Survey of London: Wall about the City

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Wall about the Citie of London.
Whereupon Ambassadors were eftsoones dispatched to Rome, lamentably beseeching that they woulde not suffer their miserable countrey to be vtterly destroyed: then againe an other Legion was sent, which comming vpon a suddaine, made a greate slaugh
ter of the ennemie, and chased him home, euen vnto his own coun
try. These Romaines at their departure, tolde the Britaines plainely, that it was not for their ease or leasure to take vpon them any more such long and laborious iournyes for their defence, and therefore bad them practise the vse of armour and weapons, and learne to withstand their ennemies, whome nothing else did make so strong as their faint hart, and cowardise, and for so much as they thought that it would be no small helpe and encouragement vnto their Tributary frendes whom they were now forced to for
they builded for them a wall of harde stone from the west sea to the east sea, right betwéene those two Cities, which were there made to kéepe out the ennemies, in the selfe same place where Seuerus before had cast his Trench.
Wal of ston builded by the Romās. bewtixt the Britans, and Scots.
The Britaines al
so putting to their helping handes as laborers.
This wall they builded 8. foote thicke in breadth, and 12. foote in height, right as it were by a lyne, from east to west, as the ru
ines thereof remaining in many places til this day, do make to ap
peare. Which worke thus perfected, they giue the people straight charge to looke well to themselues, they teach them to handle their weapons, and they instruct them in warlike feates. And lest by the sea side southwardes, where their ships lay at harbor, the ennemie should come on land, they made vp sundrie Bulwarkes each some what distant from the other, and so bid them farewell as minding no more to returne. This happened in the daies of the Emperour Theodosius the younger almost 500. yeares af
ter the first ariuall of the Romaines here, aboute the yeare after Christes incarnation, 434.
The Britaines after this, continuing a lingering & doubtful war with the Scots and Pictes, made choice of Vortiger, to bee their king and leader, which man (as sayth Malmesbery, ) was neither valorous of courage, nor wise of counsell, but wholy giuen ouer to the vnlawful lusts of his flesh: the people likewise in short time, being growne to some quietnes gaue themselues to gluttony,
The Bri
tains giuen to gluttony, dronkennes, pride and contention.

Wall about the Citie of London.
drunkennes, pride, contention, enuie, and such other vices, casting from them the yoke of Christ. In the meane season a bitter plague fell among them, consuming in short time such a multitude, that the quicke were not sufficient to bury the deade, and yet the rem
nant remayned so hardened in sinne, that neither the death of their frendes nor feare of their owne daunger, could cure the mortality of their soules, whereupon a greater stroke of vengeance insued vpon the whole sinfull nation.
The Britaines plagued for their sinfull life.
For being now againe infested with their old neighbors the Scots, and Pictes, they consult with their king Vortiger, and send for the Saxons, who shortly after ariued here in Britaine, where saith Bede,
Witichendus1. Bede.
they were receiued as frends: but as it proued they minded to destroy the countrie as ennemies for after that they had driuen out the Scots and Pictes, they also draue the Britaines some ouer the seas, and some into the waste mountaines of Wales and Cornewell, and deuided the countrie into diuers kingdomes amongst themselues.
The Saxons sent for to de
fend the Bri
taines, but they draue thé into the moun
These Saxons were likewise ignorant of the Architecture or building with stone,
Saxons vnskil
ful of building with stone.
vntill the yere of Christ 680. for then it is af
firmed that Bennet Abbote of Wirall, Maister to the reuerend Bede, first brought Masons and Workemen in stone into this Iland amongst the Saxons,
Benet a monk brought ma
sons into this land amongst the Saxons.
(he I say) brought hyther Artificers of stone houses, Paynters and Glasiers, artes before that time vnto the Saxons vnknowne, who before that time vsed but wodden buildinges.
Thus much be sayed for walling, not onely in respect of this Ci
ty, but generally also of the first, within the Realme. Now to returne to our Trinouant,
Trinouāt since called Londō.
(as Cesar hath it) the same is since by Tacitus, Ptolomeus, and Antoninus called Londinium, Longi
, of Amiamus, Lundinum, and Augusta who calleth it an auncient Citie of our Britaines Lundayne, of the olde Saxons, Lundonceaster, Londonbeig, of strangers, Londra and Lon
, of the inhabitants, London, whereof you may reade a more large and learned discourse, and how it tooke the name in that worke of my louing frend M. Camden
Camden. the city of Lon
destroyed by the Danes, and againe re
now Clarenciaulx which is called Britania.
This Citie of London hauing beene destroyed and brent by the Danes and other Pagan ennemies about the yere of Christ,

