Old and New London: Volume 5. Originally published by Cassell, Petter & Galpin, London, 1878.
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The Work of an Amiable Hermit—Copenhagen Fields—The New Cattle Market—Our Meat Supply—The "Brecknock Arms" Tavern—Duel between Colonel Fawcett and Lieutenant Munro—The City Prison—The Camden Town Athenæum—The New Jerusalem Church—Holloway Congregational Chapel—Seven Sisters' Road—Holloway Hall—The Old "Half Moon" and "Mother Red Cap" Taverns—St. Saviour's Hospital and Refuge for Women and Children—St. John's Church—The "Archway" Tavern—Dangers of the Roads—Descendants of the Poet Milton—The Lazar House—The Small-pox Hospital—Whittington's Stone—Whittington's Almshouses—Benefactions of Sir Richard Whittington.
In a previous part of this work, whilst speaking of the limits of the old Manor of Highbury, (fn. 1) we touched slightly upon that district lying to the west of the Hornsey and Holloway Roads, known respectively as Upper and Lower Holloway; but many other interesting details not mentioned on that occasion still remain to be told.
Holloway is a hamlet which belonged originally to the parish of Islington; and it received its name from being situated in the "hollow way" or lowland valley between that place and Highgate. It is said that the soil in this part being a stiff clay, that part of the road from Highgate to Islington which passes through Holloway was made with gravel excavated on the top of Highgate Hill by an amiable hermit, who had taken up his abode there. "A two-handed charity," quaintly remarks old Fuller, "providing water on the hill, where it was wanting, and cleanness in the valley, which before, especially in winter, was passed with great difficulty." It is stated in the Ambulator that the last "hermit" of Highgate was one William Forte, who lived in the reign of Henry VIII. But of this hermit and his work we shall have more to say on a future occasion.
A large portion of Holloway, lying between the York Road and Caledonian Road, was formerly known as the Copenhagen Fields—once the resort of Cockney lovers, Cockney sportsmen, and Cockney agitators. Of the past history of this place, including the noted Copenhagen House, which stood here, we have already spoken in the chapter above referred to; (fn. 2) but it remains to be added that about the year 1852 much of the ground hereabouts, to the extent of some seventy acres, was taken by the Corporation of London, in accordance with the provisions of an Act of Parliament passed in the above year, as a site for the new cattle-market, which was to supersede the old market at Smithfield. The new market was planned, and the various buildings connected with it erected, from the designs of Mr. J. B. Bunning, the architect to the City of London, at a cost of nearly £500,000.
The question of the removal of the cattle-market from its old quarters, almost in the heart of the City, to a more strictly suburban locality had long been under consideration; and its absolute removal in the end became almost a matter of sheer necessity, not only on account of the inconvenience in transacting business, but from the danger arising through the driving of cattle along the crowded streets of London. As we have mentioned in a previous volume, (fn. 3) so far back as 1836 a cattlemarket was established at Islington, but its career seems to have been but of brief duration. The situation of this establishment was, perhaps, considered the best that could have been chosen for its purpose, lying open, as it did, to most of the great roads from the northern and eastern counties, from which the chief supply of cattle and sheep to the London market is derived, and communicating conveniently, by means of the New or City Road, with the greater part of the town, without driving through the heart of it, than any other would have done. As we have intimated, however, this market does not seem to have met with the success which was anticipated, and the old market was carried on with unabated vigour in the crowded pens of Smithfield Bars. Latterly, however, the nuisance engendered by the dirt and crowd, and the rush of horned cattle through the neighbouring streets, had become so intolerable, that the matter was taken in hand by the Corporation of London, and after considerable opposition from persons with "vested interests," the New Cattle Market was laid out, as we have stated above, at Copenhagen Fields, and it was opened by the Prince Consort in person, in June, 1855.
As regards the site, it was thought by many at the time that the market should have been placed at a greater distance from the City; but it is, nevertheless, a great improvement upon old Smithfield. In our account of Pentonville, in the volume above referred to, we have given a few details of the new cattle-market at Copenhagen Fields, but we may be pardoned for giving a more detailed description here. It forms an irregular quadrangle, and is all that could be desired in its architectural and general design. All the plans for drainage, so far as place is concerned, are said to be excellent; the space for the various animals is ample; water, &c., is conveniently at hand; and so good is the opportunity for general inspection, that much of the cruelty which was so justly a matter of complaint when the cattle market was held in Smithfield is avoided.
The open area of the market is partitioned off into divisions for the reception of all sorts of live stock, and is inclosed by metal railings, well worthy of notice for their artistic merit; indeed, ornament is not despised in the midst of all these very practical arrangements, for in those parts appropriated to cattle, sheep, &c., each central rail is ornamented with characteristic casts of the heads of oxen, sheep, pigs, &c., designed and modelled by Bell, the sculptor. In the centre of the inclosure is a lofty clock-tower, from which the bell gives notice of the commencement and close of the market; and around the base of this tower is a sort of rotunda—a twelve-sided structure—in which are the branch offices of several banks, railway companies, salesmen, telegraph companies, shops for the sale of chemicals, &c. This edifice is commonly called the Bank Building. The clerk of the market has also his office here, where, with the aid of his assistants, he is busily engaged in registering the receipts and delivery of animals. On ascending to the belfrey, in the centre of the enclosure, and looking down, the geometrical arrangement of the pens and sheds presents a curious and agreeable appearance, and it will be at once seen that nearly all round the market space has been reserved for extension—a necessary consideration, when it is borne in mind that in half a century hence the population of the metropolis, if it goes on increasing at the rate of progress which it has shown since the formation of the market, may perhaps be doubled. The open space mentioned above will accommodate about 7,000 cattle, 42,000 sheep, and a proportionate number of calves and pigs; and the different pens and sheds, which run at right angles, are lettered and numbered. The departments for calves and pigs are covered in above by light, partially-glazed roofs, supported on iron columns, which serve at the same time as water-drains. At the four corners of the principal area of the market are taverns of large size, with stabling, &c., adjoining; and on the north side, standing upon part of the vacant space belonging to the market, is a neat red-brick building, ornamentally constructed, which serves as the Drovers' Institute. On the south and west sides are extensive "lairs" for the reception of such live stock as may not have been disposed of on marketdays, or which may have arrived too soon. There are also store-houses for hay, corn, and other provender, and a small space for a dead-meat market. On the east side a large space of ground has been covered in with long ranges of slaughter-houses or abattoirs, constructed on the principle so generally exemplified in foreign cities. These buildings are very spacious, thoroughly ventilated, and supplied with water, machinery, and every other necessary convenience. By the erection of these abattoirs, the unpleasant practice of driving the cattle through the crowded streets of the metropolis has in a great measure been avoided; while the inconvenient and unsanitary practice of slaughtering animals in back slums and alleys, and in the midst of a large population, has now become almost a thing of the past.
