Victorian London - Directories - Dickens's Dictionary of London, by Charles Dickens, Jr., 1879 - "St. Paul's Churchyard"

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St. Paulís Churchyard.ó In olden times St. Paulís-churchyard was one of the great business centres of London. About the church men met to discuss the doings of the day, the last piece of news from Flanders, France, or Spain,or the rumours from the country. Here the citizens gathered angrily when there was any talk of an invasion of their cherished liberties, grumbled over the benevolence demanded by his majesty for the pay of the troops engaged in the French war, or jeered at some poor wretch nailed by his ears in the pillory. Here the heralds would proclaim the news of our victories by sea and land; here the public newsmen would read out their budgets; vendors of infallible nostrums would wax eloquent as to the virtues of their wares; and the wives and daughters of the citizens would gather to gossip and flirt. It was at once the exchange, the club, and the meeting-place of London. Paulís Cross was the heart of the City; here men threw up their bonnets when they heard of Crecy and of Agincourt; here they listened to the preachings of the first followers of Wycliffe; here they erected their choicest pageants when a new sovereign visited the City for the first time, or brought his new-made spouse to show her to his lieges; and gathered with frowning brows beneath iron caps when London threw in its lot with the Parliament, and the train-bands marched off to fight the kingís forces. The business mart of the City lies now in front of the Mansion House, but a great deal of business is still done under the shadow of the Cathedral. On the south side are several very large and important warehouses while on the north are some of the largest drapers and silk-mercers in the metropolis. St. Paulís-church-yard is the only spot inside the City in which establishments of this kind are gathered, and it is almost singular, turning out of Cheapside and other thoroughfares in which very few women are to be met with, to find so large a number before the shops in the narrow footway north of St. Paulís.

Charles Dickens (Jr.), Dickens's Dictionary of London, 1879