This ward is denominated from the north west gate of the city, as that
gate obtained its name from the cripples which antiently used to stand
begging there. It is bounded on the east by Moorfields, Coleman-street-ward,
Bassishaw-ward, and-Cheap ward; on the north by the parish of St. Luke,
Old street; on the west by Aldersgate-ward; on the south by Cheap-ward: and
is divided into thirteen precincts, viz. nine within the wall, and four without
the wall. The whole ward extends from Cheapside on the south, to beyond
Bridgewater square in the north; and from Jewin street in the west, to Backstreet, or Little Moorfields, in the east.
Plan of Cripplegate ward
The principal streets, &c. within the walls are, Milk street, Aldermanbury,
Love lane, Wood street, Silver street, Addle street, and a very small part of
Cheapside, containing 170 feet eastward from Wood street. The chief places
without the walls are, Fore street, Moor-lane, Whitecross street to beyond
Beech lane, Redcross street, Beech lane, part of Barbican, and all Bridgewater
square, a small neat square with an inclosed area, which occupies the ground
where formerly stood the house and gardens of the earls of Bridgewater.
In London wall street, adjoining to the church of St. Alphage, and upon the
ruins of Elsing Spital (fn. 1) , stands Sion college; founded by Dr. Thomas White,
vicar of St. Dunstan in the west: who, among other charities, left 3000l. to
purchase and build a college for the use of the London clergy, with alms-houses
for ten men and ten women. He also gave 160l. a year for ever to the college
and alms-houses, 120l. for the support of the alms people, and 40l. per annum,
for the expences of the foundation.
The work being finished, in prosecution of the will, a charter was procured
under the great seal of England in the sixth year of king Charles I. for incorporating the clergy of London; by which all the rectors, vicars, lecturers, and
curates, are constituted fellows of the college. Out of the incumbents, are
annually to be elected as governors, a president, two deans, and four assistants;
who are to meet quarterly, to hear a Latin sermon, and afterward to be entertained at dinner in the college hall, at the charge of the foundation. In 1632,
the governors and clergy agreed upon a common seal, which had round it
Sigillum Collegii de Sion Londini; and upon it the good Samaritan, with this
inscription, Vade & fac similiter, St. Luc. x. 37. The bishop of London was
The reverend John Simpson, rector of St. Olave Hart-street, one of the executors of Dr. White's will, enlarged the institution by building a spacious library
over the alms house at his own expence. The books were given by many benefactors, and particularly a great many were brought thither from the old cathedral of St. Paul, in the year 1647. But in 1666, one third part of the books,
the alms-houses, several chambers for students, the apartments reserved for
the governors and fellows to meet in, and for the residence of the librarian and the
clerk, were destroyed by the great fire. However, this whole edifice was
afterward rebuilt of brick in that plain manner in which it now appears;
excepting the chambers of the students, that ground being lett on building leases.
The new library has been frequently enlarged, as by a part of the Jesuits books
seized in the year 1679; by the donation of lord Berkley, who gave half of
his uncle Cooke's books to this library; by several legacies, by private
benefactors; by the copies of new books, which booksellers are obliged,
by an act of the 10th of queen Anne, to give to this library, in order to
secure their own copy-right and property; and by the books, which every incumbent within the city and suburbs, upon his taking possession of his living,
presents to this library of the value of 10s. at least. For the care of this library,
there is a librarian, who has a genteel apartment at the south side of the
Dr. Williams's library.
A similar institution for the use of dissenters is to be found in Redcross street;
on the east side of which, about the middle, is a library, founded by Daniel
Williams, D. D. a presbyterian minister, for the use of the dissenting ministers
of the presbyterian, independent, and baptist persuasions. This gentleman, in
1711, bequeathed his valuable collection of books and manuscripts for this purpose, with a handsome salary for a librarian and a housekeeper: and, in pursuance of his will, a neat building was erected in Redcross-street, with a genteel
apartment for the librarian, &c. and a spacious room, capable of containing
40,000 volumes. This foundation has been augmented by many donations;
and is under the direction of 23 trustees, viz. 14 ministers and 9 lay gentlemen,
who must be all presbyterians; under whom are a secretary and steward. Here
are also some curiosities; particularly an Egyptian mummy, and a glass bason
which held the water wherewith queen Elizabeth was baptized.