Close to the market are stations for the reception of cattle from the lines of the Great Northern, the London and North-Western, and other railways, so that animals can be brought directly into the market by railway from almost all parts of the kingdom. This, indeed, is a great advantage upon the old system of bringing cattle to the metropolitan market, for it must be remembered that in former times it took five or six weeks to drive oxen and sheep from the north of Scotland to London, whereas they can now be brought from the same distance at far less cost—taking their condition, &c., into consideration—by train, in about a couple of days. Indeed, since the time when the market was first established here, there have been great changes in respect of the supply of animal food for the population of the metropolis. "Then," as we have already had occasion to observe, "most of the beasts and sheep converted into meat for sale in the shops of London butchers were brought to London alive, and then slaughtered by the retailers. With the development of our railway system, and the additions to the great main lines by extensions which brought them into the business parts of the metropolis, the dead-meat traffic from the provinces exhibited year by year a heavier tonnage." Most of the large meat salesmen of London are now represented in the shambles at the Cattle Market, and a considerable quantity of the cattle for metropolitan consumption is killed here almost as soon as it arrives: some, it is true, is still slaughtered in different parts of London, whilst others have to take a long journey before they become "food for the use of man."
Of late years, it is asserted, enormous strides have been made in the improvement of our cattle. The old big-boned stock has now been, in a great measure, replaced by the smaller, more symmetrical, but nevertheless greater meat-carrying, animal; consequently, in a large number of beasts offered now, the actual weight of meat is in reality much in excess of what it would have been a few years back; and not only that, but the quality is so much better that waste is reduced to a minimum. The year 1876 saw the introduction of a novel feature in the cattle trade, and one which it behoves the home breeders to watch narrowly if they do not wish to fall behind in the race. Consumers must have hailed with satisfaction the opening up of a new source of supply. America has now entered the field, and judging from the success which has attended the initiation of the scheme, she may be considered to have definitely and permanently taken up a position to compete with our graziers for the supply of live stock to the British public. Healthy competition is to be encouraged, as it must have the natural effect of stimulating us to fresh exertions, and if the large amount of success which has already attended us is to be taken as a fair criterion of our powers, possibly in the near future the general excellence of our cattle will be so advanced as to greatly excel all previous shows. Year by year cattle-rearing is becoming more and more of a science. Greater judgment is required in the selection of animals for breeding purposes, and increased care is necessary in their management. Well-bred and well-fed stock is now so plentiful that a secondrate animal stands no chance in the market. To expedite sales, good quality and condition must be guaranteed. The Americans are to be praised for the manner in which they placed so many good beasts in our market, apparently but little distressed with their long voyage. But this, perhaps, is a digression.
The market-days here are Mondays and Thursdays for cattle, sheep, and pigs, and Fridays for horses, donkeys, goats, &c.; but the great market of the year is that which is held a week or two before Christmas, when the sale of fat stock for consumption at the festive season takes place. The number of beasts exhibited for sale at Old Smithfield Market in 1844 was about 5,700; in 1854, the last year in which it was held there, it had reached upwards of 6,100. In the first Christmas market at Copenhagen Fields, the number of beasts offered for sale was 7,000; in 1863, as many as 10,300 were shown, which was almost double the number brought to market in 1868. Since the latter year the numbers have ranged from 6,300 to 7,600.
At a short distance from the north-west corner of the market, and standing at the corner of the Camden and Brecknock Roads, is the well-known tavern bearing the sign of the "Brecknock Arms," a sign which keeps in remembrance the second title of the Marquis Camden. In former times it vied with its near neighbour, the "White House," at Chalk Farm, as a rendezvous for the lovers of athletic exercises, in the shape of single-stick and wrestling matches, &c. The house stands on the very borders of Camden Town and Holloway; it is an attractive building, and at one time had some pleasant tea-gardens attached to it. In the summer of 1843, when it stood almost alone in the road, the place acquired considerable notoriety from a fatal duel which was fought there between Colonel Fawcett and Lieutenant Munro, in which the former was killed. The record of this duel possesses a twofold interest, from the fact of its being probably the last—certainly the last fatal one—that was ever fought in England, and also that the principal actors in it were not only brother officers, but also brothers-in-law—at all events, they had married two sisters. The origin of the quarrel was a hasty expression used by Colonel Fawcett respecting some family differences, which led his adversary, Lieutenant Munro, to send him a challenge. The duel came off early in the morning of Saturday, July 1, in a field in Maiden Lane (now Brecknock Road), adjoining the rifle-ground belonging to the "Brecknock." The colonel on being brought, dangerously wounded, to this inn, was refused admittance; so he was taken to the "Camden Arms," where he died on the following Monday. The coroner's jury on the inquest returned a verdict of wilful murder, not only against Lieutenant Munro, but against the seconds also. The latter, however, were acquitted, and Munro evaded the hands of justice by seeking refuge abroad; but four years afterwards he surrendered to take his trial at the Old Bailey. He was found guilty of wilful murder, and sentence of death was recorded against him. He was strongly recommended to mercy, and his sentence was afterwards commuted to twelve months' imprisonment.
