 1509.’ At the end of the date appears a cross[35] charged with a[73] small saltire, which seems to suggest the present mark, and was not unlikely the old device for the estate of London Bridge. The third stone, dated 1514, had on it the City sword and the initials of Sir Roger Achiley, draper and alderman of Bridge ward; they are represented below.

Here, perhaps, by way of illustration, a few words may be introduced on the subject of merchants’ marks. These, as early as the beginning of the fifteenth century, were adopted instead of armorial bearings by traders, to whom arms were not permitted.[36] They were used for[74] stamping goods, were engraved on rings, and often placed on monuments as if they conveyed a certain honourable distinction. Mr. J. G. Waller, F.S.A.,[37] has pointed out that these merchants’ marks have commonly one essential feature in common—a cross. A simple form of mark was a cross surmounting a mast or staff, with streamers or other devices, apparently taken from parts of a ship; it had a forked base. When after a time initials of names were introduced, they at first formed part of the mark, the letter A being often made by crossing the forked base. The cross, being an emblem of Christianity, was considered to counteract the wiles of Satan; merchants, therefore, naturally placed a cross on their bales as a preservative against the tempests, which it was thought were caused by him. Mr. W. de Gray Birch, on the other hand, suggests that the cross and[75] streamers so often incorporated in merchants’ marks, were derived from the banner of the Holy Lamb, which was the usual emblem of St. John Baptist, the patron saint of wool merchants—that is, merchants of the staple; but it seems that such devices were also used by the Merchant Adventurers, Salters, etc.; moreover, the cross with streamers is, in mediæval art, a symbol of the victory of Christ over death and the powers of darkness, which seems to confirm Mr. Waller’s view. The Lamb and Flag, as I shall have occasion to show, sometimes appeared on the seals of the Knights Templars.

As to the Bridge House Estate, it is held in trust by the corporation of the City of London, and is, strictly speaking, intended for the support, lighting and cleansing of the City bridges, and two bridges over the Lea at Stratford, where the City authorities hold some land. This property is said to have originated in small offerings by pious citizens to the Chapel of St. Thomas à Becket[38] on London Bridge. The earliest document relating to it which is still in existence appears to[76] be a small volume on vellum, probably dating from the earlier part of the fourteenth century, with additions made in the reign of King Edward IV. A thorough examination of all the records would be a work of great labour, but would bring to light many interesting facts.

The property has by degrees increased in value, till out of it they have been able to rebuild London Bridge and Blackfriars Bridge, and are now creating the huge structure by the Tower. Much of St. George’s Fields belonged to the estate; it had been Crown land, once attached to Suffolk House, and was included in the grant to the City, in the fourth year of Edward VI.’s reign. The land on which stood the Dog and Duck Tavern formed part of this Bridge House Estate. The Bridge House itself stood on the Surrey side of the water, in Tooley Street, and was originally a storeplace for material belonging to the City which was used in the repair of London Bridge. In course of time it became a granary and a bakehouse, with public ovens. The grain was for the relief of poor citizens in time of distress, and the ovens were used for baking it. Stow tells us that they were ten in number, six of them very large, and that ‘Sir John Throstone, Knight, sometime an embroiderer, then a goldsmith, one of the sheriffs in 1516, gave by his testament towards the making[77] of these ovens two hundred pounds, which thing was performed by his executors.’

The stone sign of a Fox sitting on its haunches, with the initials h w and date 1669, has been put up inside the house at No. 24, Lombard Street, and is in capital condition. It was found in digging up the foundations of a house in Clement’s Lane, destroyed to make room for No. 30, Lombard Street, which extends further south than its predecessor. In the seventeenth century there was a sign of a fox in Lombard Street, but some distance off; No. 73 occupies the site. A kindred sign, the Three Foxes, is said to have formerly existed, also in Clement’s Lane, but about this I am a little bit doubtful; there was a drawing of it in the Graphic of April 21, 1877, which could hardly have represented the actual tablet, for Larwood and Hotten say that it had been plastered over long before this, when the house was taken by a firm of three lawyers, who wished to avoid the rather awkward connection of ideas which might be suggested.

Of the carving of a Griffin’s Head which formerly existed in Old Jewry I know nothing, except that it was drawn by Archer in 1850. This was, perhaps, an heraldic charge of the person who built, or first possessed, the house on which it was placed. The badge of Fiennes, Lord Dacre, was a griffin’s head erased, gules, holding[78] in its beak an annulet, or; that of Polle, a griffin’s head erased, azure, ducally gorged, or.

On the east side of Shoreditch High Street, between Nos. 79 and 80, and over the passage leading into Hare Alley, is the sculptured stone sign of a Hare running, with the initials b w m and date 1725. I have observed a similar sign in Flushing. Hare Alley is mentioned in Hatton’s ‘New View of London,’ 1708. Among seventeenth century trade-tokens is one with the following inscription:

O. nicholas warrin=A hare running.
R. in aldersgate street=N.I.W

So it is given in Boyne. A pun on the name is probably intended, but unless the issuer was a veritable cockney the animal represented was a rabbit.

The Hare in combination with the Sun, having the date 1676 and the initials h n a, is still to be seen above the first-floor windows of a house, No. 71,[79] on the east side of the Borough High Street; close to the sites of the three most famous Southwark inns, the Tabard, the White Hart, and the George; of which the last-named still exists in part at least, though doomed, I fear, to speedy destruction. This house was gutted by fire a few years ago, but the sign luckily escaped unharmed. It is now painted in various colours, which was the old method, and, I think, improves the effect. The solicitors of the property have kindly let me examine the deeds, and I have gathered from them the following particulars:

In March, 1653, John Tarlton, citizen and brewer, left to his children two tenements in Southwark. In a mortgage of 1663 they are called ‘the Hare and the Three Pidgeons.’ In May, 1676, all, or nearly all, this part of Southwark was burnt down, the number of houses destroyed being, as stated in the London Gazette, about 600. A curious little pamphlet in my possession, licensed May 29, puts the number at nearly 500. On the title-page we are told that ‘St. Mary Overy’s Church and St. Thomas’s Hospital’ were ‘shattered and defaced,’ and everything ‘from Chain-Gate to the Counter on St. Margaret’s Hill on both sides the way burnt and demolished.’ I may note that on this occasion a fire-engine with leathern hose was first used, and seems to have been of great service in defending St. Thomas’s[80] Hospital from the fire, as recorded in the London Gazette for August 14, 1676. In the same month Nicholas Hare, grocer, surrendered to be cancelled a lease dated 1669, ‘of the messuage or tenement called the Hare and Sunne,’ the said messuage having been burnt in the fire; and the Tarltons let him the ground on building lease for eighty-one years from June, 1677. The rent had before been £24 a year, with a fine for renewal of £70; it was now reduced to £16 a year. The sign in question is therefore a punning one, having been put up by Nicholas Hare, grocer, after the great Southwark fire, as many signs of the same description had been put up in London a few years previously, after the great London fire. How the sun had got into combination with the hare one does not know.[39] In subsequent documents, down to the year 1748, when the house came into the possession of John Paris, it is described simply as the Hare. In his will, dated 1753, he speaks of ‘my dwelling-house near the George Inn, known by the sign of the Hare and Stirrup;’ and finally, in 1757, in a schedule of the fixtures, are mentioned ‘in the dining-room two large sign irons, and a large copper sign of the Hare and Stirrup;’ so the unpretentious stone bas-relief, though not taken down, appears to have[81] been supplemented by a sign more likely to catch the eye. It may be noted that on these sculptured signs, where letters occur, the initial of the owner, builder, or first occupant, is usually placed over the initials of the Christian names of himself and his wife the former naturally being on the left. Sometimes, however, they are all in a line, in which case the initial of the surname is most likely the middle one, as on the seventeenth-century trade tokens.

Centuries ago, when Islington was a little country town separated from London by roads which were often impassable in winter, there stood near the Green a picturesque house which, by its style, appeared to have been built in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. It was an old and general tradition that this house, which in course of time became the Pied Bull Inn, had been the residence of Sir Walter Raleigh; but this seems to be nothing more than a tradition.[40] There is, however, strong evidence that Sir John Miller, knight, of Islington and Devon, lived here some years later, for a window of a room on the ground-floor was adorned with his arms in painted glass, impaling those of Grigg of Suffolk, and in the kitchen were the remains of the same arms, with the date 1624. Nelson gives an illustration of the chimney-piece[82] in the ground-floor room; it contained the figures of Faith, Hope, and Charity in niches, with a border of cherubim, fruit and foliage. The central figure—Charity—was surmounted by two cupids supporting a crown, and beneath were a lion and unicorn couchant. Nelson thinks that the design was intended as a compliment to Queen Elizabeth. On the ceiling the five senses were represented in stucco, with their Latin names. It is not known at what time the house was converted into an inn; during the seventeenth century, no doubt, for Defoe mentions it in his fictitious narrative of the Plague.[41] The south front of the house was comparatively modern, and of different elevation to the older part, and here appeared a stone bas-relief of the Pied Bull, bearing the date 1730, the year perhaps in which this addition was made to the building. In 1740 the house and 14 acres of land were let at about £70 a year; it was pulled down in 1827. The modern public house called the Old Pied Bull, at the corner of Upper Street and Theberton Street, is about twenty or thirty yards north of the site.


In the Guildhall Museum there is a well-executed stone bas-relief in particularly good condition of a Lion statant, size 8 inches by 14-1/4 inches. No record of its origin has been preserved by the City authorities. Can this be the lion referred to by Leigh Hunt in ‘The Town’? His words are: ‘The only memorial remaining of the old palace (Somerset House) and its outhouses is in the wall of a house in the Strand, where the sign of a Lion still survives a number of other signs, noticed in a list at the time, and common at that period to houses of all descriptions.’ More likely, however, he refers to a carved lion supporting the City arms which is still to be seen on a jeweller’s shop, No. 342, Strand; but this is apparently of no great age. The occupant, who has been there thirty years, could give me no information about it. Mr. Harrison in his ‘Memorials of London Houses,’ says that Robert Haydon lodged here, when as a youth of eighteen he first came to London from Plymouth. In the seventeenth century there was a Golden Lion by York House, which, with other tenements pertaining to Denmark or Somerset House, was sold in 1650 for the benefit of the State.

Perhaps a more interesting sign than either of the above is that of the White Lion, a boldly-executed carving with the date 1724, which is still to be seen between the first-floor windows of a[84] house, now a tobacconist’s, on the north side of Islington High Street, but in the parish of Clerkenwell. This was once the sign of an inn which existed at the beginning of the seventeenth century, if not earlier. In ‘Drunken Barnabee’s Journal,’ the date of which is 1638, there occur the following lines:

‘Thence to Islington, at Lion,
Where a juggling, I did spy one,
Nimble with his mates consorting,
Mixing cheating with his sporting.’

There is a curious allusion in Pepys’ ‘Diary,’ January 21, 1667-8: ‘It seems, on Thursday last, he (Joyce) went sober and quiet, and behind one of the inns, the White Lion, did throw himself into a pond.’[42] This Anthony Joyce was cousin to Pepys; he had lost money by the Great Fire, and afterwards kept the Three Stags, Holborn Conduit. He was got out of the pond before life was extinct, but died soon afterwards. Pepys was afraid that his estate would be taken from his widow and children, on the ground that he had committed suicide, the legal consequences of which might have been forfeiture of goods and chattels to the Crown; but the coroner’s jury returned a verdict that he had died of a fever. A trade-token gives the name of the landlord at the time:


O. = A lion passant.
R. = his.half.peny. 1668.

Busby’s Folly, a house of entertainment, marked in the old maps of Clerkenwell, and of which there is an engraving in a rare volume called ‘Views of divers Noted Places near London,’ 1731,[43] possibly, as Burn suggests, originated with the issuer of this token. T. Cromwell, in his ‘History of Clerkenwell,’ published in 1828, gives us the following information: ‘The White Lion, now a public-house and wine-vaults, at the south-east corner of the street of the same name, was originally an inn much frequented by cattle-drovers and others connected with the trade of Smithfield. It then comprised the two dwelling-houses adjoining, and extended also in the opposite or northward direction, until the latter portion was pulled down to make an opening to White Lion Row, as it was then called, being that part of the existing White Lion Street which was built between 1770 and 1780. Where Mr. Becket’s shop now is was the gateway of the inn-yard, over which a lion rampant, executed in relief and painted white, was inserted in the front of the building.’ Nelson tells us that the carriage-way was immediately under the lion, and so continued till, the trade of[86] the inn declining, the building was converted into a private house. The White Lion, one would think, must first have been used as a sign by some retainer of the Howards, who, by marriage with Lady Margaret Mowbray, inherited, as a badge, the blanch lion of the Mowbray family.

From the lion to the unicorn seems a natural transition. A stone bas-relief of the latter animal supporting a shield was formerly to be seen in Cheapside, two doors east of the Chained Swan, and opposite to Wood Street; but disappeared some years ago, when the house to which it belonged was rebuilt. Peter Cunningham, usually so accurate, described it as a Nag’s Head. It seems that Roger Harris (not Sir Roger Harrison, as stated by Archer), who died in the year 1633, had owned the property, and by will endowed the church of St. Michael’s, Crooked Lane, with a rent-charge on it of £2 12s. for the purchase of bread for the poor, which was to be distributed every Sunday in the form of one penny loaf for each one of twelve poor men or widows in the parish. This amount is still paid annually by the tenant of No. 39, Cheapside, which stands on the site of the Unicorn; under the present arrangement, it is administered by the trustees of the London Parochial Charities. The sign was of old standing. In Machyn’s ‘Diary’ the entry for 1 May, 1561, records the fact[87] that ‘at afternoone dyd Mastyr Godderyke’s sune the goldsmyth go hup into hys father’s gylding house, toke a bowe-strynge and hanged ymselff at the syne of the Unycorne, in Chepsyd.’[44]

The unicorn first became a supporter of the royal arms in James I.’s time, when it displaced the red dragon of Wales, introduced by Henry VII. Unicorns had been supporters of the Scottish royal arms for about a century before the union of the two crowns. A representation of the unicorn often appeared in City shows. Cooke, in his ‘City Gallant,’ 1599, makes a City apprentice exclaim: ‘By this light I doe not thinke but to be Lord Mayor of London before I die, and have three pageants carried before me, besides a ship and an unicorn.’ This fabulous creature should have the tail of a lion, the legs of a buck or goat, the head and body of a horse, and a single twisted horn in the middle of its forehead. It was used as a sign by chemists and goldsmiths: by the former, because the horn was considered an antidote to all poisons; by the latter, on account of the immense value put upon it. ‘Andrea Racci, a Florentine physician, relates that it had been sold[88] by the apothecaries at £24 per ounce, when the current value of the same quantity of gold was only £2 3s. 6d.’ (Larwood and Hotten, p. 160.) The horn thus esteemed was probably narwhal’s horn. The arms of the Apothecaries’ Company are supported by unicorns.




‘Emblems of Christ and immortality.’

THE next group of sculptured signs I should like to consider is that in which birds are represented. Several of them clearly had an heraldic origin; but I am not aware that this was the case with the Crane—a pretty sign empanelled in a delicate moulding of small cut-brick, which stood over the entrance to Crane Court, Lambeth Hill.

It is said to have been destroyed in the year 1871. One is reminded of the Three Cranes in the Vintry,[90] not far off, mentioned by Stow, Ben Jonson, and others, the site of which is still marked by Three Cranes Wharf, Upper Thames Street. The ‘Annals of John Stow,’ continued by Howes, were ‘imprynted at the Three Cranes, in the Vintrie.’

A sign of the same description was the Four Doves, which, forty years ago, was to be seen in front of a modern house in St. Martin’s le Grand. Archer, who drew it, suggests that it was a rebus on the joint owners of the property. The four doves had the initial letters w. g. i. j. Beneath was the inscription—

‘This 4 dove Ally 1670.’

Four Dove Alley is marked in Horwood’s map a short distance south of Angel Street, King’s Court intervening. It is now covered by the buildings of the General Post Office.

Yet another sculptured sign indicating the name of a court was the Heathcock—in a handsome shell canopy, which formerly graced the entrance to Heathcock Court, Strand. It was removed in July, 1844, in spite of the remonstrance of Mr. Peter Cunningham, who wrongly supposed it to be[91] the last sign of its class in London. Two picturesque old houses fronting this court still remain. A heathcock with wings expanded forms the crest of the Coopers’ Company; but it does not appear that they ever owned property in this neighbourhood.

As late as 1866 a stone bas-relief of an Ostrich was to be seen in Bread Street, together with the arms of the Tallowchandlers’ Company. Soon afterwards the house was destroyed, and the sign disappeared for many years, till it came, by chance, into the hands of Mr. M. Pope, F.S.A., who has kindly presented it to the Guildhall Museum. The beak is a modern restoration. A rough drawing, which, however, quite serves to identify it, appeared in the Illustrated London News for December 13, 1856, when it was suggested that it might have served as the sign of a feather-dresser. Mrs. Palliser[45] tells us that Mattei Girolamo, captain of the guard to Clement VII., placed on his flag an ostrich swallowing an iron nail, with the motto, ‘Spiritus durissima coquit,’ ‘Courage digests the hardest things’; that is, the brave man is not easily daunted. Sir Thomas Browne wrote a paper on the ostrich, for the use of his son.

The Spread Eagle or ‘Eagle with two heads[92] displayed’ was, like the Ostrich, bought by Mr. Pope some time since, and has also been presented to the Guildhall Museum; he wrote a description of these signs in the ‘London and Middlesex Notebook.’ Both signs were sold by the same person; they had been in the possession of his family for many years, and he believed that his father had obtained them from the same neighbourhood in the City. The Spread Eagle is in fair condition, though the sinister head has been badly restored with cement. It has on it the initials rm and the date 1669. I have no proof as to the original position of this sign, but in the absence of fuller information one can, I think, fairly hazard the conjecture, that after the Great Fire it may have been put up in Bread Street to perpetuate the memory of the house in which John Milton, the poet, was born. We know that his father, a scrivener, but a man of good family, had adopted his own coat of arms as a sign. Aubrey, a contemporary, says he had another house in Bread Street, called the Rose. In Masson’s Life of Milton there is a transcript of a volume in the British Museum containing miscellaneous notes, which relate to the affairs of John Sanderson, a Turkey merchant, in the early part of the seventeenth century. Among other things there is a copy of a bond dated March 4, 160-2/3, in which Thomas Heighsham, of Bethnal Green in Middlesex, and Richard Sparrow, citizen[93] and goldsmith of London, engage to pay Sanderson a sum of money on May 5 following, the payment to be made at the new shop of John Milton, scrivener, at the Spread Eagle in Bread Street. The signature of John Milton, scrivener, is appended.

Some years since there existed in Bread Street a Black Spread Eagle Court, at the first turning on the left hand as one entered from Cheapside, with, as Strype tells us, a very good house at the upper end; in several directories of the eighteenth century it is called Spread Eagle Court. This is considered to have been on the site of Milton’s birthplace; the ground is now covered by modern warehouses—Nos. 58 to 63, occupied by one firm. The Church of All Hallows, Bread Street, in which Milton[46] had been baptized, was swept away in 1878. Its site is marked by a bust of the poet with an inscription, set up in the wall of a new building. The Spread Eagle was by no means an uncommon London sign; to the one in Gracechurch Street I shall presently refer. Collet,[47] in his ‘Common-place Book,’ gives it as[94] his opinion that, ‘the eagle with two necks in the imperial arms, and in the arms of the King of Spain, depicted on signboards as the Spread Eagle, signified the east and west empire, the extension of their power from the east to the west.’ During a great tempest at sea in January, 1506, Philip, King of Castile and his Queen were weather driven, and landed at Falmouth. The same storm blew down the eagle of brass off the spire of St. Paul’s Church in London, and in falling the same eagle broke and shattered the black eagle that hung for a sign in St. Paul’s Churchyard, as related in Stow’s ‘Annals,’ p. 484.

An interesting sign of the Pelican is let into the string course above a corner first-floor window of No. 70, Aldermanbury. It was the crest of two merchants who formerly occupied the house. Their monument is in the neighbouring church of St. Mary, Aldermanbury, the inscription being as follows:—

‘Here lyeth the body of Richard Chandler,
Citizen and Haberdasher of London, Esquire,
Who departed this life November 8th, 1691, aged 85.
Also the body of John Chandler, Esqre, his brother,
Citizen and Haberdasher of London,
Who died October 14th, 1686, aged 69 years.’

Above is the Pelican as a crest, corresponding with the sign. The busts of these two worthy citizens in flowing periwigs appear on each side[95] of the inscription; their names are in the Little London Directory for 1677. The church was burnt down in the Great Fire, and rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren, the parishioners subscribing liberally; Richard Chandler gave the font in 1675. The notorious Judge Jeffreys, who died in the Tower of London and was buried in the chapel there, was afterwards, on petition of his family, reinterred in the church of St. Mary, Aldermanbury. Here also Milton was married to his second wife, Catherine Woodcock. In 1890 the churchyard was opened to the public as a recreation ground.

The pelican[48] in her piety, or feeding her young with her blood, was often represented in the Mediæval Church, being considered a mystical emblem of Christ, and a type of the Holy Eucharist. Several representations of it are to be seen in St. Mary Abchurch, the living of which is in the gift of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. It was the device of the famous Bishop Foxe, to[96] whom I have alluded in my account of the Three Kings (ante); and as such appears on the woodwork of the banqueting hall of Durham Castle, with his usual motto, ‘Est Deo gracia;’ and on the string course of the choir of St. Saviour’s, Southwark. He died anno 1528. Heywood in his play of Edward IV. (4to. 1600), mentions a pelican sign in Lombard Street:—

‘Here’s Lombard Street, and here’s the Pelican;
And here’s the Phœnix in the Pelican’s nest.’

And by a curious coincidence, at the present day there are the signs of a Pelican and a Phœnix in Lombard Street, both belonging to famous insurance offices. The house[49] occupied by the latter was built for Sir Charles Asgill, Lord Mayor in 1757.

A bas-relief, similar in style to that last described, is the Swan with collar and chain, inserted below a second-floor window of No. 37, Cheapside, which stands at the north-east corner of Friday[97] Street. This is on the site of the Nag’s Head tavern, whose projecting sign appears in a well-known print of the procession of Mary de Medici on a visit to her daughter, Queen Henrietta Maria—an interesting record of the appearance of Cheapside before the Great Fire. The sign was almost opposite Cheapside Cross. The Nag’s Head was the supposed scene of the consecration of Archbishop Parker, on the accession of Queen Elizabeth in 1559. This story is refuted in Strype’s Life of Parker; it probably arose from a fact mentioned by Fuller, that the commissioners who confirmed Parker’s election (at St. Mary le Bow Church ten days before the consecration), afterwards dined together at the Nag’s Head close by. The present building must have been erected soon after the Great Fire, for a staircase, to which there is access from Friday Street, evidently dates from that century. Indeed, in the Creed Collection at the British Museum (vol. xiii.) there is a newspaper cutting said to be from the Builder, but without a date, in which it is, no doubt erroneously, asserted that the house was there before the year 1666, and remained standing when all around was swept away, and that inside traces of the fire may be observed on the massive beams. The Chained Swan is undoubtedly of heraldic origin. Ritson says it was not customary to use the English language at court till King[98] Edward III. on the occasion of a celebrated tournament, held at Canterbury in 1349, placed on his shield the device of a white swan, with the legend:

‘Hay, hay the wythe Swan,
By Gode’s soule I am thy man.’

The Mandevilles, Earls of Essex, bore as their arms, gules, a swan argent, ducally collared and chained or, which the Bohuns, who were descended from them, adopted; and for this reason, no doubt, it became a badge of King Henry IV., who was a Bohun on the mother’s side. It is represented in the central spandrel of the canopy of the brass in Westminster Abbey to Eleanora de Bohun, Duchess of Gloucester, who died in 1399. From such high beginnings the Chained Swan gradually came, as we see, to be used as a tavern sign. Another specimen, carved in stone, was the sign of a house in Eastcheap, not far from the Boar’s Head. It is mentioned by Pennant, and by J. T. Smith, but disappeared early in this century.

