The City of London

Roman Londinium

thelegendsoflondonLondon, as a settlement, began in the middle of the first century AD when the Roman Emperor Claudius invaded. The settlement grew rapidly during the Roman occupation and it was known as Londinium. Although not important politically, it flourished as a major port due to its ideal location in relation to the river and of course the European continent. All main Roman roads converged on London and mileage and distances were all measured from London radiating outwards, and mostly north into the country.

By the end of the third century Londinium had become the centre of Roman administration and a prosperous walled city with a fort, a large temple, a basilica and a governor’s palace. The fortified city wall around the city can still be traced in fragments – it roughly corresponds with a square mile, which is what the financial centre of London, or the City of London, is known as today – The Square Mile.

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Quaking London

Earthquakes were recorded in London in 1247, 1275, 1382, 1439, 1626 and 1750. In 1580 the last significant quake struck, which originated in the Strait of Dover. This tremor was so large that people watched in fear as two men who were sitting on cannons at Tower Hill, were thrown to the ground. The church bells in the City were all set off, a pinnacle fell off Westminster Abbey, two children died when a chimney stack collapsed and Thomas Grey, a City cobbler was crushed by falling masonry in Newgate Street.

London is overdue a major earthquake and according to Dr Roger Musson, of the British Geological Survey, a quake measuring 6.0 on the Richter Scale could be caused by a slip in a fault line running from Dover to the Rhine region of Germany. Even though London is not on a fault line a quake can strike at any time.  “All we can say is that something that has happened twice can, and probably will, happen three times.”

Now that the city is far more densely inhabited, fatalities would be higher and damage more extensive.
Scary stuff!

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Charterhouse Executions

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Charterhouse Executions

In 1534 Henry VIII passed the Act of Supremacy, giving him the position of supreme head of the Church of England. This gave him ‘permission’ to divorce Catherine of Aragon. The Act of Succession put Anne Boleyn by Henry’s side as his lawful queen and any children she produced would be heirs to his throne.

All English subjects were required to swear the oath to accept these legal and ecclesiastic changes, but many devout Catholics were prepared to defy the king. Any of the king’s Catholic enemies who refused to accept these new laws, were declared traitors.

Charterhouse Monastery, the flourishing Carthusian monastery in central London, was home to a group of monks who did refuse to accept these new changes to the country’s laws. Prior John Houghton was the head of the monastery. His monks bravely refused to swear the oath outlined by the throne, and thus paid the ultimate price for defying Henry.

www.thelegendsoflondon.wordpress.comIn April 1535 ten of the monks at Charterhouse were taken to Newgate Prison nearby and then taken to the Tower of London. The legal process was speedy, and within three weeks they were tried, convicted and executed for treason. Eye witnesses reported that the monks were dragged out of the prison in their habits, and in front of a crowd of people at Tyburn they were hanged and cut down before they were dead. As their limp bodies lay on the ground, they were cut open, their hearts and bowels removed and burned. Their arms were torn off and their blood and flesh was smeared on the faces of the other victims. Their heads were finally cut off and their bodies quartered.

As Prior John Houghton was disemboweled, his dying words were uttered, “And what wilt thou do with my heart, O Christ?”. He was canonized in 1970 for being the first martyr of the Tudor persecutions. He is represented carrying a noose, or with a noose around his neck, carrying a heart.

Inside the walls of the court of Henry VIII, there was nothing but love and passion, but outside of the palaces there were horrific and tragic stories that remind us of the heartless acts committed in the soul pursuit of gaining a male heir for the Tudor dynasty.

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Cheapside – The City Market

Cheapside has been the market and shopping centre of the City of London for centuries and was the main market place in the whole of London.

The word ‘cheap’ comes from the Anglo Saxon word to barter or ‘market place’ – “of good cheap” or “’tis good cheap” (being sold at a fair price).  The word evolved into the modern use of using it to express when something is inexpensive and today the word is no longer used to denote a market.

Many cities in the United Kingdom have a Cheapside or a Cheap Street.  Those towns or cities with the prefix of Chipping in their name, also refers to it being a market town.

www.thelegendsoflondon.wordpress.comStreet names running from Cheapside tell you where the cows were kept, bought and sold, or where the bread was made, or the wood was delivered. And to this day the City of London has the same street plan and the same street names, which dates back to medieval times.

The Market rights of the City of London were based on a charter granted by Edward III in 1327.  The charter did not allow for anyone to set up a rival markets within 6.6 miles of the City.  This was a reasonable distance a person walk to market with their produce, sell his goods and return home in the same day.

Today London has more than three hundred markets.  Many specialise in food, some in arts and crafts but many focus on funky fashion, exotic people and trendy places to be seen.

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Fenchurch

Fenchurch Street Station

Fenchurch Street Station was opened in 1841 and is one of the four stations featured on the Monopoly board. The others are King’s Cross, Liverpool Street and Marylebone.

It was the first to open in the City of London, the only station in central London not to have an underground link and the clothing line, Fenchurch, was named after it!

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From Bedlam to Beggar

www.thelegendsoflondon.wordpress.comBedlam, which was originally a priory for the sisters and brethren of the Order of the Star of Bethlehem, was originally located in Bishopsgate (where Liverpool Street station now stands).

In 1837 it became the most famous and fearsome mental hospital. Techniques doctors used to try and cure the patients ranged from chaining them up and giving them cold baths to making them vomit.  The hospital also became a bit of a tourist attraction and posh Londoners would pay for a guided tour so that they could look at, tease and even poke the patients!

In 1851, Bedlam was cleaned up and laws were passed to protect the mentally ill. Any patient who had been cured was given a badge and allowed back onto the streets of London as a beggar…interesting times!

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