A Dictionary of London. Originally published by H Jenkins LTD, London, 1918.
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Prior to the incorporation of the two Companies of Stockfishmongers and Saltfishmongers 28 H. VIII. they had two separate halls, but the charter provided that they should have the one hall in Thames Street.
It was burnt in the Fire 1666 and rebuilt 1671. Archt,, J. Jarman. Pulled down for the formation of New London Bridge and its approaches, and rebuilt 1831-3, near the site of the old Hall. Arch., H. Roberts.
Fishmongers' Hall Street
Fishmongers' Hall Wharf
Five Bell Alley
Five Bell Court
Five Foot Court, Old Fish Street Hill
Five Foot Lane
Five Foot Lane
Five Inkhorn Court
Fleece Tavern, Fleece Yard, Cornhill
Stow identifies it with the River of Wells, as he calls the stream mentioned in a Charter of William I. to St. Martin's le Grand. But this stream must have entered the City half a mile further east than the Fleet, and is more probably to be identified with the Walbrook (q.v.).
The river seems to have taken rise from the numerous springs in Hampstead and to have taken a south-easterly course through Hockley in the Hole to Saffron Hill and Holborn. In early times it was, in its lower course, a stream of considerable size and importance, and was navigable at least as far north as Holborn Bridge. The low-lying land to the west coming down to the Thames was frequently flooded by the overflow of the river passing through it. In later times its stream became slower and more sluggish, and its course was narrowed and choked by filth and encroachments, so that Orders had to be made from time to time for its cleansing and preservation, as in 1652 (Br. Museum MS. "Sewers," 669 f. 16/88).
It is shown as a Canal in O. and M. 1677, as after the Fire considerable sums were expended in cleansing and deepening it, so that it might be navigable again to Holborn Bridge, and it was called the New Canal. Sir C. Wren supervised the work (L. and P. Chas. II. 1673-5, pp. 35 and 433). It was commenced 1668 and completed 1673, 2100 feet in length to Holborn Bridge. 40 ft. broad. Wharfs on both sides, 35 ft. broad. Cost £27,777 (Strype, ed. 1720, I. iii. 279-80). Four bridges over it, at Bridewell, Fleet Street, Fleet Lane, and Holborn. Roman coins, etc., found in the river bed.
This improvement, however, was not of long duration and the canal soon became impeded and unnavigable, so that in 1764 it was finally arched over, although portions of it remained open for some considerable period, and the course can be clearly traced in Rocque's map 1746.
The Jurors said the ditch ought to be 10 ft. broad and have sufficient water to float a vessel freighted with a tun of wine, and it was found that the course of water was so obstructed that it no longer surrounded the prison as formerly (Cal. L. Bk. G. p. 49).
"Fleet Ditch" (Strype, ed. 1720, I. iii. 221 Leake, 1666). "New Canal" (O. and M. 1677). "Tremel Brook," 1652 (Br. Mus. MS. "Sewers" 669 f. 16/88). "Turnmill Brook," 1642-3 (Vertue's Plan of London as fortified by order of Parl.). The last two names were used to designate the northern portion of the river only, above Holborn Bridge.
Another early name for this river in its northern course seems to have been the "Holbourne," although Stow mentions them as separate streams, the Holbourne flowing down Holborn Hill, and joining the Fleet at Holborn Bridge.
This course, however, would seem to be difficult to reconcile with the references to the "Holeburne" which occur in descriptions of the property of the nuns at Clerkenwell in their Register book, Cott. MS. Faust. B., and it is more probable that the stream ran through Clerkenwell and was identical with the Fleet in its northern portion to Holbourn Bridge.
A street at South End, Hampstead, has recently been named Fleet Road, on the assumption that the name was applicable to the whole brook from its source downwards, but there does not appear to be any authority for this.
Stow has erroneously assumed that the Fleet River or Ditch took its name from the Prison on its bank. The reverse was the case. The name Fleet is from the A.S. "Fleot" which is defined by Bosworth and Toller as "a place where vessels float," "an estuary," also "a river or stream." Many place names have "fleet" as a termination, apparently in the restricted sense of "creek" or "estuary," and Skeat says the name was applied to any shallow creek, or stream, or channel of water.