At the top of Camden Road, at its junction with Holloway, stands the City Prison, or House of Correction for male and female prisoners sentenced at the Central Criminal Court, the Mansion House, or Guildhall Justice Rooms. It is also the Queen's and Debtors' Prison for London and Middlesex. This prison had its origin in the old Giltspur Street Compter, of which we have already given some particulars; (fn. 4) and on the demolition of the Whitecross Street Prison a few years later, the debtors confined there were removed hither. It was built in 1850, on land originally purchased by the Corporation as a cemetery, during the first visitation of the cholera in 1832, and it covers about ten acres. Its boundary walls are nearly twenty feet in height, and erected as it is in the castellated style, and standing on a conspicuous eminence, it presents a rather imposing appearance. It has some strongly fortified gateways, and is embattled throughout the extent of its radiating wings, which are six in number. The prisoners are employed in various ways, and the discipline is a mixture of the separate and associated systems. The architect of the building was Mr. J. B. Bunning, and the cost of its erection was about £105,000. It is fireproof throughout; it is ventilated by a shaft nearly 150 feet high, and is supplied with water from an artesian well which is carried down into the chalk upwards of 300 feet. On either side of the gatehouse are picturesque buildings of red brick with stone dressings, which serve as residences for the governor of the prison and the chaplain. The gateway tower itself is an imposing structure; like the main portion of the prison, it is embattled, and reminds one of the entrance to some grand old mediæval castle. Above the entrance gateway are the dwelling-rooms of the chief warder. In the rear of the gate-house is a spacious court-yard, on the farther side of which is the Gothic arched doorway of the prison. This part of the edifice is particularly grand and massive, having been built after a model of the principal front of Warwick Castle. On either side of the window above the doorway large painted griffins appear to be doing duty as sentinels, and over the door are some bold machicolations. Stretching away to the right and left of the entrance are lofty wings; the former is used for female prisoners, and the latter for debtors, or rather—since imprisonment for debt has been abolished—for those persons who may be committed for contempt of court, non-payment of fines, &c. This wing was at first occupied by juvenile offenders, and at times as many as eighty or one hundred have been confined there at once; but such has been the diminution in crime of late years, owing to the establishment of reformatories and industrial schools, that the number is now very considerably diminished, rarely exceeding ten or twelve at one time.
Passing through the doorway, the visitor enters a spacious and lofty hall, or reception-room for prisoners, whence a broad flight of steps leads to a balcony at one end, and so on to a long corridor extending back to that part of the prison containing the cells. On the left of the hall is a room into which prisoners are first taken to be weighed, to be duly and properly described in a large book kept for that purpose, and to have their warrants of commitment checked. Here, too, are kept photographs of all the prisoners confined here, with all the details of the crimes duly set down to their account; these, combined with the entries in the book above mentioned, would doubtless furnish ample material for a biographical memoir of many a well-known criminal. These records are kept posted up, upon the "double-entry principle," in a ledger and also in a day-book; all particulars concerning the various prisoners—such as their names, ages, height, weight, colour of hair and eyes, and any peculiarity or malformation of their limbs—are duly set down in writing, so that little or no difficulty is experienced by those whose duty it is to keep these accounts, in finding out whether any criminal has been previously convicted, although he may have assumed a different name from that by which he (or she) was previously known. This mode of keeping accounts of offenders against the law was, in a great measure, brought to its present state of simple perfection by Mr. Agar, the chief warder of the prison, an official who, having risen to that position after many years' experience in the various details of prison-life, in the execution of his duty, while enforcing strict discipline, has at the same time endeavoured to blend the reformatory and industrial principles laid down by his superior officers, and to whom we are indebted for much of the information here given while acting as our cicerone. On either side of the corridor mentioned above are the various offices for the governor and the chief warder; also the doctor's room, the aldermen's committee-room, and the visitors' room. This last-mentioned apartment is divided in the centre by two partitions, the outer side of each being further subdivided into a series of small compartments. These compartments have an open aperture, facing each other, about six inches by twelve, and guarded by wire-work, through which the conversation is carried on between the prisoner and the visitor; in the intervening space between the two partitions a warder is on duty during the visiting time.
At the end of the corridor, a doorway leads at once into the centre of the prison. From this point the four principal wings radiate; they are lettered A, B, C, and D respectively. That on the left, which lies parallel with the "debtors' wing" mentioned above, is set apart for prisoners who have never before been convicted; in the next are confined, as far as practicable, tradesmen, mechanics, and persons who have hitherto filled a respectable position in life; the third wing is devoted to the reception of criminals who may have been convicted for petty offences; and the last, or D wing, serves as the receptacle for known old offenders. These wings are three storeys in height, and light iron galleries run round three sides of each, from which the cells are reached. For criminals there are 349 cells, 289 for males and 60 for females; and for "debtors" there are 60 cells, and four day-rooms. Provisions are raised to the different floors by lifts in the central hall. Each cell is about twelve feet long by seven feet wide, and is well lighted, warmed, and ventilated; and each is provided with every necessary for the convenience of its inmate. The chapel is a large and convenient apartment above the offices; it is so arranged that prisoners of each class, while they can see and be seen by the chaplain, cannot see one another; the male prisoners being arranged on a deep gallery, in four groups, as above distinguished, whilst the females are placed in a sort of transept on the north side of the communiontable, hid from the sight of their fellow-prisoners by a high partition, but, at the same time, able to see the clergyman, whose reading-desk is placed in the centre of a gallery on the east side of the chapel, the "debtors" having accommodation in a similar way on the south side; in the eastern gallery are seats for the governor, the chief warder, and other officers.
At the ends of the four wings above mentioned are the various work-rooms for mat-making, tailoring, shoemaking, and other trades, also the school, infirmaries, treadwheel, and dark cells. The whole of the water supply for the prison is pumped from the well above mentioned by the aid of the treadwheel. Brickmaking is largely carried on by the prisoners in the grounds at the rear. There are sufficient means for enforcing hard labour, according to the numbers sentenced; and prisoners are at all times under supervision. Prisoners are allowed to participate in the profits of their labour if they perform any over and above their task-work. This system, it is affirmed, makes the prisoners more industrious and attentive, prevents breaches of discipline, and enables them to earn their living on discharge. As we learn from the published report of the Inspectors of Prisons, issued in 1876, the total number of criminals admitted here during the year 1874 was 1,572; the number discharged, removed, or who had died during the year ending at Michaelmas, 1875, was 1,339; the average daily number of criminals in custody during the same time was 264, twenty of whom were females. The greatest number in the prison at any one time during the year was 275 males and 35 females, making a total of 310; and the number of recommittals during the year of criminals known to have been previously imprisoned at any time, or in any prison, was 329 males and 92 females.
