With five gates already blogged about, I am – in presenting the sixth – now over half way through this small series. Allow me, without further delay, introduce the Reader to the minor history of famous Aldersgate:
A L D E R S G A T E
While it is the second-newest of the main gates to the city, Aldersgate is still of a very ancient foundation, being built toward the end of the fourth century. It was possibly near the site of an earlier gate that was a part of the same Roman fort as Cripplegate. It is unclear if Aldersgate is a continuation of this gate, or a new gate built on a different site, if it is considered to be the former then it does in fact deserve to be in the above section.
The gate may be first mentioned in the Laws of Ethelred in about the year 1000, when it is called the gate of Ealdred, however this could also apply to Aldgate, or even another minor London gate now unknown to history. I think, though, that it is likely to refer to this gate, since in a Patent Roll of February 1270 a gate is referred to as Aldredesgate after Aldgate has already had its name well established as Aldgate for some years.
Aldersgate is firmly established as the name at least by the 1300s, although no records survive of any repairs or construction occurring to the gate. James I, the first of that blessed line of England’s monarchs, passed under the gate when he entered the city as its king before his formal coronation in 1603, not long after which an equestrian relief of the king was added to the outside of the gate. It was rebuilt in an elegant style in 1617, the relief of James being added onto this gate as well.
Aside from this relief of the king, the gate also sported statues of a second image of James enthroned, and images of the prophets Samuel and Jeremiah.
The use of the rooms over the gate are unclear throughout its medieval life, but it was leased for commercial purposes in the 17th century and was a printing office for some of that century, later becoming the residence of the city’s Cryer. Several buildings put against it at this time added considerable load to the gate, and were in the end pulled down shortly before the Great Fire.
It was damaged in this fire but was restored in 1670, finally being pulled down in 1761.