Book 2, Ch. 19: Cripplegate Ward

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

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John Noorthouck, 'Book 2, Ch. 19: Cripplegate Ward', in A New History of London Including Westminster and Southwark, (London, 1773) pp. 606-612. British History Online [accessed 24 May 2024].

John Noorthouck. "Book 2, Ch. 19: Cripplegate Ward", in A New History of London Including Westminster and Southwark, (London, 1773) 606-612. British History Online, accessed May 24, 2024,

Noorthouck, John. "Book 2, Ch. 19: Cripplegate Ward", A New History of London Including Westminster and Southwark, (London, 1773). 606-612. British History Online. Web. 24 May 2024,

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Boundaries.; Extent.

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.

Figure 20:

Plan of Cripplegate ward

Principal streets.

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.

Sion college.

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 appointed visitor.

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 college.

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.

Wood-street compter.

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).

Haber-dashers hall.

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.

Wax-chandlers hall.

On the south side of Maiden lane stands a neat well contrived hall belonging to the company of Wax-chandlers.

Barbers hall.

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 remains.

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).

Lamb's chapel.

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.


  • 1. An hospital for 100 poor persons founded in 1329 by William Elsing, citizen and mercer, which fell at the dissolution of religious houses.
  • 2. Vid. p. 129, ante.
  • 3. Vid. p. 353, ante.
  • 4. Ralph's Critical Review of Buildings, p. 83. Biogr. Dict. art. Inigo Jones.
  • 5. English Architecture, p. 48.
  • 6. English Architecture, p. 26.
  • 7. English Architecture, p. 44.
  • 8. Idem, p. 49.