Here I am tempted to say a few words about the Swan with Two Necks, because, though now only represented by modern bas-reliefs at No. 65, Gresham Street, and in Aldermanbury, they recall the memory of a famous inn, and the sign is one of the quaintest in London. The Swan with Two[99] Necks ‘at Milke Street end’ is noticed by Machyn in his ‘Diary,’ August 5, 1556. In 1637, as we learn from Taylor, the Water Poet, carriers from Manchester and other places lodged at the Two-necked Swan in Lad Lane. Towards the end of last century it became a great coaching centre, and continued to flourish till steam drove the coaches off the road, when it revived in a new form. Mr. Stanley Harris, in his amusing book, ‘Old Coaching Days,’ says that ‘the gateway out of the yard of the Swan with Two Necks, through which the various coaches passed, and Milk Lane and Lad Lane, was so narrow that it required some horsemanship to drive out a fast team just started, and some care on the part of the guard, that his horn or bugle basket, which was usually hung on to the iron of the back seat of the coach nearest the roof, was not jammed against the gate-post. Between four and five on an afternoon was a time worth being in that same yard of the Swan with Two Necks for anyone who took an interest in coaching.’ The proprietor of this establishment was Mr. William Chaplin, who, originally a coachman, became, perhaps, the greatest coach proprietor that ever lived. ‘Nimrod,’ writing about 1835, tells us that at that time Mr. Chaplin occupied the yards of no fewer than five famous and important inns in London, namely the Spread Eagle and Cross Keys, Gracechurch Street; the Swan with Two[100] Necks, Lad Lane; the White Horse, which still exists in Fetter Lane, and the Angel, behind St. Clement’s. He had no fewer than 1,300 horses at work on various roads, and about that time horsed 14 out of the 27 coaches leaving London every night. When the railways came he bowed to the inevitable, and, in partnership with Mr. Horne, established the great carrying business, which still flourishes on the site of the old Swan with Two Necks. In 1845 Lad Lane was absorbed by Gresham Street.

The origin of the sign has been disputed, but it is generally considered to have arisen as follows: The swans on the upper reaches of the Thames are owned respectively by the Crown, and the Dyers’ and Vintners’ Companies of the City of London, and, according to ancient custom, the representatives of these several owners make an expedition each year up the river and mark the cygnets. The royal mark used to consist of five diamonds, the dyers’ of four bars and one nick, the vintners’ of the chevron or letter V and two nicks. The word ‘nicks’ has been corrupted into necks, and as the vintners were often tavern-keepers, the Swan with Two Necks became a common sign. The swan-marks which I have described continued in use until the year 1878, when the swanherds were prosecuted by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals,[101] on the ground that they inflicted unnecessary pain. Although the prosecution failed, the marks have since been simplified. In August, 1888, the Queen’s swan-keeper and the officials of the Vintners’ and Dyers’ Companies, during the process of ‘swan-upping,’ as it is termed, captured and nicked 343 birds, of which 178 were claimed by her Majesty, 94 by the Vintners’, and 71 by the Dyers’ Company. To the constable of the Tower formerly belonged the right of ‘lifting’ all swans which came below bridge. A swan not marked is supposed to belong to the Crown. The earliest extant record giving leave to the Vintners’ Company to keep a certain number of swans on the river is dated 1509.

An inn with this sign painted in front is still to be seen on the south side of Carter Lane; it has a yard at the back and some remains of old galleries.

Not many years ago a curious sign was placed in front of No. 16, Church Street, formerly Church Lane, Chelsea, having been dug up in the small back garden which was built over a short time previously. The material of this sign is cast iron; it is therefore not, strictly speaking, a sculptured sign, but may, I think, be fairly included in the same class. The design (see ante, 89) is like that of a seventeenth-century fire-back, and represents a cock vigorously attempting to swallow a snake which he has seized by the tail; a second snake[102] on the ground behind him rears its head as if to strike. Above is the date 1652. When this sign first saw the light, Chelsea was a detached village grouped near the old church, with fine villas of noblemen in the immediate neighbourhood. On the east side of Church Lane houses were continuous from the church to the parsonage; one of them was doubtless known as the Cock, but I have no special information about it. A curious fact has, however, come to light, tending to show that signs of this description were kept in stock, and repeated again and again. In 1874 a sign was dug up in the foundations of Messrs. Smith, Payne, and Smith’s Bank, No. 1, Lombard Street, which, on comparison, I find to be similar in all respects, and, as far as I can judge, cast from the same mould. No. 1, Lombard Street is on the site of the east end of the Stocks Market, cleared away in 1737 to make room for the Mansion House. I find from the ‘Handbook of Bankers,’ by Mr. F. G. Hilton Price, F.S.A., that in 1734 there was a house here with the sign of the Cock in the occupation of Thomas Stevenson, fishmonger. Later in the century the site was occupied by Messrs. Harley and Co., bankers. A sign of similar kind, perhaps really a decorated fire-back, is to be seen at the entrance to a Cock Tavern near Billingsgate. This appears to be considerably older. It has been very much damaged; possibly,[103] as the owner says, in the Great Fire of London.

To the genuine Londoner a more interesting sign than either of the above is the carved wooden figure of a cock, which is a relic of that famous old tavern, the Cock in Fleet Street. A house so historic needs no detailed description from me. The sign is quite worthy of Grinling Gibbons, to whom—but without authority—it has often been attributed. This formerly stood over the doorway. Some years ago it was stolen, but shortly[104] afterwards restored, and to prevent accidents it is now kept inside[50] the house of entertainment, on the opposite side of the street, to which, after the destruction of his old home, the proprietor, the late Mr. Colnett, removed. He also with pious care preserved the quaint Jacobean mantelpiece, which so many of us were familiar with before it shifted its quarters. If the kind reader wishes to refresh his memory with the sight of these and other relics, let him pay a visit to the new Cock, where he will find excellent fare and the utmost attention from Paul, who comes from the old house—a worthy successor of ‘the plump headwaiter at the Cock,’ whom Lord Tennyson has immortalized.

A newspaper paragraph has reminded me of a sign with a history, which I once saw in the Minories. In the year 1719 a boy was born of humble parentage in Whitechapel, who, as Benjamin Kenton, vintner and philanthropist, achieved a considerable reputation. He was educated at the charity school of the parish, and in his fifteenth year apprenticed to the landlord of the Angel and Crown in Goulston Street, Whitechapel. Having served his time, he became waiter and drawer at the Crown and Magpie in Aldgate High Street, not long since pulled down. The sign was a Crown of stone and a Magpie[105] carved in pear-tree wood, and the house was frequented by sea captains. Kenton’s master is said to have been among the first who possessed the art of bottling beer for warm climates. He, without reason, changed the sign to the Crown; his custom fell off; he died, and the concern came into the hands of Kenton, who restored the Magpie to its former position, and so increased the bottled-beer business, that in 1765 he gave up the tavern and removed to more commodious quarters which he built in the Minories. His monogram is still to be seen over the door. Here he soon developed an extensive wine trade, and having received excellent advice as to investments from Mr. Harley, then alderman of Portsoken Ward, he eventually realized between a quarter and half a million of money. He was a large benefactor to various charities and to the Vintners’ Company, of which he had been master in 1776. An annual dinner in their hall takes place to his memory, the funds being provided under his will. Members of the company also attend an annual sermon in memory of his benefactions at Stepney Church, where he was buried. The wine business is still carried on at the house built by him in the Minories, and here the Magpie sign has found a fitting home. The stone Crown has unfortunately crumbled to pieces.

A few sculptured signs are classed together,[106] because, though they have nothing special in common, they cannot well be fitted in elsewhere. I shall begin with a stone bas-relief of an Anchor, which has found its way into the Guildhall Museum, where it is described as having been presented by the executors of James Bare. It has on it the initials b h e and the date 1669; no record has been kept of its original position. The anchor—the emblem of true faith—is associated with St. Clement, who, according to tradition, was cast into the sea with an anchor round his neck, by order of the Emperor Trajan, on account of his firm adherence to Christianity. An anchor forms the vane of the church of St. Clement Danes, Strand; it also appears on various parts of the church, and on the tablets which show the boundaries of the parish—in fact, the parish marks, one or two of which are as old as the seventeenth century. A specimen on the house numbered 11 on the west side of New Square, Lincoln’s Inn, is dated 1693.

Sir George Buc, writing in 1615, tells us that ‘an anchor without a stocke,’ with a capital C couchant upon it, ‘was graven in stone, over the gate of St. Clement’s Inn.’ A good old-fashioned carving of an anchor was on the front of Clement’s Inn Hall, lately destroyed.

A common sign in the seventeenth century was the Bell; but long before this it had been immortalized.[107] Chaucer, when he describes the gathering place of his pilgrims to Canterbury, tells us that it was ‘in Southwark, at this gentil hostelrie, that highte, the Tabard, faste by the Belle,’ the Bell being apparently at that time a better known inn. It was on the west side of the Borough High Street, and still existed when Rocque published his map in 1746. The site is now occupied by Maidstone Buildings. Another famous Bell Inn is recorded in the list of expenses of Sir John Howard: ‘Nov 15, 1466. Item my mastyr spent for his costes at the Belle at Westemenstre iijs. viijd.’ There are still two capital stone bas-reliefs of this sign. One I happened by chance to observe below a second-floor window, in a courtyard which once was attached to the Red Lion Inn, the house in front being numbered 251, High Holborn; it has on it the initials a t a and date 1668, and is evidently not in its original position; the date would lead one to suppose that it comes from a house in the City.

A sign of more interest, at least from its associations, has lately found a home in the Guildhall Museum. It is in high relief, and was formerly placed between the first and second floor windows of No. 67, Knightrider Street; on the keystones of the three first-floor windows were the initials m t a and the date 1668. The house was swept away three years ago; I know nothing about it, except that it was a fair specimen of the plain brick buildings commonly put up after the Great Fire. There was, however, a hostelry with the same sign hard by, which had a proud distinction.




From the Bell Inn, Carter Lane, Richard Quyney wrote in 1598 to his ‘loveing good ffrend and contreyman, Mr. Willm Shackespere,’ the only letter addressed to our greatest poet which is known to exist. It is now preserved at Stratford-on-Avon. The Bell is also mentioned in that quaint guide-book to taverns, the ‘Vade Mecum for Malt-worms,’ written, it is supposed, in 1715; and a seventeenth-century trade-token was issued from Bell Yard, not yet destroyed, a passage through which connects Knightrider Street with Carter Lane. Adjoining it, there is now a modern Bell tavern, where Dickens is said to have often rested when making notes for ‘David Copperfield.’

That the Bell should be a common sign is natural enough, from its connection with the worship of the Christian Church, and the popularity of bell-ringing in England. A gold or silver bell was often used as a prize at horse-races; hence the expression, to ‘bear away the bell.’ Fine specimens of these bells were to be seen in the Sports Exhibition, at the Grosvenor Gallery, a few years since. One from Carlisle had on it the date 1599, and the following distich:

‘The Sweftes horse the bel to tak
For mi Lade Daker sake.’


In Dudley, Lord North’s ‘Forest of Varieties,’ p. 175, occur the following lines:

‘Jockey and his horse were by their masters sent,
To put in for the bell—
They are to run, and cannot miss the bell.’

A sign which has disappeared and left no trace was the bas-relief of a Bible and Crown, formerly at the corner of Little Distaff (now Distaff) Lane, within the precincts of St. Paul’s; it disappeared some time after the year 1856. Larwood thinks that this sign came into fashion among the Royalists during the political troubles of Charles I.’s reign. A more probable suggestion seems to be, that forming part of the arms of Oxford University, it indicated one of the presses licensed to sell the Authorized Edition of the Bible. A wooden carving of a Bible and Crown, painted and gilt, was, till 1853, let into the string course above a window of the house of Messrs. Rivington and Co., in Paternoster Row. It then moved westward to Waterloo Place, and is now in the possession of Messrs. Longmans, whose sign was the Ship and Black Swan, and who have absorbed the older firm. Messrs. Rivington were originally established in St. Paul’s Churchyard in the year 1711, when, on the death of Richard Chiswell the elder, his house and business passed into their hands. He has been called the ‘metropolitan[111] bookseller of England,’ and published many important works, of which a list is given in the Gentleman’s Magazine. His sign—the Rose and Crown—was changed by Charles Rivington, his successor, into the Bible and Crown. Messrs. Longmans date, it is said, from 1725.

On a level with the fourth-floor windows of a shop at the corner of Canon Alley and No. 63, St. Paul’s Churchyard, is a sculptured sign of the Prince of Wales’s feathers, with the motto ‘Ich Dien,’ and date 1670; being a handsome work of art, we give it as an illustration. The property belonged to the Dean and Chapter,[112] but is now vested in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. An advertisement in the Kingdom’s Intelligencer, No. 11, March 10, 1661-2, shows that there was a Feathers Tavern in St. Paul’s Churchyard. This, however, was at the west end; a seventeenth-century trade-token was issued from it. The heraldic origin of the feather badge, and its connection with Edward the Black Prince, has been fully traced by various authorities; the motto is usually pronounced to be low German, or old Flemish, as well as the word ‘Houmout,’ meaning high mood or courage, which the Prince also wrote in a letter. His crest or badge was sometimes three feathers, sometimes one, argent. They are placed separately on his tomb in Canterbury Cathedral. An ostrich feather was one of the badges of King Edward III., and John of Gaunt used three or one. The old belief—that this crest was won by Edward the Black Prince from the blind King John of Bohemia, at the battle of Cressy, is contradicted by modern research; for King John’s crest was not a plume of ostrich feathers, but a vulture’s wing expanded. It has been thought probable that the Prince assumed it out of deference to his mother, Queen Philippa of Hainault.

The carved sign of a Helmet was to be seen, not long since, over the entrance to Helmet Court, which was on the south side of London Wall,[113] between Basinghall and Coleman Streets, and close to the Armourers’ and Braziers’ Hall, in whose arms the helmet is a charge. The date on it was 1686, with initials h m. In the seventeenth century there was a Helmet Inn not far off. Messrs. Larwood and Hotten quote lines from Ned Ward, who says that the trainbands, after practising in Moorfields, long

‘For Beer from the Helmet in Bishopsgate,
And why from the Helmet? Because that sign
Makes the liquor as welcome t’ a soldier as wine.’

In 1550, a helmet was the sign of Humphrey Joy, bookseller in St. Paul’s Churchyard.

On each side of the spot where Bishopsgate once stood, are stone bas-reliefs of mitres, with inscriptions recording the fact. I learn that the gate was sold by the Commissioner of City Lands, on Wednesday, December 10, 1760, for immediate demolition. It had been rebuilt in 1731, at the expense of the City; when almost finished, the arch fell down, but luckily no one was hurt. The rooms in the ancient gatehouse were appropriated to one of the Lord Mayor’s carvers; he afterwards had a money allowance in lieu thereof.

Another carving of a mitre surmounts a tablet, with initials t f and the date 1786, which is built into the front of that well-known tavern, the Goose and Gridiron, and indicates that this property is or was attached to the See of London, or[114] that near this site stood the residence of the Bishops of London, before the Great Fire, which destroyed it. This mitre, by a coincidence, also suggests the supposed former sign. Within the memory of man, the Goose and Gridiron was a celebrated house-of-call for coaches to Hammersmith, and the villages west of London. Its sign, a sculptured goose standing by a veritable gridiron, still appears on a lamp in front. Before the Great Fire, there was a house with the sign of the Mitre hereabouts, perhaps on this very spot, where in the year 1642 were to be seen, among other curiosities, ‘a choyce Egyptian with hieroglyphicks, a Rémora, a Torpedo, the Huge Thighbone of a Giant,’ etc., as advertised in the News; and again, in 1644, Robert Hubert, alias Forges, ‘Gent., and sworn servant to his Majesty,’ exhibited a museum of natural rarities. The catalogue describes them as ‘collected by him with great industrie; and thirty years’ travel into foreign countries; daily to be seen at the place called the Musick-house at the Mitre, near the west end of St. Paul’s Church.’

Concerts were, no doubt, among the attractions the house afforded, till the Great Fire in September, 1666, destroyed all. It has been suggested that on the rebuilding of the premises, the new tenant, to ridicule the character of the former business, chose as his sign a goose stroking the bars of a gridiron with her foot, and wrote below,[115] ‘The Swan and Harp.’ Larwood and Hotten think that it was a homely rendering of a charge in the coat of arms of the Musicians’ Company. That the Swan and Harp was an actual sign, I learn from the Little London Directory of 1677, where one is mentioned in Cheapside.

At the Goose and Gridiron, Sir Christopher Wren presided over the St. Paul’s Lodge of Freemasons for upwards of eighteen years.[51] It is said that he presented the Lodge with three carved mahogany candlesticks, and the trowel and mallet which had been used in laying the first stone of the Cathedral. In the ‘Vade Mecum for Malt-worms,’ there is a rude drawing of the sign, and we are told in doggerel as rude that,

‘Dutch carvers from St. Paul’s adjacent dome,
Hither to whet their whistles daily come.’

Also that ‘the rarities of the house are; 1, the odd sign; 2, the pillar which supports the chimney; 3, the skittle ground upon the top of the house; 4, the watercourse running through the chimney;[116] 5, the handsome maid, Hannah.’ Foote mentions the Goose and Gridiron in his ‘Comedy of Taste.’

Yet another Mitre sign exists in London, probably far older than any of those I have described. In Mitre Court, a narrow passage between Hatton Garden and Ely Place, stands a comparatively modern public-house, let into the front wall of which is a Mitre carved in bold relief; on it is cut or scratched the date 1546, which, however, appears to be a modern addition. This is said to have formed part of the town residence of the Bishops of Ely, the remains of which, with the ground attached to it, were conveyed to the Crown in 1772. The site was afterwards sold to an architect named Cole, who levelled everything except the chapel. This last building stands hard by, and is dedicated to St. Etheldreda. The Rev. W. J. Loftie considers that it is the most complete relic of the fourteenth century in London.[117] Since he wrote, however, the restorer has, alas! been busy. In 1772 it stood in an open space of about an acre, planted with trees and surrounded by a wall; at that time the hall, seventy-two feet long, and a quadrangular cloister existed. Over the chief entrance the sculptured arms of the see, surmounted by a mitre, were still visible, and it is likely that this mitre was afterwards converted into the sign I am considering. The rural character of the neighbourhood in early days may be judged by the records of it which have come down to us. In 1327 Bishop Hotham purchased a house and lands, including vineyard, kitchen-garden and orchard contiguous to his manor of Holborn, which, with other properties, he settled on the church of Ely, dividing them between his successors the Bishops, and the convent. Again, as late as 1576, when Sir Christopher Hatton, Queen Elizabeth’s handsome Lord Chancellor, became tenant of part of the house and garden, the rent was a red rose, ten loads of hay and £10 a year; Bishop Cox, on whom the bargain was forced by the Queen, reserving to himself and his successors the right of walking in the gardens and gathering twenty bushels of roses annually. Shakespeare, too, praises the quality of the strawberries in Ely Garden, though little more than sixty years afterwards we have John Evelyn complaining in his ‘Fumifugium’ that smoke is[118] ‘suffering nothing in our gardens to bud, display themselves, or ripen; so as our anemones and many other choycest flowers, will by no industry be made to blow in London or the precincts of it.’ Ely Place seems to have been let by the see to John of Gaunt, ‘time-honoured Lancaster,’ and here in 1399 he breathed his last. The present town residence of the Bishops of Ely, No. 37, Dover Street, has been occupied by them since 1772. It has a mitre carved over one of the first-floor windows; Sir Robert Taylor, R.A., was the architect.

At No. 10, Bow Churchyard a square brick house was lately standing, which dated from immediately after the Great Fire. The office windows on the ground-floor, with their shutters to match, had an air of old-fashioned quaintness. The pediment of the doorway contained the Royal Arms and supporters carved in wood; the quarterings showed that they were put up in the time of the early Georges; let into the western part of the house, which from the arrangement of the windows seemed to have been originally divided into two, was a sign of spherical form, projecting from a square stone, at the corners of which one could with difficulty decipher the figures 1669. In the kitchen there was a leaden tank with initials and date, t. s. 1670, supplied by water from the New River. This house was[119] pulled down two years ago; the sign came into the hands of the City authorities, and is now in the Guildhall Museum, where it has been christened the Pill.

No. 10, Bow Churchyard was at the time of its destruction occupied by Messrs. Sutton and Co., who there carried on a very old-established business for the sale of patent medicines, among others that which has been known for more than two hundred years as Elixir Salutis, or Daffey’s Elixir. It was stated that the house had formerly been known by the sign of the Boar’s Head, which, together with the Royal Arms, appeared on the bill-heads of the firm. If so, there must have been frequent changes here, for in the early part of the eighteenth century it seems to have been called the Maidenhead, to judge from various advertisements in my possession: for instance, the following from a London journal of 1728, which is adorned by a portrait of a typical maiden, appropriately framed:

‘At the Maidenhead, behind
Bow Church, in Cheapside, is sold for
Two shillings the Bottle, that admirable
Cordial, Daffey’s Elixir Salutis,
It has been in great Use these 50 years.’

Confirming this statement there is a notice of the medicine dating from 1673. It occurs in Martindale’s autobiography (printed by the[120] Chetham Society), where we are told of his daughter, who seems to have fallen into a decline: ‘That which seemed to do her most good was Elixir Salutis, for it gave her much ease (my Lord Delamer having bestowed upon her severall bottles that came immediately from Mr. Daffie himselfe) and it also made her cheerful; but going forth and getting new cold, she went fast away. I am really perswaded that if she had taken it a little sooner, in due quantities, and beene carefull of herselfe, it might have saved her life. But it was not God’s will.’




‘Coats in heraldry,

Due but to one, and crowned with one crest.’

Shakespeare: Midsummer Night’s Dream.

A VAST amount of property in London is owned by the City Companies, and houses which belong to them are as a rule marked by their arms or crest. These were formerly carved in stone, and a few fine old specimens still remain, similar in style to the ordinary sculptured house signs. Sometimes, no doubt, a citizen put up on his own house, as a sign, the arms of the guild of which he was a member; and this seems to have been the case with the stone bas-relief of Adam and Eve, which was formerly imbedded in the front wall of No. 52, Newgate Street, a house now rebuilt. Eve appeared handing the fatal apple to Adam, the tree in the centre, round its stem the serpent twining; at the upper corners were the initials l s, below the date 1669. It represented the[122] arms of the Fruiterers’ Company, but I have not been able to discover that the house had ever belonged to them. At Milton next Sittingbourne, on a public-house formerly the Fruiterers’ Arms, now misnamed the Waterman’s Arms, is a similar carved sign, one of the few I have found out of London. Beneath is inscribed ‘The Fruiterers.’ The design appears on a seventeenth-century trade-token issued from Rosemary Lane. The arms of the Fruiterers’ Company, as blazoned in Hatton’s ‘New View of London’ (1708), are: azure, on a mount in base vert, the tree of Paradise environed with the serpent between Adam and Eve, all proper. Motto, ‘Deus dat incrementum.’ What Ruskin calls the ‘fig-tree angle’ of the Doge’s Palace, Venice, is adorned by a famous piece of sculpture representing this subject.

The Elephant and Castle is the crest of the Cutlers’ Company. A stone bas-relief representing it is to be seen on the east side of Bell Savage Yard, Ludgate Hill, having been placed there nearly thirty years ago, some time after the famous old inn was levelled with the ground. It formerly stood over the gateway below the sign of the Bell. In 1568 John Craythorne gave the reversion of this inn, and after his death the house called the Rose in Fleet Street, to the Cutlers’ Company for ever, on condition that two exhibitions to the Universities, and certain sums to poor[123] prisoners, should be paid to them out of the estate. A portrait of Mrs. Craythorne hangs in Cutlers’ Hall. In mediæval times the elephant was commonly depicted with a castle on its back. It was then the heraldic emblem of Rome, and appears as such on the floor of the cathedral at Siena.

The Bell Savage Inn which came to be thus associated with the Elephant and Castle, was one of the oldest and most famous hostelries in London. As long ago as 31 Henry VI. it is described in a deed as Savage’s Inn, otherwise the Bell on the Hoop, thus proving the origin of the sign, which from the time of Stow to that of Addison had caused so many ingenious but faulty surmises. Here plays were performed, and Bankes showed his wonderful horse Marocco. Lambarde, in his ‘Perambulation of Kent,’[52] tells us that ‘none who go to Paris Garden, the Bel Savage, or Theatre, to behold bear-baiting, interludes, or fence-play, can account of any pleasant spectacle, unless they first pay one penny at the gate, another at the entry of the scaffold, and a third for a quiet standing.’ It was ‘upon a stall’ over against the Bell Savage gate that Sir Thomas Wyat ‘stayd and rested him awhile,’ when foiled in his ill-advised rebellion; as related by Howe, the continuator of Stow’s ‘Annals.’ And Grinling[124] Gibbons once occupied a house in the yard, where, as Horace Walpole says, ‘he carved a pot of flowers which shook surprisingly with the motion of the coaches that passed by.’ I have a quaint little book in Hudibrastic rhyme, ‘The delights of the Bottle, or the Compleat Vintner,’ attributed to Ned Ward. The third edition is ‘printed for Sam. Briscoe at the Bell-Savage on Ludgate-Hill, 1721.’

