History Of Broad Street Ward

The Ward of Broad Street

By Archie D Galloway, CC



When it comes to people counting, a lot of it goes on in Broad Street.  With The Stock Exchange (entirely), The Bank of England (mostly) and The Royal Exchange, home of The London International Financial Futures Exchange (about half) within its boundaries, there has to be.  Broad Street is one of 25 Wards that make up the City of London each one of which has an Alderman and it is one of their number who is elected Lord Mayor every year.  The Alderman for Broad Street was elected Lord Mayor on the 29th September this year and took office yesterday.

It could be said that Sir Christopher Collett’s position as one of 25 Members of the Court of Aldermen represents an early example of proportional representation.  His Ward extends to 27 acres and, as all true City cognoscenti know, the Square Mile extends to 677 acres.  The Ward therefore occupies one twenty-fifth of the total area of the City.

Famous Aldermen for the Ward

In ancient times the Aldermen gave their names to the Wards which they represented but in 1293 there was a reference to “Bradestreete”.  There is also evidence of “The Ward of Lodingeberi” (now Lothbury) and there is a record of 1308 of the Ward as Broad Street and Lothbury.  Exactly when Broad Street became the undisputed name of the Ward is uncertain but, as a thoroughfare, it certainly had greater importance than Lothbury.  There is a continuous record of Aldermen for the Ward since 1278 when William Bukerel assumed office.  His name lives on in Bucklersbury, the thoroughfare connecting Cheapside to Walbrook to this day.  He died in the year he took office and since then there have been 121 Aldermen for the Ward up to and including Sir Christopher Collett, who was elected in 1979.  Sometimes the holder has been elected more than once but, perhaps more surprisingly, many held office for a very short time, some for only a day, and were “sworn, discharged and fined”.  Departures from office often make interesting reading.  Henry Nasard was discharged in 1322 for “being in the service of the King and not having sufficient leisure”.  Richard Lyons was “deprived for malversation” (professional or public misconduct) on the 1st August 1376.  Anthony Ratclyffe “surrendered” on the 1st July 1596 and Kenelm White was “discharged, not being worth £10,000” on the 26th June, 1672.

Until the middle of the 17th century it seems to have been frequent practice for Aldermen to move from Ward to Ward and one who left this was is now renowned worldwide as Dick Whittington.  Richard Whytyngdone took office in Broad Street in 1393 and became Mayor when Richard II appointed him to succeed Adam Baume who died in office in 1397.  Unfortunately for Broad Street, when Dick Whittington was elected Mayor in his own right for the following year, he transferred to Lime Street Ward where he stayed and was again elected Mayor in 1406 and 1419.

The Livery Companies

The principal Livery Company in Broad Street Ward is the Worshipful Company of Drapers whose full title is “The Master and Wardens and Brethren and Sisters of the Guild of Fraternity of the Blessed Mary The Virgin of The Mystery of Drapers of The City of London”.  They are one of The Great Twelve Companies and tank third in order of precedence.  The Company, whose members dealt in woollen cloth, dates from the 12th century and received a Royal Charter from Edward III in 1364 which still exists.  It was granted a coat of arms in 1439 which is reputedly the oldest grant still in existence.  They run Howells and Bancroft schools and are heavily involved with Queen Mary’s College, London University.

Next in order of precedence comes The Merchant Taylor’s Company which is also one of The Great Twelve but who alternate annually with The Skinner’s Company.  (This was the result of arbitration by Sir Robert Billesden, Lord Mayor in 1484, to a quarrel over precedence which gave rise to the expression “to be at sixes and sevens”.)  Their Hall stands in Threadneedle Street – and for a very good reason for the Company’s coat of arms includes three needles which gave the street its name.  The Company have had Halls here since 1347 and are very proud of the Great Kitchen which has been in continuous use since 1425.  They run Merchant Taylors School at Northwood and take an interest in Merchant Taylors School and School for Girls in Crosby and Wolverhampton Grammar School which were all founded by past members.

The third Livery Company is that of the Carpenters, which is 26th in order of precedence.  A “Master Carpenter” is recorded as early as 1271 and the company’s ordinances date from 1333.  Their first hall was built in 1428 on land rented at twenty shillings a year from the hospital of St Mary, Bishopsgate.  The freehold was purchased by Thomas Smart, a carpenter, who bequeathed it to the company in 1519.  It has remained the site of successive halls including the present one dating from 1960.