Wall about the Citie of London.
839. was by Alfred king of the west Saxons, in the yere 886 re
payred and honorably restored, and made againe habitable. Who also committed the custody thereof vnto his sonne in law, Ethelrod Earle of Mercia2, vnto whome before hee had giuen his daughter Ethelfled.
And that this Citie was strongly walled, may appeare by di
uers accidents, whereof I haue read some, namely William of Malsmebery, hath that about the yeare of Christ, 994. the Lon
, shut vp their gates and defended their king Ethelrod, within their wals against the Danes, in the yeare 1016. Ed
raigning ouer the west Saxons Canute the Dane bringing his nauie into the west part of the bridge, cast a Trench aboute the Citie of London, and then attempted to haue won it by assault, but the Citizens repulsed him and draue him from their wals. Also in the yeare 1052. Earle Godwin with his nauie sayled vp by the south ende of the bridge, and so assailed the wals of this Citie, & Wiliam Fitzstephen
W. FitzstephēThe Citie of London wal
led round a
boute by the Riuer of Thames. Wals of Lon
writing in the raigne of king Henry the second, of the wals of this Citie, hath these words. The wal is high and great, well towred on the Northside with due distances betweene the towers. On the southside also the Citie was walled and towred, but the fishful riuer of Thames with his ebbing, and flowing hath long since subuerted them.
This may suffice for proofe of a wall, and forme thereof, about this Citie, and the same to haue béene of greate antiquity, as any other within this Realme, and now touching the maintenance & repayring the saide wals, I finde that in the yere 1215, the 16. of King Iohn , the Barons entring the Citie by Ealdgate, first tooke assurance of the Citizens, and then they brake into the hou
ses of the Iewes, and searched their coffers, and after with greate diligence repayred the wals, and the gates of the Citie of London with stone, taken from the Iewes broken houses. In the yeare 1257. Henry the 3. caused the wals of the Citie of London, which were sore decai4ed and destitute of Towers, to be repayred in more seemely wise then before, at the common charges of the Citie. Al
so in the yeare 1282. King Edward the first granted to H. VVal
Maior, and the Citizens of London, the fauour, to take to
ward the making of the wall, and inclosure of the Citie, certaine customes, as appeareth by his grante. This wal was then to be

Wall about the Citie of London
made from Ludgate to Fleete bridge, and along by the water of Fleete, vnto the riuer of Thames. Moreouer in the yere 1310. Edward the 2. commanded the Citizens to make vp the wal alre
dy begunne, and the Tower, at the ende of the same wall, within the water of Thames neare vnto the blacke Fryers &c. It was also granted by king Richard the socond in the 10. of his raign that a Toll shoulde be taken of wares, solde by lande and by water for 10. yeares, towardes the repayring of the wals and clensing of the ditch aboute London. In the 17. of Edward the 4. Ralfe Ioceline, Mayor, caused parte of the wall aboute the Citie of London,
to be rapayred, to wit, betwixt Aldgate and Aldersgate he also caused the Morefielde to bee searched for clay, and willed bricke to be made, and brent there, he likewise caused chalke to bee brought out of Kent and to be brent into lime in the same More
, for more furtherance of the worke. Then the Skinners, to begin in the East, made that parte of the wall, betwixt Al
and Buries marke towardes Bishopsgate, as may appeare by their armes in thrée places fixed there, the Mayor with his cō
pany of the Drapers made all that part, betwixt Bishopsgate & Alhallowes Church in the same, and from Alhallowes towards the Posterne. A great part of the same wal called Moregate was repayred by the executors of Sir Iohn Crosby, late Alderman, as may appeare by his Armes, standing in two places there. Other Companies repayred the rest of the wal to the Posterne of Criple
. The Goldsmiths repayred frō Criplegate, towards Alders
, & there the work ceased. The circuite of the wall
Circuit of the Wall from the east to the west.
of London on the landes side, to wit from the tower of London in the east, vnto Aldgate, is 82. perches: from Aldgate to Bishopsgate, 86. perches: from Bishopsgate in the north to the Postern of Criple
162 perches, from Criplegate to Ealdersgate 75. perches, from Eldrichgate to Newgate, 66. perches, from Newgate in the west to Ludgate, 42. perches, in all 513. perches of assize. From Ludgate againe to the Fleete dike, west, about 60. perches: from Fleete bridge south to the riuer of Thames, aboute 70. perches, and so the totall of these perches amounteth to 643. euery perch, consisting of 5. yeardes and a halfe, which do yeelde 3536. yardes and a halfe, conteyning 10608 foote, which make vp two eng
lish miles and more by 608. foote.


  1. Second i in Witichendus flipped in original text. (SM)
  2. Unclear. (SM)
  3. Unclear. (SM)
  4. Letter missing. (SM)

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MLA citation

Stow, John, and William fitz Stephen. Survey of London: Wall about the City. The Map of Early Modern London, edited by Janelle Jenstad, U of Victoria, 20 Jun. 2018,

Chicago citation

Stow, John, and William fitz Stephen. Survey of London: Wall about the City. The Map of Early Modern London. Ed. Janelle Jenstad. Victoria: University of Victoria. Accessed June 20, 2018.

APA citation

Stow, J., & fitz Stephen, W. 2018. Survey of London: Wall about the City. In J. Jenstad (Ed), The Map of Early Modern London. Victoria: University of Victoria. Retrieved from

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Provider: University of Victoria
Database: The Map of Early Modern London
Content: text/plain; charset="utf-8"

A1  - Stow, John
A1  - fitz Stephen, William
ED  - Jenstad, Janelle
T1  - Survey of London: Wall about the City
T2  - The Map of Early Modern London
PY  - 2018
DA  - 2018/06/20
CY  - Victoria
PB  - University of Victoria
LA  - English
UR  -
UR  -
ER  - 


RT Web Page
SR Electronic(1)
A1 Stow, John
A1 fitz Stephen, William
A6 Jenstad, Janelle
T1 Survey of London: Wall about the City
T2 The Map of Early Modern London
WP 2018
FD 2018/06/20
RD 2018/06/20
PP Victoria
PB University of Victoria
LA English
OL English

TEI citation

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