Book 2, Ch. 9: Bread Street Ward

Pages 558-560

A New History of London Including Westminster and Southwark. Originally published by R Baldwin, London, 1773.

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Bread-street ward.

The ward of Bread-street is named from its principal street, which was antiently the bread market; for by the records it appears that in 1302, 30 Edw. I. the bakers of London were ordered to sell no bread at their houses but in the open market.


Bread-street ward is bounded on the north and north-west by the ward of Farringdon within; on the east by Cordwainer's ward; on the south by Queenhithe ward; and on the west by Castle Baynard ward. It begins in Cheapside on the north, and runs on the south side from where the standard, to where the cross formerly stood, then called Goldsmiths-row. It extends on the south in Watling-street up almost to the house next to St. Augustin's church on the north side; on the south side, up to the Old Change; and down the same at the east side, by the west end of Maiden-lane, or Distaff-lane, to Knightrider-street, or, as that part is called, Old Fish-street; and all the north side of the said street, till over against the Trinity church and Trinity-lane.

Figure 10:

Plan of Bread Street and Cordwainer wards

Principal streets.

This ward is divided into thirteen precincts, and the principal streets and places are, Watling-street, Bread-street, Friday-street, Distaff-lane, Basing-lane, with the east side of the Old Change, from the corner of St. Austin's gate to Old Fish-street; the north side of Old Fish-street and Trinity-lane, with part of the south side of Cheapside, betwixt Friday-street, and St. Mary-le-Bow church.

Bread-street Compter.

On the west-side of Bread-street there formerly stood one of the city compters or prisons; which in the year 1555, was removed into Woodstreet, on account of the enormities discovered in Breadstreet compter. Richard Husband the keeper, having the property of this compter by lease, the corporation could not remove him out of it; therefore finding him incorrigible on this security, they built the compter in Woodstreet, and took the prisoners out of his custody (fn. 1).

Gerard's-hall inn.

In Basing-lane on the south side is an antient building called Gerard's-hall, now converted into an inn. Tradition has handed down an absurd story that this was the residence of one Gerard a giant; and they used to shew a fir pole in the hall which reached to the roof, as the staff he used to run with in the wars.

But Stow furnishes the most probable history of this old building: according to him it is erected on the remains of a mansion house of the ancient family of Gisors, some of whom for several generations served the chief offices in the magistracy of this city: it was in those days called Gisor's-hall. John Gisor, mayor of London, was owner of it in 1245, and by descent it came to another John Gisor in 1386, who made a feoffment of it. So that we are to look upon the present appellation of Gerard's-hall to be no other than a corruption of Gisor's-hall. The old arched vault under this house supported by sixteen pillars; are curious remains of antiquity.

Cordwainer's hall.

On the north side of Great Distaff-lane stands Cordwainers hall, or the hall of the company of Shoemakers. This is a handsome brick building, in the principal room of which are two good pictures, of king William III. and queen Mary.

Church of Allhallows Breadstreet.

There are at present two churches in this ward; that of Allhallows Bread street stands at the south east angle where Breadstreet and Watling street intersect each other: it owes its name to its dedication to all the saints and to its situation. It is a rectory and a peculiar belonging to the archbishop of Canterbury, conveyed to him in 1365, by the prior and chapter of Christ Church, Canterbury, in return for favours conferred on them. It is an ancient foundation, the register of the rector thereof giving Walter de Sonnebres the rectory of this church in 1284, to which he had been presented by the prior and chapter of Christ Church, Canterbury.

The old church being burnt down in the fire of London 1666, the present edifice was erected in 1684, consisting of a plain body, with a square tower, 86 feet high, divided into four stages, with arches near the top. It is finished with a balustrade, and four pinnacles at the corners. Within it is handsomely wainscoted and pewed, the pulpit finely carved, the sounding-board veneered, a neat gallery at the west end, and a spacious altar piece well adorned and beautified.

The parish church of St. John the Evangelist burnt down in 1666, (and afterwards united to Allhallows) was a rectory, and stood on the east side of Friday street, next Watling-street. It was founded about the same time as Allhallows, and was in the gift of the prior and chapter of Christ church, Canterbury, till they conveyed it, with the aforesaid church, to the archbishop of Canterbury.

St. Mildred Bread-street.

On the same side of Bread-street, a little below Basing-lane, is the parish church of St. Mildred Bread-street; so called from its dedication to Mildred, a Saxon saint, abbess of a monastery on the isle of Thanet, and daughter to a prince of West Anglia; and from its situation. It is a rectory, founded about the year 1300, by lord Trenchant, of St. Albans. But it had neither vestry room nor church yard till 1428, when Sir John Chadworth, or Shadworth, by his will gave a vestry and church yard to the parishioners, and a parsonage house to the rector. After this church was burnt down in 1666, it had the parish of St. Margaret Moses united to it, and has been rebuilt in a very handsome manner in 1683. The front is built of free-stone; the other parts of brick. The roof is covered with lead, and the floor paved with Purbeck stone. Within there is a neat wainscot gallery at the west end, and the pulpit is enriched: the altar-piece is handsomely adorned; and the communion table stands upon a foot-piece of black and white marble.

The patronage of St. Mildred being in the family of the Crisps baronets, and that of St. Margaret Moses being in the crown; they present alternately to the united livings.


  • 1. Vid. p. 129, ante.