That the prison is partially self-supporting will be seen from the following details gleaned from the above-mentioned report:— Under the heading, "How prisoners have been employed during the year, at productive and unproductive labour, and the earnings of those engaged in each employment," we find that mat-making, which is done by contract, realised a sum of £1,225 4s. 8d.; oakumpicking, £111 5s.; brickmakers earned £442 19s.; gardeners and piggery, £83 5s. 1d.; shoemaker and tailors, £43 19s. 5d.; whilst smiths, whitewashers, carpenters, tinmen, bookbinders, &c., the value of whose labour is estimated at two shillings a day, produced a net profit of £52 7s. 3d. The estimated value of work done for the prison during the same period, by the prisoners, amounted in the whole to £2,153 12s.
The hours of labour for the prisoners are from half-past five in the morning till eight in the evening, out of which time one hour is set aside for exercise, one hour for service in the chapel, and two hours for meals. The total ordinary expenditure of the prison, including salaries to all officers, &c., for the year ending 29th of September, 1875, amounted to £10,464 5s. 7d.; the average annual cost per prisoner, without allowing for earnings of labour, is £35 14s. 3d.; the average annual net profit on each prisoner's labour is £6 13s. 9d.; and the average weekly cost of food per prisoner is 2s. 7½d. The subordinate staff of officials in the prison consists of thirty-eight males and five females, whose salaries amount in the aggregate to the sum of £3,903 4s.
With such a population as that which this place contains, it can hardly be supposed that the rules and regulations of the prison are not sometimes broken, or that the warders and other officials have at times some very refractory characters to deal with. That this is the case the reader may conclude on learning that during the year above mentioned recourse was had to irons and handcuffs in seven cases among the male criminals for prison offences; that eighty males and one female had to be placed in the solitary or dark cells; and 1,435 males and one female had to undergo punishment in the shape of a stoppage of diet.
"On several occasions," observes the writer on Prison Discipline in "Chambers' Encyclopædia," "grave abuses have been exposed by Parliamentary inquiries and otherwise, in the practice of prison discipline in this country. The exertions of John Howard, Mrs. Fry, and other investigators, awakened in the public mind the question, whether any practice in which the public interest was so much involved should be left to something like mere chance—to the negligence of local authorities, and the personal disposition of gaolers. The tendency lately has been to regulate prison discipline with extreme care. The public sometimes complain that too much pains is bestowed on it—that criminals are not worthy of having clean, well-ventilated apartments, wholesome food, skilful medical attendance, industrial training, and education, as they now have in this country. There are many arguments in favour of criminals being so treated, and the objections urged against such treatment are held, by those who are best acquainted with the subject, to be invalid; for it has never been maintained by any one that a course of crime has been commenced and pursued for the purpose of enjoying the advantages of imprisonment. Perhaps those who chiefly promoted the several prominent systems expected from them greater results in the shape of the reformation of criminals than any that have been obtained. If they have been disappointed in this, it can, at all events, be said that any prison in the now recognised system is no longer like the older prisons—an institution in which the young criminals advance into the rank of proficients, and the old improve each other's skill by mutual communication. The system now received is that of separation, so far as it is practicable. Two other systems were tried—the silent system and the solitary system. The former imposed entire silence among the prisoners even when assembled together; the latter endeavoured to accomplish their complete isolation from sight of or communication with their race. By the separate system, the criminals are prohibited from communicating with each other; but they are visited by various persons with whom intercourse is more likely to elevate than to debase—as chaplains, teachers, Scripture-readers, the superior officers of the prison, and those who have the external control over it."
It may be interesting to learn that the moral welfare of the inmates receives the greatest attention. A Bible, prayer-book, and hymn-book are placed at the disposal of every prisoner, besides books from the prison library. Two services are held in the chapel every Sunday, and one on Good Friday and Christmas Day; and prayers are read daily to the prisoners by the chaplain, who gives an address on Wednesdays and Fridays always, and frequently on other days a short exhortation. Prisoners not belonging to the Established Church have the privilege of being visited by ministers of their several communions. Uneducated male prisoners receive two hours' secular instruction weekly, in classes; and in special cases, individual instruction in their cells. The females receive four hours' instruction weekly in class, and have lessons in their cells also.
Opposite the gates of the City Prison, standing at the junction of Park Road and Camden Road, is the Camden Town Athenæum. This building, which was erected in 1871, we have described in a former chapter. (fn. 5)
Adjoining the above building, in the Camden Road, is the New Jerusalem Church, a handsome Gothic edifice, with a lofty spire; and at the eastern end of the road, at its junction with the Caledonian and Holloway Roads, stands the Holloway Congregational Chapel.
On the north-east side of the Holloway Road, and forming a continuation of Camden and Park Roads, is the Seven Sisters' Road, which leads to Finsbury Park, and so on to Tottenham, leaving the Holloway reservoir of the New River Company on the right side of the road. The "Seven Sisters" was the sign of an old public-house at Tottenham, in the front of which were planted seven elms in a circle, with a walnut-tree in the middle. They were upwards of 500 years old, and the tradition ran that a martyr had been burnt on the spot where they stood. The trees were more recently to be seen at the entrance of the village from Page Green; and when they died off, a few years ago, they were replaced by others. But we shall have more to say about them when we reach Tottenham. At a short distance beyond the Seven Sisters' Road is Holloway Hall, a large but plain modern edifice, used for concerts, lectures, and similar entertainments.
Passing northward along the Holloway Road, having on our left side Tufnell Park, Dartmouth Park, and other estates now being rapidly covered with buildings, and named after their respective ground-landlords, we next wend our way through Upper Holloway, a place, as we have shown in a previous volume, (fn. 6) at one time noted for its cheesecakes.
The old "Half Moon" and the "Mother Red Cap" taverns, of which we have spoken in the volume referred to, have both been modernised, or, for the most part, rebuilt. The former house was struck by lightning about the year 1846. A view of the old tavern appears in the Builder of that date.
In Alfred Terrace, near the Upper Holloway station on the Midland Railway, is one of the numerous charitable institutions that abound in this neighbourhood, namely, St. Saviour's Hospital and Refuge for Women and Children. It was founded in 1864 for the purpose of rescuing young women from a life of sin, and providing a refuge for those fallen ones about to become mothers, as well as a home for their children; it is said to be the only institution of its kind. The hospital is wholly dependent on voluntary contributions. During the year ending March, 1876, 250 cases were relieved, the average number in the institution being seventy.
