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Our march we with a song begin;
We meet with nothing of adventure
Till Billingsgate's Dark House we enter ;
With ribaldry, not worth relating
(Quite suited to the dirty place).-HOGARTH'S Trip.
In Recollections of Samuel Rogers (p. 86), he relates that Dr. Lawrence told him that on one occasion he "dined with Burke and others at the Tun [Three Tuns] in Billingsgate at dinner-time Burke was missed, and was found at a fishmonger's learning the history of pickled salmon."
The "Three Tuns Tavern," looking on the river, famous for a capital dinner at two shillings, including three kinds of fish, joints, steaks, and bread and cheese.
My Boy, I will bring thee to the bawds and the roysters.
BEN JONSON, The Devil is an Ass.
This brings to my mind another ancient custom that hath been omitted of late years. It seems that in former times the porters that plyd at Billingsgate used civilly to entreat and desire every man that passed that way to salute a Post that stood there in a vacant place. If he refused to do this, they forthwith laid hold of him and by main force bumped him against the Post; but if he quietly submitted to kiss the same, and paid down sixpence, they gave him a name, and chose some one of the gang for his godfather. I believe this was done in memory of some old image that formerly stood there, perhaps of Belus or Belin.-Bagford in 1715, (Letter printed in Leland's Collectanea).
Billingsgate Ward, one of the twenty-six wards of London, and so called from a quay or water-gate on the Thames. [See Billingsgate.] Boundaries.-North, Little Eastcheap and tenements adjoining; south, the Thames; east, Smart's Quay, now Custom-House Stairs; west, Monument Yard and Pudding Lane. Stow enumerates five churches -St. Botolph (destroyed in the Fire and not rebuilt); St. Mary-at-Hill; St. Margaret Pattens; St. Andrew Hubbert (destroyed in the Fire and not rebuilt); St. George in Botolph Lane. William Beckford, father of the author of Vathek, was alderman of this ward.
Billiter Lane (now BILLITER STREET) ALDGATE, runs from Leadenhall Street to Fenchurch Street, opposite Mark Lane.
Then is Belzettar's Lane, so called of the first owner and builder thereof, now corruptly called Billitar Lane.-Stow, p. 53.
But Professor W. W. Skeat says (Introductory Lecture on Anglo-Saxon), "Billiter Lane is Bell-zeter's Lane, the lane where the bellfounders lived." And this is the more probable from the frequency with which City thoroughfares were named after the trades carried on in them, e.g., Ironmonger's Lane, Bucklersbury, Leather Lane, Soper's Lane, Milk Street, Bread Street, but we do not know of any record of bellfounders in Billiter Lane.
Billiter Lane, a place consisting formerly of poor and ordinary houses, where it seems needy and beggarly people used to inhabit, whence the proverb used in ancient
times, A Bawdy Beggar of Billiter Lane, which Sir Thomas Moore somewhere used in his book which he wrote against Tyndal.-Strype, B. ii. p. 54.
Billiter Lane is of very ordinary account, the buildings being very old timber houses, which much want pulling down and new building, and the inhabitants being as inconsiderable, as small brokers, chandlers, and such like. And 'tis great pity that a place so well seated should be so mean.-Strype, B. ii. p. 54.
Billiter Street is very different now. It has many good houses, and during the past half dozen years large and lofty piles of offices have been erected, and a handsome avenue opened to Lime Street.
Billiter Square, on the west side of BILLITER STREET.
But the chief ornament of this place [Billiter Street] is Billiter Square on the west side, which is a very handsome, open, and airy place, graced with good new brick buildings, very well inhabited.-Strype, B. ii. p. 82.
In a large paved court, close by Billiter Square,
Ingoldsby Legends ("The Bagman's Dog").
It continued to be well inhabited down to the early years of the present century, when, one by one, the dwelling-houses were converted into offices. Voltaire, when in England, asked a correspondent, John Brinsden, wine merchant, Durham Yard, to send him tidings of Lady Bolingbroke's health, and "direct the letter by the penny post at Mr. Cavalier, Bellitery Square, by the Royal Exchange." 1 Nathan Basevi, grandfather of the Earl of Beaconsfield, lived in Billiter Square.
January 10, 1802.-Isaac D'Israeli, Esq., of the Adelphi, to Miss Basevi of Billiter Square.
Mr. Wm. Manning, M.P., a Director of the Bank of England, and the father of Cardinal Manning, lived here when he married the niece of Lord Carrington. Billiter Square has shared in the improvements noticed under Billiter Street. An avenue of costly offices has been opened westward to Lime Street Square, and among other new buildings is the spacious structure erected for the East and West India Docks Company, which extends from the east side of the Square into Billiter Street; a Gothic building with a tall angle turret.
