Book 2, Ch. 20: Dowgate 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. 20: Dowgate Ward', A New History of London Including Westminster and Southwark, (London, 1773), pp. 612-614. British History Online [accessed 21 June 2024].

John Noorthouck. "Book 2, Ch. 20: Dowgate Ward", in A New History of London Including Westminster and Southwark, (London, 1773) 612-614. British History Online, accessed June 21, 2024,

Noorthouck, John. "Book 2, Ch. 20: Dowgate Ward", A New History of London Including Westminster and Southwark, (London, 1773). 612-614. British History Online. Web. 21 June 2024,

In this section




The name of this ward is derived from Dowgate, one of the four original gates of London (fn. 1). It is bounded on the south by the river Thames; on the east by Bridge and Candlewick-wards; on the north by Wallbrook-ward; and on the west by Vintry-ward.

Figure 21:

Plan of Dowgate and Walbrook wards


The extent of this ward is from St. Martin's-lane in the east, to Cloak-lane in the west; and from thence both east and west to the river Thames, almost in direct lines; within which track are contained, on the south side of Thamesstreet, Old Swan-lane, Cold-harbour, Allhallows-lane, Campion-lane, Friarslane, Cosins-lane, Dowgate-dock, and the Still-yard; St. Laurence Pountneyhill, almost as far as St. Laurence's church-yard; Suffolk-lane, as far as the passage into Bush-lane; Bush-lane, almost the whole; Dowgate-hill, as far as Tallowchandlers-hall northward; Chequer-yard; Elbow-lane as far as the church-yard, only the south east side of the way; and Cloak-lane, the south side, to 160 feet west of Dowgate-hill. The whole is divided into eight precincts.

Thames street.

Thames street, which crosses this ward from east to west, is the general passage to the several lanes and alleys leading down to the wharfs; and is therefore continually crouded with carriages loaded with goods.


The most noted of these wharfs is the Stillyard or Steelyard, so often mentioned in the preceding history as being the place originally allotted to the Hanseatic merchants for storing up their wares; and where they had their hall, Guilda Aula Teutonicorum, for the transacting their affairs. It is now chiefly occupied by merchants who trade in iron; of which there are always large quantities in bars to be seen there.

Merchant Taylors school.

On the east side of Suffolk-lane stands a celebrated school, founded by the company of Merchant Taylors in 1561, during the mastership of Emanuel Lucar; Richard Hills, a former master of the company, having before given 500l. toward the purchase of an house, called the Manor of the Rose, belonging to the duke of Buckingham, for that purpose. But that house being destroyed by the great fire in 1666, the present buildings were erected upon the same spot at the charge of the company. This school is a spacious building, supported on the east by many stone pillars, which form an handsome cloister, within which are apartments for the three ushers. Adjoining to the school is a library, supported in like manner, by pillars of stone, and well furnished with books. South of the library is the chapel; and contiguous to these is a large house appropriated to the head master.

In this school about 300 boys are educated; of which number by the statutes of the foundation 100 are taught gratis; 50 at 2s. 6d. a quarter; and 100 at 5s. There are certain annual examinations or probations appointed, at which public exercises are performed by the scholars; of whom several are sent every year to St. John's college Oxford, which appears to have been founded principally for their use, they having no less than 46 fellowships there.

Tallow chandlers hall.

On the north west side of Dowgate hill stands the hall of the company of Tallow chandlers, which is a large handsome building with piazzas, adorned with columns and arches of the Tuscan order.

Skinners hall.

Below this hall on the same side is Skinners hall, a fine brick edifice compleatly finished; the hall is elegantly wainscotted with oak, and the parlour with cedar.

Innholders, Dyers, Joyners, Plumbers and Watermans halls.

Cold Harbour.

In Great Elbow lane near the church stands the hall of the Innholders company, which is a neat convenient building; and in Little Elbow-lane, is Dyers hall. In Friars-lane is situated the hall of the company of Joyners; remarkable for a magnificent screen at the entering into the hall-room, having demi-savages, and a variety of other enrichments, carved in wainscot. The great parlour is wainscotted with cedar. In a dirty place called Chequer yard, is Plumbers hall, a small neat building, which is lett out for a dancing school. At the south west corner of Cold Harbour-lane is Watermans hall which fronts the Thames. This Cold Harbour, or as it is now corruptly called Coal Harbour, was formerly a magnificent building named Cold Herbergh or Cold Inn, probably so termed from its cold situation near the Thames; and which was given by king Henry IV. to his son the prince of Wales.

Allhallows the Great.

The only parish church in this ward is that of Allhallows the Great, situated on the south side of Thames-street, between Allhallows-lane, and Hay wharf lane. It was antiently called Allhallows the More, and Allhallows ad Fœnum, in the Ropery, from its vicinity to a hay wharf, and situation among Rope-makers; and was founded by the noble family of the Despencers, who presented thereunto in the year 1361: from whom it passed with the heiress to the earl of Warwick and Salisbury; and at last to the crown. Henry VIII. exchanged this church with Thomas archbishop of Canterbury, in the year 1546; in whose successors it still continues, and is one of the thirteen peculiars in London belonging to the archbishop of Canterbury. It was termed Allhallows the Great, to distinguish it from Allhallows the Less, a church near adjoining to it on the east; which not being rebuilt after the great fire, the parishes were united. This latter church was originally a rectory in the gift of the bishop of Winchester; and rebuilt by Sir John Poultney, who purchased the advowson, and appropriated it to his college of St. Laurence Poultney. The steeple and choir of this church stood on an arched gate, being the entry to the great house, called Cold Herbergh, above mentioned. From that time the church became a donative or curacy, which falling to the crown at the dissolution of religious houses, queen Elizabeth first granted it for 21 years to William Verle; and king James I. sold it to Richard Blake, &c. and their heirs for ever, in free soccage. By which means the impropriation is now in the heirs or assigns of Dr. Edward Waddington, late bishop of Chichester (fn. 2).

The present church of Allhallows the Great was designed by Sir Christopher Wren; and was finished in 1683, but was not executed with the same accuracy with which it was planned. It is 87 feet long, 60 feet broad, and 33 feet high to the roof: built of stone, strong and solid. The walls are plain and massy; the ornaments few and simple; and the windows though large, in order to enlighten such a considerable breadth, are not numerous. The tower is 86 feet high, plain, square, and divided into five stages, but terminates absolutely plain without spire, turret or pinnacles. The cornice is supported by scrolls, and over these rises a balustrade of solid construction, suitable to the rest of the building (fn. 3).


  • 1. Vid. p. 6, 9, ante.
  • 2. Parish Clerks Remarks, p. 8.
  • 3. English Architecture, p. 57.