The Cutlers’, though not one of the twelve great City Companies, is still of considerable importance, and as early as the 49th year of Edward III. is said to have elected two of the Common Council; its first charter dated from the time of Henry V. A good sculptured specimen of the arms is to be seen on the front of a house in Houndsditch, at the corner of Cutler Street. They were granted by Thomas Holme. Clarencieux in 1476, and have been blazoned thus: gules—three pair of swords, in saltier, argent, pommelled and hilted or, viz., two pair in chief and one in base. The crest should have by rights pennons displayed from the castle; it was granted by Robert Cook, Clarencieux. Supporters; two elephants or; motto: ‘Pour parvenir a bonne foy.’ The carving referred to above was put up in the year 1734 to mark property belonging to the Company, as may be gathered from the tablet on the west front of the same house, which is inscribed ‘cuttlers’ street, 1734.[125]’ The hall of the Cutlers’ Company, rebuilt after the Great Fire in Cloak Lane, Cannon Street, was destroyed for the Inner Circle Railway. A new hall has lately been erected in Warwick Lane.

Another heraldic charge of a City Company is the Leopard, a carving of which was formerly let into the front of a house in Budge Row, No. 28. It was rebuilt about twelve years ago, when the sign was placed in the passage of the new structure. The owner has kindly allowed a sketch to be taken, which is here reproduced. I believe that the property at one time belonged to the Skinners’ Company, having been part of a bequest of John Draper, in 1496. The Leopard, though not supported by a wreath, therefore represents their[126] crest. The word ‘budge,’ whence Budge Row takes its name, formerly signified the dressed skin or fur of lamb, and would seem to indicate that furriers carried on their business in this quarter, near to the Hall of the Skinners’ Company, which was devoted to the protection of their craft. In 1338, and again in 1358, the City authorities ordered that women of inferior rank should not be arrayed in budge or wool.

One of the commonest London sculptured signs is that of the Maiden’s Head, which indicates property belonging to the Mercers’ Company. I will mention one which is to be seen above the first-floor window of No. 6, Ironmonger Lane, with the date 1668, as it is the only specimen of any antiquity known to me which is dated, and being somewhat more florid in treatment than usual, it is characteristic of the time at which it was put up. The arms of the company, granted in 1568 and confirmed in 1634, are: gules, a demi-virgin, with her hair dishevelled, crowned, issuing out of and within an orle of clouds, all proper. One may presume from the date that they were chosen in honour of Queen Elizabeth. Strype says: ‘When any of this company is chosen mayor, or makes one of the triumph of the day, wherein he goes to Westminster to be sworn, a most beautiful virgin is carried through the streets in a chariot, with all the glory and[127] majesty possible, with her hair all dishevelled about her shoulders, to represent the maidenhead which the company give for their arms, and this lady is plentifully gratified for her pains, besides the gift of all the rich attire she wears.’ The Maiden’s Head also appears on the arms of the Pinners’ Company, with the motto, ‘Virginitas et unitas nostra æternitas.’ It was assumed as a badge of the Parr family, previous to the marriage of Catherine Parr with Henry VIII. They derived it from the family of Ros of Kendal.

The Mercers’ Company is very ancient; it was incorporated in the year 1393 (17 Rich. II.);[53] but long before that the mercers had been associated voluntarily for purposes of mutual aid and comfort. They came to light first as a fraternity in the time of Henry II., for Gilbert à Becket, father of St. Thomas of Canterbury, is said to have been a mercer; and in 1192, Agnes de Helles, sister of St. Thomas, and her husband Thomas Fitz-Theobald de Helles, in founding the hospital of St. Thomas of Acon, which is distinctly stated to have been built on the spot where the future archbishop was born, constituted the fraternity of mercers patrons of the hospital. The present Mercers’ Hall, in Cheapside, is built on part of this site. It was only by degrees that the merchant[128] adventurers became detached from the mercers. The last link between the two companies was severed as late as the year 1666, when the Great Fire destroyed the office held by the Merchant-Adventurers under Mercers’ Hall. The Haberdashers’ Company was a branch of the Mercers’, which broke off from them in the time of Henry VI. The word ‘mercer’ would seem to imply merchant only, being derived, through the French ‘mercier,’ from the Latin word ‘mercator.’ It is probable that those who were called mercers dealt at first in most commodities, except food and the precious metals. Herbert, however, considers that in ancient times ‘mercer’ was the name for a man who dealt in small wares; and that ‘merceries then comprehended all things sold retail by the little balance, in contradistinction to things sold by the beam, or in gross, and included not only toys, together with haberdashery and various other articles connected with dress, but also spices and drugs; in short, what at present constitutes the stock of a general country shopkeeper.’ He goes on to say that the silk trade, which in later ages formed the main feature of the mercers’ business, is stated in the Act of 33 Henry VI., c. 5, to have been carried on by ‘the silkwomen and throwsteres of London,’ who, in petitioning for that Act, pray that the Lombards and other strangers may be hindered from importing wrought silk into the[129] realm, contrary to custom, and to the ruin of the mystery and occupation of silk-making and other virtuous female occupations.

The mercers were not the first incorporated company; in this the goldsmiths, skinners, and merchant tailors may claim precedence; they, however, have long ranked the first, as exemplified in the following stanzas from a song addressed to Sir John Peakes, mercer (who was elected Lord Mayor in 1686), after a dinner given in his honour:

‘Advance the Virgin, lead the van,

Of all that are in London free,

The Mercer is the foremost man

That founded a society.

Cho. Of all the trades that London grace,

We are the first in time and place.

‘When Nature in perfection was,

And virgin beauty in her prime,

The Mercer gave the nymph a gloss,

And made e’en beauty more sublime.

Cho. In this above our brethren blest,

The Virgin’s since our coat and crest.’

More or less analogous to the arms of the City companies are the arms of the Inns of Court and Chancery. The interesting and highly picturesque gatehouse of Lincoln’s Inn, facing Chancery Lane, has on it the date 1518, and three shields. That in the centre represents the royal arms of England; to the spectator’s right are the arms of Sir Thomas[130] Lovell, K.G., who was son of the executor of King Henry VII., had been reader to the Society of Lincoln’s Inn, and gave most of the money required for building the gatehouse.[54] To the left are the arms of Henry de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln, namely, or, a lion rampant purp., placed there by the builder; which reminds one of the historic fact that Lincoln’s Inn stands on the site of the Earl’s mansion and grounds, once possessed, in part at least, by the Black or Preaching Friars. Here he had a fine garden—so productive that, besides supplying his table, it yielded, says Mr. Hudson Turner,[55] apples, pears, large nuts, and cherries, sufficient to produce by their sale in one year (24 Edward I.) ‘the sum of £9 2s. 3d. in money of that time, equal to about £135 of modern currency.’ The Earl of Lincoln died without male issue in 1312, but bequeathed his name to the property, which passed into legal hands. His arms are still retained by the honourable society,[131] though it has been said that Sir James Lea at one time proposed another device.

The Winged Horse, or Pegasus, representing the arms of the Society of the Inner Temple, ornaments the well-known gatehouse in Fleet Street, which dates from 1607, and has in front the feathers of Henry, Prince of Wales, eldest son of James I. A little west is the gatehouse to the Middle Temple, built in 1684, from the designs of Sir Christopher Wren. It has sculptured on it, the Lamb and Flag, or Agnus Dei:

‘As by the Templars’ haunts you go,

The Horse and Lamb display’d

In emblematic figures show

The merits of their trade;

‘That clients may infer from thence

How just is their profession,

The lamb sets forth their innocence,

The horse their expedition.’

The Winged Horse is supposed by some to be a corruption of the ancient seal of two Knights Templars riding on one horse, indicative of their original poverty; for here they had their headquarters in England ‘till they decayed through pride.’ The two designs, however, resemble each other to a very slight extent, and in point of fact have no connection. It seems that in the fifth year of Queen Elizabeth’s reign the Society of the Inner Temple adopted, as a heraldic charge,[132] the Pegasus with the motto ‘Volat ad æthera virtus,’ at the suggestion of Gerard Leigh, one of its Benchers, a pedantic student of heraldry, the idea being that the knowledge which might be gained at this seat of learning would raise its possessor to the highest pinnacle of fame. Sir George Buc,[56] master of the revels, appears to be responsible for the lamb and flag. He tells us that in 1615, more than fifty years after the adoption of the Pegasus by the twin society, the authorities of the Middle Temple had neither arms nor seal, and to supply the want he suggested either ‘two armed knights riding upon one horse, or a field argent charged with a cross gules, and on the nombril thereof a Holy Lamb;’ the first having been, as I have said, the ancient seal of the Knights Templars, and the second what they appear to have assumed later, when they became prosperous. This at least is Sir George Buc’s statement, on the authority of an illuminated manuscript containing the statutes of their order, which belonged to Lord William Howard of Naworth. Mr. Barrington thought that the Holy Lamb, as a representation of Christ, should be encircled by a nimbus. To confirm this view and to prove that the Templars did use the device, he gives a quotation from Blomefield’s MS. collections for[133] Cambridgeshire, wherein the Holy Lamb, with its nimbus and banner, appears on the seal of a deed dated 1273, by which Guido de Foresta, ‘magister militiæ Templi in Anglia et fratres ejusdem militiæ,’ leased out certain lands in Pampesworth, Cambridgeshire, the rent to be paid, ‘domino Templi,’ at Dunworth of the same county. Round the seal is the following inscription, ‘ sigillvm templi.’ From the fact that Sir George Buc suggested to the Society of the Middle Temple the two devices which had been used by the Templars, it is evident that the Pegasus, already adopted by the Inner Temple, was not considered in his time to have any connection with the original seal of the Knights Templars.

The fourth of the great Inns of Court—Gray’s Inn—derived its name from the noble family of the Greys of Wilton, having been originally their dwelling, just as Lincoln’s Inn had been the dwelling of an Earl of Lincoln, and several of the Inns of Chancery were originally the homes of other well-known personages. The society seems first to have used the arms of the Grey family; afterwards they adopted the Griffin’s Head[57] as their device, and it still adorns the pillars of the gateway from Field Court into those delightful[134] gardens which were first planted, it is thought, under the direction of no less a man than Francis Bacon. Once they were the resort of fine ladies, but fashion has long since deserted them. The trees, however, are still fine, the aspect of the place ‘reverend and law-abiding.’ Here there is, or was, a rookery, which has given pleasure to generations of Londoners. Early last summer (1892) the Benchers, anxious to utilize so eligible a site, erected a corrugated iron structure some 90 feet long, at the south-west corner of the gardens. They have tried to make it look beautiful by partly covering it with trellis-work, and by having the wooden roof painted tile colour. The rooks, however, showed their resentment by flying off in a body, and it remains a question whether they will again make the gardens their permanent home; for now I hear that this erection, which has the negative merit of being easily removable, is to be replaced by a chapel ‘in the Elizabethan or late Tudor style,’ the windows to be fitted—or misfitted—with glass from the present chapel, which will be turned to secular use. A little more than a century ago Gray’s Inn was quite on the outskirts of London,[58] ‘with an uninterrupted prospect of the neighbouring fields as far as Highgate and Hampstead.’

Centuries before the Great Fire, carved shields[135] of arms were doubtless common in London on public buildings and the houses of great people, as decorations, and as guides to the unlettered class, which then formed a vast majority of the population. Sometimes—at any rate, in the earlier days—these arms were not carved in stone, but painted and hung out, as we learn from the evidence of the poet Chaucer[59] in the Scrope and Grosvenor dispute, which also gives us an interesting glimpse of the early history of one of our noble families. He says that, in walking up Friday Street, he once saw a sign hung out with ‘arms painted and put there by a knight of the County of Chester, called Sir Robert Grosvenor’; and that was the first time he ever heard of Sir Robert Grosvenor, or his ancestors, or anyone bearing the name of Grosvenor.

The first armorial shield to which I shall refer under this heading is from a public building, and though comparatively modern it should be specially interesting to all citizens of London. I allude to the Royal Arms[60]—a well-executed piece of sculpture—which is used as the sign of a public-house[136] rebuilt quite recently, on the south side of Newcomen Street, late King Street, Southwark. This was taken from the gatehouse at the Southwark end of old London Bridge, which was pulled down in 1760, in consequence of an Act of Parliament passed four years previously, for the destruction of the buildings on London Bridge and the widening of the roadway.

King Street was then being made from High Street to Snow Fields, through the former Axe and Bottle Yard, and these arms,[137] having been bought by Mr. Williams, a stonemason who was employed in the construction of King Street, were placed by him more or less in their present position. In a view of the bridgegate engraved for Noorthouck’s ‘History of London’ (p. 543), the arms appear with the inscription, g ii r, afterwards changed to g iii, as we now see it.

There are still a few carved shields of arms in London, dating from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, which marked the property of private individuals. Until quite recently the district known as Cloth Fair and Bartholomew Close, in the immediate neighbourhood of the Church of St. Bartholomew the Great, was distinguished by its air of picturesque antiquity. Some quaint old houses still remain; on one of them—No. 22, Cloth Fair—is to be seen a relic which carries us back almost to the time of the dissolution of the monasteries. This is the armorial shield of Richard Rich, who was made a peer in 1547; or more likely, perhaps, of one of his immediate descendants. It is surmounted by a coronet, and has been blazoned thus: gules, a chevron between three crosses botonnée or.[61] The founder of the Rich family was a mercer in the City, and Sheriff in the year[138] 1442; it was his great-grandson Richard who, temp. Henry VIII., became Solicitor-General, Speaker of the House of Commons, and who took so scandalous a part in the trial and conviction of Sir Thomas More. In 1544 the site of St. Bartholomew’s Priory was granted by the King to his favourite, there described as Sir Richard Rich, knight, in consideration of the sum of £1,064 11s. 3d., as appears from the original deed; and here he is said to have lived in the Prior’s mansion as Lord Chancellor. The tolls of the fair[62] were also granted to him. It was provided that the church within the Great Close was to be a parish church for ever, and vacant ground adjoining it on the west side, 87 feet in length by 60 feet in breadth, where the destroyed nave had stood, was to be taken for a churchyard, the site of the fair being no longer used as a burial-ground.

Sir Richard Rich was made a baron in 1547. Queen Mary revoked the grant in his favour, and placed here a convent of Preaching Friars, who[139] under Father Person began to rebuild the nave of the church, but they were turned out when Elizabeth came to the throne, and the following year there was a fresh grant to the purchaser, by the title of Richard Lord Rich, and his heirs, ‘in free socage.’ The monastery with its precincts had been enclosed by a wall which contained, besides the numerous monastic offices, a large garden and court, fifty-one tenements, a mulberry garden (one of the first planted in this country), and the famous churchyard wherein had been held, since the time of Henry I., the great annual gathering for clothiers and drapers. This began to fall off, as a cloth fair,[63] towards the end of the sixteenth century, but continued to be more or less of a London carnival, and in some sort lingered on as late as the year 1855. The first Lord Rich died in 1560; during his lifetime little building seems to have taken place, for in Ralph Aggas’s map, which is considered to be of about this date, the space north of the church has no houses upon it, and the priory wall abutting on Long Lane still exists. Very soon, however, the land was turned to more profitable account, and we find Stow[64] writing at the end of the century:[140] ‘Now notwithstanding all proclamations of the prince, and also the Act of Parliament, in place of booths within this churchyard (only let out in the fair time, and closed up all the year after), be many large houses built, and the north wall towards Long Lane taken down, a number of tenements are there erected for such as will give great rents.’ The houses in the street now called Cloth Fair probably followed the old line of booths. The first Lord Rich’s grandson Robert, who made such an ill-assorted marriage with Lady Penelope Devereux, Sidney’s ‘Stella,’ was raised to the dignity of Earl of Warwick in 1618. His second son Henry was created Baron Kensington and Earl of Holland. The titles were merged in the next generation, and became extinct in the year 1759, when the tolls of the fair descended to the Edwardes family, cousins of the Riches, in whose favour the Kensington title was revived. Lord Kensington sold these tolls to the Corporation of London in 1839.

Before we quit this quaint neighbourhood let us peep into the venerable Church of St. Bartholomew the Great. What an idea it gives one of the splendour of the old priory church, of which it formed but a part, little more than the choir remaining! Much ‘restoration’ is in progress here, and it is difficult at a glance to distinguish between the genuine Norman work[141] and the ingenious nineteenth-century Norman which has lately been added. Fortunately the fine perpendicular oriel on the south side of the triforium has so far escaped intact. It was probably inserted by Prior Bolton (who died in 1532), and has on it, carved in stone, expressive of his name, a tun pierced by a bird-bolt, or arrow. The rebus occurs again on the spandrel of a Tudor doorway which leads into the modern vestry. This Prior seems to have taken pleasure in building, and in seeing his name thus perpetuated.[65] He reconstructed the manor-house of Canonbury, Islington, north of the parish church, which had been given to the convent by Ralph de Berners, and as early as the year 1253 is enumerated among his possessions. Here is also to be found the Prior’s rebus, on a doorway inside No. 6, Canonbury Place, which, with No. 7, is now used for a girls’ school. It also formerly appeared cut in stone on two parts of the wall originally connected with the old brick tower, which is so picturesque and so full of interesting associations.


It is, however, generally thought that the tower, as we see it, was built under the direction of Sir John Spencer, the wealthy merchant, afterwards the purchaser of Crosby Hall, who bought this place from Thomas Lord Wentworth in 1570. Eleven years afterwards Queen Elizabeth visited him here, and towards the end of the century he made great alterations in the building. Two of the rooms attached to Canonbury Tower are finely panelled from floor to ceiling; the very handsome carved chimney-piece in the upper room bears the arms of Sir John Spencer. Canonbury House is now occupied by a Constitutional Club. Parts of the building have been modernized of late years, but the panelled rooms are still much in their original state. The pretty strip of garden at the back contains fruit-trees which Goldsmith may have seen, when he lodged here in the summer of 1767.

We must not forget that the original building occupied a considerable part of Canonbury Place. We have evidence of this in Prior Bolton’s rebus at No. 6; and traces of Sir John Spencer’s work are to be seen in this and the adjoining houses, where there are no less than five richly-stuccoed ceilings, two of them with the date 1599. Here also, inside the entrance, are the arms[66] of Sir[143] Walter Dennys, carved in oak. They were formerly over a fireplace, and when moved to their present position, many years ago, the following inscription was placed underneath:

‘These were the arms of Sir Walter Dennys of Gloucestershire, who was made a Knight by bathing at the creation of Arthur, Prince of Wales in Nov. 1489, and died Sept. 1, 21 Henry VII., and was buried at the church of Olviston in Gloucestershire. He married Margaret, daughter of Sir Rich Weston, Knt., to which family Canonbury House formerly belonged. The carving is therefore 280 years old.’

The latter part of the inscription is clearly erroneous, as the manor-house was not in lay hands till after the dissolution. Mr. Nelson thought that these arms were placed here by some descendant of the Dennys or Weston family, who might afterwards have lived at Canonbury—perhaps one of the Comptons, Joan, a daughter of Sir Walter, having married into that family. The Comptons did not come into possession till 1610, when William, the second lord, succeeded Sir John Spencer, having married Elizabeth, his daughter and sole heiress. I need hardly say that they were the direct ancestors of the present Marquis of Northampton, who still owns the property.

A famous galleried inn, the Old Bell,[67] Holborn,[144] now almost unique of its kind, has, imbedded in the front, the sculptured arms of Fowler of Islington, namely, azure, on a chevron argent, between three herons or, as many crosses formée gules. They are surmounted by an esquire’s helmet, with a crest, which seems to be an eagle’s head with a sprig of some sort in its beak. The first man of this family who made any mark was Thomas Fowler, lord of the manor of Bernersbury[68] or Barnsbury, Islington, in 1548. From him descended Sir Thomas Fowler, knight, Deputy Lieutenant of the county of Middlesex, and apparently one of the jurors at the trial of Sir Walter Raleigh, at Winchester, in 1603. If the tradition of Sir Walter’s residence at Islington is true, they must have lived within a stone’s throw of each other at one time.[145] Before being knighted, Thomas Fowler had married Jane, daughter of Gregory Charlet, citizen and tallow-chandler, who bore him two sons. His second wife, to whom he was married at St. James’s Church, Clerkenwell, on March 17, 1604, was Mary, widow of Sir John Spencer, of Althorp—not to be confused with his neighbour the rich merchant of Crosby Place and Canonbury, who lived on till 1609. His elder son, also Thomas, was made a baronet, but the title died out with him in 1656.

The Fowlers dwelt in a house in Cross Street, Islington, a little beyond the church, which still existed a generation ago. The ceiling of a room on the first-floor was decorated with the arms and initials of Queen Elizabeth, also the initials f t i. At the end of the garden, which had been of considerable extent, there was a small brick building,[69] intended, perhaps, for a summer-house or porter’s lodge. It had on the west side, cut in stone, the Fowler arms, bearing an esquire’s helmet, apparently similar in all respects to those I have described, except that no mention is made of a crest. In another part of the building were the arms of Sir Thomas Fowler the younger, with his initials and the date 1655. They were distinguished by having an escutcheon charged with a sinister[146] hand, couped at the wrist—the arms of Ulster and ensign of baronetcy. It is curious that the daughter and heiress of this Sir Thomas Fowler married a Fisher, to whom descended the manor of Barnsbury, and that the first Fowler who settled in Islington had married a Herne or Heron. The arms of that family appeared in a window of the old house in Cross Street.

When visiting the Guildhall Museum, not long since, I was reminded of another Islington family, not distinguished, but still perhaps worthy of mention. A stone tablet, said to be from an old house in Upper Street, Islington, has on it the inscription: nri rvffords bvildings 1688, and a similar inscription is still to be seen on No. 1a, Compton Street, Clerkenwell. The fact is, there were two groups of houses thus named, both of which were built by Captain Nicholas Rufford, who was churchwarden at Islington in 1690, and died in 1711, aged seventy-one. Nelson mentions inscriptions to him and several of his family in the churchyard. In the Islington Rufford’s Buildings Dr. W. Berriman lived for some years. He was a famous divine, and became Fellow of Eton College. His death took place in 1749-50.

Some pages back, in my description of the sign of the Two Negroes’ Heads, I had occasion to allude to Clare Market. Before that neighbourhood[147] is quite transformed, I should like to say a few words about it and its connection with the Holles family. An old coat of arms and an old inscription will serve as pegs on which to hang my story. In Seymour’s ‘Survey,’ 1754 (written by John Mottley), we are told that Clement’s Inn[70]—the fancied scene of Shallow’s exploits—descended to the Earls of Clare from their ancestor Sir William Holles, or Hollis—as he spells it—Lord Mayor of London in 1539. The name of John, Baron Holles of Houghton, appears as a parishioner of St. Clement Danes in the rate-book for the year 1617. In 1624 he was created Earl of Clare. There seems to have been no concealment about the fact that his titles were bought: the first, obtained through the influence of the Duke of Buckingham, had cost him no less a sum than £10,000; for the second he is said to have paid an additional £5,000. It is curious that this latter dignity had some years before been refused to Robert Rich, afterwards created Earl of Warwick, who had set his heart on it (and is said to have also[148] paid money for his earldom), the Crown lawyers having solemnly declared that it was a title peculiar to the Royal Family, and not to be borne by a subject. The princely mansion of John Holles,[71] second Earl, was at the end of Clare Court, or Clare House Court, on the east side of Drury Lane, next to Blackmore Street. In Hatton’s time (1708) it had been turned into tenements. This second Earl founded Clare Market,[72] which stands, or stood, on what was previously called Clement’s Inn Fields. License had already been granted by Charles I. to Thomas York in 1640, and to the antiquary Gervase Holles[73] in 1642, to make streets and to erect houses on this property. One of the provisions in the Act[74] passed in 1657, ‘for the Preventing of the Multiplicity of Buildings in and about the Suburbs of London,’ expressly states that John, Earl of Clare, having erected several new buildings[149] and improved the property, ‘from henceforth for ever hereafter, on every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, in every week, there shall be a common open and free market, held in Clement’s Inn Fields aforesaid, where the said buildings useful for a market are erected, and in the places near unto adjoining, and to enjoy all liberties, customs and emoluments incident usually and of right belonging and appertaining to markets.’ It seems, from the ‘Harleian Miscellany,’ that the City authorities at one time began a lawsuit laying claim to this property, but they failed in their attempt. The market was at first usually called the New Market.

The streets in this neighbourhood are several of them named after the family of the former possessors: as Clare Street, where, on Saturdays, there is still something like a market; Denzell Street, Holles Street, Houghton Street, Vere Street, and Gilbert Street and Passage. On a squalid house at the corner of this narrow opening, and facing the space lately cleared in what was the market, I have observed with interest a fine stone bas-relief of the Holles arms, surmounted by an earl’s coronet, namely, ermine, two piles in point sable, and the motto ‘Spes audaces adjuvat,’ the supporters being a lion and that nondescript beast, a heraldic tiger, which is supposed to have a dragon’s head. The date beneath is 1659, showing[150] that they were put up for John Holles, second Earl of Clare, no doubt on a building in the market-place. Another curious relic is to be seen let into the wall of a public-house called the Royal Yacht, at the corner of Denzell Street and Stanhope Street. This is a stone tablet, the inscription on which is here given, and which speaks for itself.

