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

On this day, December 12th, 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”.

1 - What was left of Cripplegate after the bombing of the Second World War - CopyWhat was left of Cripplegate after the bombing of the Second World War

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

3 - Newgate Market in 1845 (from the Illustrated London News) - CopyNewgate Market on Christmas Eve in 1845 (from the “Illustrated London News”)

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

  1. rafterd1972

    Wonderful post, but how sad. I am just starting a new Great Courses called “The Great Tours – Experiencing Medieval Europe.”

    Reply

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