My Befuddled Reader,
Allow me to at last finish the several small pieces I’ve inexpertly written here on the history of London’s gates. This last section simply sums up all previous drawings, and gives a small timeline of the gates themselves.
A N AP O L O G Y A N D E X P L A N A TION
O F T H E I M A G E S
The images are drawn from a mixture of views, all of which I believe to have been done at or near the time that the gates were extant in the form represented. Any buildings around the gates I have left out, to allow for clear viewing of the gates, walls, and towers. The one image that inspired the entirety of this work is the only one that I have no evidence when or by whom it was drawn, and is unlabelled even as to which gate it is – but occurs within the Aldersgate section of Pennant’s Account of London. The first image of Aldersgate in the accompanying work is based partly on that image.
The other images pre-dating 1600 have been taken from early maps, which, although informative on many things, were not created to record the details of each building – and therefore the detail of those gates is as much on my own supposition as historical fact.
The walls, too, are very much based on my own suppositions and a few maps and descriptions, and there are very likely some smaller postern gates and pieces of demolished wall that are inaccurately depicted or even missing from my drawings.
One difficulty that has hampered the accuracy of these images is not just inconstancy between several artists working at the same time, but also that it’s not labelled on most drawings whether they are taken from within or without. My images are all drawn from without the gates, but – especially my image of Newgate – very possibly switches from without in the first two images to within for the final image.
The earliest image of Ludgate is taken from a view in the Museum of London, while my earliest image of Moorgate is taken from another view in the same museum, painted at the same time and also apparently of Ludgate. Since both cannot be the same gate, I chose the view that agrees the best with the history of the gate up until that time, and decided the other view was Moorgate based on most of the other gates having images showing them looking very different at that time, and the other image also agreeing well enough with the history and position of Moorgate.
Aside from that, these images are the best that I can supply to represent the gates as their appeared at the respective dates of the images. Therefore, the history above being as complete as I can be pleased to present it; I will take my leave of them for a time, and happily finish this attempted history.
A W E L L – H I N G E D T I M E L I N E
C. AD 55 – London Bridge is built, and somewhere along it is possibly a defensive structure; a predecessor to Bridgegate.
AD 100- The fort at Londinium is founded, while it is possible the disputed Iron Age settlement that stood a century previously had defensive gates, it is the gates of this fort that we first have evidence for and probable locations of.
AD 150 – Aldgate is built.
AD 200 – The city walls and gates are built; aside from the pre-existing Aldgate, these are Newgate, Aldersgate, Ludgate, and Bishopsgate.
AD 375 Aldersgate is built
AD 450 – By this time the officials of the Roman empire have been out of the country for almost half a century. London is probably almost uninhabited; the gates and other public structures fall into disrepair.
886 – Alfred the Great re-establishes the city among the old Roman ruins, he plans out new streets and repairs the defences, most likely repairing to some extent the Roman gates.
1215 – Following the Baron’s Revolt, Jews are expelled from the city and their houses and synagogues torn down, the stone being used to repair several of the gates and some of the city wall. This is attested to some five hundred years later when Ludgate is pulled down and stones bearing Hebrew inscriptions are found in its medieval footings.
1415 – A postern in the city wall is demolished and Moorgate built in its place.
1598 – Stow publishes his survey of London, noting that several of the city gates are in a sorry condition.
Early 1600s – about this time there was a drive to repair or rebuild several gates – although the focus seems to have been for aesthetic rather than defensive purposes.
1642 – At the outbreak of the Civil Wars it is already clear that the gates and city defences are inadequate, since at this date temporary defences are built beyond the city limits.
1660 – On the restoration of Charles II the portcullises of the gates are removed or wedged open, most of the physical gates are removed from their hinges.
1666 – The great fire destroys Ludgate and damages Newgate, supposedly Moorgate was affected by the fire too, but its distance from the fire effected areas suggests that instead the fire was just used as an excuse to rebuild the gate there too.
1760 – Parliament passes an act to allow the removal of the city gates, within two years there would only be Newgate left in the entire city.
1767 – The last of the city gates, Newgate, is demolished.