College of Arms - Compter's Alley

A Dictionary of London. Originally published by H Jenkins LTD, London, 1918.

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'College of Arms - Compter's Alley', in A Dictionary of London, (London, 1918) pp. . British History Online [accessed 20 April 2024]

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College of Arms

On the north side of Queen Victoria Street at No. 135 in Castle Baynard's Ward, west of St. Peter's Hill (P.O. Directory).

First mention : "Colledge of the Harroldes," 1587 (Lond. I. p.m. III. 108).

Other names : "Heralds' Office," 1670 (L. and P. Chas. II. 1669-70 p. 566). "Heralds' College," (Lockie, 1810). "College of Heralds " (Elmes, 1831). Given to the Heralds, 1555, by Queen Mary (S. 370).

Formerly called "Darby House" (q.v.) and "Garter House" (Strype, ed. 1720, I. iii. 225).

Burnt in the Fire and to be rebuilt. Records preserved (L. and P. Chas. II. 1669-70, p. 566).

Restored, 1877.

Roman wall found near the back entrance, 3 ft. 8 in. thick at the base, being rubble to the height of 3 ft. from the footing, which stood in the gravel and sand of the bed of the Thames, then courses of Roman bricks 3 ft. 10 in. high, then 2 ft. 2 in. of rubble. The top was 5 ft. 10 in. below the surface (Arch. XL. 48). A further portion was discovered on the northern side of the way in Great Knightrider Street. From here the wall tended to the exact line of the front wall of the parish church, a little to the east (ib. 49).

College of Heralds

See College of Arms.

College of Physicians

Founded 1555. First feast at the President, John Caius', house in St. Bartholomew's the Less (H. MSS. Com. 8th Rep. 226). Then in Knightrider Street (S. 371).

This house was presented to them by Dr. Linacre. Afterwards removed to Amen Corner, and thence to Warwick Lane, which building was erected by Sir C. Wren 1689, demolished about 1831.

Now in Pall Mall East, designed by Smirke 1825.

The building in Amen Corner abutted west on the town ditch and City Wall and south on Stationers' Hall (H. MSS. Com. 9th Rep. p. 27).

Called Physicians, College in Leake, O. and M. and Rocque.

College Street

East out of College Hill, at No.17, to 13 Dowgate Hill (P.O. Directory). In Dowgate and Vintry Wards.

First mention : Elmes, 1831.

Former names : "Les Arches," 1276-7 (Anc. Deeds, A. 7823). A little lane called "Le Arche" upon Walbrok, 1298-9 (Cal. L. Bk. C. p. 35). "Paternostercherche lane," 1313-14 (Ct. H.W. I. 244). "Paternoster lane," 1341 (ib. 451) and 1385 (Cal. P.R. Rich. II. 1381-5, p. 574). "Eldebowelane," 17 Ed. III. (Lib. Cust. II. 450). "Bow Lane," 39 Ed. III. (Anc. Deeds, A. 2387). "Church Lane," 3 H. VI. (Cal. P.R. H. VI. pp. 215-16). "Elbow Lane" and "Little Elbow Lane" (S. 233-Lockie, 1816). "Great Elbow Lane" (Strype, ed. 1720, I. ii. 208).

Stow describes the lane as running west and then suddenly south into "Tames streete" and from this remark and from the various descriptions of property given at the references set out above, it is evident that Elbow Lane originally comprised the streets now known as College Street and Little College Street, and that they were named successively : "Les Arches" or "Le Arche" ; "Bow Lane" ; "Elbow Lane" and "Little Elbow Lane" ; "College Street" and "Little College Street."

The portion running east to west from Little College Street to College Hill seems to have been known as "Church Lane," "Paternosterchurch lane," and "Paternoster Lane," after St. Michael's Paternoster Church.

There was an "Eldebowe lane" erected by Galfridus le Botiller, draper, 17 Ed. III. (Lib. Cust. II. 450).

The varying designations of this street in times past, as indicated above, offer the most interesting evidence as to the rapid changes that took place in topographical names in early times, and as to the constant variations in street nomenclature brought about by changes of ownership or occupations in particular localities.

The earliest name set out above, "Les Arches," suggests an "arch," "arc," or arches, possibly over the Walbrook, of which the later name, "Bow," would be the translation, as "St. Mary de Arcubus" became "St. Mary le Bow."

