Starting from yesterday (today’s event in history will follow later) and working back to the 23rd, which is when the last post went up:
Becket was born at the Cheapside end of Ironmonger Lane, known as ‘Ysmongeres Lane’ around the turn of the 12th century and the haunt of ironmongers. The Ironmongers Company had their original hall here until the 15th century, when they acquired buildings in Fenchurch Street and moved there, along with most of the ironmongers.
Becket was baptised in a church in Old Jewry, St Mary Colechurch. (For more information on Old Jewry, see the 25 December entry below.)
This was not the first time such as event had occurred in London: in 1952 London experienced the Great Smog, and as early as 1661 the burning of seacoal was such a problem that the diarist John Evelyn wrote a pamphlet about it – the Fumifugium – thought to be one of the earliest treatises on air pollution.
Gray’s ‘Elegy’ is considered to be one of the most widely quoted poems in the English language. One of the famous lines from this poem gave Thomas Hardy the title of one of his books: “Far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife”.
In the reign of Richard I, the anti-semitism, as portrayed by Shakespeare in The Merchant of Venice, began to take hold. Many of the Jews were murdered and their homes destroyed. The next king – John – developed a dislike for the Jewish money lenders when they couldn’t supply him with substantial enough loans , while Henry III carried on the tradition of anti-semitism by making all Jews wear white linen squares. Edward I changed the colour of these squares from white to yellow, banned the financiers from lending money and charging interest, and finally expelled all Jews from the country in 1291.
The Jewish settlement in the City of London was then destroyed and the street that ran through it was renamed Old Jewry.
The street is named for Richard Pace, acknowledged as his contemporaries as “an amiable and accomplished man”. He was a diplomatist and dean of St Paul’s, as well as chief personal secretary to Henry VIII. Pace held several church appointments, including one of his earliest as secretary to Bishop Bainbridge who was murdered in Italy. It was his loyalty to the bishop and his attempts to discover the identity of the murderer which first brought him to the attention of the king and Cardinal Wolsey (whose admiration later allegedly turned to resentment).
Pace’s health and success in diplomacy failed him in later life – among his less successful efforts were trips back and forth to Italy in order to argue the case for Wolsey’s papacy every time a pope died.
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