Ludgate Hill
Ludgate Hill is a hill in the City of London
City of London
The City of London is a small area within Greater London, England. It is the historic core of London around which the modern conurbation grew and has held city status since time immemorial. The City’s boundaries have remained almost unchanged since the Middle Ages, and it is now only a tiny part of...

, near the old Ludgate
Ludgate was the westernmost gate in London Wall. The name survives in Ludgate Hill, an eastward continuation of Fleet Street, and Ludgate Circus.-Etymology:...

, a gate to the City that was taken down, with its attached gaol, in 1780. Ludgate Hill is the site of St Paul's Cathedral
St Paul's Cathedral
St Paul's Cathedral, London, is a Church of England cathedral and seat of the Bishop of London. Its dedication to Paul the Apostle dates back to the original church on this site, founded in AD 604. St Paul's sits at the top of Ludgate Hill, the highest point in the City of London, and is the mother...

, traditionally said to have been the site of a Roman temple
Roman temple
Ancient Roman temples are among the most visible archaeological remains of Roman culture, and are a significant source for Roman architecture. Their construction and maintenance was a major part of ancient Roman religion. The main room housed the cult image of the deity to whom the temple was...

 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 the Cathedral, at 17.6 metres (57.7 ft) above sea level.

Ludgate Hill is also a related street which runs west from St. Paul's Churchyard to Ludgate Circus
Ludgate Circus
Ludgate Circus is a location in the City of London at the intersection of Farringdon Street / New Bridge Street with Fleet Street/Ludgate Hill....

 (built in 1864), and from there becomes Fleet Street
Fleet Street
Fleet Street is a street in central London, United Kingdom, named after the River Fleet, a stream that now flows underground. It was the home of the British press until the 1980s...

. It was formerly a much narrower street called Ludgate Street.

Many small alleys on Ludgate Hill were swept away in late 1860s to build Ludgate Hill railway station
Ludgate Hill railway station
Ludgate Hill railway station was a station in the City of London opened by the London, Chatham and Dover Railway as its City terminus on 1 June 1865...

 between Water Lane and New Bridge Street, a station of the London, Chatham and Dover Railway
London, Chatham and Dover Railway
The London, Chatham and Dover Railway was a railway company in south-eastern England from 1859 until the 1923 grouping which united it with other companies to form the Southern Railway. Its lines ran through London and northern and eastern Kent to form a significant part of the Greater London...

. It was closed before World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 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 in a tunnel. This also involved the regrading of the slope of Ludgate Hill at the junction.

There is a blue plaque
Blue plaque
A blue plaque is a permanent sign installed in a public place to commemorate a link between that location and a famous person or event, serving as a historical marker....

 near the bottom of the hill with these words "In a house near this site was published in 1702 The Daily Courant
Daily Courant
The Daily Courant was reputed to be the world's first regular daily newspaper, commencing in 1702 from premises in Fleet Street.It was first published on 11 March 1702 by Elizabeth Mallet from her premises "against the Ditch at Fleet Bridge". However, as people were not ready at the time to know...

 first London daily newspaper".

About halfway up Ludgate Hill is St Martin, Ludgate
St Martin, Ludgate
St Martin, Ludgate is an Anglican church on Ludgate Hill in the ward of Farringdon, in the City of London. St Martin Ludgate, also called St Martin within Ludgate, was rebuilt in 1677-84 by Sir Christopher Wren.-History:...

 church. This was physically joined to the Ludgate.

Paternoster Square
Paternoster Square
Paternoster Square is an urban development, owned by the Mitsubishi Estate Co., next to St Paul's Cathedral in the City of London, England. In 1942 the area, which takes its name from Paternoster Row, centre of the London publishing trade, was devastated by aerial bombardment in The Blitz during...

 lies on the hill, immediately to the north of St Paul's Cathedral.


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
A postern is a secondary door or gate, particularly in a fortification such as a city wall or castle curtain wall. Posterns were often located in a concealed location, allowing the occupants to come and go inconspicuously. In the event of a siege, a postern could act as a sally port, allowing...

" or "swing gate" and surivives in various place-names across England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 as well as in surnames
Ludgate (surname)
Ludgate is a surname, and may refer to:* Percy Ludgate , Irish engineer* William Ludgate , United States Army soldier* April Ludgate, Parks and Recreation character played by Aubrey Plaza...


Literary associations

Ludgate is mentioned in Geoffrey of Monmouth
Geoffrey of Monmouth
Geoffrey of Monmouth was a cleric and one of the major figures in the development of British historiography and the popularity of tales of King Arthur...

's Historia Regum Britanniae
Historia Regum Britanniae
The Historia Regum Britanniae is a pseudohistorical account of British history, written c. 1136 by Geoffrey of Monmouth. It chronicles the lives of the kings of the Britons in a chronological narrative spanning a time of two thousand years, beginning with the Trojans founding the British nation...

, written around 1136. According to the pseudohistorical work the name comes from the mythic Welsh King Lud son of Heli
Lud son of Heli
Lud , according to Geoffrey of Monmouth's legendary History of the Kings of Britain and related medieval texts, was a king of Britain in pre-Roman times. He was the eldest son of Geoffrey's King Heli, and succeeded his father to the throne. He was succeeded, in turn, by his brother Cassibelanus...

 whom he claims also gave his name to London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...


