The Garden Guide

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


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At 76 Cheapside (south side) is Bird-in-Hand Court, where Keats lived in 1816, and here he wrote the greater part of his first volume of poems. Bucktersbury, leading on the right to Walbrook, was the great street of the druggists; hence Falstaff's allusion to 'those lisping hawthorn buds, that smell like Bucklersbury in simple time' ('Merry Wives of Windsor'). Old Jewry, diverging to the left beyond Mercers' Hall, takes its name from a synagogue which stood here before the persecution of 1295 drove the Jews farther to the east The Headquarters of the City Police are at No. 26. The continuation of Cheapside from this point to the Mansion House is known as the POULTRY, from its early occupation by the shops of poulterers. It contained also various taverns of note in the literary life of Old London (all destroyed in the Great Fire) and some well-known booksellers' shops. Among these last was that of Dilly, the publisher of Boswell's 'Life of Johnson,' at whose house Johnson met Wilkes (1776). Thomas Hood was born in the Poultry in 1798, his father being partner in a bookseller's shop. To the north of the Poultry (main entrance in Princes St.) is the GROCERS' HALL, the guildhouse of the Grocers or 'Pepperers,' occupying the site of the original hall of 1427, but dating in its present form from the late 19th century (admission on written application). The guild, first mentioned in 1180, was revived as a fraternity in 1345, and was incorporated in 1428. In the early days the confraternity included members' wives, who were liable to a fine of 20 pence for 'avoidable' absence from the feasts. A historic banquet held in the hall was that of the Day of Thanksgiving, June 7th, 1649, when, after the service at Christ Church, Cromwell, Fairfax, the Speaker of the House of Commons, and other leading officers dined here with the Lord Mayor. The panels on No. 13 Poultry (right) refer to royal processions of 1546, 1561, 1660, and 1844. The district just north of Cheapside includes the Guildhall, the church of St. Giles, and other interesting points. King St. leads north to Gresham Street, which we reach opposite Guildhall Yard, in front of the Guildhall. At the corner to the left stands the church of ST. LAWRENCE JEWRY, built by Wren in 1671-80 on the site of an earlier edifice destroyed in the Great Fire. The elaborate INTERIOR (open 10.30-4, except Saturday) was rearranged and decorated by Sir A. Blomfield in 1867. It has but one aisle and contains the grave and monument of Archbishop Tillotson (died 1694), who was Tuesday lecturer here for thirty years, during the incumbency of John Wilkins, the mathematician, afterwards Bishop of Chester. Tillotson was married here in 1664 to Elizabeth French, step-daughter of Wilkins and niece of Oliver Cromwell. Pepys records a visit to the church to hear Wilkins 'for curiosity,' and his disappointment with the sermon. Sir Thomas More attracted much attention from the learned world of London by a series of lectures delivered in this church at the outset of his career, and he and other worthies are commemorated by stained-glass windows. The vestry is panelled with carved oak and has a ceiling by Fuller. On Michaelmas Day the Lord Mayor and Corporation attend service in this church before proceeding to the election of the new Lord Mayor. The fountain north of the church, with sculptures by Joseph Durham, commemorates the benefactors of this and an adjoining parish (1376-1865).