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.

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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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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Hell Fire Clubs

www.thelegendsoflondon.wordpress.comThe eighteenth century was a blasphemous time and the most famous pagan clubs were the Hell Fire Clubs.

The original one was set up in London in 1721 by Sir Francis Dashwood, a  committed Christian, and was linked to French debauchery and pagan worship. At this exclusive club patrons had unlimited access to alcohol, drugs and free sex.  Members of the Hell Fire Club included the Prince of Wales, the Earl of Bute  (who later became prime minster), the Earl of Sandwich, the novelist Lawrence Sterne and Benjamin Franklin was hailed as an occasional guest (although some believe he was a spy!).

Regular meetings were held at the George and Vulture Inn where a naked girl was used as an altar. The ceremonial activities were followed by an orgy. In the latter part of the century members became known as ‘monks’ and wore red habits.  High society ladies dressed as nuns (sometimes wearing masks to hide their faces) attended and engaged in rites and immoral activities hoping not be recognised by friends or colleagues of their husbands.

The Clubs slowly disintegrated after Dashwood was appointed the Chancellor of the Exchequer and sat in the House of Lords.  Many of his club members were either arrested or driven into exile as blasphemous (pornography were also illegal at that time under the law of the land).

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Armistice on Fleet Street

In a tea shop on Fleet Street, Edward Honey (an Australian reporter) came up with the idea of 2-Minute Silence on Armistice Day.

He wrote about it in a local publication and the South African government were the first government to put the Silence into operation.

King George V was so inspired that he introduced it in Britain soon afterwards.

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