“Collected by the Company of Parish-Clerks to which is added the Places to which Penny Post Letters are sent, with proper Directions therein. The Wharfs, Keys, Docks, etc. near the River Thames, of water-carriage to several Cities, Towns, etc. The Rates of Watermen, Porters of all kinds and Carmen. To what Inns Stage Coaches, Flying Coaches, Waggons and Carriers come, and the days they go out. The whole being very useful for Ladies, Gentlemen, Clergymen, Merchants, Tradesmen, Coachmen, Chair-men, Car-men, Porters, Bailiffs and others.
“London, Printed for E. Midwinter at the
Looking Glass and three Crowns in St Paul’s
[Illustration: PORTRAIT OF JOHN CLARKE, PARISH CLERK OF THE CHURCH OF ST. MICHAEL. CORNHILL]
This is a wonderfully interesting little book. Each clerk compiled the information for his own parish and appended his name. Most carefully is the information contained in the book arranged, and the volume is a most creditable production of the worshipful company.
Amongst the books preserved in the Hall is another volume, entitled “London Parishes; containing an account of the Rise, Corruption, and Reformation of the Church of England.” This was published by the parish clerks in 1824.
CLERKENWELL AND CLERKS’ PLAYS
Parish clerks are immortalised by having given their name to an important part of London. Clerkenwell is the fons clericorum of the old chronicler, Fitz-Stephen. It is the Clerks’ Well, the syllable en being the form of the old Saxon plural. Fitz-Stephen wrote in the time of King Stephen: “There are also round London on the northern side, in the suburbs, excellent springs, the water of which is sweet, clear, salubrious, ’mid glistening pebbles gliding playfully; amongst which Holywell, Clerkenwell, (fons clericorum), and St. Clement’s Well are of most note, and most frequently visited, as well by the scholars from the schools as by the youth of the City when they go out to take air in the summer evenings.”
It was then, and for centuries later, a rural spot, not far from the City, just beyond Smithfield, a place of green sward and gently sloping ground, watered by a pleasant stream, far different from the crowded streets of the modern Clerkenwell. It was a spot famous for athletic contests, for wrestling bouts and archery, and hither came the Lord Mayor, sheriffs, and aldermen at Bartholomew Fair time to witness the sports, and especially the wrestling.
[Illustration: OLD MAP OF CLERKENWELL]