In this library is a register, wherein dissenters may record the births of their
children; a plan the more to be commended, as few of the dissenting ministers
keep any regular register, and as the preservation of such entries is precarious
on their deaths: the baptists also who never christen their infants may here
record their births.
In Woodstreet, on the east side near Cheapside, stands one of the city prisons,
known by the name of Woodstreet compter; which was built in the year
1555, for the reception of prisoners from the compter in Bread-street, then ordered
to be abolished for the misdemeanors of its keeper (fn. 2) .
On the north side of Maiden lane, and at the corner of Staining lane, is situated Haberdashers hall; which is a good brick building, and the room called the
hall, very neat and lofty. It is paved with marble and purbeck stone, wainscoted about twelve feet high; and the screen at the west end, where are two
arched apertures, is adorned with pilasters of the Corinthian order. In this hall
is kept an independent meeting.
On the south side of Maiden lane stands a neat well contrived hall belonging to
the company of Wax-chandlers.
Obscurely situated on the west side of Monkwell street is the elegant hall of
the company of Barbers. This hall was in times past occupied by the united
fraternities of surgeons and barbers; but the former profession rising in estimation, justly considered the union as unsuitable, and therefore separated from the
barbers in the year 1744, as has already been recorded (fn. 3) . The hall however
remained with the barbers, as being the original company.
This hall with the theatre were the designs of the famous Inigo Jones; and were
repaired and beautified under the direction and at the expence of lord Burlington,
in compliment to the architect (fn. 4) . The grand entrance from Monkwell-street is
enriched with the company's arms, large fruit, and other decorations. The
court room has a fret work ceiling, and is also adorned with the pictures of king
Henry VIII. and the court of assistants, in one fine piece; a portrait of king
Charles II. and other paintings. The theatre contains four degrees of cedar
seats, one above another, in an elliptical form, and the roof is an elliptical
cupola. This room is adorned with a bust of king Charles I. the figures of the
seven liberal sciences, and the twelve signs of the Zodiac; the skins of a man
and woman on wooden frames, in imitation of Adam and Eve; the figure of a
man flayed, done after the life, all the muscles appearing in their due place and
proportion; the skeleton of an ostrich; an human skeleton, with copper joints,
and five other skeletons of human bodies. But as this theatre was calculated
for the use of the surgeons, who have deserted it, neither that nor its furniture
are now regarded.
Brewers, Plasterers, Curriers, and Glovers halls.
On the north east side of Addle-street, stands Brewers hall, a handsome and
commodious edifice with a genteel entrance into a large paved cloistered court:
the building above is supported by neat pillars. Near adjoining to this hall on
the west, is Plaisterers-hall, an elegant pretty building, which was formerly the
hall of the Pinners company. At the upper end of Curriers court westward of
Sion college, the Curriers have a hall which is a tolerable good building; with a
handsome free stone entrance. In Beech lane is Glovers hall.
St. Giles Cripplegate church.
At the south west end of Fore-street fronting Redcross-street, stands the parish
church of St. Giles Cripplegate; dedicated to St. Giles a Grecian and citizen
of Athens, who flourished about the year 700, and was abbot of Nismes in
France. The first foundation of this church was about the year 1090 by Alfune,
the first hospitaller of St. Bartholomew's hospital. The advowson descended to
one Aelmund a priest, who gave it to St. Paul's and its canons for ever, after the
death of himself and his only son Hugh. Thus the dean and chapter of St.