On the left-hand side of the road, just beyond the railway station, and near the foot of Highgate Hill, stands St. John's Church, a large brick building of the "Perpendicular" style of architecture, erected in 1828 from the designs of Sir Charles Barry. The church was one of those built under the auspices of the late Dr. Wilson, some time Vicar of Islington, and afterwards Bishop of Calcutta.
At the foot of Highgate Hill, and in the angle formed by its junction with the Archway Road, stands the Archway Tavern, a house which has long been used as the starting-point for the various lines of omnibuses, and more recently for the cars of the various tramway lines which run from that point.
In this neighbourhood, in former times, were the residences of a few families of distinction; notably among them were the Blounts, of whom we have already spoken. Howitt, in his "Northern Heights of London," says that "in Nelson's time there were some old houses which appeared to have belonged to persons of eminence, on the north side of the road at Upper Holloway. In one of them, which became the 'Crown' public-house, and which has long disappeared, there was a tradition that Cromwell had lived. Nelson doubts Cromwell ever having a house there, but thinks he might have visited his friend, Sir Arthur Haselrigge, who, undoubtedly, had a residence in Islington, as appears by the following entry in the journals of the House of Commons, May 21, 1664–5:—'Sir Arthur Haselrigge, by command of the House, related the circumstance of an assault made on him by the Earl of Stamford, and Henry Polton and Mathew Patsall, his servants, in the highway leading from Perpoole Lane, Clerkenwell, as he was peaceably riding from the House of Commons to his house in Islington, by striking him with a drawn sword, and other offensive instruments, and was enjoined to keep the peace, and not to send or receive a challenge.'"
Of the dangers of the roads, particularly in the northern suburbs, in the last century, we have already had occasion more than once to speak. Claude Duval, the dashing highwayman, as we have intimated in our account of Tyburn, (fn. 7) made Holloway one of the chief scenes of his predatory exploits. Of the house supposed to have been occupied by him in this neighbourhood we have spoken in our notice of the Hornsey Road. (fn. 8) Duval's Lane, branching from Holloway, within our grandfathers' memory, was so notoriously infested with highwaymen that few people would venture to peep into it even in mid-day. Another highwayman who infested Holloway and the back lanes of Islington, in the early part of the last century, was none other than the noted "Dick" Turpin. On the 22nd of May, 1737, he here robbed several persons in their coaches and chaises. One of the gentlemen so stopped signified to him that he had reigned a long time. Turpin replied, "'Tis no matter for that, I am not afraid of being taken by you; therefore, don't stand hesitating, but give me the gold."
There is but little else to record in the way of historical memorabilia so far as Holloway is concerned. One fact, however, of some little literary interest must not be passed over by us here, for in Holloway there were living, as recently as the year 1735, Mary and Catherine Milton, the nieces of the poet, daughters of his brother, Sir Christopher. A note in Hazlitt's edition of Johnson's "Lives of the Poets" tells us that "at that time these ladies possessed a degree of health and strength as enabled them on Sundays and Prayer Days to walk a mile up the steep hill to Highgate Chapel. One of them was ninety-two at the time of her death. The parentage of these ladies," he adds, "was known to few persons, and their names were corrupted into 'Melton.'" We have incidentally mentioned, in a former part of this work, (fn. 9) another relative, and, indeed, a descendant of the poet, Elizabeth, daughter of the poet's daughter Deborah, who, having married Thomas Foster, a weaver in Spitalfields, kept "a petty grocer's or chandler's shop" in Holloway. She knew, however, little of her grandfather, and that little was not good; for she was chiefly eloquent on the poet's harshness towards his daughters, and his refusal to have them taught to write. In 1750 Comus was played for her benefit, which realised £130. Dr. Johnson wrote the prologue, which was spoken by Garrick himself, and Tonson was among the contributors. With this addition to their store she and her husband removed to Islington; and this is said to have been the greatest pecuniary benefit which Milton's family ever derived from his service of the Muses.
One of the oldest institutions at the foot of Highgate Hill, just where it slopes quietly down into Holloway, was a lazar-house, or hospital for lepers. The building stood as nearly as possible on the site of Salisbury Road, which was laid out about the year 1852. Stowe, in speaking of "leprous people and lazar-houses," enumerates certain lazar-houses "built without the city some good distance; to wit, the Lock without Southwark, in Kent Street; one other betwixt the Milesend and Stratford, near Bow; one other at Kingsland, betwixt Shoreditch and Stoke Newington; and another at Knightsbridge, west from Charing Cross."There were, however, at least three or four others round London—namely, at Hammersmith, Finchley, and Ilford. Of that at Knightsbridge we have spoken in a former chapter. (fn. 10) The chapel of the hospital at Kingsland was pulled down in 1846. Stow, who rightly distinguishes between those lazar-houses provided for patients "without the city," and institutions not exclusively devoted to the purposes of the citizens, confines his notice to the first-named four: "These four," he says, "I have noted to be erected for the receipt of leprous people sent out of the city." But these houses were not wholly limited to sufferers from that disease. The accounts of St. Bartholomew's Hospital, about the middle of the sixteenth century, contain items of expenses incurred for the removal of general patients to all of them, including "this lazar-house at Holloway," the prevalence of leprosy having then considerably diminished. Leprosy was "the linenless disease." "This phrase," remarks Mr. W. Howitt, in his "Northern Heights of London," "denotes the true cause of leprosy—the wearing of woollen garments next the skin; for through the habit of not having these garments regularly changed and washed, but wearing them till saturated with perspiration, the skin becomes diseased. On the introduction of linen and more frequent washing this loathsome disease rapidly disappeared."