It was erected by Gilbert, third Earl, in memory of his father’s second brother Denzil—‘a man of great courage and of as great pride,’ says Clarendon, who, during the early troubles between Charles I. and his Parliament, took a leading part on the popular side. On March 2, 1629, when the Speaker was about to adjourn the House in obedience to the King’s order, Denzil Holles helped to keep him in the chair by force, for[151] which conduct he, with five other members, was committed to the Tower and fined 1,000 marks. After many vicissitudes Holles welcomed the restoration of Charles II., was created a peer, and sent as Ambassador to Paris, where his pugnacity and his ignorance of the French language[75] were alike remarkable. Mr. Wheatley tells us that in 1644 he had been living in Covent Garden, under the name of Colonel Holles; in 1666, and after, he was in a house at the west corner of the north piazza, which Sir Kenelm Digby had previously occupied.

The Holles family became extinct in the male line on the death of John, fourth Earl of Clare, who had married Lady Margaret Cavendish, a great heiress, and was created Duke of Newcastle. This nobleman, one of the richest subjects in the kingdom, died in 1711, from the effects of a fall while hunting at Welbeck, leaving an only daughter, from whom is descended the present Duke of Portland. Some years before his death, namely, in May, 1705, still clinging to the neighbourhood with which his family had been so long connected, the last Holles in the male line bought from the Marquis of Powis, for the large sum of £7,000, the house at the north-west angle[152] of Lincoln’s Inn Fields, now numbered 66 and 67, which touches Great Queen Street, and is still known as Powis or Newcastle House. The Duke left the greater part of his possessions, including this house, to his nephew, Thomas Pelham, the well-known political leader in the time of George II., who took the name of Holles, and was also created Duke of Newcastle. Here he lived and intrigued, and this was the scene of his levees, so graphically described by Lord Chesterfield. If those silent walls could speak, they might tell us many strange tales.

Newcastle House had been built in 1686 by Captain William Winde, or Wynne, as Campbell calls him in the ‘Vitruvius Britannicus’—a pupil of Gerbier, and perhaps also of Webb, who was in his turn a pupil of Inigo Jones. The structure has unfortunately been much altered for the worse since an engraving of it was made for Strype’s Stow (edition of 1754). It replaced an older house which had been burnt to the ground on October 26, 1684, the family escaping with difficulty. William Herbert, first Marquis and titular Duke of Powis, for whom the house was built, suffered severely owing to his attachment to the cause of James II. He accompanied the King into exile, his estates were, in part at any rate, confiscated, and he died at St. Germains in 1696. In some way this house escaped the general wreck;[153] perhaps it was alienated for a few years. Strype says that ‘it was sometime the seat of Sir John Somers, late Lord Chancellor of England’; and Pennant adds, ‘It is said that Government had it once in contemplation to have bought and settled it officially on the great seal. At that time it was inhabited by the Lord Keeper, Sir Nathan Wright.’ Whatever the circumstances may have been, it came into the hands of the second Marquis, who before its sale to the Duke of Newcastle had already built himself another house[76] in Great Ormond Street, on the site of which is Powis Place.

The west side of Lincoln’s Inn Fields shows interesting specimens of architecture. Lindsey House, though much altered, is an undoubted work of Inigo Jones. It was built probably about the year 1640, for Robert Bertie, first Earl of Lindsey, who died a hero’s death at the battle of Edgehill. The fourth Earl having been created Duke of Ancaster, it was for a time called Ancaster House. Hatton, in 1708, describes it as ‘a handsome building of the Ionic order, and (in front a) strong beautiful court-gate, consisting of six fine, spacious brick piers, with curious ironwork[154] between them, and on the piers are placed very large and beautiful vases.’ The stone facade is now plastered and painted, the entrance door widened, the house divided into two. Inside, a graceful mantelpiece and an alcove evidently belong to the last century. Mr. Alfred Marks, in a valuable note on the house, ascribes these architectural features to Ware, who was a great admirer of Inigo Jones, and in 1743 published some of his designs. The alcove is adorned by a coat of arms belonging to the Shiffner family, a member of which, as appears from the Gentleman’s Magazine, resided in Lincoln’s Inn Fields in the year 1759.

South of Lindsey House, there are other buildings which were probably designed by Inigo Jones. From the house which is over the archway leading into Sardinia Street, one may trace the Rose and Fleur-de-lys of Charles I. and his Queen on the pilasters. They are now mostly plastered and painted, but it may be remarked that in the extreme south-west corner of the Fields, behind other more modern structures, stands a house the upper part of which is outside in its original condition. It is of red brick, the bases, bands and capitals of the pilasters and the architraves being of stone, and it has, like the others, the rose and fleur-de-lys in relief. But the best-preserved specimen, externally, of work of this character now existing in London is the harmonious red-brick building on the south[155] side of Great Queen Street, hard by, which was either designed by Inigo Jones or by Webb under his influence. Let those who wish to study its fine proportions and pleasant details lose no time, for an ominous board has appeared in front, and much I fear that its days are numbered. Can nothing be done to save it? Mr. Wheatley says that Thomas Hudson, the portrait-painter (Reynolds’s master), lived in this house, which is now divided and numbered 55 and 56. It had almost certainly been occupied by Sir Godfrey Kneller.




‘Many things of worthy memory.’

Shakespeare: Taming of the Shrew.

I SHALL close my account with a few miscellaneous signs and inscriptions which I could not appropriately fit in elsewhere. Several eminent banking firms carefully preserve the signs which were used by them before their houses were numbered; but they have been so ably described by Mr. Hilton Price and others, that little more need be said. The Marygold is in the front shop of Messrs. Child and Co.’s premises, Fleet Street; it is of oak, the ground stained green, with a sun and a gilt border: the motto underneath is, ‘Ainsi mon âme.’ The Three Squirrels of Messrs. Gosling are worked in iron and attached to the bars which protect their central window, and the original sign of copper is preserved in the front office. From Mr. Price I learn that as[157] early as the year 1684, and perhaps earlier, James Chambers kept a goldsmith’s shop at the Three Squirrels over against St. Dunstan’s Church, Fleet Street; and it is a curious fact that one family of Chambers bears the three squirrels in its arms. Hoare’s Golden Bottle hangs over the doorway of their banking-house. Sir Richard Colt Hoare thought it was a barrel sign adopted by James Hore, of Cheapside, because his father, Ralph, was a member of the Coopers’ Company. More likely, however, it was a sign of the same description as the Black Jack and the Leathern Bottle, of which a genuine specimen from the corner of Charles Street, Leather Lane, has lately found its way into the Guildhall Museum. Unfortunately, the Grasshopper—the old sign of Messrs. Martin and Co., in Lombard Street—has not been preserved. It was the crest of Sir Thomas Gresham, who is believed to have here carried on his business. A most interesting history of the house has lately been written by Mr. J. B. Martin, one of the partners. A quaint and charming sign is the little carved figure of a naval officer taking an observation—the Wooden Midshipman of Dombey and Son. He may still be seen in the Minories, having migrated from Leadenhall Street some years ago. Not long since the owners sent him for change of air to the Naval Exhibition. The figure and its associations form the subject of a[158] capital paper by Mr. J. Ashby-Sterry in All the Year Round for October 29, 1881.

At the corner of Charlotte Street and the Blackfriars Road there is a figure of a dog overturning a three-legged iron pot, in its eagerness to get at the contents; this is the sign of a wholesale ironmonger’s establishment said to date from 1783. The Dog’s Head in the Pot, as it is called, seems, of late years at any rate, to have been usually adopted by members of this trade, because the vessel represented is of iron. The sign is said to indicate a dirty, slovenly housewife. Larwood and Hotten mention a coarse woodcut of the beginning of last century (to judge from the costumes, copied from an older original) which represents two old women in a disorderly room or kitchen. One of them wipes a plate with the bushy tail of a large dog whose head is buried in a pot. Under it are the lines:

‘All sluts behold, take view of me,
Your own good husbandry to see.’

A Dutch saying, to anyone late for dinner, is that he will find the dog in the pot; in other words, that the remains of the dinner have been handed over to the dog to finish.

The Dog’s Head in the Pot is a very old London sign, being mentioned in a tract from the press of Wynkyn de Worde called ‘Cocke[159] Lorell’s Bote.’ The person who dwelt at this sign was therein described as ‘Annys Angry with the croked buttock—by her crafte a breche maker.’ A later notice occurs in the will (dated September 3, 1563) of Thomas Johnson, citizen and haberdasher, of London, who gave £13 4s. annually to the highways between Barkway and Dog’s Head in the Pot, otherwise called ‘Horemayd,’ probably a house of entertainment in the parish of Great or Little Hormead, in Hertfordshire, by the side of the road from Barkway to London. At a house in Westgate Street, Gloucester, some beautifully carved Tudor panels have lately come to light. One of them has on it a dog or leopard eating out of a three-legged pot. A seventeenth-century trade-token, issued from Red Cross Street, and another from Old Street, St. Luke’s, have the device of the Dog’s Head in the Pot.

A medallion in plaster or terra-cotta, which looked as if it might have been copied from a classical coin, was till lately to be seen on the gable of a little fishmonger’s shop in Cheyne Walk. This, though a humble specimen of its class, belonged to a style of decoration once common. I have before me a view, dated 1792, of a house on Tower Hill with similar medallions. Sometimes the heads of Roman Emperors were thus placed, sometimes the cardinal virtues or other emblematic figures. In the third edition of Stow, by Anthony[160] Munday, occurs the following passage, descriptive of Aldgate: ‘The old ruinous Gate being taken downe, and order provided for a new foundation, divers very ancient peeces of Romane coyne were found among the stones and rubbish, which, as Mr. Martin Bond (a Worshipful Citizen, and one of the Surveyors of the worke) told me, two of them (according to their true forme and figure) he caused to be carved on stone, and fixed on eyther side of the Gates Arch without, eastward.’ These coins were of the Emperors Trajan and Diocletian. Martin Bond laid the foundation-stone of the new gate in 1607. The little house in Cheyne Walk was formerly a freehold with the right of pasturage on Chelsea Common; it was pulled down in October, 1892. I have drawn it for the frontispiece of this volume; the lower part appears in a delightful etching by Whistler, called ‘The Fish-shop.’

One of the most interesting signs in existence belongs to my friend Mr. F. Manley Sims. It does not, however, strictly belong to London, having been brought from Poole some years ago; its earlier history has yet to be discovered. This is a doctor’s signboard, excellently carved, with figures in high relief. It is divided into compartments: in the centre—more important than the rest—is the doctor himself, in Jacobean costume, his potions ranged on shelves behind him; around, in seven compartments, are represented various operations[161] of surgery; and below, in relief, appear the words from Ecclesiasticus, ‘Altissimus creavit de terra medicynam et vir prudens non abhorebit illam.’ Anno Domini 1623. There are traces of paint and gilding; the whole is enclosed within an ornamental border, and has a highly decorative effect.

Somewhat akin to the sculptured street signs are the tablets on which are inscribed the names of the streets, and often the dates of their building or completion. They have historical value where, as is not unfrequently the case, they record a name now in danger of being forgotten, and some of them are designed with a good deal of taste. So many of these tablets remain that I shall not attempt a list, but shall only mention a few good examples. One of the oldest is in Great Chapel Street, Westminster, and is inscribed: ‘This is Chappeil Street, 1656.’

The following are instances of the inscriptions, which may help us to make out the history of the streets. On a corner house at the east side of Dering Street (late Union Street), Oxford Street, is a stone inscribed, ‘Sheffield Street, 1721.’ Curiously enough, in Horwood’s Map of 1799, and in another issued in 1800, the name is given as Shepherd Street, so that here we have four changes in 170 years. On a modern house at the south-east corner of Danvers Street, Cheyne Walk, much of which is now cleared away, there is a[162] stone, supported by brackets, with a pediment which tells us that ‘This is Danvers Street, begun in ye year 1696 by Benjamin Stallwood.’ Danvers House, hard by, was not pulled down till 1716. May’s Buildings, on the east side of St. Martin’s Lane, have the name, and date 1739. Mr. J. T. Smith, in ‘Nollekens and his Times,’ tells us that they were built by Mr. May, who ornamented the front of No. 43, St. Martin’s Lane, a few doors off, where he resided. His house is still there; it has pretty cut brick pilasters, and a cornice, and is now used as a restaurant. The archway which leads into Sardinia Street, under one of the old houses on the west side of Lincoln’s Inn Fields, is inscribed above the keystone on each side, ‘Duke Streete, 1648.’ This street was renamed in 1878, after the chapel there, once belonging to the Sardinian minister, which was demolished in the riots of June 2, 1780, but shortly afterwards rebuilt, and is now known as the chapel of SS. Anselm and Cecilia. Here Fanny Burney was married, in 1793, to General D’Arblay. A stone tablet, which has on it ‘Nassau Street in Whettens Buildings, 1734,’ is still to be seen at the south-west corner of Nassau Street. In Strype’s Map of 1720 the ground here, facing Gerrard Street, is occupied by a large mansion with a garden at the back, Nassau Street not being yet made.

Some of these tablets are well designed; a very[163] nice example, though not an early one, is placed above the first-floor of No. 16, Great James Street, Bedford Row. It is an irregular convex shield, surrounded by elaborate scroll-work of a style not uncommon about the time of its erection, namely, in 1721. As a typical specimen it has been drawn for this work. James Street, Haymarket, is also marked by a stone with ornamental border, above a first-floor window of what is left of the old Tennis Court, which is said to have been connected with the noted Gaming House and Shaver’s Hall.

The date on it—namely, 1673, indicates, I suppose, the year in which the street was built or finished; Shaver’s Hall existed some time previously. The Tennis Court ceased to be used in 1866, to the regret of many. In the year 1887 the upper part was rebuilt; but from the tablet downwards the original walls, though stuccoed over, remain. Mr. Julian Marshall says that in this court Charles and the Duke of York used frequently to play their[164] favourite game, and that the house, No. 17, at the south-western corner of James’s Street and the Haymarket, is said to have been that through which the royal brothers used to pass, on their way to the Tennis Court.[77] It does not, however, appear that there was any contemporary evidence connecting them with it.

In the region called Mount Pleasant, Gray’s Inn Lane, not far from the new thoroughfare Rosebery Avenue, there are two or three tablets of a different kind. Near the west end, between Nos. 55 and 56, is a plain square stone, with ‘dorrington street 1720’ incised in Roman capitals. This stone is in a brick frame, with moulded hood,[165] and projects from the frame about an inch and a half. Further east, on No. 41, nearly opposite the site of the prison, are two more tablets; one, similar to that just described, has ‘baynes street, 1737.’ Over this is a far more elaborate example of cut or moulded brick, with a pediment. It has the inscription ‘in god is all our trust,’ and below some marks or signs in relief (one of which appears to be a T-square), with the date 1737. The motto is similar to that of the Brewers’ Company, and of the Tylers’ and Bricklayers’ Company; with the latter I should think that the builder or first possessor may have had some connection.

This last, being a house and not a street tablet, reminds me that there are scattered about here and there on the fronts of houses, initials and dates which by judicious treatment are made quite decorative. One of the prettiest was a little cut brick tablet on an old house—No. 164, Union Street, Southwark—lately destroyed, which[166] had on it beneath a pediment the initials w. h. in monogram, and the date 1701. Again, in Walbrook, on the west side, is a tablet merely dated 1668, with well-designed brackets and cornice. On a modern house—No. 4, Tothill Street, Westminster—called in 1885 the Cock, now the Aquarium Tavern, there is a stone on which are cut the date 1671, a heart-shaped mark, and the initials e. t. a.

In 1850, when Peter Cunningham wrote his handbook, the old house was yet standing; in it Thomas Southerne, the poet, had lodged, as pointed out by Mr. Hutton in his ‘Literary Landmarks of London.’ The heart has puzzled me; a similar mark was formerly on a house in Peter Street, Westminster. Can it have been a parish mark? An undoubted device of this kind appears on a[167] house at the corner of West Street and Upper St. Martin’s Lane, and consists of two ragged staves crossed, with the date 1691, and the initials s. g. f., which indicate the parish of St. Giles’s in the Fields. A mark of the parish of St. Bride’s, dated 1670, is in Robin Hood Court, Shoe Lane. At the corner of Artillery Street, Bishopsgate Without, and Sandys Row, soon to be improved away, there is a flat stone having fastened on it a piece of iron, shaped like a broad arrow, and below the date 1682. Is this a parish mark, or can it have been connected in any way with the old artillery ground—the Tassel Close of an earlier time, when crossbow-makers used here to shoot at the popinjay? In Strype’s time ‘divers worthy citizens’ still frequented it for martial exercise. Of greater historic interest are the monogram of Henry VIII., the Tudor portcullis, and other devices carved on the spandrels of the arches which are under the gatehouse of St. James’s Palace.

A general description of the painted signboards of London has formed no part of the scheme of this book, because much has already been written on the subject, and it would be too extensive to treat satisfactorily in the limited space at my command. It may, however, be useful to note a few signs of this kind still in situ. The Running Footman, of which there are two specimens in Hays Mews,[168] Charles Street, Berkeley Square, is particularly interesting on account of the costume, and because it is a record of the days when carriages moved at little more than a foot’s pace,[78] and there were no police to regulate the traffic. It is supposed to date from about 1770. Such a servant as this would be singularly out of place in modern London; but in the East, retainers of the same kind, who run in front and clear the way, still naturally form part of a great man’s equipage. The Goat in Boots is to be seen in the Fulham Road in front of a public-house lately rebuilt. To Le Blond—a Flemish painter, who lived at Chelsea—was attributed the original design, which seems to have been painted or repainted by Morland. Since then, however, it has been daubed over again and again. Some ingenious person has conjectured that the sign originated from a corruption of the Dutch words: ‘der Goden Bode’ (the messenger of the Gods), said to have been applied to Mercury, and to have been formerly used on houses in Holland, to denote that post-horses were to be obtained; but this seems improbable, as the house in old deeds is called[169] the Goat. At the Ben Jonson tavern in Shoe Lane a curious old wooden panel is preserved, which bears on its two sides what are supposed to be portraits of ‘rare Ben’; as it is nailed against the wall, one side only is now visible. The person portrayed is a lean hungry-looking man, the very reverse of the poet; it seems likely, nevertheless, that this was the old signboard. A more ambitious effort is the full-length portrait of the Duke of Cumberland—the hero of Culloden—which is on a public-house at the corner of Bryanston Street and Great Cumberland Place, built about 1774. It is affixed to the wall in accordance with the law passed a short time previously. One is reminded of a letter by Horace Walpole to Conway, dated April 16, 1747, in which he thus moralizes: ‘I observed how the Duke of Cumberland’s head had succeeded, almost universally, to Admiral Vernon’s, as his head had left few traces of the Duke of Ormonde’s. I pondered these things in my heart, and said unto myself all glory is but a sign.’ Now that Hatchett’s Hotel in Piccadilly has passed away, it is worth while to record that over the bar of the Restaurant on this site (rebuilt 1886) was to be seen the old painted signboard of a white horse with flowing mane and tail, and the inscription, ‘The New White Horse Cellars, Abraham Hatchett.’ Last year, owing to further alterations, this was removed.


The signs I have referred to are comparatively well known, but that of the Coach and Horses—No. 49, St. John’s Square, Clerkenwell—has, I think, hitherto escaped observation. This is a large picture representing a lioness attacking one of the leaders of a mail-coach; a yokel with a pitchfork, and a dog, advance intrepidly to the rescue. In the background is a wayside inn, in front a pond. The event depicted actually took place on October 20, 1816, and is described in ‘Cassell’s Popular Natural History,’ vol. ii., p. 119. It seems that the Exeter mail-coach was on its way to London, and the driver had pulled up at Winter’s-Low-Hut, seven miles from Salisbury, to deliver the bags, when one of his leaders was suddenly attacked by a ferocious animal, which proved to be a lioness. A large mastiff came to the rescue, but when she charged him he fled, and was pursued and killed about forty yards from where the coach was standing. It turned out that the lioness had escaped from a menagerie which was on its way to Salisbury Fair. She was eventually driven into a granary, carrying the dead mastiff in her teeth, and there secured by her keepers. A picture of this strange attack was long exhibited at the Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly; of this picture I imagine the sign to be a copy, it seems too well done to have been painted expressly for the public-house to which it belongs. In the[171] course of 1889 a curious sign, the Whistling Oyster, disappeared from No. 13, Vinegar Yard, on the south side of Drury Lane Theatre. Here were formerly oyster and refreshment rooms, and it seems that about 1840 Mr. Pearkes, the then proprietor, discovered among his stock an eccentric bivalve, which actually did produce a sort of whistling sound; much custom for a time and many jokes resulting therefrom. In an early volume of Punch there is a fancy portrait of the whistling oyster.

In the course of this work I have several times alluded to the Guildhall Museum, beneath the Guildhall Library, which is not known as it deserves. It contains not only sculptured signs, but a very valuable collection of objects of artistic and antiquarian interest, most of them from various parts of the city. The only drawbacks are that the crypt or room in which they are placed, being half underground, is very imperfectly lighted, and that the collection has not hitherto been catalogued. This latter defect will, however, I understand, be shortly remedied. Before descending let us glance at the statues which flank the entrance to the Guildhall Library and Museum from King Street. They are from the old College of Physicians in Warwick Lane—one of Wren’s buildings—some remains of which still exist, incorporated in the premises at the back of No. 1, Newgate Street. These statues represent King Charles II. and[172] Sir John Cutler, a rich merchant whose avarice, handed down by Pope[79] and others, has become immortal. It seems that in 1675 Sir John—a near relation of Dr. Whistler, the president—expressed a wish to subscribe towards the rebuilding of the College of Physicians, which had been destroyed in the Great Fire, having previously stood at Amen Corner. When a deputation attended to thank him, he renewed his promise, and specified the part of the building for which he intended to pay. The theatre accordingly bore on its front towards Warwick Lane the inscription, ‘Theatrum Cutlerianum.’ In the year 1680 statues in honour of the king and the knight were voted by members of the college. A certain amount of money must have been furnished, and some years afterwards Cutler advanced them more; but after his death his executors, in 1699, claimed the whole with interest, the money pretended to be given, and that actually given, being alike set down as a loan in Cutler’s books. The demand was compromised for £2,000. The statue remained, but the college wisely obliterated the inscription which, in the warmth of its gratitude, it had placed beneath the[173] figure: ‘Omnis Cutleri cedat labor amphitheatro.’ Pennant[80] is responsible for the above account, perhaps overcoloured, which he gave on the authority of Dr. Richard Warren. Strype speaks of Sir John as a great benefactor to the college; he had no doubt given largely to the Grocers’ Company, of which he was warden, and a portrait of him is in their possession.

I will now ask my readers to come with me to the Museum, which well repays a visit. I understand that the nucleus of it was formed in 1829, when various antiquities, discovered in digging the foundations of the then new Post Office in St. Martin’s-le-Grand, the new London Bridge, and in the destruction of the Guildhall Chapel, were brought together; but it has only of late years become important. I have already described the sculptured signs which here find a home; let me now briefly call attention to other objects which seem to me especially interesting. There is an article on them in the City Press for September 5, 1891, to which I am indebted for several useful hints. The accumulation of earth and débris in the City is so great, that the present town is raised many feet above Roman London. Now that excavations for new buildings are carried down much deeper than formerly, valuable objects are not unfrequently brought to light. The Roman[174] antiquities in the Museum are many and important; of these perhaps the most striking is a large piece of tessellated pavement from Bucklersbury, in almost perfect condition. It was found no less than 19 feet below the level of the roadway, on which account it is thought to be an early relic of the Roman occupation. One of the good deeds of the much-abused Metropolitan Board of Works was the gift of this piece of pavement to the Corporation. In the course of excavations in the City no less than three bastions of the original wall have been discovered. The foundations of these were formed by masses of statuary, inscriptions, and other débris of earlier Roman buildings. A fine specimen is the statue of a Roman soldier, found at the bastion in Camomile Street a few years since. Then there is a sculptured lion fiercely attacking another animal, and many similar remains of equal or greater interest; to describe them all in the briefest way would fill a chapter. About one other relic of the Roman occupation I shall say a few words, because it appears to be an almost unique instance of a joke, written by a Roman with his own hand. This is a tile found in the Roman wall during the excavations for Cutler’s Hall in Warwick Square. On it are the following words, evidently incised when it was still soft: ‘Austalis, Dibusu vagatur sib cotidem,’ which was thus translated by the late Mr. Charles[175] Roach Smith: ‘Austalis wanders off (from his work) by himself to the Gods every day.’ The sentence is thought to apply to a workman who was in the habit of absenting himself at odd intervals, for purposes of prayer maybe—or more likely of refreshment, and to have been written by a fellow workman.