Paul's became ordinaries of this parish, proprietors of the rectory, and patrons
of the vicarage, as they are at this day. The old church was burned down in the
year 1545, but that afterward erected had the fortune to escape the dreadful
year 1666, and may be numbered amongst the best of our gothic buildings. It is
114 feet in length, 63 feet in breadth, 32 feet high to the roof, and the tower,
with the turret, 122 feet in height. The body has two rows of windows, and
is very well enlightened by them: they are truly of the gothic order; and the
spaces between have buttresses for the support of the wall. The tower is well
proportioned with regard to its altitude, and contains a ring of ten bells. The
corners are supported by a kind of buttress-work; the apertures are placed
regularly over one another; and the top has, at the four corners, so many little
turrets. The principal turret in the middle is light, open, and more elegant
than is usually seen on gothic towers. It is supported by pillars; strengthened
by a kind of buttresses, and crowned with a dome, from which rises the weather cock (fn. 5) .
Among other antient monuments in this church, are those of John Fox, author
of the Martyrology, and of John Speed, the celebrated Chronologer. John
Milton, so well known for his Paradise Lost, and for his political works, is also
buried here, though undistinguished by any monument or inscription.
St. Alphage church.
At the north east corner of Aldermanbury, adjoining to Sion college, stands
the church of St. Alphage, bishop of Winchester, afterward archbishop of Canterbury, who was put to death by the Danes at Greenwich, in 1014. This church
was probably soon after founded to his memory; for this is one of the churches
confirmed to the collegiate church of St. Martin le Grand, by William the Conqueror, A. D. 1068. The first church in London dedicated to this saint, stood
adjoining to the city wall near the east side of Cripplegate; but that being demolished at the suppression of religious houses by Henry VIII. and the site thereof turned into a carpenter's yard, the south isle of the church of St. Mary Elsing
Spital was converted into the present parish church. The advowson was anciently in the dean and canons of St. Martin le Grand, in whom it continued till
Henry VII. annexed it to St. Peter's, Westminster, when it fell to the abbot and
convent: but that being dissolved, queen Mary, in the year 1553, granted
the patronage to Edmund bishop of London, and his successors, in whom it still
This church, which is a rectory, escaped the dreadful fire in 1666; but
is so plain in its building as not to be intitled to particular notice.
St. Alban's Wood-street.
On the east side of Wood-street, at the north west end of Love-lane, is situated
the parish church dedicated to St. Alban, the first Christian martyr in Great
Britain. This church is conjectured to have been founded by king Athelstan,
about the year 930; and was so well built, that this original foundation continued, with proper repairs, till the year 1634: it was then pulled down, and a
new church was built upon the same spot; which was destroyed 32 years after
by the fire of London. It was originally in the patronage of the abbot and convent of St. Alban's, in Hertfordshire; from whom it passed into the hands of
the master, &c, of the hospital of St. James's, Westminster. But it has been in
the patronage of Eaton-college ever since the year 1477, when the provost and
fellows of Eaton presented Richard Hopton to this church.
This new church was erected in a great measure upon the walls of the old
church; and was made the parish church of St. Alban in Wood-street, and St.
Olave in Silver-street, which latter being in the gift of the dean and chapter of
St. Paul's at the time, the dean and chapter of St. Paul's, and the provost and
fellows of Eaton, present to this living alternately.
The body of the church is plain, the windows are large and gothic, and the
wall is crowned with a plain square battlement: the piers are substantial, because the windows are few; but there is something wanting in the respect of
apertures, for the body of the church within is not sufficiently enlightened. It
has a handsome tower, which measuring to the top of the pinnacles is 92 feet,
and there is in the whole construction of it a great deal of regularity and beauty.
It is square and so well proportioned in diameter to its height, that it appears light
without seeming weak. This is a very great article in the construction of these
towers, and there cannot well be taken a happier model. It is divided into four
stages, and is supported by a kind of gothic pilasters, each crowned with its proper cornice. In the lowest stage one window occupies the middle of the space
in front and side, and this is truly gothic, the bars forming a double series of gothic
arches; the pilasters are carried strait up at the sides, and the rest of the space is
plain. From this stage there runs a third pilaster from the centre strait up the
middle of the face; this divides the space, and two windows become necessary
in the other stages, because it cannot be broke in upon by one.
