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The City Wards in 1731: II
Posted on Dec 06, 2004 - 04:54 AM by Bill McCann

Our next instalment from the Gonzales guide to London in the early part of the 18th century looks at the Lime Street, Bishopsgate and Broad Street wards. The first of these contains the Leadenhall market which can still be visited today and where fresh poultry, game and fish are still on sale. The market got its name from a mansion with a lead roof, which belonged, to the Neville family, built here in the late 14th century. In Bishopsgate Ward we find the London Workhouse whilst in Threadneedle Street stood the magnificent South Sea House. Our author speaks of "this great company" which suggests that the description was penned before the doomed South Sea Bubble venture collapsed in 1720.

4. Lime Street Ward. The principal streets and places in it are part of Leadenhall Street, and Leadenhall Market, part of Lime Street, and part of St. Mary Axe.

Find Leadenhall on the Map

Leadenhall Market, the finest shambles in Europe, lies between Leadenhall Street and Fenchurch Street. Of the three courts or yards which it consists of, the first is that at the north-east corner of Gracechurch Street, and opens into Leadenhall Street. This court or yard contains in length from north to south 164 feet, and in breadth from east to west eighty feet: within this court or yard, round about the same, are about 100 standing stalls for butchers, for the selling of beef only, and therefore this court is called the beef market. These stalls are either under warehouses, or sheltered from the weather by roofs over them. This yard is on Tuesdays a market for leather, to which the tanners resort; on Thursdays the waggons from Colchester, and other parts, come with baize, &c., and the fellmongers with their wool; and on Fridays it is a market for raw hides; on Saturdays, for beef and other provisions.

The second market yard is called the Greenyard, as being once a green plot of ground; afterwards it was the City's storeyard for materials for building and the like; but now a market only for veal, mutton, lamb, &c. This yard is 170 feet in length from east to west, and ninety feet broad from north to south; it hath in it 140 stalls for the butchers, all covered over. In the middle of this Greenyard market from north to south is a row of shops, with rooms over them, for fishmongers: and on the south side and west end are houses and shops also for fishmongers. Towards the east end of this yard is erected a fair market-house, standing upon columns, with vaults underneath, and rooms above, with a bell tower, and a clock, and under it are butchers' stalls. The tenements round about this yard are for the most part inhabited by cooks and victuallers; and in the passages leading out of the streets into this market are fishmongers, poulterers, cheesemongers, and other traders in provisions.

The third market belonging to Leadenhall is called the Herb Market, for that herbs, roots, fruits, &c., are only there sold. This market is about 140 feet square; the west, east, and north sides had walks round them, covered over for shelter, and standing upon columns; in which walks there were twenty-eight stalls for gardeners, with cellars under them.

The public buildings in this ward are Leadenhall, the East India House, Pewterers' Hall, and Fletchers' Hall.

Leadenhall is situated on the south side of Leadenhall Street. It is a large stone fabric, consisting of three large courts or yards, as has been observed already; part of it is at present a warehouse, in the occupation of the East India Company, where the finest calicoes, and other curiosities of the Eastern part of the world, are reposited; another part of it is for Colchester baize, and is open every Thursday and Friday. Here was also anciently a chapel, and a fraternity of sixty priests constituted to celebrate Divine Service every day to the market people; but was dissolved with other religious societies at the Reformation.

On the south side of Leadenhall Street also, and a little to the eastward of Leadenhall, stands the East India House, lately magnificently built, with a stone front to the street; but the front being very narrow, does not make an appearance answerable to the grandeur of the house within, which stands upon a great deal of ground, the offices and storehouses admirably well contrived, and the public hall and the committee room scarce inferior to anything of the like nature in the City.

There is not one church in this ward at present. The officers of the ward are, an alderman, his deputy, four common-council men, four constables, two scavengers, sixteen for the wardmote inquest, and a beadle.

5. Bishopsgate Ward is divided into two parts, one within Bishopsgate, and the other without.

Great St Helens Bishopsgate

The streets and places in this ward, within the gate, are, all Bishopsgate Street, part of Gracechurch Street, all Great and Little St. Helen's, all Crosby Square, all Camomile Street, and a small part of Wormwood Street, with several courts and alleys that fall into them.

That part of this ward that lies without Bishopsgate extends northwards as far as the bars, being the bounds of the City freedom on this side.

The principal streets and places in this ward, without the gate, are, Bishopsgate Street, Petty France, Bethlem Court and Lane, and Devonshire Square; besides which, there are little courts and alleys without number between Bishopsgate Street and Moorfields.

The public buildings in this ward are Leather-sellers' Hall, Gresham College, the churches of St. Botolph, Bishopsgate, St. Ethelburga, and St. Helen.

London Workhouse, for the poor of the City of London, also stands in this ward, just without Bishopsgate, being a long brick edifice four hundred feet in length, consisting of several work-rooms and lodging rooms for the vagrants and parish children brought thither, who are employed in spinning wool and flax, in sewing, knitting, or winding silk, or making their clothes or shoes, and are taught to write, read, and cast accounts. The grown vagrants brought here for a time only are employed in washing, beating hemp, and picking oakum, and have no more to keep them than they earn, unless they are sick; and the boys are put out apprentices to seafaring men or artificers, at a certain age, and in the meantime have their diet, clothes, physic, and other necessaries provided for them by the house, which is supported by private charities, by sums raised annually by the City, or by the labour of the children, which last article produces seven or eight hundred pounds per annum [equivalent to approximately 100,00.00 in today's money].

6. Broad Street Ward contains part of Threadneedle Street, Bartholomew Lane, part of Prince's Street, part of Lothbury, part of Throgmorton Street, great part of Broad Street, Winchester Street, Austinfriars, part of Wormwood Street, and part of London Wall Street, with the courts and lanes running into them.

Threadneedle Street

The public buildings in this ward are Carpenters' Hall, Drapers' Hall, Merchant Taylors' Hall, the South Sea House, the Pay Office, Allhallows on the Wall, St. Peter's Poor, the Dutch Church, St. Martin's, St. Bennet's, St. Bartholomew's, St. Christopher's, and the French Church (see also London's Parish Churches).

The most magnificent and beautiful edifice of the kind in this ward, and indeed in the City of London, is the South Sea House, lately erected at the north-east corner of Threadneedle Street, near Bishopsgate Street, and over against the church of St. Martin Outwich. It is built of stone and brick.

The several offices for transacting the business of this great company are admirably well disposed; and the great hall for sales is nowhere to be paralleled, either in its dimensions or ornaments, any more than the dining-room, galleries, and chambers above.


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