This house was, in one sense, a royal foundation, as we gather some particulars of it from Stow's remarks. He says, "Finally, I read that one William Pole, yeoman of the crown to King Edward IV., being stricken with a leprosy, was also desirous to build an hospital to the honour of God and St. Anthony, for the relief and harbouring of such leprous persons as were destitute in the kingdom, to the end they should not be offensive to others in their passing to and fro: for the which cause Edward IV. did by his charter, dated the [24th day of February, 1473, in the] twelfth of his reign, give unto the said William for ever a certain parcel of his land lying in his highway of Highgate and Holloway, within the county of Middlesex, containing sixty feet in length and thirty-four in breadth." The intention of William Pole was carried into effect; for, four years afterwards (1477), we find that the king gave and granted to Robert Wilson, who, although described in the grant as a saddler of London, yet appears to have been a disabled soldier, and to have served in the Wars of the Roses, and also to have been afflicted with leprosy: "The new lazar-house at Hygate, which we lately caused to be constructed by William Pole, not long since one of the yeomen of our crown, now deceased, to have and to hold the same house, with the appurtenances, of our gift and of our almoign, to the same Robert Wylson, for the term of his life, without any matter or account therefor to us to be yielded or paid." The next grant that occurs is in the fifth year of the reign of Henry VII., when John Gymnar and Katharine his wife have conferred upon them the "keepership (custodiam) of a certain hospital, with a certain chapel of St. Anthony, being between Highgate and Holwey (sic), in our county of Middlesex, to have and to enjoy the same keepership to the aforesaid John and Katharine during their lives, and the longest liver of them." No allusion to leprosy appears in this record, nor is the hospital even styled a lazar-house; from which it may be inferred that this dreadful disease was then declining, or else that it was designed to subserve more general purposes. We meet with no further records of appointments to this hospital till far into the reign of Henry VIII., when we find one under the Privy Seal, whereby one Simon Guyer had a grant for life of the "Spytyl Howse of Holowey, Middlesex." Perhaps, it has been suggested, the poverty of the institution, coupled with the decline of leprosy, may have rendered the appointment of little worth. That the institution was in some respects supported by "voluntary contributions," or offerings at the chapel of St. Anthony, is evidenced by a bequest in the will of William Cloudesley, of Islington, dated 13th of January, 1517: "Item, I bequeath to the poor lazars of Hyegate, to pray for me by name in their bede role, 6s. 8d."
A contributor to the Gentleman's Magazine, writing on the subject, remarks that in the reign of Queen Elizabeth the appointment to this hospital, if we may judge from the formality and length of the grant, was considered an object of emolument; for on the 23rd of March, 1565, the queen, "in consideration of his services in the wars of her progenitors, and in consideration of his age, gave and granted to William Storye, the governance (gubernationem) of our hospital or almshouse at Highgate, in our county of Middlesex, commonly called the poorhouse or hospital of Highgate, within the parish of Islington, with all its rights, members, and appurtenances, and also the keepership and governance of all the poor persons, from time to time in the same house being, to have, hold, and enjoy the keepership and governance of the hospital or house aforesaid, and of the paupers aforesaid, during his natural life, without account, or yielding, or paying any other thing therefor to us, our heirs or successors. Provided always, that the afore-named William Storye during his natural life shall find and provide for all the poor persons in the house aforesaid, from time to time being, victuals as other governors or keepers of the hospital or house aforesaid heretofore have from time to time been accustomed to do, and that he will repair, sustain, and maintain the said house in all necessary reparations so often as need or occasion shall require."From this it appears that the hospital had lost its character as a leper-house, as well as its religious associations; for the Reformation must have swept away Saint Anthony and all his belongings long before the date of the above appointment. However, in common parlance, it still retained its name of the "spittle-house" as well as that of a common poor-house; and, as late as 1605, an inmate (presumedly an infant) is described as "a lazar of our spital," in the parish register of St. Mary, at Islington, from the pages of which it may be gathered that the inmates of this institution were, at the end of the sixteenth and commencement of the seventeenth century, such as were subsequently provided for in parish workhouses. The keeper, ruler, or governor, was also commonly called the "guide," being in fact some person of medical education, or one whose previous pursuits may have qualified him for undertaking the duties of such a charge. Here are a few of the entries in the parish register of St. Mary, Islington, above referred to, some of which are curious:—
After Storey's death, in March, 1584, a similar grant and appointment passed the great seal (July 14) in favour of John Randall, to whom, in consideration of his infirmity, was granted the keepership in precisely the same form; and about five years later he received a second grant and appointment in the same words as the former, but with the addition of "all and singular orchards, gardens, lands, tenements, meadows, pastures, and hereditaments whatsoever to the same almshouse belonging or appertaining, and together with the same house heretofore used, letten, or granted, or as part, parcel, or member of the said almshouse heretofore being, with all other rights, members," &c. With a proviso that if he should at any time abuse his keepership, or the poor persons aforesaid, or should not demean himself properly, the appointment should be void.
In due course, the time came when all property of the Crown was carefully surveyed and sold to the best bidder; and, therefore, among them the old "Lazar House" passed into private hands. By deed of indenture enrolled in Chancery, in 1653, and made between William Steele, Esq., Recorder of London, Thomas Coke, William Bosserville, and others, being persons entrusted by an Act of Parliament with "the sale of all the manors and lands heretofore belonging to the late king of England, or queen, or prince," of the one part, and Ralph Harrison, Esq., of London, of the other part, it was witnessed, that in consideration of £130 10s. paid by the said Ralph Harrison, "they bargained and sold to him all that messuage or tenement, with the appurtenances, commonly called or known by the name of the 'Spittle House,' situate and being near the roadway leading from London, between Highgate and Holloway, within the parish of Islington, in the county of Middlesex; and all the houses, outhouses, yards, gardens, yard and curtilage, to the same belonging, or in any wise appertaining, containing in the whole by estimation two roods, be the same more or less, of the possessions of Charles Stuart, late King of England, and of the yearly value of nine pounds."
It is somewhat singular that after a lapse of two or three centuries another institution for dealing with a malady very similar in its loathsomeness to the leprosy should have been established almost upon the site of the old Lazar House; but so it is. About the year 1860 the Small-pox and Vaccination Hospital was removed hither from King's Cross, where, as we have already seen, it had previously stood upon the site now occupied by the Great Northern Railway Station. (fn. 11) On page 361 will be found an engraving of the original edifice at King's Cross previous to its demolition in the year 1850, or thereabouts. The present hospital is an attractive building standing upon its own grounds, slightly receding from the roadside, in Whittington Place. The institution was originally founded in 1746, "to receive and treat medically persons suffering from small-pox, and to vaccinate others." During the year 1874 about 200 inpatients were received, and 300 persons were vaccinated; but in times when the small-pox is prevalent in the metropolis the resources of this hospital are taxed on a far larger scale.
