|Ward of Aldersgate|
Ward of Aldersgate shown within Greater London
|OS grid reference|
|Sui generis||City of London|
|Administrative area||Greater London|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Postcode district||EC1, EC2|
|Police||City of London|
|UK Parliament||Cities of London and Westminster|
|London Assembly||City and East|
The name Aldersgate is first recorded around 1000 in the form Ealdredesgate, i.e. "gate associated with a man named Ealdrād". The gate, constructed by the Romans in the 2nd or 3rd centuries when London Wall was constructed, probably acquired its name in the late Saxon period.
The ward of Aldersgate straddles the (now former) line of London Wall and the old gate and historically was divided into "Within" and "Without" divisions, with a Deputy (Alderman) appointed for each division. It took in the liberty of St. Martin's Le Grand when that was dis-established in the 16th century. However, since ward boundary changes in 2003, almost all of the ward is Without and the former liberty and street of St. Martin's is no longer within the ward's boundaries.
In 1554 Aldersgate Street was the scene of a fraud where Elizabeth Crofts was smuggled into a wall to pretend to be a heavenly voice. Reputedly 17,000 people came to listen to her give out anti-catholic propaganda.
The old gate was taken down in 1617, and rebuilt in the same year from a design by Gerard Christmas. The gate was damaged in the Great Fire of London in 1666 but was repaired and remained until 1761. Aldersgate Street contained the Bishop of London's chapel and his chambers at London House, which was used from the 18th century because it was closer to St. Paul's Cathedral than his official residence in Fulham, west London.
Also on this street is the church of St. Botolph's-without-Aldersgate, and the site of the Moravian meeting room where John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, reaffirmed his faith on Wednesday 24 May 1738, which is marked by a plaque. It was a Moravian Church meeting, during a reading of Martin Luther's commentary on Romans that Wesley reported his heart "strangely warmed" — an event he described as his conversion.
The house of Sarah Sawyer, in Rose and Rainbow Court (approximately the site of the present Museum of London), formed one of the earliest Quaker meetings in London (before 1655). In 1675, it became a dedicated meeting house, the Box Meeting, used mainly by Quaker women for poor relief, on her marriage.
Aldersgate Street forms a short section of the A1 route towards Edinburgh. It is located on the west side of the Barbican Estate and Barbican Centre, near St Bartholomew's Hospital and the Museum of London (which falls within the ward).
Northbound it continues into Goswell Road at the junction with Fann Street; southbound it continues into St. Martin's Le Grand. Barbican tube station is located on Aldersgate Street and when it was opened in 1865 was named Aldersgate Street tube station. In 1910 it was renamed Aldersgate, then Aldersgate & Barbican in 1924, before finally being renamed Barbican in 1968.
The poet Thomas Flatman was born in a house in Aldersgate Street in 1633. As with most historic buildings on this stretch of road, the building no longer stands. At Nos. 35-38 stood Shaftesbury House, built around 1644 by Inigo Jones. It was demolished in 1882.
No. 134 for many years had a sign claiming: "This was Shakespeare's House". Although the building was very close to the nearby Fortune Playhouse, there is no documentary evidence surviving to indicate that Shakespeare resided here; a subsidy roll from 1598 shows a "William Shakespeare" as owner of the property, but there is nothing to indicate that it is the playwright. The building no longer exists, and Barbican station now occupies the site. The nearby Shakespeare Tower is named for this (tenuous) connection. At the point where Aldersgate Street changes its name to Goswell Road there is also a public house "The Shakespeare".
Ward of Aldersgate
The ward of Aldersgate is bounded by Aldersgate Street, Beech Street, Noble Street, Angel Street, King Edward Street and Montague Street. The ward contains the western part of the Barbican Estate, which in total has about 5,000 residents, the largest resident population in the City. The remainder of the estate is within Cripplegate ward.
Adjacent to the modern roundabout on the site of the Aldersgate is the former headquarters of the General Post Office (closed in 1910 and demolished shortly afterwards), and the adjoining Postman's Park. The southern part of the roundabout and the northern part of where the Post Office once stood are located on the site of a collegiate church and sanctuary founded in 750 by Withu, King of Kent, hugely expanded in 1056 by Ingebrian, Earl of Essex, and issued with a royal charter in 1068 by William the Conqueror. The site of the church was cleared in 1818 in preparation for the construction of the Post Office.
Most of the buildings on Aldersgate Street were destroyed or badly damaged in World War II. The entire length of the eastern side of the street is now occupied by the 40-acre (162,000m²) Barbican residential and arts complex.
In May 1738, clergyman John Wesley attended a meeting of the Moravians in Aldersgate Street. While attending the meeting, he underwent a profound religious experience, describing it in his journal thus:
"In the evening I went unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther's preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter to nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation, and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine and saved me from the law of sin and death."
This moment was for Wesley an awakening to the assurance found in salvation by grace alone and has been referred to by scholars as a defining moment in the Methodist movement.
In 1739 Wesley broke with the Moravians and founded the Methodist Society of England. In the following years, the Methodist church spread rapidly, becoming one of the most influential Christian denominations in the world, particularly in the United States and the British Empire. A memorial at the believed site of the Moravian chapel (its exact address is not known, but it is believed to have been at 28 Aldersgate Street) marks the site of the meeting, and Wesley's Chapel in nearby City Road remains a major focal point of the international Methodist movement.
Aldersgate is one of 25 wards of the City of London, each electing an alderman to the Court of Aldermen and commoners (the City equivalent of a councillor) to the Court of Common Council of the City of London Corporation. Only electors who are Freemen of the City of London are eligible to stand.
- List of demolished buildings and structures in London
- Fortifications of London
- City gate
- City wall
- Mills, A.D. (2010). A Dictionary of London Place-Names. Oxford University Press. p. 4. ISBN 9780199566785.
- A Topographical Dictionary of England, Samuel Lewis, 1831, p 134
- Daniel Hahn, ‘Crofts, Elizabeth (b. c.1535)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 7 Dec 2014
- John Wesley's Heart Strangely Warmed, www.christianity.com
- Quakers Around Shoreditch (Andrew Roberts, ed.) accessed 10 Oct 2006
- Williams, Hywel (2004). "Renamed Stations". London Underground History. Retrieved 2007-05-10.
- "Aldersgate". British History Online. Retrieved 2012-04-10.
- Winter, William (1910). Seeing Europe with Famous Authors: Literary Shrines of London. London: Moffat, Yard & Co.
- "Aldersgate Street and St Martin-le-Grand". Old and New London (Centre for Metropolitan History) 2: 208–28. 1878. Retrieved 2007-05-10.
- "History of the Barbican Estate". City of London Corporation. Archived from the original on 15 March 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-10.
- "History of the Church". The Methodist Church of Great Britain. 2007. Archived from the original on 16 April 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-10.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Aldersgate Street.|
- City of London Corporation Map of Aldersgate ward (2003 —)
- 1772 map of Aldersgate ward showing its precincts
- Historic map showing the ward of Aldersgate, its two divisions and the liberty of St Martins
- 18th century map showing the location of the gate (towards the bottom right corner)
- Map of Early Modern London: Aldersgate Ward - Historical Map and Encyclopedia of Shakespeare's London (Scholarly)
- Aldersgate Ward Club - A Social Club based in the City of London