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This was afterwards represented by 149 High Street, near St. George's Church, and is identical with the site of the prison of 1560, which served for the county of Surrey for felons, recusants, Quakers, and religious nonconformists generally. The rabble apprentices, who in the year 1640 attacked Lambeth Palace, were sent to this prison.
The daye before the triall some of that companye came in the daye time, brake open the prison, the White Lion in Southwark, lett out all the prisoners, the rest as well as their own companye. One of them hath been taken since, and on Saturdaye last was hanged and quartered.-Laud to Lord Conway, May 25, 1640; Gent. Mag., 1850, vol. i. p. 349.
In 1718 the White Lion is described as “a strong place for fettered felons,” but towards the end of the century it was unfit for use. Ultimately the White Lion gave place to the New Bridewell at Hangman's Acre, by Higler's Lane and Dirty Lane (Suffolk Street), shown on Horwood's Map 1799. In 1811 £8000 was spent on the site of the old prison in building the New Marshalsea, the prison immortalised by Dickens.
White Lion Street (Great), SEVEN Dials, north-west side, to Dudley Street. Here, in 1746, at the sign of the Dove, in “a pretty decent room,” for which she paid “three pounds a year,” lived Mrs. Pilkington, known by her Memoirs. Here she advertised that she drew petitions and wrote letters “on any subject except the law."
White Tower. (See The Tower.]
Whitechapel, a parish lying east of ALDGATE, originally a chapelry in the parish of Stepney, but constituted a separate parish in the 17th century. It is large, stretching away to Mile End; populous, it had 71,350 inhabitants in 1881; commercial, but, as regards the bulk of the inhabitants, poor.
Whitechapel is a spacious fair street for entrance into the city Eastward, and somewhat long, reckoning from the laystall East unto the bars West. It is a great thorough-fare, being the Essex road, and well resorted unto, which occasions it to be the better inhabited, and accommodated with good Inns for the reception of travellers and for horses, coaches, carts, and waggons.-Strype, B. ii. p. 27.
The great street in Whitechapel is one of the broadest and most public streets in London; and the side where the butchers lived more like a green field than a paved street; toward Whitechapel church the street was not all paved, but the part that was paved was full of grass.—The City Remembrancer, vol. i. p. 357.
Ralph. March fair, my hearts !-Lieutenant, beat the rear up.--Ancient, let your colours fly; but have a great care of the butchers' hooks at Whitechapel; they have been the death of many a fair ancient (ensign). -Beaumont and Fletcher, The Knight of the Burning Pestle (ed. Dyce, vol. ii. p. 218).
I lived without Aldgate, about midway between Aldgate Church and Whitechapel Bars, on the left hand or north side of the street ; and as the Distem per had not reached to that side of the City, our neighbourhood continued very easy ; but at the other end of the town the consternation was very great ; and the richer sort of people, especially the nobility and gentry, from the west part of the city, thronged out of town with their families and servants in an unusual manner; and this was more particularly seen in Whitechapel ; that is to say, the broad street where I lived. — Defoe, Memoirs of the Plague.
he neighbouring thethe High Street
In the High Street of Whitechapel is held the largest hay and straw market in the kingdom. So large is the influx of carts and waggons on market days that the broad street is insufficient to contain them, and they crowd the neighbouring thoroughfares to overflowing. Till within memory the district north of the High Street-extending from Petticoat Lane to Osborn Street, and stretching back to (and including) Wentworth Street—was one of the very worst localities in London ; a region of narrow and filthy streets, yards and alleys, many of them wholly occupied by thieves' dens, the receptacles of stolen property, gin-spinning dog-holes, low brothels, and putrescent lodging-houses,
-a district unwholesome to approach and unsafe for a decent person to traverse even in the daytime. In George Yard, one of the worst of these dark ways, was “Cadgers' Hall,” notorious as a haunt where mendicants who live on assumed sores met and regaled. The construction of the broad Commercial Street across the centre of the district swept away some of the worst of the rookeries and let light into others, and the supervision of the new police did even more to mitigate its dangers and improve its general character, but it is still one of the foul spots of London.
Here (leaving Spitalfields, which lies to the north) you lose sight of the dwarfish and dwindled weavers, and are moving among men of might-fellows of thews and sinews, genuine specimens of the stuff of which common men are made--no porcelain and brittle ware, but unqualified English clay and flint-stone, roughly annealed, but strong, solid, and serviceable. A Whitechapel Bird was once a well-understood definition of a thorough-paced rascal—one versed in all the accomplishments of bull. baiting, dog-fancying and dog-stealing, Sunday-morning boxing-matches, larcenies great and small, duffing, chaffering, and all other kinds and degrees of high and low villany. Thirty years ago no Smithfield Market day passed over without what is called a bull hank, which consisted in selecting a likely beast to afford sport from any drove entering Whitechapel, and hunting him through the streets till he became infuriated ;—when the ruffians had had their fun out, and enough fright and alarm were spread around to satisfy them, the poor beast was knocked on the head and delivered over to its owner, if they could find him.—Cornelius Webbe, 1836.
