London Traffic in the Seventeenth Century  (Henry Peacham, 1636)

Another in the occasional series on contemporary accounts and descriptions of the historic City of London,  this one on London traffic written by Henry Peacham  in 1636 (i.e., during the reign of Charles I, the second Stuart King) …

“It is most fit, and requisite, that princes, nobility, the more eminent and abler among the gentry should be allowed their coaches and carroches … but what I pray you are the coaches of these few, to that multitude at this day in England? when in London … and within four miles compass without, are reckoned to the number of six thousand and odd.

… [I]n certain places of the City, … I have never come but I have there the way barricado’d up with a coach, two, or three, that what haste, or business soever a man hath, he must wait my Lady’s (I know not what) leisure (who is in the next shop, buying pendants for her ears: or a collar for her dog) ere he can find any passage.

The most eminent places for stoppage are Paul’s gate into Cheapside, Ludgate, and Ludgate Hill, especially when a play is done at the Friars, then Holborn … , Hosier Lane, Smithfield, and Cow Lane … , then about the Stocks and Poultry, Temple Bar, Fetter Lane and Shoe Lane … ; but to see their multitude, … when there is a masque at Whitehall, a Lord Mayor’s feast, a new play … , … how close they stand together (like mutton-pies in a cook’s oven) that hardly you can thrust a pole between”. Bar in the early eighteenth century

3 thoughts on “London Traffic in the Seventeenth Century  (Henry Peacham, 1636)

  1. Tricia Lynne

    So then, you could find a coach at all hours? In every part of the city? What about a plain hack? Just curious. I was in a bit of an argument about who would have access to a coach, or a plain hack at night. From your article, I believe I was right.

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

    There’s this, from November 12th, 1666:

    “And after dinner I took my wife out, intending to have gone and have seen my Lady Jemimah, at White Hall, but so great a stop there was at the New Exchange, that we could not pass in half an houre … “.


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