“Nearly as old as the Fire” (Arthur Mumby, 1868)

December 12th –  On this day in 1868, Arthur Mumby wrote evokingly in his diary:

St Giles Cripplegate

St Giles Cripplegate, as it looks today.

“… I rambled through the old-fashioned streets about Cripplegate; attracted first by the fine massive antique tower of [St Giles] Cripplegate church … .  In the quiet of a Saturday afternoon, when offices are closed and busy men departed, the world of modern life disappears for a moment, and these old 17th & 18th century streets and alleys, these deserted old churches, bring back something of the interest and delight with which one rambles through a medieval street abroad.  Far better it is to ramble here, at such a time, than in some bustling suburb, mean, newfangled, fashionable or vulgar.

Newgate Market in 1845 (from the Illustrated London News)

Newgate Market in 1845 (from the Illustrated London News)

I went, probably for the last time, through the mazes of old Newgate market: long low alleys, …  walled on both sides with butchers’ shops nearly as old as the Fire: open sheds, with massy beams and rafters and blocks, browned and polished by age and friction.  Many of the alleys were …  dark, for the butchers had moved to the new Market at Smithfield: but two or three were lighted up & busy with buyers and sellers – long rude vistas of meat and men”.

The church of St Giles Cripplegate  after the bombing of the Second World War (note the broken statue of John Milton)

The church of St Giles Cripplegate after the bombing of the Second World War (note the broken statue of John Milton)

What was left of Cripplegate after the bombing of the Second World War

What was left of Cripplegate after the bombing of the Second World War

2 thoughts on ““Nearly as old as the Fire” (Arthur Mumby, 1868)

  1. Bob Jones - The Lost City of London Post author

    We lost large parts of the historic City of London during the incendiary raid of 29th December, 1940 (when the above-mentioned St Giles’s was damaged, and a number of nearby Wren churches damaged or destroyed). Sadly, there were also some 200 civilian deaths that night.

    Reply
  2. rafterd1972

    As years go by I think one tends to forget the terrible atrocities committed by the bombs during the second world war. With our own Pearl Harbor memories only a few days behind us, it was good to be reminded of the damage to London and all of Europe during those days.

    Reply

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