The Master is an honorary member of The Carpenters Company of The City and County of Philadelphia founded in 1724 and the President in Philadelphia is an honorary liveryman in London.  The company founded the Building Crafts Training School in Great Titchfield Street, some of whose pupils have built the Broad Street Ward Club float in today’s procession.

The Churches

All Hallows-on-the-Wall

The only church of England entirely in the Ward is All-Hallows London Wall or, as it is also known, All-Hallows-on-the-Wall.  The present building dates from the 18th century; its predecessor avoided the Great Fire of 1666 but age and its state of disrepair necessitated its replacement.  The winner of the trustees’ competition in 1765 was a 24-year old recently qualified architect by the name of George Dance with a figure of £3,000.  (The losing contenders received compensation of 5 guineas each.)  At the time, Dance’s father, George Dance Senior, was Clerk of the City’s Works and had been the architect of the Mansion House, completed some twelve years earlier.  All-Hallows was the start of a remarkable career for Dance the Younger (he died in 1825 having been Clerk of the City’s Works since his father’s death in 1768 and a founder member of the Royal Academy).

Among a succession of long-lasting and famous rectors was Samuel John Stone who in January 1899 noticed that large numbers of women who were arriving very early in the morning at Broad Street and Liverpool Street stations in order to use cheap workers tickets, had nowhere to go until their places of work opened up.  He decided to open the church at 6:30 am to offer warmth and shelter to these ladies and this action was continued by his successor until the First World War when the concessionary fares were withdrawn.

On the 3rd September 1940, All-Hallows became the first City church to suffer from incendiary bombs and it was severely damaged again in 1941 which resulted in it being left in ruins for the best part of 20 years.  The church was rededicated in July 1962 and from the date it has been the headquarters of the Council for the Care of Churches which is responsible for some 17,000 buildings of extraordinary age and diversity, as well as for their contents.  The nave houses the extensive library of the Council which has as a secondary activity the encouragement of contemporary arts, skills and crafts.

St Margaret Lothbury

The bulk of the Ward lies within the Parish of St Margaret Lothbury; a church that straddles the boundary with the Ward of Coleman Street and is the Ward church of both St Margarets was destroyed in 1666 by The Great Fire and replaced by the present building by Wren in 1690; the spire was completed in 1700.

As a Wren church, St Margarets has been singularly lucky in containing so much of the original furniture from his time, much of it obtained from other churches which have disappeared and much of it reputed to have come from the workshops of Grinling Gibbons and all of which is lovingly cared for and maintained in true ship-shape and Bristol fashion by the Rector Reverend Chandos Morgan, who is the new Lord Mayor’s chaplain, and his team.

The small churchyard behind the church and between the Bank of England Staff Club and Brown Shipley’s headquarters in Founders Court is one of the few quiet “oases” in the centre of the City and it is here that Reginald Coleman, who gave his name to the street and to the Ward, was buried in 1483.

The Dutch Church

The Dutch, and originally other Continentals, have had a religious presence in the Ward since their Protestant refugees were given the site in Austin Friars by Edward VI in 1550 and it has remained a very strong cultural link for them in London.  One of their most treasured possessions is King Edward’s Charter which was issued on the 24th July 1550.  It stipulates certain rules and regulations for the church and contains the instruction that it should be called Templum Domini Jesu (Temple of the Lord Jesus).

Enemy action in October 1940 completely destroyed the church, but a new church was designed by Arthur Bailey; the most notable external features are the three Royal ciphers in the west wall of Queens Wilhelmina and Juliana flanking that of King George VI.  The foundation stone was laid by Princess Irene of the Netherlands on the 23rd July 1950, the 400th anniversary of the original Charter.

The Royal Exchange

The Royal Exchange has the longest history but has the most recent occupant of the three financial institutional headquarters in the Ward.  It was first built as The Exchange by Sir Thomas Gresham, a prominent City Merchant who founded the college bearing his name, and was opened by Queen Elizabeth when she pronounced it The Royal Exchange.  His building perished in the Great Fire in 1666 and was replaced three years later by a building designed by Edward Jerman, the Clerk of the City’s Works.  This second exchange was also destroyed by fire in 1838, and the present structure was designed by Sir William Tite.  Later additions were made in the 1880s and the whole building is now due to undergo extensive refurbishment by the occupants of the upper part, Guardian Royal Exchange Assurance plc.

