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STREET HILL, EASTCHEAP, GRACECHURCH
King's Head Tavern - St. Magnus the Martyr - Pudding
Lane Boar's Head Tavern Sir John Falstaff — Lom-
In addition to the connection of Fish Street Hill with the great fire, many interesting associations are attached to the spot. Here it is that Shakespeare makes Jack Cade exclaim, at the head of his rabble followers :
“Up Fish Street! down Saint Magnus's corner! kill and knock down! throw them into Thames ! What noise is this I hear? Dare any be so bold to sound retreat or parley when I command them kill!” — King Henry VI. Part II. Act iv. Sc. 8.
In the fourteenth century, — when the Kings of
Street Hill. The house, or inn, of the Black Prince, which was of stone and of considerable size, stood at the end of Crooked Lane, facing Monument Yard. In the reign of Elizabeth it had been converted into an inn, or hostelry, and was known by the sign of the Black Bell.
King's Head Court, within a few paces of the monument, derives its name from the King's Head Tavern, rendered classical by Ben Jonson, and famous in the days of Elizabeth for its excellent wine and noisy revels.
Let us not omit to mention that, in the days of his extreme distress, Oliver Goldsmith filled the situation of journeyman to a chemist of the name of Jacob, at the corner of Monument Yard, Fish Street Hill. In this situation he was discovered by his old college friend, Doctor Sleigh, who relieved his immediate necessities, and enabled him to establish himself in medical practice in Bankside, Southwark.
Close to Fish Street Hill is the church of St. Magnus the Martyr, standing nearly on the site of the old parish church, which was destroyed by the great fire in 1666.
As early as the year 1302, we find a chantry founded here by Hugh Pourt, Sheriff of London, and Margaret his wife. The first rector mentioned by Newcourt is Robert de S. Albano, who resigned the living in 1323. The most illustrious name connected with the church is that of Miles Coverdale, under whose direction the first
complete English version of the Bible was published, in October, 1535. The body of the present handsome and well-proportioned church was built by Sir Christopher Wren, in 1676, the steeple having been added in 1705. It contains no monuments of any particular interest or beauty. In the vestry-room, however, is an interesting painting of old London Bridge, and also a curious drawing of the presentation of a pair of colours to the military association of Bridge Ward. The altarpiece, richly carved and decorated, is considered one of the handsomest in London, and the lantern and cupola have considerable merit.
Between Fish Street Hill and Gracechurch Street, diverging to the right, is Eastcheap, famous in the olden time for those scenes of jollity, when “the cooks cried hot ribs of beef roasted, pies well baked, and other victuals, with clattering of pewter, pots, harp, pipe, and sawtrie.” Close by is Pudding Lane,' descending to the Thames, anciently called Rother, or Red-rose Lane, from one of the houses having the sign of a red rose, but which, doubtless, received its more modern denomination from its vicinity to the scenes of gormandising and revelry in Eastcheap. It was the conviction of the Puritan portion of the inhabitants of Lon
* It is “commonly called Pudding Lane, because the butchers of Eastcheap have their scalding-house for hogs there, and their puddings, with other filth of beasts, are voided down that way to their dung-boats on the Thames."
don that the fire of London was a direct manifestation of the anger of Heaven, inflicted as a punishment for the sins and gluttony of the age ; this conviction being not a little strengthened by the singular coincidence of the fire having commenced in Pudding Lane and ended in Pye Lane, near Smithfield. On a house at the latter place, at the corner of Giltspur Street, and what is now Cock Lane, is still to be seen the figure of a naked boy with his arms folded upon his chest, which formerly had an inscription attributing the fire of London to the sin of gluttony.
There is perhaps no spot in London which recalls so vividly to our imaginations the romance of the olden time as Eastcheap. Who is there who has ever strolled along this classic ground without having pictured to himself the Boar's Head Tavern, such as when it resounded to the jokes and merriment of Sir John Falstaff and his boon companions? Who is there who has not peopled it in imagination with Bardolph, and his “malmsey nose;" with "ancient Pistol," and kindhearted Dame Quickly; with the jokes of frolic Prince Hal; and lastly, with the dying scene of the jovial old knight, where “he made a finer end, and went away, an it had been any christom child; fumbling with the sheets, and playing with flowers, and smiling upon his fingers' ends, and babbling of green fields ?” « The character of old Falstaff," says Goldsmith, in one of his charming
essays, “even with his faults, gives me more consolation than the most studied efforts of wisdom : I here behold an agreeable old fellow, forgetting age, and showing me the way to be young at sixtyfive. Sure I am well able to be as merry, though not so comical as he. Is it not in my power to have, though not so much wit, at least as much vivacity? Age, care, wisdom, reflection, begone ! I give you to the winds. Let's have t'other bot . tle; here's to the memory of Shakespeare, Falstaff, and all the merry men of Eastcheap! Such were the reflections that naturally arose while I sat at the Boar's Head Tavern, still kept at Eastcheap. Here, by a pleasant fire, in the very room where old Sir John Falstaff cracked his jokes, in the very chair which was sometimes honoured by Prince Henry, and sometimes polluted by his immoral merry companions, I sat and ruminated on the follies of youth; wished to be young again, but was resolved to make the best of life while it lasted.”
The Boar's Head of Shakespeare, which stood in Great Eastcheap, perished in the fire of London. A tavern bearing the same name was erected on its site, having in front of it a boar's head cut in stone, with the date 1688. It was taken down in 1831, to make room for the approaches to New London Bridge. The object which most nearly marks the site of the old tavern is the statue of King William the Fourth.