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ings in the wall, and the roads probably crossed the City at right angles, as we know was the usual Roman plan. Some of the oldest thoroughfares now existing do not appear to run on the same line as Roman Roads, which are buried 20 feet below the present surface.
Sir William Tite gave reasons for believing that Bishopsgate Street was not a Roman thoroughfare, and in the late excavations in Leadenhall, the basilica, to which allusion has already been made, was found apparently crossing the present thoroughfare of Gracechurch Street. The name of Watling Street is probably of Saxon origin. Many have been the attempts, most of them very absurd, to join on the little street in the City with the main Roman Road. There is no doubt that the early if not the original name was Atheling Street.2
Nearly fifteen centuries have passed since the Romans left this island, and still their presence haunts us. In all parts of the City the remains of their houses have been found, and much more still exists hidden beneath our feet, but the most interesting relic that still remains to us is London Stone. This has been supposed to be a Roman milliary stone, but it is probably something more than this, and the memory of its meaning, although now lost, probably remained for many years. When Jack Cade in 1450 struck London stone with his sword and said, in reference to himself, “Now is Mortimer lord of this city!” he did something which those who followed him understood to ave a meaning Mr. G. Laurence Gomme supposes London Stone, like other great stones, to have marked the place where the
air assembly gathered to legislate for the government of the City.
At the beginning of the 5th century the Roman legions left Britain, and we are told in the Saxon Chronicle that never since A.D. 409 “have the Romans ruled in Britain ”—the Chronicles setting down the Roman sway at 470 winters and dating from Julius Cæsar's invasion. We are told that in the year 418 “the Romans collected all the treasures that were in Britain, and hid some of them in the earth, that no man might afterwards find them, and conveyed some with them into Gaul.”
For a time there is perfect darkness as to the state of London, and we are left entirely to conjecture as to its history.
For a time probably the City remained much as it was before. The traders, whether they were Romans or Romanised Britons, were not likely to leave their businesses, and the trade of the country would continue as heretofore. But when the Saxons came all this would be changed. Many of the cities of Britain were destroyed. London, however, does not appear to have been so treated, and one naturally asks why?
Dr. Guest held the opinion that for a while the City lay desolate and 1 Archæologia, vol. xxxvi. p. 203.
of St. Paul's Hist. MSS. Comm., Ninth Report 2 Report on the MSS. of the Dean and Chapter Appendix, p. 4.
uninhabited, but may not the original inhabitants have continued for a time to carry on such trade as was possible, until the newcomers gradually overcame their repugnance to walled cities and joined with them ?
About 449 or 450 the invaders first settled in Britain, and in 457 Hengist and Æsc fought against the Britons at Crayford, driving them out of Kent. The vanquished fled to London in great terror, and apparently found a shelter there.
The names of the two counties in which London is situated will probably be found to throw some light upon this question. Middlesex and Surrey are two peculiar names, and they point to the fact that these two counties were peopled from the river and not from the neighbouring districts. The late Mr. J. R. Green affirmed that the Middlesaxons were an offshoot of the East Saxons,2 but if so, why did not they keep that name? They were surely not of enough importance to need a new name when they had one already! The truth would seem to be this. The East Saxons stopped at the Lea and the West Saxons at the Brent, leaving the district round London undisturbed. Possibly a distinct horde of Saxons coming up the Thames found the place unoccupied and settled there, obtaining the name of Middlesaxons. They were not of enough importance to form a kingdom of themselves, and therefore in course of time, although governed by their own Aldermen, they came under the sway of the East Saxons and of the Mercians.
The history of Surrey, or the South Ridge, appears to have been very similar. The name proves that it must have been peopled from the river, and that the newcomers extended as far as the hills in the south. If it had been peopled from Sussex or Kent, it is clearly improbable that they would style these hills the South Ridge. This district, like Middlesex on the opposite bank of the Thames, was an independent settlement, having its own Aldermen; although in the course of time it came successively under the sway of Kent and Sussex, and was finally subdued by Wessex.