"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 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 ie 'Fleet-gate'.

At the bottom of Ludgate Hill, on the north side, is Limeburner Lane. This sounds like a quaint survival from medieval time, but was constructed in the 1990s, where Seacoal Lane used to be. This was the location of "The Belle Sauvage
Bell Savage Inn
The Bell Savage Inn was a former public house in London, England, from the 15th century to 1873, originally located on the north side of what is now Ludgate Hill, in the City of London. It was a playhouse during the Elizabethan Era, as well as a venue for various other entertainments. It was also...

", an inn, first mentioned in 1452, where plays were performed. According to Stow the name was derived from "Isabella Savage", but Addison claimed it was "La belle Sauvage", a woman in the wilderness. The clown Tarlton used to perform here. It is mentioned in Tom Brown's Schooldays
Tom Brown's Schooldays
Tom Brown's Schooldays is a novel by Thomas Hughes. The story is set at Rugby School, a public school for boys, in the 1830s; Hughes attended Rugby School from 1834 to 1842...

and The Pickwick Papers
The Pickwick Papers
The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club is the first novel by Charles Dickens. After the publication, the widow of the illustrator Robert Seymour claimed that the idea for the novel was originally her husband's; however, in his preface to the 1867 edition, Dickens strenuously denied any...

. In 1683, a "Rynoceros lately brought from the West Indies" was put on show here. The inn was demolished in 1873. In 1851, part of it was rented out to John Cassell
John Cassell
John Cassell was an English publisher, printer, writer and editor, who founded the firm Cassell & Co, famous for its educational books and periodicals, and which pioneered the serial publication of novels. He was also a well-known tea and coffee merchant and a general business entrepreneur...

 (1817–1865) the 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
Thomas Malory
Sir Thomas Malory was an English writer, the author or compiler of Le Morte d'Arthur. The antiquary John Leland as well as John Bale believed him to be Welsh, but most modern scholars, beginning with G. L...

 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
Le Morte d'Arthur
Le Morte d'Arthur is a compilation by Sir Thomas Malory of Romance tales about the legendary King Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot, and the Knights of the Round Table...

. The prison is mentioned in Daniel Defoe
Daniel Defoe
Daniel Defoe , born Daniel Foe, was an English trader, writer, journalist, and pamphleteer, who gained fame for his novel Robinson Crusoe. Defoe is notable for being one of the earliest proponents of the novel, as he helped to popularise the form in Britain and along with others such as Richardson,...

's Roxana: The Fortunate Mistress
Roxana: The Fortunate Mistress
Roxana: The Fortunate Mistress is a 1724 novel by Daniel Defoe.-Plot summary:The novel concerns the story of an...


From 1731, the "London Coffee House" was next to St Martin's, Ludgate at 24-26 Ludgate Hill. It was frequented by Joseph Priestley
Joseph Priestley
Joseph Priestley, FRS was an 18th-century English theologian, Dissenting clergyman, natural philosopher, chemist, educator, and political theorist who published over 150 works...

 and Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin
Dr. Benjamin Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat...

. 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 Hercules. The London Coffee House was closed in 1867, and is now occupied by a pub called "Ye Olde London".

Edmund Spenser
Edmund Spenser
Edmund Spenser was an English poet best known for The Faerie Queene, an epic poem and fantastical allegory celebrating the Tudor dynasty and Elizabeth I. He is recognised as one of the premier craftsmen of Modern English verse in its infancy, and one of the greatest poets in the English...

's "Shepheard's Calender" was printed by Hugh Singleton at the sign of the "Gylden tunne" in Creed Lane in 1579. John Evelyn
John Evelyn
John Evelyn was an English writer, gardener and diarist.Evelyn's diaries or Memoirs are largely contemporaneous with those of the other noted diarist of the time, Samuel Pepys, and cast considerable light on the art, culture and politics of the time John Evelyn (31 October 1620 – 27 February...

 lived in the Hawk and Pheasant on Ludgate Hill in 1658-59.

The Blackfriars
Blackfriars is an area of central London, which lies in the south-west corner of the City of London.The name Blackfriars was first used in 1317 and derives from the black cappa worn by the Dominican Friars who moved their priory from Holborn to the area between the River Thames and Ludgate Hill in...

 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, when Shakespeare built the "Blackfriars Theatre" in 1596. In 1613, Shakespeare bought the Blackfriars gate-house.

Pageantmaster Court is almost opposite St Martin's. Unfortunately the name is not medieval, but dates from 1993. However, to the west is "King's Arms Court" which existed until recently. Grinling Gibbons
Grinling Gibbons
Grinling Gibbons was an English sculptor and wood carver known for his work in England, including St Paul's Cathedral, Blenheim Palace and Hampton Court Palace. He was born and educated in Holland where his father was a merchant...

 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
Mary I of England
Mary I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from July 1553 until her death.She was the only surviving child born of the ill-fated marriage of Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon. Her younger half-brother, Edward VI, succeeded Henry in 1547...

did set new heads upon their old bodies again".

External links

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