London Volunteers 1799

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  • No. 74 Queenhythe Volunteers

    1720: Blome’s Map of Cripplegate Ward. Underlying image courtesy of British Library Crace Collection. © British Library Board; Maps Crace Port. 8.21. (ANNOTATION added by Iain Laird 10th October 2022).

    A SERGEANT with ARMS ADVANCED ((see original 1799 description below)
    Queenhithe is a small and ancient ward of the City of London, situated by the River Thames and to the south of St. Paul’s Cathedral. (See map attached – click on it to expand). The Millennium Bridge crosses into the City at Queenhithe.  Queenhithe is also the name of the ancient, but now disused, dock and a minor street, which runs along that dock, both of which are within the ward.  The ward’s name derives from the “Queen’s Dock”, or “Queen’s Quay”, which was probably a Roman dock (or small harbour). The dock existed during the period when the Wessex king, Alfred the Great, re-established the City of London, circa 886 AD. It only became “Queenhithe” (spelt archaically as “Queenhythe”) when Matilda, wife of King Henry I, was granted duties on goods landed there. The Queenhithe dock remains today, but has long fallen out of use and is heavily silted up (being tidal). Queenhithe harbour was used for importing corn into London and continued to be in use into the 20th century, by the fur and tanning trades. Being upstream of London Bridge, however, meant that large sea-going sailing ships could no longer safely reach the dock from the sea. King Charles II landed at Queenhithe during the Great Fire of London in September 1666 to view the extent of the destruction and assist in the firefighting.  The dock, including the wharf walls and adjacent street, was designated a Scheduled Ancient Monument in 1973; it is the only surviving inlet on the modern City’s waterfront. Its walls have been re-strengthened, as part of London’s flood defences. Bombing in the Blitz destroyed approximately three-quarters of the ward’s buildings: the only listed buildings are St Benet Paul’s Wharf Church, and the tower of the former St Mary Somerset Church.
    A key sequence of the 1951 comedy The Lavender Hill Mob used Queenhithe as a location for filming: Mr. Holland, played by Alec Guinness, can be seen falling from a wharf into the Thames and being rescued by two actors dressed as police officers.

  • No. 75 Cripplegate Ward without Volunteers

    Cripplegate ward with its division into parishes according to a new survey. Engraving by Benjamin Cole, 1755. This plan was published in William Maitland’s ‘History of London from its Foundation to the Present Time’. From the Crace Collection of maps at The British Library. © The British Library Board. (ANNOTATED by Iain Laird 10th October 2022).

    ORDER ARMS (from advance Arms 1st motion)  (see original 1799 description below)
    Cripplegate was a gate in the London Wall which once enclosed the City of London (see map – click on it to expand).   The gate gave its name to the Cripplegate ward of the City which straddles the line of the former wall and gate, a line which continues to divide the ward into two parts: Cripplegate Within and Cripplegate Without, with a beadle and a deputy (alderman) appointed for each part. Since the 1994 (City) and 2003 (ward) boundary changes, most of the ward is Without, with the ward of Bassishaw having expanded considerably into the Within area. Until World War II, the area approximating to Cripplegate Without was commonly known as simply Cripplegate. The area was almost entirely destroyed in the Blitz of World War II causing the term to fall out of colloquial speech. Cripplegate Without is the site of the Barbican Estate and Barbican Centre, with a small part of these lying in neighbouring Aldersgate Without.  Cripplegate was located at what is now the corner of Wood Street and St Alphage Gardens . The origins of the gate’s name are unclear.  One theory is that it takes its name from the Anglo-Saxon word crepel, meaning a covered or underground passageway. Another theory suggests cripples used to beg there. The nearby church of St Giles lends credence to this suggestion as Saint Giles is the patron saint of cripples and lepers.


  • No. 76 Dowgate Ward Volunteers


    Order Arms (from advance 2nd motion) (see original 1799 description below)

    This plan was published in Strype’s 1755 annotated edition of Stowe’s ‘Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster’. Its title features in cartouche at top centre, with compass star at bottom left and scale bar at bottom right. A key to streets, churches and halls appears in a panel down the right side of the plate. First published in 1720, Strype’s ward plans were carefully updated for this edition. From the Crace Collection of maps at The British Library. Copyright © The British Library Board. ANNOTATED by Iain Laird 10th October 2022).

    Dowgate, also referred to as Downgate and Downegate, is a small ward in the City of London, the historic and financial centre of London  (see map – click to expand).
    Dowgate Ward (circled in red) in 1756 (From the Crace collection of maps at the British Library in London)The ward is bounded to the east by Swan Lane and Laurence Poutney Lane, to the south by the River Thames, to the west by Cousin Lane and College Hill, and to the north by Cannon Street. It is where the “lost” Walbrook watercourse emptied into the Thames.
    A number of City livery companies are quartered in the ward: the Worshipful Company of DyersWorshipful Company of InnholdersWorshipful Company of Skinners and Worshipful Company of Tallow Chandlers. There is one church, St. Michael Paternoster, where, in addition to its local and congregational causes, the Anglican Mission to Seafarers convenes and fundraises. The ward also contains Cannon Street station, which is on the site of the Steelyard (a mediaeval trading port of the Hanseatic League), and Dowgate Fire Station on Upper Thames Street, the only London Fire Brigade station within the City of London.
    Dowgate is one of the 25 wards of the City of London, each electing an alderman to the Court of Aldermen and commoners (the City equivalent of a councillor) to the Court of Common Council of the City of London Corporation. Only electors who are Freemen of the City of London are eligible to stand.

  • Nos 77, 78 & 79 Mile-End, Shoreditch and Trinity Minories Volunteers


    PILE ARMS (see original 1798 description below)
    Mile End is a district of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets in the East End of London, England, 3.6 miles (5.8 km) east-northeast of Charing Cross. Situated on the London-to-Colchester road, it was one of the earliest suburbs of London. It became part of the metropolitan area in 1855, and is connected to the London Underground.
    Shoreditch is a district in the East End of London in England, and forms the southern part of the London Borough of Hackney. Neighbouring parts of Tower Hamlets are also perceived as part of the area.  In the 16th century, Shoreditch was an important centre of the Elizabethan Theatre, and it has been an important entertainment centre since that time. Today, it hosts many pubs, bars and nightclubs. The most commercial areas lie closest to the city of London and along the A10 Road, with the rest mostly residential.
    Minories is the name of a small former administrative unit, and also of a street in central London. Both the street and the former administrative area take their name from the Abbey of the Minoresses of St. Clare without Aldgate. Both are positioned just to the east of, and outside, the line of London’s former defensive walls, in London’s East End. The area of the former administrative unit was outside the City of London (most recently in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets), with the street partially in the City and partly in Tower Hamlets. Boundary changes in 1994 mean the area of both is now wholly within the City of London.

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