These Saxons most probably shunned the City and settled on various spots around it. Along the banks of the Thames are several small havens whose names remain to us, such as Rotherhithe, Lambhithe (Lambeth), Chelchith (Chelsea), and these seem to tell of this early settlement
Bede (Bk. ii. chap. iii.) describes London as being in 604 the metropolis of the East Saxons and an emporium of many peoples who came to it by sea and land. Although Saxon London existed for six centuries, there is comparatively little to relate of it. That invaluable monument—the Saxon Chronicle—tells us little of London between the 5th and the gth centuries.
The Danes estimated London at its true value, and the Saxons were constantly employed in driving them from its walls. In 851, however, the Danes plundered the City, and made themselves masters of it. They put Beorhtwulf, King of the Mercians, to flight, and then went south over the Thames into Surrey. There they were met by Æthelwulf and the army of the West Saxons, who gained a victory over them at Ockley. In succeeding years success veered from side to side, and the trade of the City must have been greatly injured by these constant sieges. In 886 Alfred overcame the Danes, restored London to its inhabitants, and rebuilt its walls. These persistent besiegers saw the value of Southwark as a basis of operations against London, and in the next century Snorre, the Icelander, tells us that they fortified that place with ditch and ramparts, which the English assailed in vain. Some years after this the Danes dug a great ditch by Southwark, and then dragged their ships through to the west side of the bridge, by which means they were able to keep the inhabitants of London from either going in or out of the town. Still, the Londoners stood firm, and after obstinate fighting on both sides, both by land and by water, the Danes were forced to raise the siege.
1 Arch. Journ., vol. xix. p. 219. 2 The Making of England, 1881, p. 111, note.
Although we see in all this how important a place London was, and how great its influence on the history of other parts of the country, we are left singularly in the dark as to its topography.
As several of the Saxon kings lived in the City, we must conclude that they possessed a palace of some kind, and such a palace is supposed to have existed in the near neighbourhood of St. Paul's; but we have no particulars of its appearance. We know little of the streets of Saxon London, and nothing of its buildings. Westminster grew into some importance in the reign of Edward the Confessor, who erected there a palace for himself, and a monastic church—the foundation of our glorious Abbey.
In this king's time foreigners settled here in large numbers, and prepared the way for the Conqueror, so Norman London may almost be said to have commenced in the reign of the Confessor.
LONDON FROM NORMAN TIMES TO THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
After the battle of Hastings the defeated chiefs retired upon London, and William followed them at once. The Saxon party attacked the Normans at Southwark, and although they were repulsed, William thought it imprudent to lay siege to the City at that time, and he therefore retired. The best men of London then repaired to Berkhampstead, and swore fealty to the Conqueror. The Chronicler remarks that they submitted when the greatest harm had been done, and adds, “It was very imprudent that it was not done earlier."
The Norman at once acknowledged London as the capital, and it suddenly grew into a fine city. The Tower rose on the east to intimidate the inhabitants, and Westminster Hall came into being in the extreme west. The Norman walls, which we now know by the few remains left to us, appear to have followed the line of the Roman walls.
A wonderful improvement in the appearance of the cities of the country almost immediately followed the advent of the civilising Norman. Within a few years the whole area of London must have been changed, and handsome buildings arose as if by magic in all parts of the City.
The White Tower, the famous keep of the Tower of London, was commenced by Gundulph, Bishop of Rochester, about the year 1078. In 1083 the old Cathedral of St. Paul's was commenced on the site of the church which Ethelbert is said to have founded in A.D. 610. But four years afterwards the Chronicler tells us, “The holy monastery of St. Paul, the Episcopal See of London, was burnt and many other monasteries, and the greatest and fairest part of the whole City.”
In 1154 Stephen died, and with this year ends the last entry of the Saxon chronicle. The Norman era then closed, and the Saxons looked forward with hope to the reign of the first of the Plantagenets, who was to form the nation into one. The Chronicler says, “All folk loved him, for he did good justice and made peace.”
