A Dictionary of London. Originally published by H Jenkins LTD, London, 1918.
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His Survey of London, first published in 1598, 2nd ed. 1603, has remained the standard work on the subject, and no historian of London can afford to neglect the storehouse of learning accumulated by John Stow to illustrate the history of the Great City, forming an indestructible link in the chain of its past history before it had been devastated by the Great Fire of 1666, which obliterated so many of the old landmarks. Besides the Survey of London, his Annals and Chronicles of England contain much useful and reliable information.
Stow had to collect all the materials for his survey out of the original manuscripts and records, which he could unearth from various repositories, or which were to be found in private hands, and the difficulties in the way of obtaining and deciphering such documents must have been very great. His was, for the most part, original work, and he had no Calendars of Records at hand to assist him or to lighten his labours.
That he should, in these circumstances, have fallen into serious errors is not a matter for surprise, but it is a matter for regret that his successors, with so many added opportunities for original research, do not emulate his patience and industry, and endeavour to crown his labours by the elilcidation of difficulties, which, within the limited span of his life, it was impossible for him to overcome or correct.
His great work has been successively re-edited and enlarged : In 1618, 1633 Strype's editions of the Survey, 1720 and 1755; Thom's edition of Stow, 1875 Morley's edition of Stow; Kingsford's edition, 1908.
Straight Frying Pan Alley
Within the City area considerable improvements have been carried out from time to time and notably within recent years, as for example in the formation of King William Street, Cannon Street, Queen Victoria Street, Byward Street, Monument Street, etc., and the widening of Eastcheap, Gt. Tower Street, etc.
Select Committees appointed 1798, 1799, 1800, 1801, 1808-9, 1810, 1817, 1820-1, 1832-51, to consider improvements, but little was effected. No central body existed outside the City area to carry out the work, and there were no funds (except the coal dues) to be applied to such a purpose.
In 1855 the Metropolitan Board of Works was appointed, and since that time, under their auspices and subsequently under those of the London County Council, continuous improvements have been effected without the City area.
For many centuries in London and elsewhere it was the custom for houses of all kinds to be distinguished by signs erected over the door and projecting into the streets, so as to catch the eye of the passer-by. At a time when street names were only partially in use, and when many of the smaller lanes and passages were still unnamed, rendering modern methods of identification impossible, it was necessary that houses should have some distinguishing mark or sign by which they could be identified and which would serve to indicate them to intending visitors or friends. In the earliest grants of property in London the situation of the tenements to be demised or conveyed is indicated with reference to some neighbouring highway or by the names of the owners of adjoining properties, and when much of the land was still unoccupied no other method of identification could well be adopted. But in later times, when the number of buildings had materially increased and the adjoining properties were usually houses, these are generally referred to by the names of the signs attached to them, the name of the occupier being sometimes added as well to assist identification. This being so, the number and variety of the signs employed can excite no surprise, and the closer study given to them only serves to make them of more general interest. They would seem originally to have been adopted by the merchants and traders, at a time when shop fronts were less extensive than they are in the present day, to indicate the nature of the trade carried on, and were probably of the simplest description.
Thus in course of time the sign displayed might serve to indicate the ownership of property, and some of the houses belonging to the great Livery Companies were frequently distinguished by their respective arms.
As the houses increased, the signs multiplied in number and in elaboration of design, and possibly the later ones would have a less definite origin and meaning than the earlier ones possessed. The method of indicating the signs lent itself to infinite variety of design and execution, but they were for the most part at least in later times painted on boards as at the present day, as shown in early views of London streets, as, for instance, in Cheapside on the occasion of the entrance of Mary of Medici into the City, temp. Chas. I. One favourite method in use was to carve the sign and hang it within a hoop, and this method gave rise to an infinite variety of signs described as"...on the Hoop."
The signs continued in general use until the 18th century, but their increasing number and the practice of making them project further and further over the footway so as to render them the more conspicuous, made them a source of real danger to the pedestrians, in case of their being blown down by the wind or falling down from decay or other cause, and in temp. Chas. II. it was ordained that the signboards should no longer be hung over the streets but should be fixed on to the front of the houses.
Former names: " Strype's Court" (Strype, ed. 1720, I. ii. 28-Lond. Guide, 1758). Stripe's yard" (P.C. 1732). " Tripe Yard " (Horwood, 1799-L.C.C. List of Streets, 1901). " Stripe Street," 1903 (L.C.C. List of Names, 1912).
The Stoples or Stuips n Southwark are frequently mentioned and in 1375 are referred to as marking the boundary of the Ward of Briggestrete (Bridge Ward (Within)) at the end of London Bridge (Cal. L. Bk. H.p. 93, and See Cal. L. Bk. K. p.3).
Various forms of name: " Stouples," 1349 (Ct. H.W. I. 591). " Stoples," 1356 (Lond. Topog. Rec. V. 169). " Stoples," 1372 (Cal. L. Bk. G. 300). " Stoples," 1372 (Cal. L. Bk. H. p.93). " Stulpes," 1375 (ib.).
The word "stulp" in the Dialect Dictionary=a post, pillar, especially a boundary post, a prop, support, etc. The various forms given are " stolp," " stoup," " stoop," in use in different parts of the country, especially in the north and east. Compare Icel. "stolpi," Sw. Dan. " stolpe," M. D. " stolpe," a post. M. E. " stulpe," " stolpe."
It is worthy of note that in addition to these references to the stuips or posts erected at each end of the Bridge to mark its site and extent, and at the Southwark end to determine the boundary of Bridge Ward Within, the word occurs in early records as applied to other property in various parts of the City.
Suburbs of London
Roman walls found at a depth of 17 ft. crossing the lane 25 yards from Thames Street, made of Kentish rag-stone 3 ft. thick. A second found parallel with the first seven yards higher up the lane; a third crossed the lane diagonally towards the north-west within a space of 13 yards. The lower walls were in made ground, puddled with clay (Arch. XXXII. 120).