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St Pauls, Index



The Cathedral Wall, its Course and Gates—Characteristic Names—The North Cloister—The Library—Pardon Churchyard—Minor Canons' College—Paul's Cross—Bishop's House—Lollards' Tower—Doctors Commons—The Cloister and Chapter House—The West Front.

A wall was built round the churchyard in 1109, but was greatly strengthened in 1285. The churchyard had got such a bad character for robberies, fornications, even murders, that the Dean and Chapter requested King Edward I. to allow them to heighten this wall, with fitting gates and posterns, to be opened every morning and closed at night. From the north-east corner of Ave Maria Lane, it went east along Paternoster Row, to the end of Old Change, then south to Carter Lane, thence northwards to Creed Lane, with Ave Maria Lane on the other side. It will of course be remembered that the Fleet River ran along at the bottom of the hill, not bearing the best character in the world for savouriness even then, but crowded with boats as far as Holborn. It will be remembered that there was also a gate in the City Wall, on Ludgate Hill, a little to the west of St. Martin's Church. The gate had a little chapel within it, but the greater part of the building was used for a prison. Passing under it, and up Ludgate Hill, you came to the western gate of the Cathedral Close—a wide and strong one—spanning the street.1 There were six of these gates; the second was at Paul's Alley, leading to the Postern Gate, or "Little North Door"; third, Canon's Alley; fourth, Little Gate (corner of Cheapside); fifth, St. Augustine's Gate (west end of Watling Street); and sixth,[page 10] Paul's Chain. The ecclesiastical names bear their own explanation: "Ave Maria" and "Paternoster" indicated that rosaries and copies of the Lord's Prayer were sold in this street. "Creed" was a somewhat later name. In olden days, it was Spurrier's Lane, i.e., where spurs were sold. But when an impetus was given to instruction under the Tudors, copies of the alphabet and the Creed were added to such articles of sale, and this was the place to get them. Paul's Chain got its name from the chain which was drawn across the gateway when service was going on, to prevent noise. The other names explain themselves.

Inside this area ran a cloister along the north side, turning a short distance southwards at the east end. This cloister was rebuilt by Dean More (1407-1421) round an enclosure which was a burial ground for clerics and men of mark in the City. The cloister was decorated by the series of paintings commonly known as the Dance of Death, such as may still be seen in the Cathedral of Basel, and in other places. Verses were appended to each picture, which were translated by Lydgate, the monk of Bury, and writer of poems on classical and religious subjects. Over the eastern side of the cloister was the library, a very fine one, but it perished in the Great Fire. The name "Pardon" applied to burial grounds, was not uncommon, apparently. The victims of the Black Death, in 1348, were buried in a piece of ground on the site of the Charter House, and this ground was known as Pardon Churchyard; and in the register books of St. Helen's, Bishopsgate, there are two entries of City magnates buried at different times by "the Pardon Door." Does it indicate that these particular burial grounds were bought with money paid for indulgences or expiations?

In the middle of the Pardon Churchyard of St. Paul's was a chapel of rich ornament, built by "Gilbert Becket, portgrave and principal magistrate in this City in the reign of King Stephen." He was the great Archbishop's father. The monuments in it and the surrounding churchyard are said to have rivalled in beauty those inside the cathedral. How this cloister and chapel fared, we shall see presently.

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From a MS. of the Hours of the Virgin. Fifteenth Century. British Museum, 27697.

North of the Pardon Churchyard was the College of the Minor[page 11] Canons, bordering on Paternoster Row; and between it and the cathedral, in an open space, which in older times was the authorised meeting-place of the folkmote, was Paul's Cross. There is no doubt of its exact situation, for during his valuable explorations into the history of the cathedral, Mr. Penrose discovered its foundations, six feet below the pavement, and this site is now marked by an inscription. It is all now laid out as a pleasant garden, and a goodly number of people may be seen there daily feeding the tame pigeons.

I have shown already (see Mediæval London, p. 8) that the Folkmote was held on a large green, east of the cathedral. There were three such meetings yearly, to which the citizens were summoned by the ringing of the great cathedral bell. When the first Cross was erected on the ground there is no record to show. We may take for granted that there was first a pulpit of wood. Not only were sermons preached, but proclamations and State announcements were delivered from it, also Papal bulls, excommunications, and the public penance of notorious offenders. In the quaint language of Carlyle, Paul's Cross was "a kind of Times newspaper of the day." On important occasions, the Lord Mayor and Aldermen came in state. Sometimes even the King came with his retinue, and a covered seat was placed for them against the cathedral wall, which may be noticed in our engraving. If there was an important meeting, and the weather was unfavourable, the meeting was adjourned to the "Shrowdes," that is, to the crypt, which, as we have already seen, was now converted into the Church of St. Faith.

The Cross was damaged by lightning in 1382, and was rebuilt by Bishop Kempe (1448-1489). It had stone steps, the pulpit was of strong oak, and it was roofed in with lead. This was the building which was standing as we closed our account of the cathedral at the beginning of the Tudor dynasty. We shall see more of it hereafter in our historical memorials.

On the north side of the Cathedral Nave was the Bishop's residence, with a private door leading into the cathedral. Of the appearance of the west front of the cathedral we cannot speak with certainty, as it disappeared to make way for Inigo Jones's porch, to[page 12] which we shall come hereafter. But there were, as usual, three entries, of which the middle had a fine brazen door-post, and there are two towers to be noted. That on the north was part of the Bishop's Palace; that on the south was commonly known as Lollards' Tower. It was the place for imprisoning heretics, and there are ugly stories about it. For example, a man named Hunne, who had been found in possession of some Wycliffite tracts, was confined here by Bonner, and was presently found hanged. It was said that he had committed suicide. But it was declared that the appearances rendered this theory impossible, and Bonner was generally believed to have incited murder; so much was this believed, in fact, that he was hated by the citizens from that time.

On the south side of the church were St. Paul's Brewhouse and Bakehouse, and also a house which, in 1570, was handed over to the Doctors of Civil Law as a "Commons House." These civilians and canonists had previously been lodged at "a mean house in Paternoster Row." South of the nave was the Church of St. Gregory-by-Paul's adjoining the wall up to the West Front. Between that and the South Transept was a curious cloister of two stories, running round three sides of a square, and in the middle of this square was the Chapter House. It was built in 1332, and was very small—only thirty-two feet six inches in internal diameter. The remains of it have been carefully preserved on the ground, and are visible to the passers-by. The Deanery I have mentioned, but we shall have more about it hereafter. The open space before the West Front was claimed by the citizens, as well as the east side; not, like that, for a folkmote, but for military parade. The arms were kept in the adjoining Baynard's Castle.

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And Last updated on: Thursday, 07-Jan-2021 11:06:53 GMT