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Index to Stow's original Survey of London written in 1598


Bred street ward beginneth in the high street of West Cheape, to wit, on the south side from the standard to the great cross. Then is also a part of Watheling street of this ward, to wit, from over against the Lion on the north side up almost to Paule’s gate, for it lacketh but one house of St. Augustine’s church. And on the south side, from the Red Lion gate to the Old Exchange, and down the same exchange on the east side by the west end of Mayden lane, or Distar lane, to Knightriders street, or, as they call that part thereof, Old Fish street. And all the north side of the said Old Fish street to the south end of Bread street, and by that still in Knightriders street till over against the Trinity church and Trinity lane. Then is Bread street itself, so called of bread in old time there sold; for it appeareth by records, that in the year 1302, which was the 30th of Edward I., the bakers of London were bound to sell no bread in their shops or houses, but in the market, and that they should have four hallmotes in the year, at four several terms, to determine of enormities belonging to the said company.

This street giving the name to the whole ward, beginneth in West Cheap, almost by the Standard, and runneth down south[308] through or thwart Watheling street to Knightriders street aforesaid, where it endeth. This Bread street is wholly on both sides of this ward. Out of the which street, on the east side, is Basing lane, a piece whereof, to wit, to and over against the back gate of the Red Lion in Watheling street, is of this Bread street ward.

Then is Fryday street beginning also in West Cheap, and runneth down south through Watheling street to Knightriders street, or Old Fish street. This Friday street is of Bread street ward on the east side from over against the north-east corner of St. Matthew’s church, and on the west side from the south corner of the said church, down as aforesaid.

In this Fryday street, on the west side thereof, is a lane, commonly called Mayden lane, or Distaffe lane, corruptly for Distar lane, which runneth west into the Old Exchange; and in this lane is also one other lane, on the south side thereof, likewise called Distar lane, which runneth down to Knightriders street, or Old Fish street; and so be the bounds of this whole ward.

Monuments to be noted here, first at Bread street corner, the north-east end, 1595, of Thomas Tomlinson, causing in the high street of Cheape a vault to be digged and made, there was found, at fifteen feet deep, a fair pavement like unto that above ground, and at the further end at the channel was found a tree sawed into five steps, which was to step over some brook running out of the west towards Walbrooke; and upon the edge of the said brook, as it seemeth, there were found lying along the bodies of two great trees, the ends whereof were then sawed off, and firm timber as at the first when they fell, part of the said trees remain yet in the ground undigged. It was all forced ground until they went past the trees aforesaid, which was about seventeen feet deep or better; thus much hath the ground of this city in that place been raised from the main.

Next to be noted, the most beautiful frame of fair houses and shops that be within the walls of London, or elsewhere in England, commonly called Goldsmith’s row, betwixt Bread street end and the cross in Cheape, but is within this Bread street ward; the same was built by Thomas Wood, goldsmith, one of the sheriffs of London, in the year 1491. It containeth in number ten fair dwelling-houses and fourteen shops, all in one frame, uniformly built four stories high, beautified towards the street with the Goldsmiths’ arms and the likeness of woodmen, in memory of his name, riding on monstrous beasts, all which is[309] cast in lead, richly painted over and gilt: these he gave to the Goldsmiths, with stocks of money, to be lent to young men having those shops, etc. This said front was again new painted and gilt over in the year 1594; Sir Richard Martin being then mayor, and keeping his mayoralty in one of them, serving out the time of Cuthbert Buckle in that office from the 2nd of July till the 28th of October.

Then for Watheling street, which Leyland called Atheling or Noble street; but since he showeth no reason why, I rather take it to be so named of the great highway of the same calling. True it is, that at this present the inhabitants thereof are wealthy drapers, retailers of woollen cloths, both broad and narrow, of all sorts, more than in any one street of this city.

Of the Old Exchange, I have noted in Faringdon ward; wherefore I pass down to Knightriders street, whereof I have also spoken in Cordwainers street ward; but in this part of the said Knightriders street is a fish market kept, and therefore called Old Fish street for a difference from New Fish street.

In this Old Fish street is one row of small houses, placed along in the midst of Knightriders street, which row is also of Bread street ward: these houses, now possessed by fishmongers, were at the first but moveable boards (or stalls), set out on market-days, to show their fish there to be sold; but procuring license to set up sheds, they grew to shops, and by little and little to tall houses, of three or four stories in height, and now are called Fish street. Walter Turke, fishmonger, mayor 1349, had two shops in Old Fish street, over against St. Nicholas church; the one rented five shillings the year, the other four shillings.

Bread street, so called of bread sold there (as I said), is now wholly inhabited by rich merchants; and divers fair inns be there, for good receipt of carriers and other travellers to the city.

On the east side of this street, at the corner of Watheling street, is the proper church of Alhallowes in Bread street, wherein are the monuments—of James Thame, goldsmith; John Walpole, goldsmith, 1349; Thomas Beamount, alderman, one of the sheriffs 1442; Robert Basset, salter, mayor 1476; Sir Richard Chaury, salter, mayor 1509; Sir Thomas Pargitar, salter, mayor 1530; Henry Sucley, merchant-tailor, one of the sheriffs 1541; Richard Reade, alderman, that served and was taken prisoner in Scotland, 1542; Robert House, one of the sheriffs 1589; William Albany, Richard May, and Roger Abde, merchant-tailors.