At the foot of the steep road which leads up
Highgate Hill, almost in front of the site of the old
Lazar House, and at the corner of Salisbury Road
is a public-house rejoicing in the sign of the "Whittington Stone," the stone itself being at the edge
of the pavement in front. The stone, an upright
block about three feet high, resting upon a circular
slab of stone, is enclosed by an iron railing painted
and gilt, from which springs four uprights bearing
a lamp. Upon the stone is the following inscription:—
Thrice Lord Mayor
1397. Richard II.
1406. Henry IV.
1420. Henry V.
Sheriff in 1393.
This stone was restored,
The railing fixed, and lamp erected,
It marks the spot on which, as we are told, stood the mile-stone at which the poor boy, Dick Whittington, is said to have rested when he listened to the peal of Bow Bells, and heard them, or fancied that he heard them, say—
"Turn again, Whittington,
Lord Mayor of London town."
It is stated in the Ambulator that the original stone, being broken in two pieces, was removed hence to the corner of Queen's Head Lane, in Lower Street, and placed against the posts to serve as curbstones. A correspondent in the Gentleman's Magazine, for September, 1824, alluding to the story of Whittington, observes, "A stone at the foot of Highgate Hill was supposed to have been placed there by him, on the spot where he had heard Bow bells. It had a pavement around it of about eighteen feet in circumference. This stone remained till about 1795, when one S—, who was a parish officer of Islington, had it removed and sawn in two, and placed the halves on each side of Queen's Head Lane, in the Lower Street, Islington. The pavement he converted to his own use, and with it paved the yard of the 'Blue Last' publichouse (now the 'Marlborough Head'), Islington." Whereupon, it is added, some of the parishioners expressing their dissatisfaction, Mr. Finch, a mason, was employed to place another stone in its stead, on which the inscription "Whittington's Stone" was cut. Another correspondent of the abovementioned work also observed, "Some land, I have always been told, lying on the left-hand side on ascending the hill, and probably just behind the stone, is held on the tenure of keeping the stone in repair; and when the officious interference of S— removed the stone and pavement surrounding it, a new one was immediately placed there of smaller dimensions, though it was never known by whom." "The substituted stone of 1795," writes a subsequent correspondent of Sylvanus Urban, "in fact, consisted of three stones, namely, the stone called Whittington's, and the two bases that were placed in order to keep the Whittington stone upright, and to render it as much in conformity with the ancient stone as circumstances would allow; but that this second Whittington stone was removed in May, 1821, by order of the churchwardens of St. Mary, at Islington, at a cost of £10 13s. 8d., when the present battered memorial was set up at the point where it now stands, and till this last summer it stood at the edge of the causeway or raised footpath in a bend of that side of the road, which evidently owed its irregular form from the room occupied by the preceding Whittington's Stone; but a straight pavement being now made, the stone at present stands between that and the site of the ancient curved causeway—in fact, between the footpath and the field, instead of fronting the high road as before. I may here mention that this field, in the ancient Court Rolls of the manor of St. Mary, Clerkenwell, is styled the Lazarett Field, and the Lazarcot Field, although in later documents it has obtained the name of the Blockhorse Field, an appellation evidently derived from the use to which the stone had been applied." (fn. 12)
In the year 1745 a print was published, from a drawing by Chatelain, in which the observations of the writer quoted above, showing a traditional connection between the field and the stone, are, to a certain extent, borne out. The engraving is a view of Highgate from Upper Holloway, (fn. 13) taken from a point a little below the place where Whittington's Stone stands, or stood, in which the stone appears as the base or plinth of a cross, with part of the pillar still remaining; and it has been suggested that what was formerly called Whittington's Stone was nothing else than a way-side cross in front of the chapel of St. Anthony, erected for the purpose of attracting the notice of the traveller to the unhappy objects of the hospital, and as a means of soliciting the alms of the charitable, and consequently erected long after the time when Whittington flourished. Considering that, according to a note of Mr. W. J. Thoms, in his edition of Stow's "London" (1842), the earliest narrative of Whittington's road-side adventure is to be found in a work published as late as 1612 (Johnson's "Crown Garland of Roses"), and that the existence of what served for a way-side seat can in every probability be shown to have been commenced long after Whittington had ended his prosperous days, we are afraid that we must dismiss not only the story of the "cat," but also the very pretty legend which shows the favourite hero of our childhood as making his escape from the drudgery to which he had been consigned in the house of the rich London merchant, Fitzwarren, and resting by the way-side cross at Holloway. Of Whittington's birth and parentage, of his benefactions to the City, and how he was four times Lord Mayor of London, we have already spoken in our chapter on "famous Lord Mayors;" (fn. 14) but as Holloway is so closely associated with him, not only from the popular legend above referred to, but also from the almshouses or college which bear his name, to pass him over without any further mention would be like putting on the stage the play of Hamlet and at the same time omitting the character of the Prince of Denmark. We will therefore narrate what Grafton says about him, as quoted in Keightley's "Tales and Popular Fictions:"—"This year  a worthy citizen of London, named Richard Whittington, mercer and alderman, was elected mayor of the said city, and bore that office three times. This worshipful man so bestowed his goods and substance to the honour of God, to the relief of the poor, and to the benefit of the commonweal, that he hath right well deserved to be registered in the book of fame. First, he erected one house, a church, in London, to be a house of prayer, and named the same after his own name, Whittington College, and so it remaineth to this day; and in the said church, beside certain priests and clerks, he placed a number of poor aged men and women, and builded for them houses and lodgings, and allowed unto them wood, coal, cloth, and weekly money, to their great relief and comfort. This man, also, at his own cost, builded the gate of London called Newgate, in the year of our Lord, 1422, which before was a most ugly and loathsome prison. He also builded more than half of Saint Bartholomew's Hospital, in West Smithfield, in London. Also he builded, of hardstone, the beautiful library in the Grey Friars, in London, now called Christ's Hospital, standing in the north part of the cloister thereof, where in the walls his arms are graven in stone. He also builded, for the ease of the mayor of London, and his brethren, and of the worshipful citizens, at the solemn days of their assembly, a chapel adjoining to the Guildhall; to the intent they should ever, before they entered into any of their affairs, first go into the chapel, and, by prayer, call upon God for His assistance. And in the end, joining on the south side of the chapel, he builded for the City a library of stone, for the custody of their records and other books. He also builded a great part of the east end of Guildhall, beside many other good works that I know not. But among all others I will show unto you one very notable, which I received credibly by a writing of his own hand, which also he willed to be fixed as a schedule to his last will and testament. He willed and commanded his executors, as they would answer before God at the day of the resurrection of all flesh, that if they found any debtor of his that ought to him any money, if he were not, in their consciences, well worth three times as much, and also out of the debt of other men, and well able to pay, that then they should never demand it, for he clearly forgave it, and that they should put no man in suit for any debt due to him. Look upon this, ye aldermen, for it is a glorious glass!"
