Ludgate Hill is a hill in the City of London, near the old Ludgate, a
gate to the City that was taken down, with its attached gaol, in 1780.
It is the site of St. Paul's Cathedral, traditionally said to have
been the site of a
Roman temple of the goddess Diana. It is one of the
three ancient hills of London, the others being
Tower Hill and
Cornhill. The highest point is just north of St. Paul's, at 17.6
metres (58 ft) above sea level.
Ludgate Hill looking east from the foot of Fleet Street, 1970
Ludgate Hill in 2006
Ludgate Hill is also the name of a street which runs between St.
Paul's Churchyard and
Ludgate Circus (built in 1864), from where it
becomes Fleet Street. It was formerly a much narrower street called
Many small alleys on
Ludgate Hill were swept away in the late 1860s to
Ludgate Hill railway station
Ludgate Hill railway station between Water Lane and New Bridge
Street, a station of the London, Chatham and Dover Railway. It was
closed in 1923 and the railway bridge and viaduct between Holborn
Viaduct and Blackfriars stations was demolished in 1990 to enable the
construction of the
City Thameslink railway station
City Thameslink railway station in a tunnel. This
also involved the regrading of the slope of
Ludgate Hill at the
There is a blue plaque near the bottom of the hill with these words:
"In a house near this site was published in 1702 The Daily Courant
London daily newspaper".
About halfway up
Ludgate Hill is the church of St. Martin, Ludgate,
once physically joined to the Ludgate.
Paternoster Square, home of the
London Stock Exchange
London Stock Exchange since 2004, lies
on the hill, immediately to the north of St. Paul's Cathedral.
2 Literary associations
4 External links
Ludgate is generally accepted to derive from the
Old English term
"hlid-geat" from "hlid" ("lid, cover, opening,
gate") and "geat" or "gæt" ("gate, opening, passage") and
was a common
Old English compound meaning "postern" or "swing
gate" and survives in various place names across
England as well as in surnames.
Ludgate is mentioned in Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum
Britanniae, written around 1136. According to the pseudohistorical
work the name comes from the mythic Welsh king Lud son of Heli
whom he claims also gave his name to London. The Cronycullys of
Englonde tell us of an early king of Britain: "he lete make a fayre
gate and called hit Lud Gate after his name" in the year 66 BC, but it
is more likely that the Romans were the first to build it, and that it
is simply named after him. One proposed derivation, entirely prosaic,
is that the name is a variation on "Fleodgaet", or "Fleet-gate".
At the bottom of
Ludgate Hill, on the north side, is Limeburner Lane.
This may sound like a quaint survival from medieval times, but it was
actually constructed in the 1990s, where Seacoal Lane used to be. This
was the location of the Bell Savage Inn, first mentioned in 1452 where
plays were performed. According to surveyor
John Stow the name was
derived from Isabella Savage, but Addison claimed it was "La belle
Sauvage", a woman in the wilderness. The clown
Richard Tarlton used to
perform here. It is mentioned in Thomas Hughes' Tom Brown's Schooldays
and Charles Dickens' The Pickwick Papers. In October 1684, a
"Rynoceros lately brought from the East Indies" was put on show
there. The inn was demolished in 1873. In 1851, part of it was
rented out to
John Cassell (1817–1865), a notable publisher. At this
time it was still called La Belle Sauvage Yard and the firm of Cassell
used "la Belle Sauvage" in some of their imprints.
Thomas Malory was imprisoned in the
Ludgate prison in the 1460s, and
translated a French life of King Arthur while he was there. He later
wrote Le Morte d'Arthur. The prison is mentioned in Daniel Defoe's
Roxana: The Fortunate Mistress.
From 1731, the "
London Coffee House" was next to St. Martin's,
Ludgate, at 24–26
Ludgate Hill. It was frequented by Joseph
Priestley and Benjamin Franklin. When the juries at the Old Bailey
failed to reach a verdict, they were housed here overnight. In 1806, a
Roman hexagonal altar dedicated to Claudia Martina by her husband, now
in the Guildhall, was found here together with a statue of
London Coffee House was closed in 1867, and is now
occupied by a pub called "Ye Olde London".
Edmund Spenser's "Shepheardes Calender" was printed by Hugh Singleton
at the sign of the "Gylden tunne" in Creed Lane in 1579. John Evelyn
lived in the Hawk and Pheasant on
Ludgate Hill in 1658–59.
The Blackfriars, or Dominicans, first came to
London in 1221. In 1278,
they moved from
Holborn to an area south of Ludgate, where they built
a friary. By 1320, they had demolished the Roman wall to build a new
wall for the friary. This was demolished at the Reformation, but the
name persisted – in 1596 James Burbage, the manager of Shakespeare's
acting company, The Lord Chamberlain's Men, acquired the lease to a
part of the property that was already being used as a theatre. His
intention appears to have been to have the Lord Chamberlain's Men act
here. However, local opposition meant that the more fashionable
children's acting companies who were already performing here continued
to act here for some years instead. It wasn't until 1609 that
Shakespeare's company of actors (by then called The King's Men) was
able to act at the Blackfriars Theatre. In 1613,
the Blackfriars gate-house.
Pageantmaster Court is almost opposite St. Martin's. The name is not
medieval but dates from 1993. However, to the west is King's Arms
Court, which existed until recently.
Grinling Gibbons lived there.
According to Stow, the gate acquired statues in 1260. In the reign of
Edward VI the heads were "smitten off" and a few years later "Queen
Mary did set new heads upon their old bodies again".
Ordnance Survey data
^ a b c Charters of Abingdon Abbey, Volume 2,Susan E. Kelly, Published
for the British Academy by Oxford University Press, 2001,
ISBN 0-19-726221-X, 9780197262214, pp.623–266
^ a b Geographical Etymology, Christina Blackie, pp.88
^ a b c English Place-Name society, Volume 36, The University Press,
^ Middle English Dictionary, University of Michigan Press, 1998,
ISBN 0-472-01124-3 pp. 972
^ a b An encyclopaedia of London, William Kent, Dent, 1951, pp.402
^ Wright, Neil (1984). The Historia Regum Britannie of Geoffrey of
Monmouth. Woodbridge, England: Boydell and Brewer.
pp. xvii–xviii. ISBN 978-0-85991-641-7.
^ "...the Historia does not bear scrutiny as an authentic history and
no scholar today would regard it as such.": Wright (1984: xxviii)
^ Ackroyd, Peter (2001-12-02). "'London'". New York Times. Archived
from the original on 15 April 2009. Retrieved 2008-10-28.
London Gazette of 10 October 1684
^ Ref 1 below
^ Brewer, Ebenezer Cobham. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. London:
Cassell and Company, 1905. Page 780.
Hercules statue ref (1)
Ludgate statues Ref (2)
Leigh Hunt's description
Ludgate hill in Dictionary of
London (1918) British History Online
Illustration[permanent dead link]
David Nash Ford, "Roman London"
Ludgate Hill pubs &
City of London
City of London pubs
Coordinates: 51°30′49″N 0°06′04″W / 51.5137°N
0.101°W / 51.5137; -0.101
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