Mr. Webbe was misinformed as to the frequency of these bull hanks. They were mostly confined to the Monday droves and the summer months. The Whitechapel Birds were usually assisted on such occasions by a contingent of Spitalfields' Weavers, lithe of body, light of foot, and fond of sport, and all armed with long, light ash sticks. The beast was generally picked out from a drove taking the Sun Street and Brick Lane route, the favourite spot being the junction of Brick Lane and Osborn Street, when the birds would swoop down on their quarry from Montague and Wentworth Streets in irresistible numbers. The unfortunate animal was invariably turned down the Whitechapel Road towards Stepney or Bow-Fair Fields (fields no longer), and we have heard of some of exceptional wind and vigour running as far as Wanstead Flats. If a run was anticipated (and Rumour's voice was seldom silent), the Whitechapel headborough with his crown-tipt staff and one or two officers would most likely make their appearance, but conveniently be elsewhere when a fray was imminent. With the appointment of the “New Police” bull hanks disappeared for ever.
Perhaps the term Whitechapel Bird was only a variation of the term jail-bird—a jail-bird of a lower stamp. At any rate, there was a jail of no very high repute in Whitechapel in the 17th century, and Taylor the Water Poet, in his “ Praise and Virtue of a Jayle," puts up a pious petition that he may be saved from it :
Lord Wentworth's Jayle within White-Chappell stands,
And Finsbury, God bless me from their hands ! Hatton speaks of it in 1708 as “a prison for debtors in the manor of Stepney, under £5 per annum ”1whatever that may mean. The terrible outrages on poor women in 1888 and 1889, known as the Whitechapel murders, created a widespread terror in the district as well as a feeling of horror over the whole country. The murderer or murderers still remain undiscovered.
The Parliament in 1642 erected fortifications in Whitechapel, then called Mile End. The mound was large and surrounded by a trench. While watching its formation in disguise, Sir Kenelm Digby was arrested here. “A mistaken idea,” says Lysons,“ has prevailed that this mount was made of the rubbish occasioned by the Great Fire of London in 1666.” 2 A more persistent tradition was that the mount was a great burialground for the victims of the plague of 1665. The site is marked by Mount Place on the south side of Whitechapel Road, a little west of the London Hospital.
The church, dedicated to St. Mary Matfellon, was rebuilt on a larger scale and more costly fashion in 1875-1877, and burnt down in August 1880. It has again been rebuilt. [See St. Mary Matfellon.] There are also two district churches, St. Mark's and St. Jude's, and many chapels. On the south side of Whitechapel Road is the London Hospital. On the same side, No. 235, is the New East London Theatre, and next door were Meggs' Almshouses; the Pavilion Theatre is on the opposite side of the road. There are in the parish a Court House, station of the East London Railway, and the Proof-house of the gunmakers of London, where all gun-barrels made in London have to be proved and stamped before being issued for sale. In the Jews' burialground in Brady Street, Whitechapel Road, N. M. Rothschild (d. 1836), the leading stockbroker of Europe and founder of the Rothschild family, was buried. [See Mile End.]
Whitecross Street, CRIPPLEGATE (Whytcrouchstrete, 1339), runs from Fore Street, City, to Old Street, St. Luke's. The City End, Fore Street to Beech Street, is known as Lower Whitecross Street; the northern extensions, a region of costermongers, from Beech Street to Old Street, is called Upper Whitecross Street. The name was derived from a stone cross which stood near Beech Lane.
1 Hatton, New View, p. 783.
2 Lysons, vol. ii. p. 714.
In this street was a white cross; and near it was built an arch of stone, under which was a course of water down to the Moor, called now Moorfields. Which being too narrow for the free course of the water, and so an annoyance to the inhabitants, the twelve men presented it at an Inquisition of the King's Justices, 3 Edward I. (1275). And they presented the Abbot of Ramsey, and the Prior of St. Trinity, whose predecessors, for six years past had built (as the Inquisition ran) a certain stone arch at White Cross ... which arch the foresaid Abbot and Prior and their successors ought to maintain and repair. . . . Hereupon it was commanded the Sheriffs to distrain the said Abbot and Convent, to mend the arch.-Strype, B. iii. p. 88.
In White Crosse Street King Henry V. built one fair house, and founded there a brotherhood of St. Giles.... But the said brotherhood was suppressed by Henry VIII. ; since which time Sir John Gresham, mayor, purchased the lands and gave part thereof to the maintenance of a free school which he had founded at Holt, a market-town in Norfolk.–Stow, p. 113.