Stow informs us that Richard Whittington rebuilt
the parish church of St. Michael Royal, and made
a college of St. Spirit and St. Mary, with an almshouse, called God's House or Hospital, for thirteen
poor men, who were to pray for the good estate of
Richard Whittington, and of Alice his wife, their
founders; and for Sir William Whittington, knight,
and Dame Joan his wife; and for Hugh Fitzwarren,
and Dame Malde his wife, the fathers and mothers
of the said Richard Whittington, and Alice his
wife; for King Richard the Second, Thomas of
Woodstock, &c. Hence it clearly follows that Sir
Richard Whittington never could have been a
poor bare-legged boy; for it is here plainly stated
that his father was a knight, no mean distinction
in those days. Yet in every popular account of
Whittington, he is said to have been born in very
humble circumstances. This erroneous idea has
evidently been owing to the popular legend of him
and his cat, and it shows how fiction will occasionally drive Truth out of her domain. Such,
then, is the real history of this renowned Lord
Mayor; but tradition, we know, tells a very different tale. In the words of Whitehead in the
"Legends of London:"—
"The music told him in the chime
That Whittington must 'turn again,'
And by good fortune high should climb,
And as the city's magnate reign.
"The boy, by listening, fancy-led,
Quickly arose from off the stone,
And proudly raised his hand and head,
While thus his fortunes were made known.
"'Thrice, thrice Lord Mayor,' the bells repeat,
'Then turn again yet, Whittington:'
Thus was it still—the fond deceit
Beguiled his fancy on and on.
"And 'Whittington, then turn again,'
He saw the city spires afar,
And through a cloud of hovering rain
He saw there shone one lonely star.
"He hastened home, that rustic bell
Lulled him to sleep upon that night;
The pastoral dream, remembered well,
Lifted his hopes to high delight."
"In the whole of the legendary history," observes a writer in the Saturday Magazine, "there does not appear to be one single word of truth further than this—that the maiden name of Lady Whittington was Alice Fitzwarren. It would be extremely interesting to ascertain the exact age of the legend. Neither Grafton nor Hollingshed, who copies him, says anything of the legendary history of Sir Richard; but the legend itself, as we now have it, must have been current in the reign of Elizabeth, for in the prologue to a play, written about 1613, the citizen says:—'Why could you not be contented, as well as others, with the legend of Whittington? or the life and death of Sir Thomas Gresham, with the building of the Royal Exchange? or the story of Queen Eleanor, with the rearing of London Bridge upon woolsacks?' The word legend in this case would seem to indicate the story of the cat; and we cannot, therefore, well assign it a later date than the sixteenth century. . . . . Whittington's cat," continues the writer above quoted, "has not escaped the shrewdness of those persons who have a wonderful inclination to discover a groundwork of historical truth in popular legends, for in some popular 'History of England,' the story has been explained, as it is called; and two or three country newspapers have copied the explanation with evident delight. Sir Richard Whittington was, it seems, the owner of a ship named the Cat, by his traffic in which he acquired the greater part of his wealth. It is not, however, quite clear that our worthy mercer was directly engaged in foreign traffic."
A few yards before the traveller reaches the Whittington Stone the road separates into two branches, of which the right-hand one is a modern cutting, known as the Archway Road, from its passing under Highgate Archway, of which we shall speak presently. On the right hand of this road, but within the limits of Upper Holloway, is situated Sir Richard Whittington's College, or almshouse, originally founded in the parish of St. Michael Paternoster, London, by the celebrated Lord Mayor, (fn. 15) who, in 1421, left the residue of his estate for the foundation and endowment of almshouses for thirteen poor people under the control of the Mercers' Company. William Howitt, in his "Northern Heights of London," thus relates the story of the foundation of these almshouses:—"The Mercers' Company having in hand £6,600 from the estates of Sir Richard Whittington, in 1822, commenced establishing a set of almshouses for twenty-four single women not having individually property to the amount of £30 a year. They receive a yearly stipend of £30 each, besides other gifts, with medical attendance and nurses in time of illness. At first the establishment was proposed to be erected on the main road up Highgate Hill, near to the Whittington's Stone; but the ground not being procurable, they built it in the Archway Road instead, but still near to the stone which commemorates the name of the founder. This is a much better situation, however, on account of its greater openness and retirement. The buildings are Gothic, of one storey, forming three sides of a quadrangle, having the area open to the road. In the centre of the main building is a chapel or oratory for the reading of daily prayers. The establishment has its tutor, or master, its matrons, nurses, gardener, gate-keeper, &c. It is a remarkably pleasant object viewed from the road, with its area embellished by a shrubbery and sloping lawn." The remarks of Mr. Howitt in censure of the "miserable philosophy, falsely called utilitarian," which would discourage the erection of such homes and retreats for our aged poor, are such as can be cordially endorsed by any one who has a heart to feel for the sufferings of others.
The high road in this neighbourhood, and the fields on either side, leading up the slopes of Highgate, must have presented a strange sight during the "great fire" of London, for John Evelyn tells us, in his "Diary," that many of the poorer citizens who had lost their all and their homes in the conflagration, encamped hereabouts. "I then went," he writes, under date Sept. 7th, 1666, "towards Islington and Highgate, where one might have seen some 200,000 people, of all ranks and degrees, dispersed and lying along by their heaps of what they could save from the fire, deploring their loss; and yet ready to perish for hunger and destitution, yet not asking one penny for relief, which to me seemed a stranger sight than any I had yet beheld."
The houses on the road which leads from the "Archway" Tavern up to Highgate are poor and mean, and inhabited by more than a fair proportion of laundresses and rag-shop keepers. But in the parts which lie off the road are many comfortable mansions, belonging, for the most part, to retired citizens. Few of them, however, are old enough to have a history.