The ground floor is occupied by The London International Financial Futures Exchange which was set up in 1983 and trades in various currencies including sterling.  The traders are easily recognised by their colourful blazers, worn to distinguish those of the different member firms.

Outside, and facing the Mansion House, is Sir Francis Chantrey’s statue of the Duke of Wellington on horseback.  It is famous for the unusual feature of the rider without stirrups.

The Stock Exchange

The Stock Exchange has a long history, Members having been banned from The Royal Exchange late in the 17th century, they concentrated south of Cornhill around Change Alley in coffee shops such as Jonathan’s and Garroway’s.  In about 1770 they built their own New Jonathan’s Subscription Room in Threadneedle Street, which, in 1773, was renamed The Stock Exchange.  This had been outgrown by the turn of the 18th century and they moved to larger premises in Capel Court, part of the present site, in 1802.  This building was enlarged in 1854 and in 1884.  In 1961 it was decided to replace this complex on a phased basis and today’s 26 storey building, opened in 1972, is the result.

Much has changed in the sixteen years since then and the trading floor, following the “Big Bang” is now mostly used for Traded Options, which are dealt with by “open outcry” rather than by telephone.

Bank of England

The most famous of the financial institutions must be the Bank of England which was established by a Scotsman, William Paterson in 1694 at the instigation of King William III and Parliament who needed to obtain £1,200,000 to maintain our army in Flanders fighting the French.  The necessary funds were raised by public subscription within a matter of days.  The Bank moved into its own premises on part of its present site in 1734 in a building designed by George Sampson.  After various additions and extensions it was replaced in 1788 to the designs of Sir John Soane which embraced the present site of virtually three acres with the former churchyard of St Christopher-le-Stocks at its centre.  Apart from its outside walls which are still retained (without windows for added security) the building was replaced by the present complex to the designs of Sir Herbert Baker between 1925 and 1939.  One continuing tradition is the uniform of the gatekeepers who wear pink tailcoats, red waistcoats and black top hats.

There are a number of stories telling how the Bank got its nickname of “The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street”.  One says that it resulted from Sheridan’s remark in Parliament describing the Bank as “an elderly lady in the City of great credit and long standing”.  Another is from a political cartoon by James Gillray showing William Pitt, as Prime Minister, trying to acquire the Bank’s stock of gold from an old lady sitting on a locked chest which he titled “Political Ravishment or The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street in Danger”.  The third version is the one which followed the conviction and execution of a Bank employee named Philip Whitehead for forgery.  His sister had refused to believe what had happened and used to call frequently at the Bank asking for her brother and this she kept up into her old age and therefore it is claimed that she, rather than the Bank, earned the title.

The Ward Club

Apart from the need for a friendly or residents’ association to amplify the work of members of Common Council, Ward Clubs in general may well have had their origins in the Volunteer Forces that were raised towards the end of the 18th century to deal with a possible French invasion.  These local units were formed all over London and South East England and those in the City of London were Ward-based.  Broad Street was no exception and their Volunteers were formed in November 1797 under Alderman Richard Clarke when they resolved “that they should not accept pay, and provide clothes, arms and accoutrements at their individual expense, and serve within the City of London only, unless by their own consent”.

Very little is known of their progress, but there was no evidence of them by 1976 then, on the 19th October at Carpenter’s Hall at the instigation of Alderman Sir Hugh Wontner, the Common Councilmen for the Ward and a number of electors decided to form a Ward Club.  The first formal meeting was held on 16th February 1977 when the Alderman was elected President and the first Secretary was Councilman Christopher Collett.  It resolved unanimously “that a Ward Club be formed for the Ward of Broad Street, having for its objects the fostering of interest and support for the welfare and traditions of the City of London and of the Ward of Broad Street in particular by means of social functions and other activities as may be thought desirable”.  Following Sir Hugh’s retirement as Alderman in 1979 Christopher Collett, as he then was, was elected in his place as Alderman and subsequently as President of the Club, which now has over 200 members.

More References

“London – City” by Sir Walter Besant, Adam & Charles Black (1910) – www.gutenberg.org/files/58834/58834-h/58834-h.htm