Gates of the City

Gates of the City
   According to Stow these were originally four in number, Aldgate, Aldersgate, Ludgate, and Bridgegate, and Roach Smith is of opinion that these were the four gates in the later Roman wall encircling the City and that the others were merely postern gates. However this may be, it is certain from recent discoveries and excavations that there was a gate of Roman construction at Newgate. Bishopsgate and Cripplegate must have been in existence from early times, as the two latter are mentioned in Ethelred's Londonia Institutae, c. 1000, and when Fitz Stephen wrote in 1174 he mentions seven double gates in the wall, which must have included Bridgegate, although he does not give the names. It seems doubtful whether Bridgegate was in existence in Roman times, and if the Wall of London was continued originally along the southern side of the City on the banks of the Thames it is probable that Billingsgate would have been the fourth and southern gate in the wall, although later, after the disappearance of the wall, it is only alluded to as a quay and watergate to the Thames.
   The Letter Books of the City contain various ordinances for watching and keeping the gates, which duties were entrusted to the various wards, so many sharing the charge of a gate amongst them, and appointing men to keep guard over them. The gates enumerated in the ordinances of 1311 are as follows :
   "Ludegate," "Newegate," "Aldresgate," "Crepelgate," "Bisshopesgate," "Alegate," and the "Bridge gate." They were to be closed at night at the beginning of curfew being rung at St. Martin's le Grand, and the wickets were then to be opened, and at the last stroke of curfew the wickets were to be closed and were not to be opened afterwards that night unless by special precept of the Mayor or Aldermen.
   Besides the double gates there were posterns in the City Wall, as at the Tower and Aldermanbury (q.v.).
   Moorgate was opened as a postern in 1415, and Strype mentions a Postern made opposite Winchester Street in 1636 ; one opposite Aldermanbury, 1655 ; one opposite Bassishaw Street soon after.
   Gates pulled down by Monk 1659-60, and to be re-edified at the public charge (H. MSS. Com. 7th Rep. 462).
   The gates were finally removed in 1760-1.
   For further particulars See separate notices under their respective names.

A Dictionary of London. . 1918.

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