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British from other fire offices is, that the directors depart from the usual rule of requiring minute specification of goods, and their respective values, whereby, in case of fire, many articles not being admitted in the demand, heavy loss oftentimes arises to those whose claim in the aggregate would otherwise be fully satisfied, and, therefore, only require a general description or denomination of goods, without ascer. taining the extent of the insurance on each, (except on articles required to be otherwise insured); so that, on what. ever part of property the loss may fall, the insured will recover to its full extent.
EXCHANGE ALLEY was the house of Mr. Alderman Backwell, of whom anecdotes are given in the preceding His. tory, under the reign of James II. After the great fire, it was formed into a passage from Cornhill to Lombard Street and Birchin Lane. This cluster of buildings contains the two great coffee houses of Garraway and Baker. The first frequented by shipbrokers, &c. and where estates, merchandize, and other commodities, are sold by auction. The King's Arms was formerly a famous place of public resort; but is now only used for offices, &c.
Opposite this avenue, before the Exchange, is a very handsome pump, with the following inscription : “ On this spot a well was first made, and a house of correction built thereon, by Henry Wallis, mayor of London, in the year 1282.” At the bottom is the name of Wright, the architect, who built the present pump.
There are some singular circumstances concerning the first structure. The conduct of the lower sort of citizens having been very irregular, in consequence of the tyrannic reign of Henry III. it was necessary that means should be used to recover some degree of subordination; but it was not till the reign of his son, Edward I. that any good purpose was effected ; when the public spirited Henry le Wal. lis, mayor, enclosed a spring, lately discovered, with a stone wall, and erected a prison for night walkers, and other suspicious persons, who at that time infested the City, This improvement of utility and safety, was denominated
the Tun, on account of its circular formation. This building became of such note, that not only the laity, but the clergy, were subjected to its reforming principles; but as reformation may sometimes be carried to excess, that excesso induced Richard Gravesend, bishop of London, to apply to the king for redress. Edward therefore wrote to the ci. tizens in 1297, informing them, “ that though the great charter exempted clergymen from imprisonment by laymen, some citizens, from mere spite, during their watches, entered the chambers of the clergy, and imprisoned them like felons in the Tun." He willed therefore, “that, in full hustings, a proclamation should be made, that no watch afterward should enter the chamber of a priest, under a forfeiture of thirty pounds *.”
This mandate was so disagreeable, that nine principle citizens expressed their disgust by breaking open the Tun prison, and setting several of the prisoners free; such an act of violence, drew down the vengeance of the court; the rioters were personally punished, by a long and painful imprisonment; and it also furnished an excuse to fine the city 20,000 marks, to be paid into the Exchequer: but a benefit was produced through this evil; for, by the sum of 3000 marks in addition, which was extorted, the city obtained, after a seizure of twelve years, not only a restoration of the king's favour, but some valuable additional privileges.
In the year 1383, the citizens, taking upon them episcopal rights, first imprisoned such women as were taken in adultery, in the Tun; and then having exposed them publicly, caused their heads to be shaved, as was usually done to thieves, led them about the City, in sight of all the inhabitants, with trumpets and pipes sounding before them, that their persons might be more particularly distinguished. It was also ordered in the charge to the wardmotes, “ that if there be any priest in service within the ward, which before time hath been set in the Tun, in Cornhill, for his dishonesty, and hath forsworne the city, all such shall be persecuted.”
Stow tells us a ludicrous anecdote of one of these priests, whose incontinence had been discovered; for which being apprehended and committed, “ I saw,” says he,“ his punishment to be thus : he was on three market days conveyed through the high streets and markets of this city, with a paper on his head, whereon was written his crime. The first day he rode in a car; the second on a horse, with his face to the horse's tail; the third, he was led between two; and every day rung with basons, and proclamations made of his fact, at every turning of the streets; and also before John Atwood's (the person offended) stall, and the church door of his service, where he lost his chauntry of twenty nobles a year, and was banished the city for ever.”
The conveyance of water from Tyburn, for the benefit of the City in various districts. caused another alteration in the Tun in the year 1401. It was then made a cistern of sweet water, and called the Conduit upon Cornhill; the well was planked over, and a strong timber prison erected for disorderly persons. This was denominated “ The Cage;" to which was attached a pair of stocks, whence a great part of the neighbourhood was named Le Stocks. On the top of the cage was placed a pillory, for the punishment of bakers of. fending in the asfize of bread; for millers stealing at the mill; and for procuresses, scolds, and other offenders.
In the year 1468, it was decreed by the mayor, divers persons, being common jurors, who had forsworn themselves for rewards, should ride from Newgate to the pillory on Cornhill, with paper mitres on their heads, where they were to be exposed, and afterwards returned to New
Fabian writes that in 1509, Darby, Smith, and Simpson, ring leaders of false inquests in London, were compelled to ride through the City with their faces to their horses' tails, and papers on their heads, and were set on the pillory in Cornhill, and afterwards confined in Newgate, “where they died for very shame." With respect to the conduit, Robert Drope, mayor, in
1475, enlarged the cistern, at the east end, with stone aad lead, and castellated it in a handsome manner.
In 1546, Sir Martin Bowes, mayor, who lived in Lombard Street, and whose back gate opened into Cornhill, op. posite the conduit, proposed to enlarge and ornament the west part, as Alderman Drope had done in the eastern ; but, upon the removal of the cage and pillory, it was discovered that the ground was planked, and the well, “ worn out of memory :” the well, however, was restored to its use, and a pump erected, which having been removed, probably, in the confusion occasioned by the fire in 1666, was forgotten, but being recently revived, again dispenses its benefits for public use.
SWEETING'S ALLEY, formerly the extensive residence of a Dutch merchant of the name of Sweething, is now filled by shops and coffee houses. In the year 1759, a dreadful fire broke out at Hamlin's coffee house, in the apartinent of Ms , Poteridge, one of the inventors of musical glasses, which destroyed thirteen houses in the front of Cornhill. Mr. Poteridge perished in the flames. Passing Freeman's Court, so called from having been the residence of an alderman of that name, we come to FINCH LANE, which obtained its name at a remote period, from Robert Finch or Fink, who rebuilt the church, called, from him, St. Bennet Fink.
Near this lane is the UNION FIRE OFFICĖ, which in its principle does not vary from establishments of a similar nature. The emblematical figures of Justice and Strength, in the front of this building, in Coade's composition, are very fine; the muscular powers of the Hercules are expressed in a masterly manner.
BIRCHIN LANE, is a corruption of Birchover Lane, from its first builder. This was formerly inhabited by wealthy drapers, who continued their range of shops to the Stocks. It is curious to observe the revolution of streets and buildings; in the reign of Henry V. this quarter was inhabited by fripperers or upholders, who sold old cloaths and household furniture! and, to she'w its reputation, Dan John Lyd. gate humourously describes a poor countryman, who having lost his hood in Westminster Hall, saw it hung up for sale
in Cornhill. *. How different in the nineteenth century this spot; wealth and integrity are its prerogatives; and on
* This Song is referred to by Stow; as it was supposed to point out the circumstances of places in London at an early time in the language and poetry of the age, a copy of it must be a curiosity. Every year, by removing us farther from antient days, encreases the difficulty of finding the perishing remains of them ; but that noble repository of every thing relating to the history of mankind, the British Museum, at last afforded an opportunity to give new existence to this specimen of old humourous description.
“ LONDON LYCKPENY. A Ballade comhyled by Dan John Lydgate Monke of Berry, about - yeres
agoe, and now newly oversene and amended.