In the 23rd of Henry VIII., the 17th of August, two priests of this church fell at variance, that the one drew blood of the other; wherefore the same church was suspended, and no service sung or said therein for the space of one month after: the priests were committed to prison, and the 15th of October, being enjoined penance, went before a general procession, bare-headed, bare-footed, and bare-legged, before the children, with beads and books in their hands, from Paules, through Cheape, Cornehill, etc.

More to be noted of this church, which had sometime a fair spired steeple of stone. In the year 1559, the 5th of September, about mid-day, fell a great tempest of lightning, with a terrible clap of thunder, which struck the said spire about nine or ten feet beneath the top; out of the which place fell a stone that slew a dog, and overthrew a man that was playing with the dog. The same spire being but little damnified thereby, was shortly after taken down, for sparing the charges of reparation.

On the same side is Salters’ hall, with six alms houses in number, built for poor decayed brethren of that company. This hall was burnt in the year 1539, and again re-edified.

Lower down on the same side is the parish church of St. Mildred the Virgin. The monuments in this church be—of the Lord Trenchaunt of St. Alban’s, knight, who was supposed to be either the new builder of this church, or best benefactor to the works thereof, about the year 1300; and Odde Cornish, gentleman, 1312; William Palmer, blader, a great benefactor also, 1356; John Shadworth, mayor 1401, who gave the parsonage-house, a re-vestry, and churchyard to that parish, in the year 1428; notwithstanding, his monument is pulled down; Stephen Bugge, gentleman; his arms be three water-bugs,[248] 1419; Henry Bugge founded a chantry there 1419; Roger Forde, vintner, 1440; Thomas Barnwell, fishmonger, one of the sheriffs 1434; Sir John Hawlen, clerk, parson of that church, who built the parsonage-house newly after the same had been burnt to the ground, together with the parson and his man also, burnt in that fire, 1485; John Parnell, 1510; William Hurstwaight, pewterer to the king, 1526; Christopher Turner, chirurgeon to King Henry VIII., 1530; Ralph Simonds, fishmonger, one of the sheriffs in the year 1527; Thomas Langham gave to the poor of that parish four tenements 1575; Thomas Hall, salter, 1582; Thomas Collins, salter, alderman; Sir[311] Ambrose Nicholas, salter, mayor 1575, was buried in Sir John Shadworth’s vault.

Out of this Bread street, on the same side, is Basing lane; a part whereof (as is afore showed) is of this ward, but how it took the name of Basing I have not read: in the 20th year of Richard II. the same was called the bakehouse, whether meant for the king’s bakehouse, or of bakers dwelling there, and baking bread to serve the market in Bread street, where the bread was sold, I know not; but sure I am, I have not read of Basing, or of Gerrarde the giant, to have anything there to do.

On the south side of this lane is one great house, of old time built upon arched vaults, and with arched gates of stone, brought from Caen in Normandy. The same is now a common hostrey for receipt of travellers, commonly and corruptly called Gerrardes hall, of a giant said to have dwelt there. In the high-roofed hall of this house sometime stood a large fir pole, which reached to the roof thereof, and was said to be one of the staves[249] that Gerrarde the giant used in the wars to run withal. There stood also a ladder of the same length, which (as they say) served to ascend to the top of the staff. Of later years this hall is altered in building, and divers rooms are made in it. Notwithstanding, the pole is removed to one corner of the hall, and the ladder hanged broken upon a wall in the yard. The hostelar of that house said to me, “the pole lacketh half a foot of forty in length:” I measured the compass thereof, and found it fifteen inches. Reason of the pole could the master of the hostrey give me none, but bade me read the great Chronicles, for there he heard of it: which answer seemed to me insufficient, for he meant the description of Britaine, for the most part drawn out of John Leyland his commentaries (borrowed of myself), and placed before Reyne Wolfe’s Chronicle,[250] as the labours of another (who was forced to confess he never travelled further than from London to the university of Oxford): he writing a chapter of giants or monstrous men, hath set down more matter than truth, as partly against my will I am enforced here to touch. R. G., in his brief collection of histories (as he termeth it) hath these words: “I, the writer hereof, did see,[312] the 10th day of March, in the yeare of our Lord 1564, and had the same in my hand, the tooth of a man, which weighed ten ounces of troy weight; and the skull of the same man is extant, and to be seene, which will hold five pecks of wheat; and the shin-bone of the same man is six foote in length, and of a marvellous greatness.” Thus far of R. G.[251] The error thereof is thus: He affirmeth a stone to be the tooth of a man, which stone (so proved) having no shape of a tooth, had neither skull or shin-bone. Notwithstanding, it is added in the said description, that by conjectural symetry of those parts the body to be twenty-eight feet long, or more. From this he goeth to another like matter, of a man with a mouth sixteen feet wide, and so to Gerrard the giant and his staff. But to leave these fables, and return where I left, I will note what myself hath observed concerning that house.

