A New History of London Including Westminster and Southwark. Originally published by R Baldwin, London, 1773.
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Lime-street, which gives name to this ward, is supposed by Stow to derive its name from the making or selling of lime there. This small ward is bounded on the west by Bishopsgate ward; on the east and north by Aldgate ward; and on the south by Langbourn ward. It is divided into four precincts; and it is worthy a remark, that though the ward includes parts of several parishes, there is no church nor even a whole street in it. The only remarkable buildings in it are Leadenhall and the East India house.
On the south side of the street which receives its name from it, stands the front of the quadrangle called Leadenhall, the largest market in the city of London. The first intelligence given of this place by Stow, is that in the year 1309, the manor of Leadenhall belonged to Sir Hugh Neville, by whose widow it was alienated; after passing through several hands it came at last in 1408 to Richard Whittington and other citizens, who in 1411 confirmed it to the mayor and commonalty of the city. In the year 1444 the parson and parish of St. Dunstan in the East, finding Simon Eyre a rich citizen intended to erect a granary for the citizens at Leadenhall, they granted the city some adjoining ground in Grass-street now Grace-church-street to enlarge it (fn. 1) this granary was accordingly built of square stone, with a chapel at the east end. In the year 1463 the beam for the tronage and weighing of wool was fixed at Leadenhall by charter of king Edward IV (fn. 2). Three years after, a fraternity of 60 priests, beside other brethren and sisters, was founded in the chapel belonging to Leadenhall, to perform service every market day to the market people. Great part of Leadenhall was burned down by casualty in the year 1484. About the year 1534 the court of common-council met several times to consult about converting Leadenhall into a burse or exchange for merchants to assemble in, as they did at that time in Lombard-street; but, from some obstructions that do not appear, the scheme was laid aside.
The great fire in 1666 stopped at this hall; the stone work of which stood, though all the houses about it, and in the courts belonging to it were destroyed. Before this fire, the country people who brought provisions to the market had their stands in the open street between Gracechurch-street and Lime-street; which being a very inconvenient situation, the city after that disaster purchased some adjacent ground behind, and converted it into a market. Leadenhall market therefore, in its present state, consists of the following parts: Leadenhall properly so called, which is a large antique building inclosing a square in the middle, and having its principal front in Leadenhall street. In this edifice are the warehouse for leather, the Colchester baize hall, the wool hall, and the meal warehouse. The entrance into the square from Leadenhall street is through a large gothic gate; and as there is but little meat sold here except beef, this is called the beef market. On Tuesday this is a market for leather; on Thursdays the waggons from Colchester, and other parts, come with baize, &c. and the fellmongers with wool (fn. 3); on Fridays it is a market for raw hides, and on Saturdays for beef.
Behind this market are two others separated by a range of buildings of a considerable length, with shops and rooms on each side. In these are principally sold small meat, as mutton, veal, lamb, and pork, and some of the shops sell beef. In the eastermost of these is a market-house supported on pillars, with vaults underneath, rooms above, a clock and a bell tower; within are sold various sorts of provision. Beyond these is a spacious market for fowl. There is another called the Herb-market, which has an entrance into Leadenhall-street; and the passages into the above markets from Lime-street and Grace-church-street are filled with dealers in provisions of various kinds.
Between Leadenhall and Lime-street stands the East India house, for conducting the public business of that company (fn. 4). This edifice was built in the year 1726, on the spot where antiently stood the town house of the earls of Craven: the front, which is but narrow, is supported by six Doric pilasters on a rustic basement story; there are two series of plain windows in the intercolumniations, and the top is finished with a balustrade. It has been remarked that the appearance of this building is nowise suited to the opulence of the company, whose servants exercise sovereign authority in their Indian territories, and live there in princely state. The house however, though small in front, extends far backward, and is very spacious, having large rooms for the use of the directors, and offices for the clerks. It has a spacious hall and court yard for the reception of those who have business, and who attend on the company on court days, which are every Wednesday. There also belong to it a garden, with warehouses in the back part toward Lime-street, to which there is a gate for the entrance of carts to bring in goods. These warehouses were rebuilt in a very handsome manner in the year 1725, and are now greatly enlarged. The company have likewise warehouses in Leadenhall-street, Fenchurch-street, Seething-lane, and the Stillyard, beside cellars for pepper under the Royal Exchange.