On the west side of Lower Whitecross Street stood the well-known debtors' prison—“Whitecross Street Prison," appertaining to the Sheriffs of London and Middlesex, built 1813-1815, from the designs of William Mountague, Clerk of the City Works. It was calculated to hold 400 prisoners, and was a large gloomy and unwholesome-looking place. The alterations in the law as respects imprisonment for debt rendered Whitecross Prison unnecessary, and it was closed in July 1870 and shortly after demolished, the prisoners for debt being transferred to the City Prison, Holloway. The site is now occupied by the City Goods Station of the Midland Railway, a vast structure of red brick and stone, covering an area of 2000 square yards, erected in 1874-1875 at a cost of £130,000. On the opposite side of the way was the City Green Yard or Pound, which was built over about 1883. [See Greenyard.] The new red brick Fire Brigade Station at the Beech Street end marks the City boundary.
In Upper Whitecross Street extensive clearances have been made among the costermongers' yards and alleys, and blocks of model dwellings are intended to supply their place.
Whitefield Street, FITZROY SQUARE, runs from Windmill Street to Warren Street, parallel with the Tottenham Court Road and Charlotte Street, and midway between the two. The name was formerly John Street, but was changed about 1870 in honour of the famous preacher, at the back of whose Tabernacle it passes. Public feeling has changed since the time when Cowper wrote
Leuconomus-beneath well-sounding Greek
Cowper, Hope (1782), l. 554, and see the following lines. Whitefield's Tabernacle, TOTTENHAM Court ROAD, for some time known as Tottenham Court Road Chapel, on the west side, about half-way up, was erected by the Rev. George Whitefield, the popular preacher, A.D. 1756, and enlarged in 1759. The chapel was built on the site of an immense pond, called in Pine and Tinney's Maps (1742 and 1746) “The Little Sea.” There were several interesting monuments—to Whitefield's wife, to Augustus Toplady, and to John Bacon, R.A. The latter was buried under the north gallery. There was also a good bas-relief by him of the Woman touching the hem of the Saviour's Garment.
The property is copyhold, and was sold in 1827 for £19,500; after this the chapel was closed for a time. It was afterwards purchased by trustees and much altered in appearance. In 1860 it was enlarged and refronted; in 1889 the building showed serious signs of decay, and it was found necessary to close it, and it was pulled down in April 1890. A temporary iron chapel has been built on the ground adjoining for use until a new chapel can be erected.
Whitefriars, a precinct or liberty, between Fleet Street and the Thames, the Temple walls and Water Lane. Here was the White Friars' Church, called “Fratres Beatæ Mariæ de Monte Carmeli,” first founded by Sir Richard Gray in 1241. Among the benefactors were King Edward I., who gave the ground; Hugh Courtenay, Earl of Devon, who rebuilt the church; and Robert Marshall, Bishop of Hereford, who built the choir, presbytery, and steeple. The church was surrendered at the Reformation, and in place thereof were “many fair houses built, lodgings for noblemen and others.”] The hall was used as the first Whitefriars Theatre (1609). The privileges of sanctuary, continued to this precinct after the Dissolution, were confirmed and enlarged in 1608 by royal charter. Fraudulent debtors, gamblers, prostitutes, and other outcasts of society made it a favourite retreat. Here they formed a community of their own, adopted the language of pickpockets, openly resisted the execution of every legal process, and extending their cant terms to the place they lived in, new-named their precinct by the wellknown appellation of Alsatia, after the province which formed a debateable land between Germany and France. (See Alsatia.]
Though the immunities legally belonging to the place extended only to cases of debt, cheats, false witnesses, forgers and highwaymen found refuge there. For amidst a rabble so desperate no peace officer's life was in safety. At the cry of “Rescue,” bullies with swords and cudgels, and termagant hags with spits and broom-sticks, poured forth by hundreds; and the intruder was fortunate if he escaped back into Fleet Street, hustled, stripped, and pumped upon. Even the warrant of the Chief Justice of England could not be executed without the help of a company of musketeers. Such relics of the barbarism of the darkest ages were to be found within a short walk of the chambers where Somers was studying history and law, of the chapel where Tillotson was preaching, of the coffee-house where Dryden was passing judgment on poems and plays, and of the hall where the Royal Society was examining the astronomical system of Isaac Newton.—Macaulay's Hist., chap. iii.
This vicious privilege was at length abolished by the Act 8 and 9 William III., C. 27 (1697), but it was only by slow degrees that Whitefriars was cleared of its lawless inhabitants and became a safe resort and dwelling-place for respectable citizens. There had, however, at all times been a portion of the old precinct wholly removed from this lawless community. Many of the Greys were buried in the monastery, and at the Dissolution the Friary House seems to have been secured
1 Stow, p. 148.