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