Of later objects, the various specimens of mediæval skates are worth mentioning. Each one is fashioned out of the tibia of a horse. They have been found from time to time in the neighbourhood of Moorfields, and well exemplify the description written by Fitzstephen in the twelfth century, wherein he tells us that ‘when the fen or moor which watereth the walls of the City on the north side, is frozen, many young men play upon the ice—some tie bones to their feet, and shoving themselves by a little picked staff, do slide as quickly as a bird flieth through the air, or an arrow out of a crossbow.’ Interesting also are the flat caps of burgesses, considered to be of the time of Henry VII., which were found in Finsbury, May, 1887, and exhibited to the members of the British Archæological Association by Mr. J. W. Bailey. They resemble the flatter kind of Scotch caps, or the Basque caps, and have a peculiar little flap behind. Gold coins were discovered in the double rims of these caps, kept there for safety, no doubt; one of them an angel, of the time of[176] Richard II. Then there is a fine collection of Elizabethan graybeard jugs or bellarmines, the grotesque heads on them being caricatured from the cardinal of that name, who so strongly opposed the reformed religion. Among larger objects, a splendid fireplace from the old mansion in Lime Street which belonged to the Fishmongers’ Company, and on which Messrs. G. H. Birch and R. Phené Spiers drew up such a valuable monograph at the time of its destruction. An old stone conduit from South Molton Street is worth a glance. It has on it the City arms and the date 1627, and was found six feet below the pavement. There is interest of a kind, too, in the inscription from Pudding Lane, affixed in 1681 by overzealous Protestants to the house of Farryner, the King’s baker, where the Great Fire of London first began. This inscription was taken down in the reign of James II., replaced in that of William III., and finally removed about the middle of last century. It was found in the cellar and brought here when the house (latterly numbered 25) was pulled down in 1876.

A few signs not sculptured are, I think, worth alluding to. One of the quaintest is composed of blue and yellow Dutch tiles, and was doubtless once fixed near the entrance of a coffee-house, but unfortunately no record of it has been preserved. It is about twenty inches high, and represents a[177] boy with long hair, in seventeenth-century costume, somewhat like that of the modern Bluecoat boys. He is standing, and pouring out coffee; by his side is a table, with appliances for drinking, and tobacco pipes, and above, on a scroll, the words ‘dish of coffee boy.’ A sign of this kind in remarkable preservation, and finely executed, is the Cock and Bottle—three to four feet high, and worked in blue and white Dutch tiles with an ornamental border—which came from Cannon Street. The date of this sign is said to be about 1700; the house to which it belonged formerly stood on the south side, and was pulled down in 1853, at the time of the Cannon Street alterations. A public-house (Nos. 94 and 96), still called the Cock and Bottle, occupies the site. A sign of a Dolphin which belongs to the earlier part of the eighteenth century was in 1890 presented by Messrs. Burrup, so long pleasantly connected with the Surrey Cricket Club. It is painted on copper, and comes from a shop on the south side of the old Royal Exchange, where an ancestor of the Burrup family was first established in 1730. A unique relic is the little plate of metal, inscribed as follows:

‘Abraham Bartlett, who makes ye boulting mills and cloathes, dwells at the sign of the boulting mill at Thames Street, near Queenhith, London, 1678.’

It is surmounted by a grotesque head, and fixed[178] on a thin piece of wood with a ring for hanging it up. The boulting-mill was used for sifting meal by shaking it backwards and forwards, boulting-cloth being a material of loose texture for the meal to pass through. Of doubtful origin is a classically designed figure of a boy in low relief, with foliated border, and the date 1633; the material of this is cast iron. Another curious relic is a wooden statuette of Time, with scythe and hour-glass, which formerly belonged to the clock in the church of St. Giles, Cripplegate. The inscription tells us that it was presented by the churchwardens, who in my opinion ought never to have removed it from the church for which it had been carved, where it was far more appropriately placed than it can possibly be here; though of course one is glad that it is preserved.

Last, not least, a very interesting stone bas-relief of doubtful origin, which purports to represent Whittington and his cat, was bequeathed by the Rev. Canon Lysons. The figure in question is doubtless that of a boy carrying a little quadruped in his arms. The tablet to which it belongs seems to have been broken off on the side to the spectator’s left, and therefore probably formed part of a larger piece of sculpture. This relic, which at a first glance seems to resemble a sculptured house-sign, was exhibited some years ago at a meeting of the Archæological Institute.[179] Mr. Lysons stated on that occasion that it was dug up in Westgate Street, Gloucester. From a rent-roll of 1460, he had learned that in the said year Richard ‘Whitynton,’ lord of the manor of Staunton, possessed a house or houses, called ‘Rotten Row, or Asschowellys-place’; and from a lease it appeared that the house, in the foundations of which the stone was found, stands exactly on the site of Asschowellys (in modern orthography Ashwell’s) Place. The Richard Whittington here alluded to was great-nephew of the renowned Lord Mayor of London, living contemporaneously with his famous namesake, the rent-roll above named having been made within thirty-seven years of Sir Richard’s death. This is certainly a very singular coincidence, and if it could be proved that the tablet in question represented Whittington and his cat, we might consider that the tradition about him, which has delighted the childhood of so many thousands, was really founded on fact. Mr. Lysons was strongly of that opinion; he stated, however, that the house in Westgate Street, under which the tablet was found, besides being on the site of Ashwell’s Place, is also on the site of a Roman temple—and perhaps most impartial observers will be inclined to think that the costume of the figure, and the general style of the tablet in question, point rather to indifferent Roman than to fifteenth-century work.




‘Of either sex whole droves together
To see and to be seen flock thither,
To drink and not to drink the water,
And here promiscuously to chatter.’

Islington Wells or the Threepenny Academy, 1691.

IN connection with sculptured signs, and again when alluding to the arms of the Fowler family, and to Canonbury, I have had occasion to describe houses in Islington. I shall now take up the thread of my discourse, from the White Lion on the west side of the High Street, and ask the kind reader to explore with me the sites of some of the old places of entertainment nearer London. A short distance further south is the Angel, rebuilt in 1819. This was one of the picturesque old galleried inns which have now become almost extinct. Close at hand, on the opposite side of the way, is the old Red Lion tavern, very much rejuvenated; it puts forward a bold claim to date from the year 1415. On the gables are shields,[181] apparently modern, with lions in relief. Seventy or eighty years ago this house stood almost alone on the high-road. Here Tom Paine was said to have written his ‘Rights of Man,’ and the tradition is that Goldsmith, Thomson, nay even the great Dr. Johnson, visited it. In the middle distance of Hogarth’s picture of ‘Evening,’ there is a house, supposed to be the old Red Lion, which shows how rural were its then surroundings. The scene is laid in front of the Myddleton’s Head—also at that time apparently a country wayside inn, which, says Pinks, had been built in 1614. A portrait of the worthy founder of the New River Company projects by way of sign from the gable. This house stood on the south side of Sadler’s Wells Theatre, from which it was separated by the New River. Malcolm has recorded that in 1803 it was still picturesque. He says: ‘A few paces northwards (from Islington Spa) conduct the passenger under a portrait of Sir Hugh Myddleton (tolerably well painted), who faces his river adorned with tall poplars, graceful willows, sloping banks, and flowers.’ How changed is now the scene! The trees have long since perished as utterly as the anglers,[81] ‘the noble swans’ and water-fowl, of an earlier time; and Sir Hugh[182] would no longer face his once pleasant stream, which in its old age has disappeared from sight, and taken refuge under ground. In 1831 the Sir Hugh Myddleton tavern replaced the former house of entertainment. This, in its turn, has now ceased to exist, having been pulled down, with other houses in Myddleton Place, to make room for the new thoroughfare[82] from the Angel, Islington, to Holborn Town Hall, opened July 9, 1892, under the name of Rosebery Avenue.

One of the leading characteristics of London citizens of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was their taste for frequenting public gardens and houses of amusement in the suburbs. Many of these were originally health-resorts—‘spas’ or ‘wells,’ they were called, from the springs of mineral water which had formed the chief attraction. In such places the northern suburbs abounded, and the parish of Clerkenwell[83] might be considered[183] their headquarters. At a time when travelling was toilsome and costly, sometimes even dangerous, it was useful to have a little Buxton or Harrogate close at hand. To supply the demand, some enterprising person discovered a spring with rare healing powers; some doctor wrote it up, and the place became, for a time at least, fashionable. Such a spa in St. George’s Fields I have already described. Let me say a few words about others equally interesting, in the neighbourhood in which we now find ourselves.

Not far from the site of the Myddleton’s Head, on the north side of the New River, no longer visible, and close to the New River Head, stands Sadler’s Wells Theatre, built on the site of one of these places of health-resort. It seems that some time before 1683, a certain Mr. Sadler, said to have been a surveyor of highways, had put up a wooden building hereabouts, which was known as Sadler’s Music-house. In that year his servants, when digging in the garden for gravel, were reported to have discovered a mineral spring, and in 1684 a pamphlet was published by a doctor named Thomas Guidot, puffing the curative powers of the water. He speaks of five or six hundred[184] patients being there every morning, and assures us that the spring had merely been rediscovered: ‘The priests belonging to the Priory of Clarkenwell, using to attend there, making the people believe that the virtues of the waters proceeded from the efficacy of their prayers.’ ‘These superstitions,’ he adds, ‘were the occasion of its being arched over and concealed at the time of the Reformation.’

In spite of this fine puff, the waters, apparently, soon ceased to attract, though they continued to be sold in Sadler’s name for some time, as shown by an advertisement of June, 1697.[84] In 1699 the building was advertised as Miles’s Musick-house. The place had then become known as a resort for very disorderly characters. Miles was succeeded by Francis Forcer, whose father, a musician, seems to have lived on the spot.

The son, said to have been an Oxford man, introduced the diversions of tumbling, and rope-dancing with the pranks of Harlequin and Scaramouch. He died in 1743, and in the following year the establishment was being carried on by one John Warren, when it was presented by a Middlesex Grand Jury as a place of ‘great extravagance,[185] luxury, idleness, and ill-fame.’ Soon afterwards it got into the hands of Mr. Rosoman,[85] who in 1765 pulled down Sadler’s wooden erection, and built a regular theatre on the site.

Towards the end of last century Sadler’s Wells was still some distance from London, and the roads were by no means safe. George Daniel, in his ‘Merrie England,’ says: ‘It is curious to read at the bottom of the old bills and advertisements the following alarming announcements, “A horse patrol will be sent in the New Road that night, for the protection of the nobility and gentry who go from the squares and that end of the town; the road also towards the city will be properly guarded.” Again, “June, 1783.—Patroles of horse and foot are stationed from Sadler’s Wells gate along the New Road to Tottenham Court Turnpike; likewise from the City Road to Moorfields; also to St. John Street, and across the Spa fields to Rosoman Row, from the hours of eight to eleven.”’ On Easter Monday, April 2, 1804, a new sort of entertainment called ‘Naumachia’ was produced at Sadler’s Wells. An immense tank had been constructed under the stage and beyond it, which could be filled by water from the[186] New River, and emptied at pleasure. On this aquatic stage, the boards being removed, was given a mimic representation of the Siege of Gibraltar, in which real vessels of considerable size bombarded the fortress, but were subdued by the garrison and to all appearance burnt.[86] After a time the success of the novelty was prodigious, and many pieces of the same kind were afterwards produced. This theatre was distinguished a generation ago as the home of Shakespearean drama, under the management of that sterling actor Samuel Phelps. It was rebuilt in 1879. The actual site of the old well has long been lost; Malcolm asserted that it had been discovered some time before he wrote ‘in the space between the New River and the stage-door’ of the theatre, and that it was said to have been encircled with stone, with a descent of several steps. Cromwell, however, writing a few years later, tells us that ‘persons who have an intimate acquaintance with the theatre for the last half-century have no recollection of the discovery; and as it is known that springs yet exist under the orchestra and stage, it seems probable that the ancient healing fountain might be traced to that situation.’

For a few years, during the first half of the seventeenth century, there was a rival to Sadler’s Wells in a popular place of amusement called ‘The[187] New Wells near the London Spa.’ There were gardens here, and a theatre, in which took place what we should now call variety entertainments. Mrs. Charlotte Charke—the eccentric daughter of Colley Cibber, was one of the performers. Ceasing to attract, it was closed in 1747, the theatre being afterwards used as a chapel under the auspices of John Wesley, and, according to Pinks, the houses Nos. 5 to 8, Rosoman Street now occupy the site.

Lysons, Halliwell Phillipps, and others, have confused the mineral spring discovered by Sadler with a mineral spring of greater celebrity called the New Tunbridge Wells; but, though near each other, they were quite distinct. In 1699 a narrative poem was published under the title of ‘A Walk to Islington, with a Description of New Tunbridge Wells and Sadler’s Musick House,’ in which the fame of the wells is ascribed to its medicinal water, and that of the music-house to such good cheer as cheesecakes, custards, bottled ale and cider, and the diversions of singing and dancing. An article in the Gentleman’s Magazine for December, 1813, puts the matter beyond a doubt; and their relative positions are clearly marked in Horwood’s map of 1799. New Tunbridge Wells, or the Islington Spa (really, of course, in the parish of Clerkenwell), was a spring of chalybeate water in a garden, the entrance to which[188] until 1810 was opposite the New River Head on the south side; No. 6, Eliza Place marked the site. This street, a continuation west of Myddleton Place, has, like it, been absorbed by Rosebery Avenue. The spa was open to the public before 1685, as is proved by a curious advertisement in the London Gazette of September 24 in that year: ‘Whereas Mr. John Langley, of London, Merchant, who bought the Rhinoceros and Islington Wells, has been represented by divers of his malicious adversaries to be a person of no estate or reputation, nor able to discharge his debts; which evil practices have been on purpose to ruin and destroy his reputation,’ etc. The character of the company soon after this may be judged from a burlesque poem, published in 1691; it contains the lines which head this chapter. In 1700 there was ‘music for dancing all day long, every Monday and Thursday during the summer season. No mask to be admitted.’ A few years later the spa became fashionable, being patronized by ladies of such position as Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. It was at its zenith in 1733, when the Princesses Amelia and Caroline, daughters of George II., came daily in the summer and drank the waters. At this time, as we learn from the Gentleman’s Magazine, ‘Such was the concourse of nobility and others that the proprietor took above £30 in a morning. On the birthday of the[189] Princesses, as they passed through the Spa Field (which was generally filled with carriages), they were saluted with a discharge of 21 guns, a compliment which was always paid them on their arrival; and in the evening there was a great bonfire, and the guns were discharged several times.’ Islington Spa continued with, on the whole, declining fortune throughout the rest of the eighteenth century. Soon afterwards it was found necessary to curtail the garden, and a great part of the old coffee-room was pulled down. About the year 1810, the old entrance being closed, a new one was made in Lloyd’s Row; and finally, in 1840, what remained of the garden was altogether done away with, and two rows of houses, called Spa Cottages, were built on the site. Even now there is a house at the corner of Lloyd’s Row and Spa Cottages, the residence of the last proprietor, which recalls the vanished glory of other days by the inscription in capital letters, ‘islington spa, or new tunbridge wells.’ At the back, in the cellar of No. 6, Spa Cottages, I have seen grotto-work with stone pilasters; on each side are steps descending. Here, I believe, was the original chalybeate spring; for many years it has ceased to flow.

Horwood’s map of 1799 shows some of these suburban spas and places of amusement very distinctly. Islington Spa is marked just south of the[190] New River Head, and over a hundred yards south-west of Sadler’s Wells. The garden is of considerable size, running east, apparently to St. John Street Road. A short distance to the west, and also near the New River Head, is Merlin’s Cave—a rural tavern and holiday-resort of Londoners—named, it is said, after an artificial cave, dug out in 1835 in the royal gardens at Richmond, by order of Queen Caroline, and of which there was here, perhaps, a humble imitation.

Again, some distance to the south of the New River Head, at the corner of Rosoman Street and Exmouth Street, one sees the words ‘London Spa,’ on a public-house with that sign erected in 1835 to replace a former building. This is on or near the site of another mineral spring once, as we have seen, sufficiently famous to be named in a description of the New Wells,[87] a neighbouring establishment. In ‘Poor Robin’s Almanack’ for 1733, occurs the following doggerel, which refers to the month of July:

‘Now sweethearts with their sweethearts go
To Islington or London Spaw;
Some go but just to drink the water,
Some for the ale which they like better.’


In point of fact, the spa ale sold here seems before the middle of the century to have become famous, when the mineral water was no longer heard of. Spa Fields, which adjoined, were an open waste, a Sunday resort of Londoners of the lower class addicted to rough sports. I have already referred to these fields at page 69, when speaking of the Ducking-pond public-house and its successors, the Pantheon, and Spa Fields Chapel, the first of ‘the Countess of Huntingdon’s Connexion.’ She died in the house adjoining it on June 17, 1791.

At the end of last century one might have had an almost rural walk from the London Spa west to Bagnigge Wells, a more famous place of entertainment. The way would have been along Exmouth Street, then built on the south side only, and called Braynes Row; a relic of its early days remains in the form of a tablet between Nos. 32 and 34, which has inscribed on it ‘Braynes Buildings 1765.’ At the end of this street was a turnpike, and at right angles to it was the Bagnigge Wells Road, the lower portion of which had the suggestive name of Coppice Row. North-west from the turnpike, it ran between fields as far as a little group of houses called Brook Place, and then a few more steps would have taken one to Bagnigge Wells,[88] within the borders of St. Pancras.[192] There was a tradition, unsupported, I believe, by any evidence, that Nell Gwynne had here a place of summer abode, ‘pleasantly situated amid the Fields, and on the banks of the Fleet,’ then a clear stream flowing rapidly and somewhat subject to floods. This was Bagnigge House, a gabled building, some trace of which still remained as late as the year 1844. Inside, it had originally some curious decorative features; over a chimney-piece in one of the rooms were the Royal arms and other heraldic bearings, and between them ‘the bust of a woman in Roman dress, let deep into a circular cavity of the wall, bordered with festoons of delf earth in the natural colours and glazed.’ These were afterwards removed from this position, and set up in a long room built for assemblies and[193] balls, which, formed the eastern boundary of the garden. An aquatint print of the interior of this room was published by J. R. Smith in 1772, after a painting by Saunders. The place seems to have been opened for purposes of amusement early in the eighteenth century; for in Beckham’s[89] curious work, the ‘Musical Entertainer’ (circa 1738), is an engraving of Tom Hippersly there, mounted in the ‘singing rostrum,’ regaling the company with a song. The inevitable healing springs, which always, no doubt, made their appearance when wanted, were, it would seem, a comparatively late discovery, first introduced to the public by Dr. John Bevis, who in 1760 wrote ‘An Experimental Enquiry concerning the Contents, Quality and Medicinal Value of two Mineral Waters lately discovered at Bagnigge Wells near London.’ One was supposed to be purging, and the other chalybeate; he gives an elaborate account of each. About the year 1775 the place[90] was[194] ‘The Sunday Ramble’ as ‘by no means barren of amusement, and visited in the morning by hundreds of persons to drink the water, and on summer afternoons by numerous tea-drinking parties.’ The writer tells of ‘beautiful walks ornamented with a great variety of curious shrubs and flowers all in the utmost perfection,’ and ‘a small round fish-pond, in the centre of which is a curious fountain representing Cupid bestriding a swan, which spouts the water to a great height.’ The Fleet,[91] or, as it was sometimes there called, the Bagnigge River, now a sewer, but at that time still comparatively undefiled, flowed through part of the garden; it was crossed by a bridge, and the banks were rich with vegetation, insomuch that, as Archer tells us, Luke Clennell, the artist, often came here and made foreground studies for his pictures. But tastes change: the mineral waters ceased to attract; people of fashion came no more. As early as 1779 Bagnigge Wells is described as a place

‘Where ‘prenticed youth enjoy the Sunday feast,
And City matrons boast their Sabbath rest,
Where unfledged Templars first as fops parade,
And new-made ensigns sport their first cockade.’


Later it became a mere cockney tea-garden, and gradually declined, till in Lewis’s ‘History of Islington,’ 1842, it is described as almost a ruin. Shortly afterwards it was closed and dismantled, and now all trace of it has disappeared, save the name, which has been appropriated by a modern tavern at the corner of King’s Cross Road (formerly Bagnigge Wells Road) and Pakenham Street, and a curious stone tablet surmounted by a grotesque head, of which I here give an illustration.

This is now to be seen built into the wall between two modern houses—Nos. 61 and 63, King’s Cross Road—probably near the north-western limit of the garden. It is mentioned by Dr. Bevis in 1760 as having been ‘over an old Gothic portal taken[196] down about three years ago, and now replaced over the door from the high-road to the house.’ At that time, I believe, the grotesque head was added. About thirty years ago, as may be learned from a letter in the Builder, January, 1863, the doorway was pulled down and the stone fixed where one may still see it, in front of the houses built on the site. I was glad to find this stone still in existence; it is worth rescuing from oblivion. The inscription runs as follows: ‘This is Bagnigge House neare the Pinder a Wakefielde 1680.’

The latter place, thus referred to, was an old country tavern in the Gray’s Inn Road. Mr. Wheatley says it was on the west side, and that the small houses between Harrison Street and Cromer Street, till recently called Pindar Place, occupied the site; and, confirming his statement, it is shown in Strype’s map on the west side of ‘the road to Hamstead.’ The modern public-house with this sign is on the east side. Tom Brown, in his ‘Comical View of London and Westminster,’ published in 1705, gives us a pleasant glimpse of the then surroundings—of a stile near Lamb’s Conduit, and ‘a milkmaid crossing the fields to Pinder of Wakefield.’ There is mention of it immediately after the Great Fire, by Aubrey. When the inscription was first put up, Bagnigge House and the Pinder of Wakefield were probably next-door neighbours, though their sites are now[197] separated by a dreary wilderness of bricks and mortar. Palmer, in his ‘History of St. Pancras,’ records that in 1724 the Pinder of Wakefield was destroyed in a hurricane, the landlord’s two daughters being buried in the ruins. The word Pinder, equivalent to pinner or penner, was applied to the keeper of the public pen or pound for the confinement of stray cattle. George a-Green, or the Pinder of the town of Wakefield, is the subject of a prose romance supposed to be as old as the time of Queen Elizabeth. He (so runs the legend), with his back to a thorn and his foot to a stone, thrashed no less a foe than Robin Hood.

Before quitting this branch of my subject, I will say a few words about a former health-resort within a stone’s throw of the old Pinder of Wakefield. On the east side of Gray’s Inn Road, near the upper end, by the King’s Cross Station on the Metropolitan Railway, is a shabby-looking passage called St. Chad’s Row, which, turning to the north, runs into King’s Cross Road, and here is the site of the well named after St. Chad or St. Ceadda, who founded the bishopric of Lichfield, and died in 672. In Laurie and Whittle’s map of 1800, the extension of Gray’s Inn Road northwards is called St. Chad’s Road. The well, however, as far as I can ascertain, was not particularly ancient—or, if so, the early records are lost. Hone describes it in his ‘Everyday Book’ in the following prophetic[198] words: ‘St. Chad’s Well is near Battle Bridge. The miraculous water is aperient, and was some years ago quaffed by the bilious and other invalids, who flocked thither in crowds.... A few years and it will be with its waters as with the water of St. Pancras’ Well, which is enclosed in the garden of a private house near old St. Pancras Churchyard.’

The garden attached to St. Chad’s Well seems in the last century to have been famous for its tulips; at least, if one may believe an advertisement in my possession, which has the date 1779. It speaks of ‘The largest and richest collection of early Dutch tulips ever yet seen in Great Britain, now in bloom, with many fine double hyacinths of various colours raised by Van Hawsen, to be had of Richard Morris at St. Chad’s Wells, Battle Bridge, near London; the lowest prices marked in the catalogue, which may be had as above, and the flowers seen gratis. No person admitted with a dog. Seedsmen and gardeners will be furnished wholesale with Duke Vantol, Claremond, and many other sorts of early tulips at the Dutch prices, and with the usual discount: the grand present Auricula at 1s. per pot: Gold and Silver Fish cheap.’ Mr. Pinks gives the particulars of the sale by auction of St. Chad’s Well on September 14, 1837. It seems that there was then a brick house facing Gray’s[199] Inn Lane, having a pump-room and a large garden at the back. The water appears to have been still sold three years afterwards, when a pamphlet was issued setting forth ‘the characteristic virtues of the Saint Chad’s Wells aperient and alterative springs.’




‘The crowning city, whose merchants are princes, whose traffickers are the honourable of the earth.’

Isaiah xxiii. 8.

BEFORE the summer of 1892 a large and interesting old mansion was destroyed in the City. This, known as Nos. 8 and 9, Great St. Helen’s, Bishopsgate Street, was situated on the south side of the churchyard. It was of brick, having engaged pilasters, which were furnished with stone bases and capitals; they also had bands, on two of which, composed, however, of cement, appeared in relief the initials ali and the date 1646. The projecting sills or cornices, and the deep keystones of the first-floor windows, gave a striking character to the house. It was also memorable as an early specimen of brickwork in London, and as dating from a period before the formal conclusion of the Civil War, when building operations were almost at a standstill. No. 9 had, in a room on the first-floor, a wooden seventeenth-century[201] mantelpiece,[92] behind which, on its removal, were found traces of an older mantelpiece of marble, and evidence of the former existence of a large open fireplace.