Bingley House, CAVENDISH SQUARE. [See Harcourt House.]
Birchin Lane, from CORNHILL, opposite the east end of the Royal Exchange, to LOMBARD STREET.
Then have ye Birchover Lane, so called of Birchover, the first builder and owner thereof, now corruptly called Birchin Lane. . . . This lane and the high street near adjoining hath been inhabited for the most part with wealthy drapers.— Stow, p. 75.
As is frequently the case, Stow appears to be wrong in his etymology. The earliest known mention of the place is in a Record of 1301, where it is called Bercheneres Lane on Cornhill. In 19 Edward III. (1345), one "Byndo of Florence, a Lombard, was taken at the suit of John de Croydone, servant of John atte Bell, vintner, with the mainour of six silver cups, and half of a broken cup, stolen in Bercherners Lane
1 Notes and Queries, 4th S., vol. i. p. 293.
in the ward of Langebourne in London. . . . The jury say, upon their
Birchin Lane is a place of considerable trade, especially for men's apparel, the greatest part of the shopkeepers being salesmen.-R.B., in Strype, B. ii. p. 150.
It was a great mart for ready-made clothes as early as the end of the 16th century.
My good friend, M. Davies [Sir John Davys] said of his epigrams, that they were made like doublets in Birchin Lane, for every one whom they will serve.-Sir John Harrington, Metamorphosis of Ajax, 1596.
No sooner in London will we be,
But the bakers for you, the brewers for me.
Birchin Lane will suit us,
The costermongers fruit us.
Heywood, Edw. IV., Pt. i. 4to. 1600.4
And passing through Birchin Lane amidst a camp-royal of hose and doublets, I took excellent occasion to slip into a captain's suit, a valiant buff doublet stuffed with points and a pair of velvet slops scored thick with lace.-Middleton, Black Book, 4to, 1604.
Mr. Flowerdale. Thou sayest thou hast twenty pound; go into Birchin Lane; put thyself into clothes; thou shalt ride with me to Croydon Fair.-The London Prodigall, by William Shakespeare (!) 4to, 1605.
And you, master Amoretto
it's fine, when that puppet-player Fortune must put such a Birchin Lane post in so good a suit-such an ass in so good fortune. -The Return from Parnassus, 4to, 1606.
Did man, think you, come wrangling into the world about no better matters, than all his lifetime to make privy searches in Birchin Lane for whalebone doublets? -Dekker, Gull's Hornbook, 4to, 1609.
His discourse makes not his behaviour, but he buys it at Court, as countrymen buy their clothes in Birchen Lane.-Overbury, 1614.
At the Marine Coffee-House in Birchin Lane, is water-gruel to be sold every morning, from 6 till 11 of the clock. 'Tis not yet thoroughly known; but there comes such company as drinks usually 4 or 5 gallons in a morning.—Advertisement, July 26, 1695.
But Nicholas Ferrar I may compare to one of those Birchin Lane tailors that go but into their shops, they will without delay find you a fitting suit of apparel.—Life of Nicholas Ferrar, ed. Mayor, p. 93.
Major John Graunt, citizen of London (b. 1620, d. 1674), who wrote
1 Riley, Memorials, p. 221.
2 Harl MSS., 6016.
4 He repeats the joke, such as it is, in the Royal King and the Loyal Subject (Act. iii. Sc. 3), "Though we have the law of our sides, yet
we may walk through Birchin Lane and be non-
The two years which followed [1800-1802] were passed [by Zachary Macaulay and his infant son, the future historian] in a house in Birchin Lane, where the Sierra Leone Company had its office. Mr. Z. Macaulay was secretary to this Company.— Trevelyan's Life of Lord Macaulay.
Bird Cage Walk, ST. JAMES'S PARK, a name given to the south side of the Park, between Buckingham Gate and Storey's Gate, from the aviary established there in the reign of James I., and the decoy made there in the reign of Charles II. The supposition that it was so called from "The Bocage," a name given to it by St. Evremont, who was keeper of the ducks in the Park, is a mere piece of idle ingenuity. A grant to Katharine, Queen of Charles II., made in 1671 (23 Car. II.), recites letters patent of the 13th of his reign (1661), whereby he granted, inter alia, "the keeping of an house and yards in our Parke at St. James's, built for the keeping of pheasants, gunny [guinea] hens, partridges, and other fowle within our said park ;" and also recites that the Queen Consort had by her trustees purchased the same, "and upon the said premises, or some part thereof, as also upon a parcel of ground taken out of St. James Old Highway, containing in length, on the north, 102 feet, and in breadth, on the east, 42 feet, in the whole 3600 feet, had caused several houses to be erected, and had laid out considerable sums," and thereupon grants the said "house, yards, gardens, and curtilages in our said Parke of St. James, and all that parcell of grounds taken out of St. James's Old Highway," to trustees for the Queen.
