Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

We learn from Granger that in Pelham Street, Spitalfields, Milton's granddaughter, Mrs. Foster, kept a chandler's shop.

The celebrated statesman, Lord Bolingbroke, is said to have resided in a house on the north side of Spital Square. In the immediate neighbourhood, too, was born the great ecclesiastical historian, John Strype.

To the northeast of Spitalfields is Bethnal Green, anciently a retired hamlet, comprising, in Queen Elizabeth's days, a few scattered cottages and farmhouses, which surrounded the episcopal palace of the merciless Edmund Bonner, Bishop of London, from whom Bonner's Fields derive their name. The church, dedicated to St. Matthew the Evangelist, was erected in 1740, at the northeast corner of Hare Street, Spitalfields. Three years afterward, this district having been found to contain a population of as many as fifteen thousand inhabitants, an act of Parliament was passed for forming the hamlet of Bethnal Green into a distinct parish.

Pepys writes, on the 26th of June, 1661 : “By coach to Bednall-Green, to Sir W. Rider's to dinner. A fine merry walk with the ladies alone after dinner in the garden; the greatest quantity of strawberries I ever saw, and good. This very house was built by the Blind Beggar of BednallGreen, so much talked of and sung in ballads ; but they say it was only some of the outhouses of it."

“ It was a blind beggar, had long lost his sight,
He had a fair daughter of bewty most bright;
And many a gallant brave suitor had shee,
For none was so comelye as pretty Bessee.

“ And though she was of favour most faire,
Yett seeing shee was but a poor beggar's heyre,
Of ancyent housekeepers despised was shee,
Whose sonnes came as suitors to pretty Bessee.

66

My father, shee said, is soone to be seene,
The seely blind beggar of Bednall-greene;
That daylye sits begging for charitie,
He is the good father of pretty Bessee.

" His markes and his tokens are known very well;

He always is led with a dog and a bell;
A seely old man, God knoweth is hee,
Yett hee is the father of pretty Bessee.”

Before we take leave of this remote neighbourhood, we must not omit a brief mention of the old Artillery Ground, which occupied the site of Duke Street, Steward Street, Sun Street, and other adjacent streets in the neighbourhood of Spitalfields. It was originally known by the designation of Tasell's Close, from having been anciently a spot of ground where the tassells or teasles, used in the manufacture of cloth, were cultivated. Subsequently, William, the last Prior of St. Mary Spital, granted it for three times ninety-nine years to the fraternity of artillery, or gunners of the Tower. The ground was laid out expressly for

the purpose of proving the artillery, for gunnery practice, and other military purposes, and thus obtained the name of the Artillery Garden. Stow informs us that in his time the gunners of the Tower used to repair hither every Thursday, to exercise their great artillery against a mound of earth, which served as a butt. In 1622, the Artillery Company removed to an area on the west side of Finsbury Square, which thus obtained the name of the new Artillery Ground. It was not, however, till some years afterward that the old Artillery Ground, as we learn from Strype, was entirely neglected. “In the afternoon,” writes Pepys, on the 20th of April, 1669, “we walked to the old Artillery Ground, Spitalfields, where I never was before, but now by Captain Deane's invitation did go to see his new gun tried, this being the place where the officers of the ordnance do try all their great guns.” Artillery Lane and Fort Street still remain to point out the immediate site of the old Artillery Ground.

CHAPTER XII.

LONDON WALL, AUSTIN FRIARS, ETC.

Original Extent of London Wall — Its Gates — The City Ditch

Broad Street - Austin Friars — Monuments There - Winchester House - Finsbury and Moorfields — Bedlam - Moorgate Street - New Artillery Ground — Milton — Bunhill Row

Bunhill Fields' Burial-ground — Celebrated Persons Buried There — Grub Street - Hoole and Doctor Johnson.

HAVING retraced our steps to Bishopsgate Street Within, let us turn down the long and narrow street called London Wall, which anciently ran parallel with the north wall of the city. When the Romans, in the fifth century, found themselves compelled to abandon their conquests in Britain, they left London encircled by a wall twenty-two feet high, and measuring, in its circuit from the Tower to Blackfriars, two miles and a furlong in length. In addition to two principal fortresses, the wall was defended by thirteen towers, erected at advantageous distances, and supposed to have been about forty feet in height. There were originally but three entrances into the city; one at Aldgate on the east ; another near Aldersgate Street on the north; and at Ludgate in the west. At later

299

periods were added Newgate, Cripplegate, Moorgate, Bishopsgate, and the Postern on Tower Hill. The wall commenced at the Tower, the principal Roman fortress in London. Thence it ran in a straight line to Aldgate, where it commenced a semicircular route by the Minories, Houndsditch, and along London Wall to Cripplegate. Here the north wall terminated nearly in an angle, and, taking a southerly direction, descended by the way of Aldersgate and Newgate to the Thames, where it united itself with another Tower, or Arx Palatina, which stood a little to the east of Blackfriars Bridge.

Of the ancient wall erected by the Romans several fragments existed within the last hundred years. Pennant, writing at the close of the last century, observes, “On the back of Bethlehem Hospital is a long street, called London Wall, from being bounded on the north by a long extent of the wall, in which are here and there a few traces of the Roman masonry.” The most perfect remains now extant of the old London wall are in an unfrequented and gloomy spot, the churchyard of St. Giles, Cripplegate. A specimen may also be seen at the corner of a narrow passage leading from St. Martin's Court, Ludgate Hill.

Between the period of the erection of the city walls by the Romans and the addition of the city ditch, no fewer than nine hundred years were allowed to elapse. Both were stupendous works.

« ZurückWeiter »