There was a beautiful staircase, quite Elizabethan in style; a blocked-up window with wooden transoms for casements was also discovered; so it seems likely that some years after the building of the house considerable alterations took place. The façade has often been attributed to Inigo Jones,[93] but it had not his[202] classic symmetry, and looked like the work of a less-instructed native genius. Besides, Inigo Jones, a Royalist and Roman Catholic, was taken prisoner in October, 1645, at the storming of Basing House, having been there during the siege, which had lasted since August, 1643. He was apparently not free to return to his profession until July 2, 1646, when, after payment of a heavy fine, his estate, which had been sequestrated, was restored to him, and he received pardon by an ordinance of the House of Commons, to which the Lords gave their assent. It is difficult to believe that, whilst[203] he was passing through such a crisis, or in the few months succeeding it, he should have been superintending a work in the Puritan City. At the time of his release the great architect was seventy-four years of age, and, as far as we know, he hardly practised his profession afterwards. Aubrey tells us that in 1648, the south side of Wilton House having been destroyed, it was restored by his advice, ‘but he being then very old could not be there in person, but left it to Mr. Webb,’ his pupil and executor.

The division of Nos. 8 and 9, Great St. Helen’s into two took place in the course of last century, probably about 1750, to judge from the style of the fanlights and projecting hoods to the front-doors, and from the staircase of No. 8, the upper part of which, however, was much more archaic, and may have served as part of the back-staircase to the original house. At the time of these later alterations a new brick front was put to the top story, the windows being protected by high iron railings, which showed that these upper rooms were used as nurseries. Before this there was, I should imagine, a high-pitched roof, perhaps hipped, with dormer windows. There must also have been an appropriate cornice and frieze, which would have balanced the heavy projecting window-sills below. That the house always had a fourth story is proved by the fact that both the old staircases extended to the top. The accompanying illustration of part of the front is from a beautiful measured drawing by Mr. H. O. Tarbolton, who studied the house very carefully just before its demolition.




In Allen’s ‘History of London,’ vol. iii., p. 157, I find a statement that this brick mansion (identified by mention of its initials and date) was ‘formerly the residence of Sir J. Lawrence, Lord Mayor in 1665.’ This appears to be the origin of the idea that the house was built for him, and that he kept his mayoralty there, which has of late been usually accepted as a fact. There is no doubt that Nos. 8 and 9, Great St. Helen’s was his property in 1665, but he was living in a house of totally different appearance—an illustration of which, by T. Prattent, published in 1796, forms the frontispiece to vol. xxix. of the European Magazine. As there shown, it had elaborate plaster decorations in front, with the City arms and the arms of Lawrence, and last, though not least, the inscription sr jl—k & a. 1662. Sir John Lawrence’s residence is marked by name in the map of Bishopsgate Street Ward accompanying Strype’s Stow, where a slight sketch of it is also given; the present Jewish synagogue in Great St. Helen’s is a little bit west of the site.

Having looked up the history of the Lawrence family, and its connection with this parish, I think[206] I can show that the initials on the pilaster of Nos. 8 and 9, Great St. Helen’s were not those of Sir John Lawrence and his wife Abigail, but of his uncle Adam and his uncle’s wife. The Lawrences, like many other eminent mercantile families, were originally Dutch or Flemish. The name was spelt in various ways, as Laurens, Laureijns, Laurents, etc., until, when its possessors became thoroughly anglicized, it took the English form. Le Neve, the herald, says that a Marcus Lawrence, from Flanders, who had married Gertrude Huesen, came and settled in London. He had, among other children, a son Abraham and a son Adam. The latter was baptized at the Dutch Church, Austin Friars, September 8, 1584;[94] and one may fairly assume that it was he who there married, May 28, 1610, Judith Van den Brugghe, of Norwich, where there was then a strong settlement of people from the Low Countries. He was appointed deacon of the Dutch Church in 1628, and became an elder in 1632. Eleven years later he had taken up his residence in Great St. Helen’s, as we learn from an entry in the parish register,[95][207] which suggests the forlorn condition of the homeless poor in those days. On the 23rd of April, 1643, ‘a female infant, found dead at the dore of Mr. Adam Lawrence, merchant, was buried in the churchyard’ there. What house he was then living in I am not able to determine; but in the year 1646 the house just now destroyed was doubtless either built or altered for his own residence, and on it was placed an inscription, according to the custom of the country whence he sprang.

I have previously pointed out that in inscriptions of this kind the initial of the husband’s Christian name is almost invariably on the left, the wife’s on the right, and that of the surname above. The letters in question would therefore have stood for ‘Adam and Judith Lawrence.’ In 1650 came the inevitable ending to their long married life. On the 9th of April it is recorded that Judith ‘Laurents’[96] was buried in the church of Great St. Helen’s. Adam died in October, 1657. His will describes him as a merchant, and he seems to[208] have been a very prosperous one. He desires to be buried near his wife, in Great St. Helen’s, and leaves £100 to the poor of the Dutch congregation in Austin Friars, and £100 towards the maintenance of the ministry there; also similar legacies for the parish of Great St. Helen’s, and £100 to the poor children of Christ’s Hospital. Amongst numerous nephews, he singles out for special favour John, who seems to have been a son of his brother Abraham. To him he leaves several houses and gardens in the parish, amongst others his ‘now dwelling-house, with the yards, garden edifices, appurtenances, and hereditaments whatsoever thereunto belonging.’ This, no doubt, was Nos. 8 and 9, Great St. Helen’s, unless after his wife’s death he had shifted into another residence. Adam also left to his nephew John his share in the ‘sister’s thread trade,’ whatever that may mean, which he had in partnership with Abraham Cullen,[97] the elder, and Philip Van Cassole; and £1,500 to Abigail, his nephew’s wife, who died in 1681, and whose monument still exists in Great St. Helen’s Church, where it is recorded that she was ‘the tender mother of ten children. The nine first, being all daughters, she suckled at her own breasts;[209] they all lived to be of age. Her last, a son, died an infant. Shee lived a married wife 39 years, 23 whereof she was an exemplary matron of this Cittie,[98] dying in the 59th year of her age.’ This lady was eldest daughter of Abraham Cullen, who appears to have been nearly related to the Lawrence family. One paragraph of Adam’s will is worth quoting, because it seems to indicate that pretentious public funerals were then not uncommon in the City, and that he, at any rate, was free from a taste for vulgar display. He says: ‘Lastly, my desire is that my funerall be decently performed without anie pompe or ceremonie of mourners, and that my corps be carried from my own dwelling house, not troubling any publique hall.’

John Lawrence, the nephew, seems to have been a pattern City merchant. He had begun life as a Bluecoat boy, hence, perhaps, his uncle’s legacy. In 1658 he served the office of Sheriff. On June 16, 1660, he was knighted by Charles II., when that monarch, accompanied by his brothers, the Dukes of York and Gloucester, and some of the nobility, was entertained at supper by the Lord Mayor, Sir Thomas Alleyne. In 1662 Sir John Lawrence appears to have built a new house for himself, the one before alluded to, which[210] was drawn by Prattent, not unlikely on a ‘garden plot’ mentioned in his uncle’s will. In 1664 he was elected Lord Mayor, and Evelyn speaks of a ‘most magnificent triumph by water and land’ on that occasion. Evelyn also attended the Lord Mayor’s banquet, and tells us that it was said to have cost £1,000. He dined at the upper table with the Lord Chancellor, the Dukes of Albermarle, Ormonde and Buckingham, the French Ambassador and other great personages. The Lord Mayor twice came up to them, ‘first drinking in the golden goblet his Majesty’s health, then the French King’s as a compliment to the Ambassador’; they ‘returned my Lord Mayor’s health, the trumpets and drums sounding. The cheer was not to be imagined for the plenty and rarity, with an infinite number of persons at the tables in that ample hall.’ Sir John Lawrence showed both courage and liberality whilst the Great Plague was raging in the following year. He stuck to his post, ‘enforced the wisest regulations then known,’ and, when multitudes of servants were dismissed through fear of contagion, he is said to have ‘supported them all, as well as the needy who were sick; at first by expending his own fortune, till subscriptions could be solicited and received from all parts of the nation.’ Dr. Erasmus Darwin, in his ‘Loves of the Plants,’ canto ii., devotes a few lines to ‘London’s[211] generous Mayor.’ Five deaths only are recorded in Great St. Helen’s during the year 1665, which suggests that those connected with the Church showed less courage than the chief parishioner, and that the register was neglected.

In 1684 the house of late numbered 8 and 9, Great St. Helen’s was in the occupation of one William Moses. That year Sir John Lawrence, who so far had not handed over his uncle’s legacy for the poor of the parish, agreed to discharge his obligation by payment of £250, and to give £100 in addition for leave to make a family vault in the church. In 1690 Sir John was living in Putney, as appears from the churchwardens’ accounts.[99] He died January, 1691-2, and was buried on the 29th of that month, in the family vault which had been constructed for him under the church of Great St. Helen’s, but no monument to his[212] memory exists. The Rev. J. E. Cox, D.D., in his ‘Annals of St. Helen’s’ tells us that at the church restoration of 1865-8 ‘a quaint piece of carved work, which had been set up to sustain the Lord Mayor’s sword and mace, was removed to the pillar dividing the choir from the Chapel of the Holy Ghost.’ The following is a description of it taken almost verbatim from Allen: ‘It consists of two twisted Corinthian columns, supporting an entablature highly enriched, and an attic panel. The shafts of the columns are set off with a wreath of foliage running round them. On the frieze are the arms of Sir John Lawrence, in the attic are the City arms, and the whole structure is crowned with the arms of Charles II., supported by two gilt angels, and surmounted with the royal crown.’ I hope that this interesting memento of a great City worthy, though not ‘Gothic’ in style, will be carefully preserved during the far more wholesale restoration which is now in progress.

Sir John Lawrence’s arms were: argent, a cross raguly gules, a canton ermine.[100] Peter le Neve[213] says that they were granted to him September 18, 1664, and to his brothers James and Abraham, sons of Abraham Lawrence deceased; but it must have been earlier, as they appear on his house associated with the date 1662. Faulkner, in his ‘History of Chelsea,’ no doubt deceived by the fact that their arms were identical, assumes that Sir John Lawrence belonged to the ancient English family of the same name, whose memory is perpetuated by various monuments at the end of the north aisle of Chelsea old church. Both he and Dr. Cox[101] go so far as to say that Sir John was buried there; but his namesake, ‘Sir John Lawrence, Knight and Baronet,’ to whose memory a tablet was placed against the east wall of Chelsea Church, belonged to Iver, in the county of Bucks, and died in 1638, aged fifty years, as appears by the inscription. For several generations the descendants of the famous Lord Mayor continued to own the house which became Nos. 8 and 9, Great St. Helen’s. It afterwards passed into the hands of the Guise family, from whom it was inherited by an ancestor of the last possessor, Mr. John Cosens Stevens. Peace be to its memory!

The passage from Great St. Helen’s into[214] Bishopsgate Street passes under old gabled buildings which date from before the time of the Great Fire. On the left is the northern front of Crosby Hall, part of a Gothic mansion unrivalled in its day, though little of the original structure remains. This side was almost entirely rebuilt more than fifty years ago. The oriel window, weathered by London atmosphere, has a very picturesque effect; it is surmounted by the arms of Sir John Crosby, the eminent citizen who built and first possessed the mansion, and who lies buried in the adjoining church, where there is a rich altar-tomb to his memory, with the recumbent figures of him and his first wife, Anneys. On this tomb also are the Crosby arms, namely: sable, a chevron ermine between three rams trippant argent, armed and hoofed or. Sir John, a keen supporter of the House of York, was knighted by Edward IV. in the year 1471; he served as Sheriff of London in 1470, and held the important post of Mayor of the Staple of Calais.

Opposite to Crosby Hall, on the northern side of Great St. Helen’s Passage, there stood till September, 1892, a structure which, though unpretentious, had an air of quaintness, with its iron railings in front and broad white window-frames. The inscription on a tablet above the door of this building ran as follows: ‘These alms-houses were founded by Sir Andrew Judd, Kt., Citizen &[215] Skinner and Lord Mayor of London, Anno Dom. 1551. For six poor men of ye said Company. Rebuilt by ye said Company Anno Dom. 1729.’ The original alms-houses are supposed to have been further east.

Sir Andrew Judd was a native of Tunbridge in Kent, near which town he inherited considerable estates. Having entered commercial life, he made a large fortune by trading in furs, and, as Stow tells us, he kept his mayoralty in a ‘fair house’ in Bishopsgate Street, which had been before used for a similar purpose by Sir William Holles, the ancestor of the Earls of Clare. It was during Judd’s mayoralty, in 1550, that the City of London obtained from the King by charter lands in Southwark, forming now so important a property, and to which I alluded in my account of the Dog and Duck, St. George’s Fields. Sir Andrew was also buried in the church of Great St. Helen’s, which has been a sort of Westminster Abbey for great citizens. A quaint Elizabethan monument marks his resting-place. The inscription gives quite a little biography of him; as was remarked by one of our Transatlantic cousins, ‘it states all the facts, and rhymes in some places.’ In the ‘Historical Collections of the Noble Families of Cavendish, Holles, Vere, Harley and Ogle,’ ed. Lond. 1752, compiled by Arthur Collins, it is asserted that, in building the alms-houses, Judd[216] was only acting as executor to his cousin ‘Elizabeth, widow of Sir William Holles of St. Helen’s, Alderman,’ and this seems to be shown by her will, which was proved March 28, 1544. Stow, however, does not mention her name in connection with the charity. It was augmented by Sir Andrew Judd’s daughter, Alice Smyth, of Westenhanger, Kent. Sir Andrew had also been executor to the Holles family. His original alms-houses were nearer the church than those the site of which the Skinners’ Company has now, I believe, disposed of. He also founded and endowed Tunbridge Grammar School.

Great St. Helen’s is being so rapidly ‘improved’ that it will soon become quite commonplace and uninteresting. A piece was shorn off the churchyard some years ago, no one exactly knew why, and several picturesque plastered houses, immediately west of Nos. 8 and 9, have been pulled down within my memory. At the corner, opposite to the pretty south porch of the church, attributed by the Rev. Thomas Hugo to Inigo Jones, a quaint and very old building still remains, which actually touched the house of the Lawrences. No. 10 is constructed of wood and plaster, with projecting upper stories and massive timbering; it dates from long before the Great Fire; the inside, however, has been modernized. Tradition boldly asserts that Anne[217] Boleyn’s father, Sir Thomas, afterwards Viscount Rochford and Earl of Wiltshire, at one time lived here. It is an undoubted fact that one of the name was intimately connected with St. Helen’s, for ‘on the 24th December, 26th Hen. VIII., 1534, the Prioress and Convent appointed Sir James Bolleyne, knt., to be steward of their lands and tenements in London and elsewhere, the duties to be performed either by himself or a sufficient deputy, during the life of the said James, at a stipend of forty shillings a year, payable at Christmas. If in arrear for six weeks the said James might enter and distrain.’ Query: was this Sir Thomas Boleyn’s elder brother? There was a right of way hereabout from very early times, for Dugdale tells us that in the Hundred Roll of 3rd Edward I. several entries occur relating to an attempt which the nuns made to stop up the lane or passage through the court of their nunnery from Bishopsgate Street to St. Mary Axe, sometimes called St. Helen’s Lane. If, as is possible, the house dates from before the Dissolution of the Monasteries, when it first saw the light there must have been few buildings near the even then venerable Church of St. Helen and the adjoining priory. Crosby Place, indeed, stood hard by, on land leased from the nuns for a term of ninety-nine years, but much open space yet remained. Even as late as the end of last century[218] there was a considerable field or garden immediately to the east of the church, as shown in a view by Malcolm dated 1799.

The buildings and grounds of Crosby Place seem to have extended at first almost to Leadenhall Street. The houses[102] in Crosby Square are said to have been built about the year 1678, on the site of some of the offices which had been destroyed by fire. I cannot say how it happened that in the early part of the seventeenth century a house of considerable size had already been erected on part of Crosby Place, or could it have been just outside the precincts? This was latterly known as No. 25, Bishopsgate Street Within, or Crosby Hall Chambers. It succumbed to the pickaxe of the builder as nearly as possible at the same time as Adam Lawrence’s old residence in Great St. Helen’s. The part facing Bishopsgate Street had no sign of antiquity except two carved festoons of flowers, much blocked up with paint, between the first-floor windows. Up a passage,[103] however, one could see something of the north[219] side or front, which showed architectural features of merit. It rested on round arches composed of rustic work, and above were pilasters furnished with capitals. On the first-floor, looking out on this passage, there was a room adorned by a very beautiful chimney-piece, with the initials g b and the date 1633 in the centre panel. The lower part is of stone, the over-mantel of oak, in very fine condition, all the delicacy of the carving having been preserved by thick layers of paint, which have just been removed. On the ceiling of the same room there was also a fragment of original plaster decoration, which has been presented to the South Kensington Museum. The site of Crosby Hall Chambers will be occupied by the Bank of Scotland. It is proposed to put up the chimney-piece in their new premises.

In 1857 the Rev. Thomas Hugo, F.S.A., wrote an interesting itinerary of the Ward of Bishopsgate for the journal of the London and Middlesex Archæological Society. His paper was republished in book form five years later; it contains valuable illustrations of Nos. 8 and 9, Great St. Helen’s and of Crosby Hall Chambers, besides other houses which have passed away. The letterpress is inspired by a fine enthusiasm; but his architectural judgment is, I think, not altogether to be relied on. He considers that both the above-named buildings were designed by Inigo Jones.


Austin Friars, another region in the heart of the City perhaps as interesting as that which I have just described, is, like it, rapidly being transformed. Not long ago it still maintained a distinctive character. Something of monastic calm seemed to linger about the old home and grounds of the begging friars, crowned by part of their church, which since Edward VI.’s time has been handed over to the Dutch congregation of London. Outside, in Broad Street, there was the roar and confusion of a mighty traffic; within the sacred precinct there was peace: wheeled vehicles seldom entered the very foot passengers, I have thought, used to slacken their pace, and relax for a moment the grim, determined look which, as a rule, characterizes the man whose mind is bent on business.

Passing round what remains of the old church, one may still see a house—No. 10—which is an excellent example of the real Queen Anne style; to judge from the date on a rainpipe, it was probably completed in the year 1704. The porch has a flight of steps; ascending this, one finds before one a spacious staircase panelled throughout, and especially noticeable on account of its fine painted ceiling, one of the last to be met with in a City mansion. No. 11 forms part of the same block of buildings.

Retracing our steps, we see standing back somewhat[221] from the main roadway, to the right of a new passage just opened into what is called, in mockery, Drapers’ Gardens, a tall new structure occupying the site of another old brick mansion the associations of which were very remarkable. The house in question, No. 21, Austin Friars, had been built during the latter part of the seventeenth century, possibly even before the Great Fire, which did not extend so far north; it seems to be marked in Ogilby’s map of 1677. About the early possessors, Richard Young and others, nothing is known of any special interest. In the year 1705 it came into the hands of Herman Olmius, merchant, whose name occurs in the ‘Little London Directory’ for 1677, where he is described as of Angel Alley, Bishopsgate Street Without. He was descended from an ancient family of Arlon, in the duchy of Luxemburg, and was naturalized by Act of Parliament, 29th Charles II. Here he lived and carried on his business, and here, having made and inherited a large fortune, he died in the year 1718. His will shows that he was a member, not of the Dutch congregation of the neighbouring church in Austin Friars, but of the French Church in Threadneedle Street, to which he left £150 for the benefit of the poor. At the time of his death he possessed four other houses in Austin Friars, ‘with yards, gardens, and appurtenances,’ a shop called the Crane in the Poultry, and another with the[222] sign of the Plough in Bucklersbury. He also had much real property in Essex and elsewhere. Herman was the son of Johannes Ludovicus or John Lewis Olmius, and of his wife Margareta Gerverdine. He married Judith, daughter and heiress of John Drigue, who also appears to have been living in Angel Court or Alley in 1677, and who had also married an heiress, the daughter of John Billers. Herman Olmius and his wife Judith had no less than ten children, but only two of them left offspring. These were his younger daughter Margaret, wife of Adrian Lernoult, who had predeceased him, and to whose descendants the City property was bequeathed; and John Olmius,[104] born in 1670. This gentleman became High Sheriff of Essex in 1707, a justice of the peace, and Deputy-Lieutenant of the county. He died December 20, 1731, being then Deputy-Governor of the Bank of England. His wife was Elizabeth, daughter and sole heiress of Thomas Clarke, a descendant of the Clarkes of St. Ives, Huntingdon, and probably her husband’s cousin. Their son, also named John, was many years member of Parliament, and received an Irish peerage under the title of Lord Waltham. He married Anne, daughter of Sir William Billers, Lord Mayor in 1733, and left a son and a daughter.[223] The former died without issue in 1787, when the family became extinct in the male line; the latter having married John Luttrell, who was brother of the Duchess of Cumberland,[105] and who became third Earl of Carhampton, had a daughter, Frances Maria, from whom is descended Sir Simeon Henry Stuart, Bart. The Olmius family possessed much land in Essex, and a large country seat at Boreham, now used as a convent. At the Saracen’s Head Hotel, Chelmsford, their fleeting dignity is still represented by two fine hall-chairs emblazoned with the Olmius crest, namely a demi-Moor in armour between laurel branches, surmounted by a baron’s coronet. My friend Mr. Francis Galton would doubtless tell us that the failure of the family in the male line resulted naturally from marriage with heiresses and from intermarriage. Its rapid rise had also, no doubt, been in part owing to the former cause.

The house in Austin Friars continued for several generations to belong to the descendants of the younger daughter of Herman Olmius. In 1783 Hughes Minet came to live here, and in 1802[224] he bought a sixth share from three brothers named Clarke, great-grandsons of Margaret Lernoult. He was a merchant and banker, of Huguenot descent, and his family had long carried on a prosperous business at Dover. His descendant, Mr. William Minet, has just written a very interesting account of them. The Minets lived in Austin Friars for many years, though they never owned more than a sixth of the property. In 1838 Mr. Isaac Minet, the then representative of the family, sold his share of the freehold, and we find Messrs. Thomas, Son, and Lefevre established here, the last-named being a brother of the late Lord Eversley. The final owner was Mr. John Fleming, by whose courtesy I had the privilege of visiting the house on almost the last day that it remained intact.

In point of fact, No. 21, Austin Friars was by no means a striking specimen of architecture, but having remained from the beginning practically unchanged, there were points about it worthy of record. Externally it was a plain four-storied brick structure, the only piece of decoration being a carved hood to the doorway which formed the chief entrance from Austin Friars. Passing through this, the visitor found himself in a hall, looking up a broad winding staircase with twisted balusters. To the right was the counting-house, panelled throughout with South Carolina pine. It had an old Purbeck[225] marble mantelpiece, on the upper line of which appeared in white marble the Olmius arms,[106] quartered with those of the foreign families of Gerverdine, Cappré, Drigue, and Reynstein. The double panes above was worthy of remark as characteristic of the time of Wren. Under an arch at the end of the counting-house was a strong-room lined throughout with Dutch tiles. Mounting the staircase, one came upon the dining-room, with its ingeniously contrived cupboard, and the drawing-room, which looked out on what was, till within the last few years, the pleasant and ample garden of the Drapers’ Company, now covered, all but a fragment, with bricks and mortar. A view of this garden is given in Cassell’s ‘Old and New London,’ vol. i., p. 517, with No. 21, Austin Friars showing itself beyond the trees in the middle distance; but no reference to it is made in the letterpress. On the first-floor also, above the chief office, was a small warehouse or sample-room, an indispensable adjunct to the old merchant’s dwelling,[107] Above were capital bedrooms, while a[226] narrow staircase gave access to the tiled roof, surrounded by a stone parapet. Retracing one’s steps to the hall, one found, flanking a passage on the side opposite to the counting-house, a lofty kitchen still furnished with smoke-jack, spit-racks, and iron caldron-holders, and adjoining the range an oven lined with blue and white Dutch tiles, no doubt a legacy of the Olmius family. Formerly, also, most of the chimneypieces in the house were fitted up with Dutch tiles, blue and white or red and white; but these in course of time had disappeared. In the basement were cellars, and close to them an old surface well, which still contained water, analyzed at the time of its destruction and found to be little better than sewage. A door in the passage was prettily carved. Through this one passed to the outer offices, a brewery, wash-house, coach-house and stables; and thence again there was access by the side-entrance into the garden,[108] a[227] quiet spot some half acre in extent, which no doubt had originally formed part of the friars’ grounds. It was connected by steps with a narrow terrace running along the back of the house. Here in the summer of 1888 I saw fig-trees still flourishing while the work of destruction had already begun.