Churches were spread about Saxon London, but we know little of their architectural character. When the large monasteries were founded in the City and its neighbourhood, a great change was made, so that London was raised from a mean congregation of houses to the rank of a city having features of considerable architectural merit. The College of St. Martin's-le-Grand within Aldersgate had been founded in the year 1056, and its rights were confirmed by the Conqueror in the second year of his reign. He
the Dean and secular priests more land, and added to their privileges. In 1082 a convent of monks dedicated to St. Saviour was founded at Bermondsey by Alwin Child, a wealthy citizen. In 1100 two religious houses were established at Clerkenwell, viz, the Knights Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem, and the Priory of St. Mary for nuns of the Benedictine Order..
Matilda or Maud, the wife of Henry I., established the priory of Holy Trinity, called Christ Church, which was situated to the north of Aldgate, in 1108; and about 1110 a hospital for lepers at St. Giles'sin-the-Fields. The priory of St. Bartholomew was founded a few years earlier, and the Benedictine nunnery of St. John the Baptist at Halliwell near Shoreditch soon afterwards. The Knights Templars made their first resting place in Holborn in 1118, and did not remove to Fleet Street until nearly seventy years afterwards.
Although some of these noble buildings were inside the walls, more were outside, and this shows how extensive the outskirts of the City had become in Norman times. As the monks as a rule chose quiet neighbourhoods, so the friars who came here in the 13th century chose the most bustling places to live in, and considering that London within the walls must have been tolerably built upon, it is difficult to understand how the friars found room to erect their extensive dwellings.
The Black, Preaching, or Dominican Friars settled in Holborn in what was afterwards Lincoln's Inn in 1221, and removed to the Ward of Castle Baynard in 1276, when the City Wall was rebuilt to enlarge VOL. I
their boundaries. The district where the friary was built still retains its name.
In 12 24 John Iwyn, or Ewin, made over to the Grey Friars or Franciscans land now occupied by the Blue Coat School. the White Friars, or Carmelites, settled in a liberty south of Fleet Street, which still retains their name. In 1253 the Austin Friars, or Friars Eremites, founded a house in Broad Street Ward; and the last of these friaries to be established was that of the Crutched Friars in 1298. By calculating the extent of the buildings erected by these religious houses, we arrive at the remarkable result that two-thirds of the entire area of London were occupied by convents and hospitals.
These districts are still marked out for us by the old names, and the same is the case with the places inhabited by the Jews. Stow says that the Jews were brought from Rouen by William the Conqueror, and settled in the place which is now called Old Jewry. They had a very troubled life here until Edward I. banished them from the kingdom, and when they returned to England after many centuries of expatriation, they found this place full of thriving Christians. They had to seek houses in other places, and most of them settled in the neighbourhood of Aldgate. Jewin Street was built on the site of a burying-place of the Jews outside Aldersgate.
It is always pleasant to associate with particular places in London the names of the great, and we are able to claim the poet Chaucer as a thorough Londoner,-born by the Walbrook, and dying in less than a year after he had obtained a lease of a tenement in the garden of St. Mary's Chapel, Westminster, for fifty-three years. He was Clerk of the Works at Westminster, the Tower of London, etc., and he is thus connected with much of the topography of London. In March 1390 he was on the Thames Bank Repair Commission, and in May he was employed in setting up scaffolds in Smithfield for Richard II. and his Queen (Anne of Bohemia) to see the jousts at that place. In September of this same year Chaucer was so unfortunate as to be robbed of nearly £20 of the King's money, his horse, and other movables—half at Westminster and half near the “fowl oke” at Hatcham in Surrey—by certain notorious thieves, as was fully confessed by the mouth of one of them in gaol at Westminster. We obtain a vivid realisation of the dangers of the streets and roads in the 14th century from the accounts of these highway robberies; and it is very interesting to picture to ourselves the poet travelling to different parts of the country, with money in his purse to pay the workmen employed at those places where he was Clerk of the Works, and to remember the constant peril he was in.
The books of the City, which have been made such good use of by Mr. Riley, contain a most interesting account of the procession on foot by the Mayor and citizens to Westminster, to return thanks for the victory at Agincourt (1415). Great was the excitement and anxiety felt for the safety of the King and his army in France. Lamentable reports arrived which filled the community with sadness.