The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 19 From Charing Cross To St Paul's Cathedral

Fleet Street 2

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Middle Temple Lane, beyond Child's Bank on the same side, leads through Wren's gateway to the Temple (Walk 21), and just beyond is another passage (Inner Temple Lane) leading to the Temple Church. No. 17 Fleet Street, above this latter archway, is an interesting specimen of a timbered house of 1610, with a projecting upper story. It was bought by the County Council in 1900, and has been restored as far as possible in the original style. On the first floor is Prince Henry's Room (open free, 10 to 4 or 5), said to have been the council-chamber of the Duchy of Cornwall under Prince Henry, elder son of James I. (1610). The fine Jacobean plaster ceiling shows the Prince's crest in the middle. The panelling is of the Georgian period, except that on the west wall, which is coeval with the house itself. The staircase was constructed in the 18th century. The stained glass is modern. On the left, just beyond a branch-office of the Bank of England, is Chancery Lane, leading north to Holborn. On the same side is an entrance to what is left of Clifford's Inn, with a few old houses (No. 12 dates from 1624). Clifford's Inn, granted by Henry II. to Robert de Clifford, was the oldest and most important of the Inns of Chancery, with Coke and Selden among its members. In the hall (now occupied by the Royal Optical Association) sat Sir Matthew Hale and the other judges who decided the boundary disputes arising after the Great Fire of 1666. George Dyer, Lamb's absent-minded friend, edited Valpy's classics at No. 13, and Samuel Butler, author of �Erewhon,� occupied rooms at No. 15 from 1864 till his death in 1902. The Cock Tavern, at No. 22 Fleet St., preserves the internal fittings and other interesting relics of the old tavern, which stood till 1887 on the other side of the way (at No. 201), and is well known from Tennyson's reference to the �plump head-waiter at the Cock.� The gilded cock outside is a replica of the original sign carved by Grinling Gibbons (preserved inside). To the north, almost opposite, stands the church of St. Dunstan in the West (open 12-3, except Saturday), erected by John and James Shaw in 1831-33, on the site of an earlier building. The fine tower ends in an open-work lantern. The figure of Queen Elizabeth (1586) over the east (school) door came from the Ludgate, which stood half way up the present Ludgate Hill and was pulled down in 1760. The church contains some monuments from the old church, in which Tyndale preached. Izaak Walton, who was a vestryman of the parish, is commemorated by a stained-glass window (west end of north aisle), by a fountain outside the church, and by a tablet to the right of the entrance. The old clock is now at St. Dunstan's Lodge. No. 183 Fleet St., on the north side, near St. Dunstan's, was the bookshop of William Cobbett (1762-1835), where he published his �Political Register.� No. 184 (rebuilt) was for a time occupied by the poet Michael Drayton (died 1631), author of �Polyolbion.� No. 37, on the opposite side of the street, is Hoare's Bank, another of the �running cash� establishments mentioned in the �Little Directory� of 1677. It covers the site of the old Mitre Tavern, most probably that frequented by Johnson, Boswell, and Goldsmith.