The boundary at the end of this garden was formed by another interesting house, No. 23, Great Winchester Street, which has also lately been improved out of existence. It occupied a good deal of ground, being approached through a paved yard with a lodge on each side of the entrance. Externally its chief characteristics were a somewhat high-pitched roof and wings projecting forward. Inside the chief reception-room was finely proportioned, with capital mouldings and cornices, and there was an old kitchen range of portentous size.

Close to this house, and also adjoining Drapers’ Garden, was formerly the garden attached to the Carpenters’ Hall, so that a few years ago this neighbourhood was a paradise of open spaces. At the dissolution the house and gardens of the Augustine Friars had been bestowed by Henry VIII. on William Paulet, first Marquis of Winchester, who there built his town residence, traces of which existed as late as the year 1844: after this mansion Winchester Street was named.[228] From a date carved on a grotesque bracket formerly to be seen at the north-east corner, it appears that the street was constructed, partly at least, in the year 1656, during Cromwell’s government. Strype says that here was ‘a great messuage called the Spanish Ambassador’s House, of late inhabited by Sir James Houblon, Knight and Alderman, and other fair houses.’ Even down to our time it was a remarkably picturesque specimen of a London street. Now nothing but the name is left, to mark its connection with antiquity.

It may here be noted that even till comparatively recent times almost every house in the City had a garden, or at any rate some open space, belonging to it, as may be proved by reference to old maps and views. Horwood’s map, published in 1799, shows how much garden ground still remained at the end of last century. Besides this, before the days of lifts, high pressure of water, and gas or electric light laid on, the inconvenience of very high houses prevented their being built to any great extent. The comparative sparseness of the population should undoubtedly have given our ancestors a great advantage over us with regard to health, but it was more than counterbalanced by drawbacks resulting from ignorance—for example, the use of impure water, and the inability to grapple with diseases which are now comparatively innocuous.


The disappearance of these open spaces, and the erection of enormously high buildings on every available spot, is, I believe, a great evil, not only from the picturesque, but from the sanitary point of view. Writers on sanitary subjects are agreed that, of dangers to health, overcrowding is one of the greatest, and that, other things being equal, the death-rate regularly increases in proportion to the density of the population. Dr. G. V. Poore[109] has recently pointed out that every new set of offices adds its quota to the sewage in the river; while ‘the absence of green plants entails a great loss of nascent oxygen or ozone which gives to air its peculiar quality of freshness.’ In his opinion, it is hardly conceivable that a high level of health can be maintained in a spot where vegetable life languishes, animal and vegetable life being complementary to each other.

Some will no doubt console themselves with the notion that, the City being now to a great extent merely a place of business, those who spend the day there (considerably more than a million, according to the last calculation) can throw off the ill effects while they are away. To this I reply that, if one includes the outlying parts, many thousands still make it their home, and[230] that, in any case, to spend a quarter of one’s existence under most unhealthy conditions must tend to cause illness and to shorten life. In these times of popular government, the great City Guilds are more or less on their probation. If I am right, the Drapers’ Company, whatever the temptation may have been, committed a fatal mistake when they covered their garden with huge blocks of offices, a mistake which can never be atoned for by any amount of charitable donation. Their example has been quickly followed, and soon, I fear, hardly one breathing-space will remain in the City except the ground about St. Paul’s and the Tower, and here and there a bit of a disused graveyard hemmed in by lofty offices and warehouses.



Adam and Eve, Newgate Street, sign, 121

Addle Street; derivation of name, 47

Aggas’s, Ralph, map, 139

Aldermanbury, sign in, 94

Alleyne, Sir Thomas, Lord Mayor, 209

Altitude, highest in City, 7

Ancaster, Duke of, 153

Anchor, signs, 106

Angel Alley, 221

Angel, Islington, 180, 182

Ape, carving of, 46

Aquarium Tavern, 166

Artillery Street, Bishopsgate Without, 167

Ashburnham, Lord, 35

Ashby-Sterry, J., 158

Ashwell’s Place, site of, 179

Austin Friars, 220

house in, 220

Axe and Bottle Yard, 136

Bacon, Francis, 134

Bagnigge House, 192, 195, 196

Bagnigge Wells, 191-196

Bagnio Court, 20

Baker and Basket, sign, 6

Baltassar, one of the Three Kings, 32

Barrington, Hon. D., on arms of Inner Temple, 132

Bartholomew Close, 137

Basing House, 202


Bath Street, 20

Battle Bridge, 198

Bear, Brown, Cheapside, sign, 48, 49

chained and muzzled, signs, 47, 49

White, sign, 48

with collar and chain, sign, 47

Bear Quay, 49

Beare Lane, 49

Beauty in distress, sign, 71

Beer Lane, 49

Bel and the Dragon, sign, 50

Bell, the, sign, 106

Bell on the Hoop, sign, 123

Bell Savage Inn, the, 123

Ben Jonson Tavern, 169

Berners, Ralph de, 141

Berriman, Dr. W., 146

Bethlehem Hospital, 67, 71

Bevis, Dr. John, 193, 195

Bible and Crown, sign, 110

Billers, Sir William, Lord Mayor, 222

Birch, W. de Gray, 74

Bishopsgate Street, 214

Bishopsgate, Ward of, 219

Black Boy, advertisement, temp. 1695, 25

Black Friars, 130

Black Jack, sign, 157

Black Mary’s Well, or Hole, 191

Black Spread Eagle Court, 93

Blackamore Street, 25, 148

Blackfriars Road, 158


Blackmore Street, 25, 148

Bloomfield’s MS., 132

Blowbladder Street, 19

Boar’s Head, sign, 51, 119

Tavern, 52-60

Body-snatchers, resort of, 9

Boleyn, Sir Thomas, 217

Bottle, Golden, sign, 157

Boulting Mill, 178

Bow Churchyard, sign in, 118

Bowl and Mouth, signs, 64

Boy and Panyer, sign, 4

Braynes Row, 191

Brewers’ Company, 5, 165

Bridge House, the, 76

estate, 71, 75

Brook Place, 191

Browne, Sir Thomas, 43

Bryanston Street, 169

Buc, Sir George, 132

Bucklersbury, 26

Buckingham, Duke of, 20

Buckingham, Earl of, 147

Bucks’ Heads, Three, sign, 13

Budge Row, origin of name, 126

Bull, Bishopsgate Street Within, 61

Bull and Mouth Inn, Aldersgate, 63-66

sale of, 65

sign, 63

Bull Head Court, 19

Bull Inn, mutiny at, 62

Burrup, Miss, 177

Busby’s Folly, 85

Butcher Hall Lane, 19

Byrons, badge of, 61

Canon Alley, St. Paul’s, 111

Canonbury, Islington, 141

Place, 141

Tower, 142

Caps of burgesses, 175

Carhampton, Earl of, 223

Carpenters’ Hall, 227

Cateaton Street, 14

Cavendish, Lady Margaret, 151

Chambers, James, goldsmith, 157

Chancery Lane, 129

Chapel Street. See Great Chapel Street

Chaplin, W., coach proprietor, 99

Charles I.’s porter and dwarf, 19


Charles Street, Leather Lane, 157

Charlet, Gregory, 145

Charlotte Street, 158

Chaucer, poet, 135

Cheapside Cross, 97

Chesterfield, Lord, 152

Cheyne Walk, 159

Childs and Co., bankers, 156

Chimneypiece, Bishopsgate Street, 219

Cibber, Colley, actor, 187

Civet cat, carving, 66

Clare, Earl of, 147, 215

Market, 24, 146

Street, 24

Clement’s Inn, 147

Clement’s Inn Fields, 148

market held in, 149

Cloth Fair, 137, 139

Coach and Horses, sign, 170

Cock Inn, 166

and Bottle, sign, 176

Court, 47

sign, 103

with snake, sign, 101

Coffee-house sign, 176

Compton family, 143

Compton Street, Clerkenwell, 146

Coopers’ Company, 157

crest, 91

Coppice Row, 191

Corbyn and Co.’s Poultry, sign at, 50

Coutts, Lady Burdett, 55

Cow and Co., Messrs., 47

Cox and Hammond’s, Messrs., sign at, 49

Cox, Rev. J. E., 212

Crane, sign, 89

in the Poultry, 221

Cranes, Three, in the Vintry, sign, 90

Crescent moon, 43

Cromer Street, 196

Crosby Hall, 214

Hall Chambers, 218

Place, 217

Square, 218

Crosby, Sir John, arms, 214

Cross Street, Islington, 145

Crown and Magpie, sign, 104

Crowns, Three, sign, 27


Cumberland, Duchess of, 223

Duke of, 169

Cutler, Sir John, 172

Cutlers’ Company, arms of, 122, 124

Danvers Street, Cheyne Walk, 161

Darwin, Dr. Erasmus, 210

Dennys, Sir Walter, arms of, 142

Denzil Street, 150

Dering Street, Oxford Street, 161

Devereux, Lady Penelope, 140

Digby, Sir Kenelm, 151

Doctor’s signboard, 160

Dog and Duck, sign, 67, 215

Dog’s Head in the Pot, sign, 158

Dorrington Street, 164

Doves, Four, sign, 90

Drapers’ Company, 230

Gardens, 221, 227

Drury Lane, 148

Ducking ponds, 68

Dugdale, Sir William, 130

Duke Street, 162

Dyers’ Company, 100

Eagle with two Heads, sign, 91

Eldernesse Lane, 12

Elephant and Castle, 122

Epiphany or Twelfth Day, 39

Epitaph on drawer at Boar’s Head, 56

Essex, Earl of, arms, 98

Evans, William, giant, 20

Falstaff, drawing of, 58

Fastolfe, Sir John, 60

Field Court, 133

Fire at Southwark, 42, 79

Fire of London, memorial of, 9

Fishmongers’ Company, arms of, 61

Fleet, banks of the, 192

Fleet Street, 131

Fleming, Mr. John, 224

Fortune of War Inn, 8

Four Doves, sign, 90

Fowler, Thomas, 144

Fowler family, 180

Fowler of Islington, arms of, 144, 145

Fox, sign, 77


Foxes, Three, sign, 77

Friday Street, 135

Fruiterers’ Company, arms of, 122

Galton, Francis, 223

Gaming House and Shaver’s Hall, 163

Garden produce, temp. Edward I., 130

Gardens to City houses, 228

Gardiner’s Lane, 15

Gaspar, 31

George Inn, 79, 80

advertisement of, temp. 1762, 16

Gerard the Giant, 17

Gerrard Street, 162

Gerrardes Hall, 18

Gilbert Street and Passage, 149

Gisor’s Hall, 18

Goat in Boots, sign, 168

Gog and Magog, 17 note

Golden Bottle, sign, 157

Golden Lion, house and sign, 83

Goldsmiths’ Company, 129

Goose and Gridiron, sign, 114

Gosling, Messrs., sign, 156, 157

Grasshopper, sign, 157

Gray’s Inn, 133

Gray’s Inn Lane, 199

Gray’s Inn Road, 196

Great Chapel Street, Westminster, 161

Great James Street, Bedford Row, 163

Great St. Helen’s, Bishopsgate, 200, 203 et seq.

Church, 207

Passage, 214

right of way, 217

Great Ormond Street, 153

Great Queen Street, 152, 155

Great Winchester Street, No. 23, 227

Gresham, Sir Thomas, 157

Grey family, arms of, 133

Greys of Wilton, 133

Griffin’s Head, sign, 77, 133

Grosvenor, Sir Robert, 135

Guildhall Museum, 146, 171, 173

Guy of Warwick, 11

Gwynne, Nell, 192


Haberdashers’ Company, 128

Half Moon, sign, 40

Inn Yard, Borough, 41

Passage, 45

Hare and Stirrup, sign, 80

and Three Pigeons, tenements called, 79

in combination with the Sun, 78

Running, sign, 78

Harris, Roger, bequest of, 86

Harrison Street, 196

Hatchett’s Hotel, 169

Hats, Three, sign, 69

Hawkins, Sir John, 25

Hays’ Mews, Charles Street, Berkeley Square, 167

Heathcock, sign, 90

Helmet, sign, 112, 113

Henry, Prince of Wales, 131

Herne, or Heron, family, 146

Hicks Hall, Middlesex Session House, 48

Hoare, Messrs., their sign, 157

Hobson, portrait of, 62

Hogarth’s picture of Evening, 181;

of Southwark Fair, 42

Holland, Earl of, 140

Holles family, 147

arms of, 149

Sir William, 215

Holywell Street, 44

Hood, Robin, 197

Horn of Unicorn, 87

Horsham free school, founding of, 40

Houblon, Sir James, 228

Howard, Lord William, 132

Hudson, Jeffery, dwarf, 20

Thomas, painter, 155

Hugo, Rev. Thomas, 216, 219

Inner Temple, heraldic charge, 131

Inns of Court and Chancery, arms of, 129

Islington, Upper Street, 146

Islington Wells, 180, 188

Jack in the Green, 24

Jackson, William, smuggler, 38

James Street, Haymarket, 163. See Great James Street


Jones, Inigo, 154, 201, 216

Judd, Sir Andrew, Lord Mayor, 214

King of the Fields, 69

King’s Cross Road, 195, 197

King Street, Southwark, 136

Kings, Three, signs, 26-45

King’s White Bear, the, 50

Kenton, Benjamin, vintner, 104

Kneller, Sir Godfrey, 155

Knights Templars, 132

Lacy, Henry de, Earl of Lincoln, 130

Lad Lane, 99

Laing, David, 35

Lamb and Flag, 75, 131, 132

Lambeth Hill, 27

Lamb’s Conduit, 196

Lawrence, Adam, 206

will of, 208

family history of, 206 et seq.

Lawrence, Sir John, Lord Mayor, 205

Mayor’s Banquet, 210

arms of, 212

Lea, Sir James, 131

Leadenhall Street, 218

Leathern Bottle, sign, 157

Leathersellers’ Arms, 13

Leathersellers’ Company, 12

Leigh, Gerard, 132

Lennep, J. Van, 3

Leopard, sign, 125

Lernoult, Margaret, 224

Lincoln’s Inn, 129

Fields, 152, 153, 162

Lindsey, Earl of, 153

House, 152

Lion, stone bas-relief, sign, 83

Golden, sign, 83

White, sign, 83-86

Little Distaff Lane, 110

Lloyd’s Row, 189

London Bridge, 136

Spa, the, 190

Long Lane, 139

Long Melford, Suffolk, 38

Longmans, Messrs., their sign, 111

Lovell, Sir Thomas, 130

Lyons Inn, 45


Lysons, Rev. Canon, 178

Magi, the, 28

Maidenhead Inn, 14

sign, 119

Maiden’s Head, sign, 126

Man in the Moon, sign, 40

Mantelpiece, seventeenth century, 200

from the old Cock Inn, 104

at 21, Austin Friars, 224

Marks, Alfred, 154

Marshall, Julian, 163

Martin and Co., bankers, their sign, 157

Martin, J. B., 157

Mary the Virgin, 29

Marygold, sign, 156

May’s Buildings, St. Martin’s Lane, 162

Melchior, one of the Three Kings, 31

Mercers’ Company, 14

arms of, 126

Merchant Tailors’ Company, 129

Merchants’ trade marks, 74

Merlin’s Cave Tavern, 190

Mermaid, carved in relief, 60

in Bread Street, 61

in Cornhill, 61

sign of at Gravesend, 60

in Holland, 60

Middle Temple, gatehouse, 131

Midshipman, wooden, 157

Miller, Sir John, 81

Milton, John, sign showing birthplace, 92

Mineral spring, St. George’s Fields, 70

Minerva, head of, 12

Minet, Hughes, 223

Minet, Walter, 224

Minories, the, 157

Mitre Court, 116

Mitres, stone bas-reliefs of, 113, 116

Montagu, Lady Mary Wortley, 188

More, Sir Thomas, 138

Morris Dancers, Three, sign, 22

Mount Pleasant, Gray’s Inn Lane, 164


Mouth, sign, Bishopsgate Street, 64

Myddleton, Sir Hugh, 181

Myddleton’s Head Inn, 181, 183

Nag’s Head, Unicorn sign wrongly called, 86

sign, 97

Naked Boy, sign, 11

Narwhal’s horn, 88

Nassau Street, 162

Negroes’ Heads, 24, 146

Newcastle, Duke of, 151

House, 152

Newcomen Street, Southwark, 136

New Market, 149

New River Company, portrait of founder, 181

New River Head, 183

New Tunbridge Wells, 187

New Wells, near London Spa, 186

New White Horse Cellars, signboard, 169

Northampton, Marquis of, 143

Norwich Cathedral, 34

Old Bell Inn, Holborn, 143

Olmius, Herman, merchant, 221

Ormond Street. See Great Ormond Street

Ormonde, Duke of, 169

Ostrich, stone bas-relief, 91

Oxford Arms, Warwick Lane, 65

Pakenham Street, 195

Panyer Alley, sign in, 4

Parish marks, 166

Peakes, Sir John, Lord Mayor, 129

Pegasus, Inner Temple, sign, 131

Pelham, Thomas, 152

Pelican, as an emblem, 95

sign, 94

and Phœnix, 96

Pepys’ Diary, extract from, 84

Person, Father, 139

Peter Street, Westminster, 166

Phelps, Samuel, actor, 186

Philip Lane, 46

Physicians, College of, 172

Pie, sign, 10

Pie Corner, 9, 10

Pied Bull Inn, 81

Pindar Place, 196


Pinder a Wakefielde, inn, 196

Pinder of Wakefield, 196

Pinder, equivalent to, 197

Plough, sign, Bucklersbury, 222

Poore, Dr. G. V., 229

Pope, Mr. M., F.S.A., 91

Portland, Duke of, 151

Powis, Marquis of, 151

Place, 153

Preaching Friars, 130, 138

Price, Hilton, on bankers’ signs, 156

Prince of Wales’ feathers, 111

Pudding Lane, 9

Queen Street. See Great Queen Street

Raleigh, Sir Walter, 81, 144

Red Lion Tavern, 180

Rich, Richard, 137

River. See New River

Robin Hood Court, Shoe Lane, 167

Roman dress, bust of woman in, 192

Roman temple, site of, 179

Rookery, Gray’s Inn, 134

Rose, the, 92

Rose and Crown, 111

Rose and Fleur-de-lys, 154

Rosebery Avenue, 164, 182

Rosoman Street, 187

Rotten Row, Asschowellys Place, 179

Roxalana’s Head, sign, 14

Royal Arms, 135

Bagnio, 20

Yacht Inn, 150

Rufford, Captain Nicholas, 146

Rufford’s Buildings, 146

Running Footman, sign, 167

Sadler’s mineral springs, 183

Music House, 183

Wells Theatre, 181, 183, 185

St. Anselm and Cecilia, chapel, 162

St. Bartholomew the Great, church, 140

St. Bartholomew’s Priory, 138

St. Bride’s, 167

St. Ceadda, well of, 197

St. Chad’s Road, 197

Row, 197


St. Chad’s Well, 198

St. Dunstan’s Church, 157

St. Ethelreda, chapel of, 116

St. George and the Dragon, 15, 17

St. George’s Fields, 67, 70, 215

St. Giles-in-the-Fields, 167

St. Helen’s. See Great St. Helen’s

St. James’s Palace, 167

St. John’s Square, Clerkenwell, 170

Street Road, 190

St. Martin’s Lane, Upper, 167

St. Mary Axe, 217

St. Michael’s Crooked Lane, 56

St. Pancras Churchyard, 198

Well, 198

Salisbury, 170

Sandys Row, 167

Saracen’s Head Hotel, Chelmsford, 223

Sardinia Street, 154, 162

Savage’s Inn, 123

Seven Stars, sign, 39

Shakespere’s Boar’s Head, 51

Sheffield Street, 161

Shepherd Street, 161

Shiffner family, the, 154

Ship and Black Swan, sign, 110

Shoe Lane, 169

Shoreditch High Street, 78

Sims, F. Manley, sign belonging to, 160

Skates, mediæval, 175

Skinners’ Company, 125, 129, 216

Smith, Payne and Smith, sign discovered at their premises, 102

Somers, Sir John, 153

Soper’s Lane, 48

Southwark Arms, 72

Fire, 42, 79

Spa Field, 189

Spas, suburban, 180-199

Spencer, Sir John, 142, 145

Spread Eagle, 91

Court, 93

Squirrels, Three, sign, 156

Staircase, Elizabethan, 201

Star, sign, 40

Stevens, John Cosens, 213

Stinking Lane, 19

Stuart, Sir Simeon Henry, Bart., 223

Sun, sign, 40

Swan, chained, 87, 96-98


Swan and Harp, sign, 115

upping or nicking, 101

with Two Necks, 98

origin of, 100

Tabard Inn, 79

Tallowchandlers’ Company, 91

Tarbolton, H. O., 205

Tavern scoring, 44

Taylor, Edward, bequest of, 13

Temple, Inner, heraldic charge and sign, 131

Tennis Court, 163

Theatrical Booth, 42

Thomas, Son, and Lefevre, 224

Three Bucks’ Heads, sign, 13

Cranes in the Vintry, 90

Crowns, sign, 27

Hats, Islington, sign, 69

Kings, 26

arms of, 34

in plays, etc., 36

the feast of, 33

Magi, 28

Morris Dancers, sign, 22

Squirrels, sign, 156

Time, statuette of, 178

Tothill Street, Westminster, 166

Tower Hill, 159

Tulips, exhibition of, temp. 1779, 198

Tunbridge Grammar School, 216

Wells, New, 187

Turner, Mr. Hudson, 130

Two Brewers, 2

Two Negroes’ Heads, 24, 146

Tyburn, prisoners on the way to, 64

Tylers’ and Bricklayers’ Company, 165

Unicorn, description of, 87

stone bas-relief of, 86

supporter of Royal Arms, 87


Union Street, Southwark, 165

Upper Street, Islington, 146

Upper St. Martin’s Lane, 166

Vinegar Yard, Drury Lane, 171

Vintners’ Company, 100

Waller, J. G., 74

Waltham, Lord, 222

Warwick, Earl of, 140, 147

Warwick, Guy of, stone bas-relief of, 11

Warwick Inn, 12

Lane, 11

Water carnival at Sadler’s Wells, 185

Welbeck, 151

Wentworth, Lord Thomas, 142

Wesley, John, 187

Westgate Street, Gloucester, 159, 178

Weston family, 143

White Bear, 48, 50

Hart Inn, 79

Lion, 83

Islington, 180

Whittington and his Cat, 178

Whistling Oyster, sign, 171

Wilberforce, William, 57

Williams, Mr., and the Royal Arms from old London Bridge, 137

Wilton House, 203

Wiltshire, Earl of, 217

Winchester, Marquis of, 227

Winchester Street. See Great Winchester Street

Winde, Captain William, 152

Winged Horse, the, 131

Winter’s-Low-Hut, 170

Woman’s Head, the, 14

Wooden Midshipman, sign, 157

Wren, Sir Christopher, 115, 131

Wright, Sir Nathan, 153


Elliot Stock, Paternoster Row, London.


[1] In November, 1892, this house was demolished.

[2] Hatton’s ‘New View of London,’ 1708, vol. i., p. 59.

[3] In later times there was a cross at the east end of the church of St. Michael-le-Querne, replaced by a water conduit, in the mayoralty of William Eastfield, a.d. 1429, as I learn from Stow. The site of this cross is considerably east of Panyer Alley.

[4] Pye, i.e., parti-coloured, as in the bird. It is said to have been so called because the initial and principal letters of the rubrics were printed in red, and the rest in black. At the beginning of the Church of England Prayer-Book, in that section which relates to the service of the Church, mention is made of ‘the number and hardness of the rules called the Pie.’ Shakespeare, in the ‘Merry Wives of Windsor,’ says, ‘By cocke and pie you shall not choose, sir; you shall not choose, but come.’ In this asseveration cock is supposed to be a euphemism for God, and pie the above-named ordinal.

[5] On the Holbein gateway at Whitehall there were also medallions of terra-cotta, as large or larger than life.

[6] The Broad Face, Reading, is noticed by Pepys as an odd sign, when he visited the town on June 16, 1668.

[7] In style it reminds one somewhat of the Guildhall giants, Gog and Magog, or, as Fairholt would call them, Corineus and Gogmagog. These appear to have been made in 1708, by Richard Saunders, a captain of trained bands and carver in King Street, Cheapside, to replace giants of pasteboard and wickerwork, which had been carried in City processions.

[8] Part of a similar crypt is to be seen at 4a, Lawrence Pountney Hill; it belonged to a house called the Manor of the Rose, built originally in the reign of Edward III. Such crypts would doubtless be useful to mediæval merchants for the storage of goods. There are great cellars under Crosby Hall. I am reminded that in the thirteenth century houses furnished usually belonged to Kings or the higher nobility—at least, this is implied by Matthew Paris, in his ‘Lives of the Abbots of St. Albans.’ His words are: ‘Aula nobilissima picta cum conclavibus et camino et atrio et subaulâ, quæ palatium regium (quia duplex est et criptata) dici potest.’

