The amazing web site of Shakespeare's Sonnets. Shakespeare's London. Cheapside.



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LONDON before the Great Fire


A view of Cheapside circa 1639




The monument in the centre, surmounted by a cross, was first built by Edward I (circa 1300) as a memorial to his queen. It was repaired on many occasions and latterly the statues in the niches were disfigured by puritan zealots. Elizabeth I renewed the guilded cross which surmounted it, and the railings were put round it in the time of James I. Note the large garland or bush hanging beside the sign for the Nag's Head. It was the easily recognisable symbol for an inn. The other structure to the East of the cross was probably a water conduit surmounted with a figure of fame blowing a trumpet. All this was destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1666.

The costumes are those of the Carolingean period, shortly before the civil war.





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For a more detailed view of each part of the street, click on one of the parts above for whichever section you wish to magnify.


The print shows the visit of Mary de Medici, daughter of the grand duke of Tuscany, in 1639. She was the mother of the English Queen Henrietta Maria, the wife of Charles I. She stayed in England for about two years but was generally hated by the populace as a scheming political intriguer and, being a Catholic, was suspected of desires to overthrow English Protestantism. The houses would have been mostly constructed of wood and wattle daub. They have the typical overhanging construction of the Elizabethan period, made possible by the use of oak beams. A house front of a similar style and date is kept at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Further details of the buildings are given with each individual enlargement.


The print is from Histoire de L'entree de La Reine Mere dans La Grande Bretagne, by P. de la Serre. 1639.

Re-printed in London in 1775 by W. Bowyer and J. Nichols.




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