St Paul's Churchyard

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Detail of the Rocque map of London featuring St Paul's Churchyard

St Paul's Churchyard is an area immediately around St Paul's Cathedral in the City of London. It included St Paul's Cross and Paternoster Row. It became one of the principal marketplaces in London. St Paul's Cross was an open-air pulpit from which many of the most important statements on the political and religious changes brought by the Reformation were made public during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Only one execution is recorded as taking place in St Paul's Churchyard; that of Henry Garnet, one of those found guilty of the Gunpowder plot.[1]

Book trade[edit]

With the advent of printing, St Paul's Churchyard quickly became the centre of the book trade in England (later moving to nearby Paternoster Row).[2] Originally it was dominated by foreign booksellers. Richard III's only parliament of 1484 passed the act which encouraged them to do business in London. Despite other protectionist measures, the king personally intervened that printers and booksellers were exempt from these.[3]

It was also referenced by Alexander Pope in a famous passage from An Essay on Criticism, lines 622–625:[4]

"No place so sacred from such fops is barred,
Nor is Paul's church more safe than Paul's churchyard:
Nay, fly to altars; there they'll talk you dead:
For fools rush in where angels fear to tread."


  1. ^ "St Paul's: The churchyard". British History Online. Retrieved 27 September 2020.
  2. ^ Carlone, Dominic (2016). "Bookselling at Paul's Churchyard". University of Vicyoria. Retrieved 27 September 2020.
  3. ^ Kleineke, Hannes (26 March 2015). "Richard III and the Parliament of 1484". The History of Parliament. The History of Parliament. Retrieved 28 September 2020.
  4. ^ Alexander Pope: An Essay on Criticism Norton Anthology of English Literature, 7th edition, Volume 1