Those in the second stage are of the kind called rose windows; and answer to
what in more regular architecture we call the port-hole window: but the case
instead of being round and solid is waved in such a manner as to represent a rose in
outline. In the two other faces there are long windows, the upper ones perfectly right, but those below not truly gothic. The great character of the
gothic stile is the sharp arch; but the tops of these are rounded. The summit
of the tower is edged with battlement work, plain and close, and its verge
crowned with handsome pinnacles, one at each corner, and one in the middle
of each space between, supported by the pilaster, which is carried up from the
cornice of the lower stage over the first window (fn. 6) .
St. Michael Wood-street.
On the west side of Wood-street, at the corner of Huggen-alley facing Ladlane, is situated the church of St. Michael Wood-street; a church of some
antiquity, as appears by John de Eppewell being rector thereof in the year
1328. The old church was destroyed by the fire of London, and the present
structure finished a few years after, when the parish of St. Mary Staining was annexed to it. The patronage of this rectory was anciently in the abbot and convent
of St. Alban's, in whom it continued till the suppression of their monastery;
when, coming to the crown, it was with the appurtenances, in the year 1544,
sold by king Henry VIII. to William Barwell, who, in the year 1588, conveyed
it to John Marsh, and others, in trust for the parish, in which it still continues: but being united with the parish of St. Mary Staining, which living is
in the crown, the parishioners present twice, and the king once.
The east end of this church, which is the most conspicuous part of it, is ornamented with four Ionic columns raised upon a continued pedestal, with arches
between, and supporting a handsome pediment, in the middle of which is a circular window. Between the columns are three upright arched windows that fill
the whole space. The rest of the body is plain, and the windows are raised so
high, that the doors open under them. The tower consists of three plain stages
with large windows, from the uppermost of which rises a small square course,
the foundation of the base of the turret. The base is cut away from the breadth
of the tower gradually to the diameter of the turret, which is plain, but handsome; and from its top rises a ball that supports the fane (fn. 7) .
St. Mary Alder-manbury.
On the west side of Aldermanbury, between Love-lane and Addle-street,
stands the church of St. Mary Aldermanbury; which is of very ancient foundation, and was formerly part of the possessions of the dean and chapter of St.
Paul's; who, in the year 1331, appropriated it to the hospital of Elsing Spital,
which, at that time, stood near adjoining. It appears to have been no otherwise
than a donative or curacy; the patronage of which, since the dissolution of the
above hospital, has been in the parishioners. The old church being destroyed
in 1666, the present structure was finished ten years after. It is built of stone,
but very plain: the body is well enlightened and the corners are wrought with
rustic. Its dimensions are 72 feet in length, 45 in breadth, 38 in height to the
roof; and the steeple is 90 feet in altitude. The tower is in the same stile with
the rest of the building; the angles in the upper stage are adorned with rustic;
the cornice is supported by scrolls, and above it is a plain Attic course. In this
rises a turret with a square base, that supports the dial. This turret is arched,
but the corners are massy; and its roof is terminated in a point, on which is
placed the fane: it is liable to the censure of being heavy, but the tower is well
proportioned to support it; and if any thing is amiss in the tower, it is perhaps
that the window in the upper stage is too large (fn. 8) .
Beside the parochial churches above mentioned, there is in this ward, at the
north west corner of Monkwell street, a chapel called Lamb's chapel. The
foundation of this chapel is as early as the time of Edward I. when it was dedicated to St. James, and distinguished by the name of the Hermitage on the
wall; from its vicinity to London-wall. This hermitage belonged to the abbot
and convent of Gerondon in Leicestershire, who kept two Cistertian monks of their
own order here. At the dissolution it was granted, by Henry VIII. to William
Lamb, a rich clothworker of this city, who bequeathed it, with his house and
other lands and tenements, to the value of 30l. per ann. to this company, for
paying a minister to read divine service on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, in the
said chapel, and to relieve the poor in the manner under mentioned. In this
chapel the company of cloth workers have four sermons preached to them upon
four principal quarterly festivals in the year. Upon these days the master, wardens, and livery of the company go in their gowns and hoods to the chapel, and
hear a sermon; after which they relieve twelve poor men, and as many women,
with 12d. a piece in money: and once a year, viz. at Michaelmas, give to each
of them a frieze gown, a lockram shift, and a good pair of winter shoes.