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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.
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
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 gave 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
their boundaries. The district where the friary was built still retains its name.
In 1224 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.
Their affections were centred in the parts beyond the sea, from whence all particulars were shrouded in mystery. Ardently athirst for news, the people were beside themselves with joy when the truth arrived to refresh the longing ears of all the City, “ That our illustrious King, the Lord giving His aid therein, had by such grace gained the victory over his enemies and adversaries, who had united to oppose his march through the midst of his territory of France towards Calais.” Joyous news succeeding apprehensions of adversity filled the rulers of the City with gratitude, and they went like pilgrims on foot to pour out their thanksgivings at the altar of Westminster Abbey. When the enthusiasm was somewhat passed, the Mayor and Aldermen were anxious that the reasons of their action should not be hidden by an unnecessary silence, and that "such journey on foot may not come to pass for a precedent, when others succeed to the office of the Mayoralty of the said City, in manifest derogation of the laudable customs of the said City hitherto followed.” At that time the walk from the City to Westminster would be through much miry ground. As most of the traffic was carried along the "silent highway,” the roads were much neglected.
In this same year, 1415, a case of precedence is related. Henry V. sent the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of Winchester, his brothers the Dukes of Bedford and Gloucester, and others, to consult with the Mayor. Diligent counsel was held as to the order in which they ought to sit, and the Lords agreed together that the Mayor, in consideration of the reverence and honour due to our most excellent Lord the King, of whom he is the representative in the City, should have his place when sitting, in the middle, and that the said Lords of Canterbury and Winchester should be seated on his right hand, and John, Humphrey, and Edward on the left.
Some years after a less satisfactory arrangement was made. About midsummer the serjeants of the Coif gave a feast, to which Sir Matthew Philip, the Mayor of London, was invited. At dinner-time he came with his officers according to his degree, but on finding that the Earl of Worcester by some blunder was set before him, he went home again without meat and drink. When the officers of the feast found out their mistake, they tried to remedy it by sending the Mayor a present of “meat, bread, wine and many divers subtleties.” But when the messengers arrived they found quite as sumptuous a banquet actually laid
upon the table, and the person who was to make the presentation felt ashamed of the task imposed upon him. He acquitted himself, however, gracefully, and was dismissed with thanks, “and a great reward withall."
If in those days the honours were great, we shall find that the responsibilities were great also. Henry V. would not allow the Aldermen to be absent from their duty, and he sent a mandate to the Lord Mayor charging him to see that all Aldermen resided within the City. All these incidents have to do with topography, because they show us the importance of London within the City walls. Although there were some suburbs, they were but sparsely inhabited, and the heart of England found its place in the City.
We have been so long used to the freedom of an open City that it is not easy for us to realise the inconveniences attendant on residence within a fortified town. When the curfew was tolled, the gates were closed, and any one found about the streets was liable to be brought up for examination and punishment if he could not give a satisfactory account of himself. In the Provisions for the Safe-keeping of the City (10 Edward I.) 1282, we read :
“All the gates of the City are to be open by day; and at each gate there are to be two serjeants to open the same, skilful men, and fluent of speech, who are to keep a good watch upon persons coming in and going out, that so no evil may befall the City. At every Parish Church curfew is to be rung at the same hour as at St. Martin's-le-Grand ; so that they begin together and end together, and then all the gates are to be shut, as well as all taverns for wine or for ale; and no one is then to go about the streets or ways. Six persons are to watch in each ward by night, of the most competent men of the ward thereto; and the two serjeants who guard the gates by day are to lie at night either within the gates or near thereto.
“The serjeants of Billingsgate and Queenhithe are to see that all boats are moored on the City side at night, and are to have the names of all boats; and no one is to cross the Thames at night, and each serjeant must have his own boat with four men, to guard the water by night, on either side of the bridge.
“The serjeants at the gates are to receive fourpence per day, and the boatmen at night one penny each.” No one was to be so daring as to walk in the streets after curfew had rung, but every one was to be ready to come when summoned to the watch, armed and arrayed as he ought to be. 1
In Edward II.'s reign all the gates were to be closed at sunset, but the wickets were to be kept open until curfew. Then the wickets were opened at prime (6 A.M.) and the great gates at sunrise.
Outside the walls was the Houndsditch, where refuse was thrown, and the City foss obtained that name as well in the west as in the east, where the name still exists.
In considering the history of the various gates, we may commence with Aldgate, which, to judge by the name, was of considerable antiquity.
The earliest historical event connected with the gate itself occurred during the wars of the Barons against King John. In the year 1215 the Barons having received intelligence secretly that they might enter London with ease through Aldgate, which was then in a very ruinous condition, removed their camp from Bedford to Ware, and shortly after marched into the City in the night-time. Having succeeded in their object, they thought it a pity that so important a gate should remain longer in a defenceless condition, and therefore they spoiled the
i Regulations, 25 Edw. I.