I read that John Gisors, mayor of London in the year 1245, was owner thereof, and that Sir John Gisors, knight, mayor of London, and constable of the Tower 1311, and divers others of that name and family, since that time owned it. William Gisors was one of the sheriffs 1329. More, John Gisors had issue, Henry and John; which John had issue, Thomas; which Thomas deceasing in the year 1350, left unto his son Thomas his messuage called Gisor’s hall, in the parish of St. Mildred in Bread street; John Gisors made a feoffment thereof, 1386, etc. So it appeareth that this Gisor’s hall, of late time by corruption hath been called Gerrard’s hall[252] for Gisor’s hall; as Bosom’s inn for Blossom’s inn, Bevis marks for Buries marks, Marke lane for Marte lane, Belliter lane for Belsetter’s lane, Gutter lane for Guthuruns lane, Cry church for Christ’s church, St. Mihel in the quorn for St. Mihel at corne, and sundry such others. Out of this Gisor’s hall, at the first building thereof, were made divers arched doors, yet to be seen, which seem not sufficient for any great monster, or other than man of common stature to pass through, the pole in the hall might be used of old time (as then the custom was in every parish), to be set up in the summer as May-pole, before the principal house in the parish or street, and to stand in the hall before the screen, decked with holme and ivy, all the feast of Christmas.[253] The ladder served for the[313] decking of the may-pole and roof of the hall. Thus much for Gisor’s hall, and for that side of Bread street, may suffice.

Now on the west side of Bread street, amongst divers fair and large houses for merchants, and fair inns for passengers, had ye one prison-house pertaining to the sheriffs of London, called the compter in Bread street; but in the year 1555 the prisoners were removed from thence to one other new compter in Wood street, provided by the city’s purchase, and built for that purpose; the cause of which remove was this: Richard Husband, pastelar, keeper of this compter in Bread street, being a wilful and head-strong man, dealt, for his own advantage, hard with the prisoners under his charge, having also servants such as himself liked best for their bad usage, and would not for any complaint be reformed; whereupon, in the year 1550, Sir Rowland Hill being mayor, by the assent of a court of aldermen, he was sent to the gaol of Newgate, for the cruel handling of his prisoners; and it was commanded to the keeper to set those irons on his legs which are called the widow’s alms. These he ware from Thursday to Sunday in the afternoon, and being by a court of aldermen released on the Tuesday, was bound in a hundred marks to observe from thenceforth an act made by the common council, for the ordering of prisoners in the compters; all which notwithstanding, he continued as afore, whereof myself am partly a witness; for being of a jury to inquire against a sessions of gaol delivery,[254] in the year 1552, we found the prisoners hardly dealt withal, for their achates and otherwise; as also that thieves and strumpets were there lodged for four pence the night, whereby they might be safe from searches that were made abroad; for the which enormities, and other not needful to be recited, he was indighted at that session, but did rub it out, and could not be reformed till this remove of prisoners, for the house in Bread street was his own by lease, or otherwise, so that he could not be put from it. Note, that gaolers buying their offices will deal hardly with pitiful prisoners.

Now in Friday street, so called of fishmongers dwelling there, and serving Friday’s market, on the east side, is a small parish church, commonly called St. John Evangelist: the monuments therein be of John Dogget, merchant tailor, one of the sheriffs in the year 1509; Sir Christopher Askew, draper, mayor 1533; William de Avinger, farrier, was buried there in the 34th of Edward III. Then lower down, is one other parish church of[314] St. Margaret Moyses, so called (as seemeth) of one Moyses, that was founder or new builder thereof. The monuments there be of Sir Richard Dobbes, skinner, mayor 1551; William Dane, ironmonger, one of the sheriffs 1569; Sir John Allet, fishmonger, mayor 1591. There was of older time buried, Nicholas Stanes, and Nicholas Braye; they founded chantries there.

On the west side of this Friday street, is Mayden lane, so named of such a sign, or Distaffe lane, for Distar lane, as I read in the record of a brewhouse called the Lamb, in Distar lane, the 16th of Henry VI. In this Distar lane, on the north side thereof, is the Cordwainers, or Shoemakers’ hall, which company were made a brotherhood or fraternity, in the 11th of Henry IV. Of these cordwainers I read, that since the fifth of Richard II. (when he took to wife Anne, daughter to Vesalaus, King of Boheme), by her example, the English people had used piked shoes, tied to their knees with silken laces, or chains of silver or gilt, wherefore in the 4th of Edward IV. it was ordained and proclaimed, that beaks of shoone and boots, should not pass the length of two inches, upon pain of cursing by the clergy, and by parliament to pay twenty shillings for every pair. And every cordwainer that shod any man or woman on the Sunday, to pay thirty shillings.

On the south side of this Distar lane, is also one other lane, called Distar lane, which runneth down to Knightriders’ street, or Old Fish street, and this is the end of Bread street ward; which hath an alderman, his deputy, common council ten, constables ten, scavengers eight, wardmote inquest thirteen, and a beadle. It standeth taxed to the fifteen in London, at £37, and in the Exchequer at £36 18s. 2d.[255]