Stow suggests that the name "Elbow lane," in use in his day, was given on account of the bending of the lane, but if the earlier form set out above, "Eldebowelane," can be taken to apply to this street, as seems probable from the description, "near Dowgate," the original name would seem to have been "Elde" or "Old Bow lane," of which the later form, "Elbow Lane," was merely a corruption.

The name "Paternostercherche lane" was of course from the church of St. Michael Paternoster Royal.

The modern name commemorates the famous foundation of Whittington College, as in College Hill (q.v.).

Collier's Court

West out of Golden Lane, in Cripplegate Ward Without 9O.S. 1875-80).

In Horwood the eastern end is called "Elsworth Place" and the western end is called "Silver Street" in the O.S.

The site now occupied by the Cripplegate Institute.


See Fenchurch Street.

Colonial Avenue

East out of the Minories at Nos. 12 and 20. In Portsoken Ward (P.O. Directory).

Seems to occupy the site of Fountain Court (q.v.).

The opening to the Avenue is very insignificant and might easily be overlooked.

Colonial House

No. 155 Fenchurch Street (P.O. Directory). In Langbourne Ward, nearly opposite Rood Lane.

Occupies the site of "Paulshead Court" (q.v.).

Comb's, Come's Court

Out of Noble Street, Foster Lane (Strype, ed. 1755-Boyle, 1799).

"Coomb's Alley" (P.C. 1732).

Not named in the maps.

Commercial Hall

On the south side of Skinner Street, Snow Hill, at No. 9 (Lockie, 1810-16).

Not named in the maps.

Site now occupied by Holborn Viaduct and the approaches.

Commercial Sale Rooms

See London Commercial Sale Rooms.

Commercial Wharf

At the south end of Old Swan Lane, on the Thames, between Swan Lane and George Alley (Bacon, 1912).

First mention : O.S. 1875.

Common Council

Forms with the Lord Mayor and Aldermen the Corporation or governing body of the City of London.

List of the first Common Council elected in the City is set out in 1347 from L. Bk. F. f. cxxxvj. in Riley's Memorials, liii -lv. The expression "Common Council" does not appear to be used, but it is stated that "the persons under written were chosen in their respective wards to come to the Guildhall of London, when they should be warned thereto to treat of business touching the City."

In 1376 they were elected by the trades and not by the wards (Riley Mem. xlvj.).

Common Lane (The)

South out of Thames Street to the Thames (O. and M. 1677-Boyle, 1799). In parish of St. Andrew near Barnard's Castle, 3 Eliz. (Lond. I. p.m. I. 216).

Former name : "Common Staires" (Leake, 1666).

Now Wheatsheaf Wharf (q.v.).

Common Staires

See Common Lane (The).

Commons (The)

Messuage called "The Commons" in parish of St. James Garlickhithe in the tenure of divers priests granted by Edward VI. to Nicholas Spakeman (Strype, ed. 1720, I. iii. 12).

Not further identified.

Companies Porters

See Porters.

Compter Alley, Compter Court

See Chapel Place.


These were prisons immediately under the supervision and control of the Sheriffs (Lib. Albus, II. p. 307).

"Counter" is used in the sense of "Court" in Cal. L. Bk. G. p. 678.

The word "Compter" is defined in the N.E.D. as the name of certain prisons for debtors in London and Southwark, and as the prison attached to the mayor's court or the court itself.

Minsheu derives the word from "computare," because whosoever slippeth "in there must be sure to account and pay well too, ere he get out again."

Regulations as to the management of the Countours are set out in Cal. L. Bk. G. p. 566 and Liber Albus, I. 173, 174 et seq., and 522 et seq.

In early times in London records the Compters are designated by the names of the respective Sheriffs who presided over them, and it is probable that in many instances these Compters were in the houses of the Sheriffs, and not in fixed and permanent buildings. See Lib. Albus I. 177 and 178.

Later on the practice of using the Sheriffs' houses seems to have been discontinued, and Stow mentions two Counters in his time, one in the Poultry and one inWood Street. The Wood Street Counter had been removed there from Bread Street in 1555 (S. 116, 265, 298, 352).

"La Brokenseld" (q.v.) is spoken of as the Counter in Bread Street in 1412.

See Poultry Compter, Bread Street Compter, Wood Street Compter, Giltspur Street Compter.

Compter's Alley

A small passage leading north out of Goose Alley into Bow Churchyard, of small account (Strype, ed. 1720, I. iii. 24 ; and Maitland, ed. 1775.II. 896).

The site is differently planned in Horwood, 1799, and had probably been rebuilt.