[9] ‘Old Meg of Hereford Towne for a Morris Daunce, or Twelve Morris Dancers in Herefordshire, of twelve hundred years old.’ Printed for John Bridge, 1609.

[10] St. Matt. ii. 1.

[11] ‘Roma Sotteranea,’ by the Rev. J. Spencer Northcote, D.D., and W. R. Brownlow, M.A., 1869.

[12] Messrs. Crowe and Cavalcaselle suggest that these two figures may possibly be intended to represent the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah.

[13] ‘Historical and Monumental Rome,’ by C. J. Hemans, chap. xv.

[14] ‘Primus dicitur fuisse Melchior, qui senex et canus, barbâ prolixâ et capillis, aurum obtulit Regi Domino. Secundus nomine Gaspar, juvenis imberbis, rubicundus, thure quasi Deo oblatione dignâ, Deum honoravit. Tertius fuscus, integre barbatus, Baltassar nomine, per myrrham Filium hominis moriturum professus.’

[15] In fourteenth and fifteenth century paintings, especially among the Germans, Balthazar was often a Moor or negro, the tradition being that he was King of Ethiopia or Nubia. Ghirlandajo, in a picture at the Pitti Gallery, gives him, not a black complexion, but a black page. The difference of race indicated in the representations of the Three Kings implies the wideness of the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles. On this account the three sons of Noah have been looked upon as typical of them.

[16] Smith’s ‘Dictionary of the Bible.’

[17] Commentary of Cornelius à Lapide, translated by Mossman, vol. i. Others have extended the period of their arrival at Bethlehem even to some time in the second year after the birth of Christ, as an inference from Matt. ii. 16. According to a tradition of the Eastern Church, the Magi arrived at Jerusalem with a retinue of 1,000 men, having left an army of 7,000 on the further bank of the Euphrates.

[18] The Milanese afterwards consoled themselves by forming a confraternity, which showed their veneration for the Three Kings by a special annual performance.

[19] For these references to the heraldry of the Three Kings, I have to thank my valued friend, Mr. Everard Green, F.S.A., whose knowledge of the subject is unique.

[20] Foster’s Chapel, Bristol, founded in 1504, is dedicated to the Three Kings. In Winchester Cathedral are traces of a painting of the Adoration.

[21] The names of the Kings are variously spelt.

[22] A pageant was originally the structure on which the performance took place. Archdeacon Rogers, who saw the performance at Chester in 1594, says that ‘Every company had its pagiant, or parte, whiche pagiants weare a high scafolde with 2 roomes, a higher and a lower, upon 4 wheeles. In the lower they apparelled themselves, and in the higher they played, being all open on the tope, that all behoulders mighte heare and see them.’

[23] One is reminded of Falstaff’s words (1 Henry IV. Act i., Scene 2): ‘For we, that take purses, go by the moon and seven stars; and not by Phœbus,—he, that wandering knight so fair.’ Again, Pistol says; ‘Sweet knight, I kiss thy nief. What! we have seen the seven stars.’

[24] King Richard II. had two badges: the Sun in splendour, and the White Hart. The former is shown on the mainsail of the vessel in which he returned from Ireland, in an illumination to a manuscript account of Richard, by a gentleman of his suite (Harl. MS. 1319). It is also mentioned by the poet Gower. The Sun in splendour, encircled with a cloud distilling drops of rain, is a charge in the arms of the Distillers’ Company. I may add that the Three Crowns appear in the arms of the Skinners’ Company, which according to Strype were granted in the 4th year of Edward VI.

[25] ‘Some Account of the Parish of St. Clement Danes,’ by John Diprose. 1868. Vol. i., p. 257.

[26] Guillim intimates the reason for representing the bear muzzled in heraldry: ‘The beare by nature is a cruell beast, but this here demonstrated unto you, is (to prevent the mischief it might otherwise do, as you may observe) as it were, bound to the good behaviour with a muzle.’—‘Heraldry,’ sec. iii., chap. xv., p. 199. 1660.

[27] Hicks Hall was a session-house for Middlesex. At the corner of St. John Street, Clerkenwell, and Peter’s Lane, affixed to the wall of the Queen’s Head tavern, is a stone tablet with the following inscription:

‘Opposite this Place Hicks Hall formerly stood, 1 mile 1 furlong from the Standard in Cornhill, 4 furlongs 205 yards from Holborn Barrs down Holborn, up Snow Hill, Cow Lane and through Smithfield.’

A Jacobean chimney-piece from Hicks Hall, and a portrait of Sir Baptist, are in the Sessions House, Clerkenwell Green. See an amusing article on Suburban Milestones, in Knight’s ‘London.’

[28] Whitechapel Mount was an elevation of ground generally thought to have been composed, in part at least, of rubbish from the Great Fire: Lysons, however, denies this. Another idea is, that it was a great burial-place for victims of the Plague of 1665. A fort was built here in 1642, one of the series then thrown round London. The Mount is shown in Strype’s map of 1720, and in a view of London Hospital, by Chatelain. Towards the end of last century it was a place of resort for pugilists and dog-fighters. Mount Street and Mount Place, immediately west of the London Hospital, Whitechapel Road, now occupy the ground, which is still slightly raised.

[29] This letter is among the Remembrancia at the Guildhall, and is noted on page 355 of the Analytical Index, published in 1878.

[30] ‘Life of William Wilberforce,’ by his son Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford. Revised and condensed from the original edition. 8vo., 1868.

[31] Gentleman’s Magazine, January, 1834.

[32] It formed part of his benefactions, through Bishop Waynflete, to Magdalen College, Oxford.

[33] Pepys, the diarist, on March 27, 1664, writes as follows: ‘Walked through the Ducking Pond Fields; but they are so altered since my father used to carry us to Islington, to the old man of the King’s Head, to eat cakes and ale (his name was Pitts), that I did not know which was the Ducking Pond, or where I was.’ What would he have said now? There were several ducking-ponds in this neighbourhood; the name of Ball’s Pond, near Newington Green, still survives. Howes in his ‘Chronicle’ says that the reservoir at the New River head ‘was in former times an open idell pool, commonly called the Ducking Pond.’ Spa Fields, Clerkenwell, were also called ‘Ducking Pond Fields.’ There was a public-house a little west of the London Spa, with a ducking-pond attached. It was taken down in 1770, and the Pantheon, in imitation of the Oxford Street Pantheon, built on its site. This soon became disreputable, and was eventually turned into Spa Fields Chapel, demolished 1879. There was a ducking-pond in Mayfair (Hertford Street is on the site), and another near Mile End.

[34] The ground in St. George’s Fields was not absolutely given, but a lease was granted for 865 years at the nominal rent of one shilling a year.

[35] The cross had possibly some connection with the priory of St. Mary Overy hard by, or with the rich and powerful abbey, originally the priory of St. Saviour’s, Bermondsey. A chronicle, supposed to have been written by one of the monks, is among the Harleian MSS. (No. 231). We are here told that in the year 1117 ‘the cross of the Holy Saviour was found near the Thames.’ Apparently this was the cross of Bermondsey, placed in the church, to which pilgrimages were occasionally made. It was taken down in 1538, during the mayoralty of Sir Richard Gresham, and in all likelihood destroyed; but Wilkinson, in his ‘Londina Illustrata,’ gives a view, showing in front of the building, attached to the chief or north gate of the abbey, a small cross with zigzag ornament, which some have sought to identify with this holy rood. It existed with the remains of the building till comparatively recent times. On the way to the abbey were famous roadside crosses: one north, the site of which is at the junction of Tooley Street with Bermondsey Street; the other south, in Kent Street.

[36] From the ‘Archæologia,’ vol. 32, I learn that ‘the seal of Bartholomew Elys, of Great Yarmouth, 17 Rich. II., is remarkable as giving the family arms with the substitution of his merchant’s mark in place of the cinqfoil in base.’ Mr. Waller says that at Standon, in Herts, is the mark of John Feld, alderman of London 1474; but his son, on the same brass, an esquire in armour, has his shield of arms.

[37] ‘Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries,’ November 24, 1887. A highly interesting article in the ‘Archæologia,’ vol. 37, by Mr. B. Williams, shows that in early times simple marks, not unlike merchants’ marks, were used to distinguish property, both here and in Germany. Our modern swan marks are a survival.

[38] At a Common Council held July 14, 33 Henry VIII., it was ordered that the seal of the Bridge House should be changed, because the image of Thomas à Becket, sometime Archbishop of Canterbury, was graven thereon, and it was agreed that a new seal should be made, devised by Mr. Hall, to whom the old seal was delivered.

[39] But see Mr. Billson’s paper on ‘The Easter Hare,’ in Folklore, vol. iii.—[Ed.]

[40] It is told in considerable detail in a ‘Life of Sir Walter Raleigh,’ 8vo., 1740, p. 152.

[41] ‘I remember one citizen, who having thus broken out of his house in Aldersgate Street, or thereabout, went along the road to Islington. He attempted to have gone in at the Angel Inn, and after that at the White Horse, two inns still known by the same signs, but was refused; after which he came to the Pied Bull, an inn also still continuing the same sign.’—‘Journal of the Plague Year,’ by Daniel Defoe, 1722.

[42] This was probably one of the ducking-ponds.

[43] Its site is also marked in Ogilby’s Map of London to Holyhead. Here is now the Belvidere Tavern.

[44] Peter Cunningham says that Alderman Boydell, before he removed to No. 90, Cheapside, at the corner of Ironmonger Lane, lived at the Unicorn, at the corner of Queen Street, Cheapside.

[45] ‘Historic Devices, Badges, and War Cries,’ by Mrs. Bury Palliser.

[46] Another record of him is a stone from Allhallows Church, now imbedded in the western wall of the Church of St. Mary-le-Bow, which has on it the well-known lines by Dryden, beginning: ‘Three poets in three distant ages born,’ etc., also the dates of Milton’s birth and baptism.

[47] Additional MS. in British Museum, 3890.

[48] In a ‘Brief History’ by Eugenius Philalethes, p. 93, we are told; ‘It is a vulgar error that the pelican turneth her beak against her breast and therewith pierceth it till the blood gush out, wherewith she nourisheth her young; whereas a pelican hath a beak broad and flat, much like the slice of apothecaries and chirurgeons wherewith they spread their plasters, no way fit to pierce, as Laurentius Gerbertus counsellor and physitian to Henry the Fourth of France in his book of Popular Errors hath observed.’

[49] The architect was Sir Robert Taylor, R.A. The emblematic figures on the cornice in front are said to be of artificial stone, executed at Coade’s factory, Lambeth, where John Bacon, R.A., worked for some years, and where, later, Flaxman and Benjamin West also modelled. Some houses on the north side of Westminster Bridge Road were originally called Coade’s Row, and the name still appears on one of them. The gallery or showroom stood there, as marked in Horwood’s map. The factory was further north, between Narrow Wall and the river.

[50] The sign outside is a modern imitation.

[51] In Aubrey’s ‘Natural History,’ p. 277, a manuscript in the library of the Royal Society, is the following memorandum: ‘This day, May the 18th, being Monday, 1691, after Rogation Sunday, is a great convention at St. Paul’s church of the Fraternity of the adopted masons, where Sir Christopher Wren is to be adopted a brother, and Sir Henry Goodric of the Tower, and divers others. There have been kings that have been of this sodality.’

[52] Not in edition 1576, but edition 1596, p. 233.—[Ed.]

[53] See ‘City of London Livery Companies’ Commission,’ 1884, vol. ii.

[54] Sir William Dugdale, in his ‘Origines Juridiciales,’ records that the whole cost of this gatehouse was £153 10s. 8d., ‘the brick and tile used for the same being digged out of that piece of ground then called the Coneygarth, lying on the west side of the house, adjoyning to Lincoln’s Inn Fields.’ This valuable relic is now, I fear, in a somewhat neglected condition.

[55] T. Hudson Turner in the Archæological Journal for December, 1848, quoting from an account in the Office of the Duchy of Lancaster.

[56] See an interesting article on this subject in the ‘Archæologia,’ vol. ix. (1789), by the Hon. Daines Barrington.

[57] For further details about the armorial bearings, see ‘Gray’s Inn; its History and Associations,’ by W. R. Douthwaite, 1886, chap. xi.

[58] Dodsley’s ‘London,’ 1761, vol. iii., p. 58.

[59] ‘Scrope and Grosvenor Roll,’ i. 178.

[60] The gatehouse had only been finished in the year 1728, having replaced a previous one damaged by a great fire on the bridge in 1725. Mist’s Weekly Journal, for Saturday, September 11, tells us that about sixty houses were consumed on that occasion.

[61] Burke’s ‘Armory General.’ This seems correct; but Burke’s ‘Extinct Peerages’ gives it, ‘gules, a chevron between three cross crosslets or.’

[62] From early days, however, the fair had increased beyond church limits, and the City had acquired certain rights. In the fourth edition of Stow, 1633, we are told how, on Bartholomew Eve, the Aldermen in their violet gowns met the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs at the Guildhall chapel, and how they rode into Cloth Fair, and made a proclamation, riding back through the churchyard and home to the Lord Mayor’s house.

[63] In Allen’s ‘History of London,’ published in 1827, vol. iii., p. 658, we are told that the district called Cloth Fair was still chiefly occupied by clothiers, tailors, etc.

[64] Stow’s ‘Survey of London,’ edited by W. J. Thoms, p. 141.

[65] The rebus was invented before Prior Bolton’s time; as early as 1443 the White Friars had a grant of the ‘Hospitium vocatum Le Bolt en ton,’ in Fleet Street. This became a great coaching inn; the site is marked by a railway office. The tun occurs in the rebus of Beckington, of Castleton, and of Bishop Langton in Winchester Cathedral.

[66] They were drawn and described for Nelson’s ‘History of Islington,’ 2nd edition, 1823.

[67] I have not been able to find proof positive that a Fowler owned this property. The house, though of respectable antiquity, is much more modern than the arms. By a lease dated 1722, a messuage called the Bell, with its stables, etc., and two other messuages or tenements on either side, adjoining and fronting High Street, Holborn, ‘formerly one capital mansion or messuage called the Bell or Blue Bell Inn, together with all shops, stables, and other appurtenances,’ were bought by Christ’s Hospital for £2,113 15s. Together with the adjoining house, it still belongs to the Hospital. There is a rent-charge of 45s. (originally 30 sacks of charcoal) on the Blue Bell Inn, for the use of the poor of St. Andrews, in which parish the houses are situated; it was bequeathed by Richard Hunt, who died in 1559.

[68] Named after the Berners family, who held the estate from the Conquest till 1422, when it passed by marriage to John Bourchier, created Lord Berners.

[69] In Nelson’s ‘History of Islington,’ 2nd edition, 1823, facing p. 260, there is an illustration of the building.

[70] The pretty garden of Clement’s Inn is now being built over, and the garden house will soon disappear behind bricks and mortar. The black kneeling figure supporting a sundial, which formerly decorated the lawn (having been brought from Italy and presented to the Inn by one of the Earls of Clare), was sold by the Ancients in 1884 for twenty guineas, and has now found its way to Inner Temple Gardens.

[71] Lord Clarendon says of this second Earl: ‘He was a man of honour and of courage, and would have been an excellent person if his heart had not been so much set upon keeping and improving his estate.’

[72] From Mr. Austin Dobson I learn that Hogarth engraved a view of Clare Market.

[73] He wrote MS. memoirs of the Holles family, afterwards transcribed by Arthur Collins.

[74] This Act appears to have been a dead letter. In 1580 Queen Elizabeth had issued an equally vain proclamation to prevent the erection of new buildings within three miles of the City gates.

[75] M. Jusserand gives amusing instances in his excellent new work on ‘A French Ambassador at the Court of Charles II.’

[76] There is a view of it in Strype’s Stow (1754), which shows a sculptured phœnix over the doorway. The phœnix in the porch of No. 40, Great Ormond Street suggests the possibility of some connection with this house.

[77] ‘Annals of Tennis,’ 1878.

[78] Some of these servants, however, must have been exceedingly active. In the London Evening Post for December 31, 1735, we are told that ‘General Churchill’s Running Footman ran against the Lady Molesworth’s, from the upper end of St. James’s Street to Edgworth Gate,’ and won, performing the distance, computed to be about eleven miles, in an hour and five minutes.

[79] He is Volpone in Pope’s ‘Moral Essay’:

‘His grace’s fate sage Cutler could foresee
And well (he thought) advised him “Live like me.”
As well his grace replied, “Like you, Sir John?
That I can do, when all I have is gone.”’

[80] ‘Some account of London,’ by Thos. Pennant, 3rd edition, pp. 372, 373.

[81] In the Public Advertiser for Wednesday, April 21, 1775, it is stated that ‘a trout was catched in the New River, near Sadler’s Wells, which weighed eight pounds and a half.’

[82] This roadway is 1,173 yards in length, and has cost £353,526, but the amount will be diminished by the sale of unused lands. Running under it is a subway for the conveyance of electric lighting, etc., high enough for a man to walk through.

[83] The parish derived its name from a holy well, at which the parish clerks of London used annually to perform a miracle play. Its site was marked by a pump near the south-east corner of Ray Street, an illustration of which is given in Wilkinson’s ‘Londina Illustrata.’ The well still exists a few feet to the north, covered by a massive brick arch, under the floor of No. 18, Farringdon Road—formerly the parish watch-house. This quaint little tenement is now to be let on building lease. The whole neighbourhood seems in old days to have had a reputation for holy and medicinal wells.

[84] In the Post Boy, and in the Flying Post for June, 1697, we are told that ‘Sadler’s excellent steel waters at Islington, having been obstructed for some years, are now opened and current again,’ etc.

[85] At the bar of the Sir Hugh Myddleton tavern there was formerly an interesting portrait group of frequenters of the old Myddleton’s Head, Mr. Rosoman being in the centre.

[86] Pinks’s ‘History of Clerkenwell,’ 2nd edition, p. 427.

[87] Both places are alluded to in an advertisement (dated 1747) of the Mulberry Garden, the site of which, says Pinks, was afterwards covered by the House of Detention. A print of it exists.

[88] The springs thus named were almost on the site of another medicinal spring called Black Mary’s Well or Hole. Dr. Bevis makes them out the same, and suggests that the title by which the latter had been known was a corruption of ‘Blessed Mary’s Hole.’ Other writers seek to derive it from Mary Woolaston—a black woman who about 1680 is supposed to have lived hereabout, by the side of the road, in a circular hut built of stones, and to have leased and sold the waters. According to the Gentleman’s Magazine for 1813, part ii., p. 557, this spring was afterwards enclosed in a conduit by Walter Baynes, Esq., the gentleman who, in 1697, discovered the famous Cold Bath, and who owned, in part at least, the Sir John Oldcastle tavern and gardens hard by. According to a plan of the city and environs of London, as fortified by Parliament in 1642-3, there was a battery and breastwork ‘on the hill E. of Blackmary’s Hole.’

[89] See Notes and Queries, 3rd series, ii., p. 228.

[90] In Miss Burney’s ‘Evelina’ (chap. xlv.), published January, 1778, there is an interesting list of places of amusement in the suburbs. The vulgar members of the Branghton family, and others, dispute as to which they shall visit in the evening. Miss Branghton votes for Saltero’s coffee-house; her sister for a party at Mother Red Cap’s; the brother for White Conduit House; Mr. Brown for Bagnigge Wells; Mr. Branghton for Sadler’s Wells, and Mr. Smith for Vauxhall. White Conduit House is at last fixed upon. The site of this is marked by a public-house—No. 14, Barnsbury Road; it was named after an ancient conduit which once stood hard by.

[91] Stow calls it the River of Wells, from the numerous springs that overflowed into it.

[92] There was another fairly good mantelpiece on the second-floor.

[93] I do not guarantee the completeness of the following list of work in the City said to have been by Inigo Jones, but it may be useful for reference. The Church of St. Catherine Cree, Leadenhall Street, has been popularly ascribed to him; it was consecrated by Laud, January 16, 1630-31, and is in pseudo-Gothic style. The Classic portico to old St. Paul’s Cathedral was designed by Jones in 1633. The repairs under his supervision were begun in April, 1631, and carried on for more than nine years. The Church of St. Alban’s, Wood Street, may have been his work; it replaced the old church, pulled down in 1632. This was destroyed in the Great Fire. The hall, theatre, and court-room of the Barber-Surgeons’ Company were built by him, apparently in 1636. The hall was destroyed in the Great Fire; the theatre, which had been restored by the Earl of Burlington, was pulled down in 1763. It has been stated that the latter rebuilt the court-room; Mr. Young, however, in his ‘Annals of the Barber-Surgeons’ (1890), declares positively that it is the work of Inigo Jones, repaired after the Fire. He is said to have also built Thanet House, Aldersgate Street, which survived till 1882.

[94] ‘Marriage, Baptismal, and Burial Registers of the Dutch Reformed Church, Austin Friars, from 1571 to 1874,’ edited by W. V. C. Moens.

[95] On the 15th of April, 1630, occurs the following entry: ‘Petronela Laurence widdowe, a Dutchwoman, was buryed in ye ten shilling ground, att lower end of ye men’s pewes.’ I am tempted to add the following curious baptismal entry from the register. ‘Sept. 1, 1611.—Job-rakt-out-of-the-asshes, being borne the last of August, in the lane going to Sir John Spencer’s back gate and there laide in a heape of seacole asshes, was baptized the first day of September following and dyed the next day after.’

[96] The old spelling is still retained, as in the entry of Adam’s baptism at the Dutch Church.

[97] The name is spelt in various ways. He may have been of the family of Sir John Cullum, Sheriff of London in 1646, on the site of whose mansion Cullum Street, hard by, is built.

[98] From this I infer that she and her husband came to live in the parish after Adam’s death. Their son John was born December, 1661, and died a few months afterwards.

[99] Dr. Cox mentions this. Having searched for Sir John Lawrence’s will at Somerset House, I find that he died intestate, and that administration of his estate was granted to his widow Catherine; so he had married a second time. In this grant he is described as ‘nuper de Putney.’ It appears from the register of that parish that he had a young family, and this is confirmed by a Lawrence pedigree which has been kindly placed at my disposal. Among the children there was another son John, who married Catherine Briscoe; he died in 1728, leaving several daughters and a son of the same name. There was also a son Adam, who left no issue. Catherine, Lady Lawrence, was buried in the vault at St. Helen’s Church in 1723.

[100] Faulkner gives some verses which he says were written about the year 1664 on the Lawrence arms. Here is a specimen:

‘The Field is Argent, and the charge a Cross:
Riches without Religion are but dross;
White, like this field, O Lord, his life should be
Who bears thy cross, follows, and fights for thee.’

[101] Dr. Cox says the date of Lawrence’s death was August 23, 1718, which would be seventy-six years after his first marriage.

[102] At the back of one of these houses is the only private garden still existing in the City.

[103] This passage, to judge from a restored plan in Hammon’s ‘Architectural Antiquities of Crosby Place’ (London, 1844), was one of the original courts of Crosby Place; but I am rather doubtful about it. According to this plan, Crosby Square occupied the site, not of offices, but of the bowling-green.

[104] I observe that he and his brother Herman were subscribers to Strype’s Stow, published in 1720.

[105] Anne, daughter of Simon Luttrell, created Baron Irnham of Luttrelstown, 1768; Viscount Carhampton, 1780; Earl of Carhampton, 1785. She married, first, Christopher Horton, of Colton Hall, Derbyshire, and secondly, in 1771, Henry Frederick, Duke of Cumberland, brother of King George III. This so incensed the latter that he procured the passing of the Royal Marriage Act.

[106] Olmius is merely a Latinized form of the Dutch name Van Olm, the latter word being equivalent to Elm. The arms are given in Morant’s ‘History of Essex.’ One of the charges is: out of a mount vert, an elm-tree proper.

[107] In 1778 John Drigue Lernoult and another let the house to Lewis Miol, and a schedule was then drawn up which I have seen. Everything is most carefully noted from the arch in the hall ‘with fluted columns and carved capitals,’ to the ‘battlement wall about 2 feet 6 inches high, coped with stone cornice.’ At that time there was a warehouse with a loft over it, and a crane, but its position is not made clear.

[108] The plan of the garden seemed to show that it had been curtailed when the houses to the east, Nos. 15 to 18, Austin Friars, were erected. They were formerly called Winckworth Buildings, and on their water-pipes were t w, 1726. In No. 18, James Smith, one of the authors of ‘Rejected Addresses,’ lived for a time. These houses are all now swept away.

[109] ‘London, Ancient and Modern, from the Sanitary and Medical Point of View,’ by G. V. Poore, M.D., F.R.C.P. London, 1889.