Tag Archives: St Giles Cripplegate

Sir Martin Frobisher (1535-94)

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The merchant-adventurer, privateer and naval commander Sir Martin Frobisher died on this day in 1594, of wounds sustained in a naval action against the Spanish (he was  knighted for his service in seeing off the Spanish Armada in 1588).

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His organs were buried in the church of St Andrew in Plymouth, and the rest of his body  in the church of St Giles Cripplegate in London, where there is a memorial to him.

Frobisher had previously set sail on board the “Gabriel” from Ratcliff in 1576 on the second of three ultimately unsuccessful voyages in search of the North-West Passage to China, returning from Canada with a cargo of what turned out to be worthless “fool’s  gold”.

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The site in Ratcliff is marked by a “London County Council” plaque of 1922 in King Edward Memorial Park.

 

“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

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.

Reversal of Fortune (1621)

Fortune Theatre window, St Giles Cripplegate

On this day in 1621, the “Fortune Theatre”, built by “Good Master” Edward Alleyn in 1600, burnt down …

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The site of the theatre is marked by a plaque on Fortune Street.

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Both the theatre and Alleyn are commemorated in a stained glass window in the church of St Giles Cripplegate.

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Alleyn is also commemorated by a statue in Dulwich College.

Readers interested in further information on the theatre and on the contemporary scene are referred to Julian Bowsher’s excellent recent book entitled “Shakespeare’s London Theatreland” (Museum of London Archaeology, 2012).

Paradise Found, or “To-Morrow to fresh Woods, and Pastures new”

John Milton, statue and bust - St Giles Cripplegate

John Milton, statue and bust – St Giles Cripplegate

November 8th –  On this day in 1674 died John Milton, the Republican statesman and man of letters, perhaps best known for his epic poem “Paradise Lost”.  The poem was described by Dr Johnson as one which “with respect to design may claim the first place … among the productions of the human mind”.

Milton was buried in the church of St Giles Cripplegate, where there are both a statue and a bust of him.

He had been born in 1608 in Bread Street, and is also commemorated by a plaque there, and by another on the church of St Mary-le-Bow in Cheapside.

Here’s a selection of quotations from Paradise Lost:

“What though the field be lost?

All is not lost; the unconquerable will,

And study of revenge, immortal hate,

And the courage never to submit or yield”

 * * *

“How oft, in nations gone corrupt

And by their own devices brought down to servitude

That man chooses bondage before liberty?

Bondage with ease before strenuous liberty”

* * *

“But first whom shall we send

In search of this new world, whom shall we find sufficient?

Who shall tempt, with wand’ring feet

The dark unbottomed infinite abyss

And through the palpable obscure find out

His uncouth way, or spread his aery flight

Upborne with indefatigable wings

Over the vast abrupt, ere he arrive

The happy isle?”

 * * *

“Freely we serve,

Because we freely love, as in our will,

To love or not; in this we stand or fall”

 * * *

 “For so I created them free and free they must remain”

* * *

“What is strength without a double share of wisdom?”

 * * *

“Who overcomes by force hath overcome but half his foe”

 * * *

“Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heav’n”

 * * *

 “The mind is it’s own place, and in itself can make a Heaven of Hell … ”

 * * *

And one from The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates:

“No man … can be so stupid to deny that all men naturally were born free, being the image and resemblance of God himself”

John Milton, statue and bust - St Giles Cripplegate

John Milton, statue and bust – St Giles Cripplegate