In our way thither [to the Horse Guards] was nothing worth our observation, unless 'twas the Bird Cage inhabited by wild fowl; the ducks begging charity, and the blackguard boys robbing their own bellies to relieve them. —Amusements of London, by Tom Brown, 12mo, 1700, p. 68.
The elm trees in Bird Cage Walk were planted by Reach, the Fulham nurseryman, who died in 1783.1 Here are the Wellington Barracks (1834). The chapel was remodelled by Geo. Street, R.A., in 1877. The Hon. Mrs. Caroline Norton lived here; her house was what was called No. 2 Princes Court, Storey's Gate.
April 1832.-Called upon Mrs. Norton; found her preparing to go to Hayter's, who is painting a picture of her, and offered to walk with her. Had accordingly a very brisk, agreeable walk across the two parks, and took her in the highest bloom of beauty to Hayter, who said he wished that somebody would always put her through this process before she sat to him.-T. Moore's Diary.
Sir George Hayter's house was No. 65 Connaught Terrace, Hyde Park. The carriage-way, long exclusively confined to the Royal Family and the hereditary Grand Falconer, was opened to the public in 1828.
Bird Street, OXFORD STREET. This street was built before 1750, and extended on both sides of Oxford Street, from Brook Street on the south to Henrietta Street on the north, the southern portion being known as Bird Street, Grosvenor Square, the northern as Bird Street, Manchester Square. Some time after 1831 the name of the southern portion was changed to Thomas Street. Thomas Banks, the sculptor, and his wife lived here before they went to Italy in 1772.
Birkbeck Literary and Scientific Institution, SOUTHAMPTON BUILDINGS, was founded in 1823 as the London Mechanics' Institution, with George Birkbeck, M.D. as President; being the parent of a large number of similar institutions in the chief towns of the country. Offices were temporarily hired in Furnival's Inn, and the use of the chapel in Monkwell Street was obtained for meetings. The foundation stone of the building in Southampton Buildings was laid by Dr. Birkbeck on December 2, 1824; and, on July 8, 1825, the lecture theatre was opened with some ceremony. The name of the Institution was changed to The Birkbeck in honour of its late President in 1867, and it has now been removed to Bream's Buildings, close by Fetter Lane, a new building having been erected there for its accommodation.
Bishopsgate, one of the City gates, so called after Erkenwald, Bishop of London (d. 685), son of Offa, King of Mercia, by whom it was erected. The maintenance of the gate was considered to devolve upon the Bishop of London, though the chief burden came, in course of time, to be laid upon the Hanse merchants. Thus from the Liber Albus we learn that "In the tenth year of King Edward (1282), Henry le Waleys being Mayor of London, by reason lately of the ruinous state of a certain gate of the City aforesaid, that is called Bisshoppesgate, there existed a prolonged dispute between the said mayor and the citizens aforesaid and the merchants of the Hanse of Almaine," dwelling in the city, as to the repair of the gate, which the said merchants were bound to execute "in return for certain liberties" which they enjoyed on that condition. An appeal being made to the King, he ordered his treasurer and the Barons of the Exchequer to call the parties before them and hear and decide the question at issue. This was done, and the merchants being held to be liable, they agreed "for the sake of peace," and in return for additional immunities granted to them, to pay at once "towards the repair of the aforesaid Gate, 240 marks sterling of ready money . . . and that they and their successors, merchants of the Hanse aforesaid, would, so often as it should be necessary, at all times repair the said Gate, and for the defence of such Gate, so often as it should be necessary to set ward upon the same, at all times sustain one-third part of the defence aforesaid, at their own costs, and with their own men, in the upper parts of such Gate, the said mayor and citizens sustaining their twothird parts for such safe keeping in the part below."1 Eighteen years later (28 Edw. I., 1300) it was ruled that the Bishop of London "is bound to make the hinges of Bysoppesgate; seeing that from every cart laden with wood he has one stick as it enters the said gate."2 The liability, however, was limited to the hinges, for there is another entry, 33 Edw. I. (1305), wherein it is "awarded and agreed that Almaines belonging to the Hanse of the Merchants of Almaine shall be free from paying two shillings on going in or out of the Gate of Bisshopesgate with their goods, seeing that they are charged with 2 Riley, Memorials, p. 43.
1 Liber Albus, p. 417.