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

3-newgate-market-on-christmas-eve-in-1845-from-the-illustrated-london-news

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”.

1-what-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

Sadly, the area was substantially razed to the ground during the incendiary bombing of the Second World War.  However, the subsequently restored church of St Giles still stands, at the heart of the Barbican complex.

 

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