Category Archives: Criminal London

St Sepulchre

Another in an occasional series on London churches outside the City walls that survived the Great Fire of 1666…

St Sepulchre The executioner's bell croppedSt Sepulchre, on Newgate Street, was originally built in the early twelfth century, on the site of an earlier Saxon church dedicated to St Edmund, and originally known as St Edmund and the Holy Sepulchre, after the “Knights of the Holy Sepulchre”, who had a home here from 1103-73.  And  rebuilt by Sir John Popham, the Treasurer to Henry VI, in the fifteenth century, in around 1450.  It was damaged  in the Great Fire of 1666, and repaired, using the surviving structure and materials,  between 1667-74 (although much modified subsequently, particularly in the Victorian period).

The west tower and south porch still survive essentially intact from the fifteenth century (although modified).

On the stroke of midnight on the day of the execution of a prisoner from  nearby Newgate Prison, the church sexton would ring his handbell and recite lines urging the condemned man to repent his sins, ending with the words “And when St Sepulchre’s bell in the morning tolls, The Lord above have mercy on your soul”. The  same handbell is on exhibit in the church.

 

“Naming and shaming” of public nuisances in Medieval London (General Court of the Mayor of the City of London, 1422)

Coat of arms of Chichele family

Another in the occasional series on contemporary accounts and descriptions of the historic City of  London, this one from the transactions of the General Court of the Mayor, Robert Chichele,  for 1422 …

“There are nuisances … in the ward of Faringdon Without …

First, that the master of Ludgate often puts out dung in the … gutter and stops the water from flowing, to the great nuisance of all the folk passing there.  …   Also William Emery, horsedealer, often lays much dung in the high street and allows it to lie … .  Also the pavements before … the door of Harry Gras, barber, and … Walsh’s door, are defective and need to be mended.  … Also that John Taverner … is not a freeman of the city.  Also John Whitlok … and his wife and common bauds, and therefore have lately been put out of other wards.  Also John Swayn and his wife are forestallers, regrators, and extortioners often, , and especially lately they … paid  to [a] Boatman only 26d for 30 loads, whereas he should have been paid for every burden 3d and because of this … made much noise and open slander.  Also the taverners of St Bride’s parish set their empty tuns and pipes in the high street … ”.

Coat of arms of Chichele family

Coat of arms of Chichele family

Robert Chichele, a grocer, was Mayor twice: 1411-12 and 1421-22,

Tricks of the trades (City of London letter-book, 1327)

Another in the occasional series on contemporary accounts of events in the history of London, this one from the City of London letter-book of 1327 …

“A congregation of alderman and … sheriffs of London [was] holden at the Guildhall  …

John Brid, baker, was attached to make answer as to certain falsehood, malice and deceit, by him committed, to the nuisance of the common people; as to which … the same John, for … obtaining his own private advantage, did skilfully and artfully cause a certain hole to be made in a table of his, … [a]nd when his neighbours and others, who were wont to bake their bread at his oven, came with their dough …, the said John used to put such … over the hole before-mentioned  … ; and … piecemeal and bit by bit craftily [withdraw] some …

And the same John, … being asked how he will acquit himself of the fraud, malice and deceit aforesaid, personally in court says … he is in no way guilty …

And after counsel … had been held … as to passing judgment  … it was … ordained, that … [John] … should be put upon the pillory, with … dough hung from [his neck]; … and … so remain upon the pillory until vespers at St Paul’s … be ended”.

Medieval whipping-post and stocks, St Leonard Shoreditch

Medieval whipping-post and stocks, St Leonard Shoreditch