The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 26 From St Paul's Cathedral to the Bank of England

Barbers' Hall and Milton Street

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BARBERS' HALL in Monkwell Street to the south of St. Giles, is approached by a narrow passage (apply to the Clerk). This hall, originally that of the Barber-Surgeons, contains a portrait group of nineteen life-size figures on oak panel (10 x 6 feet) attributed to Holbein, who certainly was responsible for the picture, though to what extent has been a matter of debate. It represents Henry VIII. granting a charter (1541) to the Barber-Surgeons' Company, which obtained its first charter in 1308. The surgeons and barbers were united in one guild down to 1745, when the Surgeons' Company (now the Royal College of Surgeons) was established. Pepys, in his diary (August 20th, 1668) recounts a visit to the Barbers' Hall to see Holbein's picture, 'thinking to have bought it ... for a little money . . . but it is so spoiled that I have no mind ior it.' The hall contains also a portrait of Inigo Jones by Van Dyck. Milton Street (not named from the poet), running north from Fore St., a little east of St Giles, was the 'Grub Street' of literary tradition. It ends at Chiswell St. nearly opposite the south end of Bunhill Row. Whitecross Street, parallel with Bunhill Row on the west, leads to Old St.. Playhouse Vard on the left not far from its north end, recalls the site of the old Fortune Theatre, built in 1600 for Alleyn aud Henslowe, and pulled down about 1660.