Above: The two wards of Broad Street and Coleman Street that make up the ‘Broad Street’ area of study. They are plotted onto the modern street map with part of the City boundary shown by a thin red line.
The two wards in this overview extend over a part of the City of London that is probably least known to many people. Common tourist activities in the City are to visit St Paul’s Cathedral; visit the Guildhall; visit the Museum of London; take the Thames path and walk beside the river anywhere between Blackfriars Bridge and the Tower of London. None of those activities will take you to the two wards under consideration here. In simple terms, these two wards lie to the west of Bishopsgate (Street) and extend inside and outside the line of the old Roman Wall of the City.
Probably the most obvious feature of this part of the City – so obvious that few people ever notice it – is how few streets there are when compared with other parts of the City. Working west from Old Broad Street), there was no N-S street in medieval times until you reached Colemen Street. Princes Street is not mentioned in any historical documents until 1666 and was not laid out in a straight line from the eastern end of Poultry (as it is today) until 1824 when the Bank of England was enlarged. While on the subject of streets, the thoroughfare called Moorgate only came into existence in 1840, taking its name from the old medieval gate. Until that date, northbound traffic travelling through the gate reached Moorgate (Gate) via Coleman Street.
Please note that when describing the Wards in the City of London, this Website continues to follow the original boundaries (before they were changed in 2003).
Broad Street Ward
Broad Street Ward takes its name from Broad Street (now called Old Broad Street) and lies within the line of the old Roman Wall. The Stock Exchange was established within the ward and remained one of its main features of the ward until recent times. It was not until 2004 that the Stock Exchange moved from near the Bank of England to new premises on the north side of Paternoster Square. Of course, the ward can still boast being the home of the Bank of England.
In medieval times there were several parish churches within the ward. Today, only one is left – All Hallows, London Wall – but it is no longer in use as a church. An unusual place of worship in the ward was the French Church which, after occupying a site in Threadneedle Street for a couple of centuries, its successor is to be found much further west, in Soho Square. Another fine and historic building is the Dutch Church which was established in Austin Friars and remains there today.
For City Companies the count has reached seven – (1) The Worshipful Company of Carpenters at Carpenters’ Hall, in Throgmorton Avenue, who became the 26th Livery Company in 1477. Within that hall are also (2) The Worshipful Company of Plumbers who became the 31st Livery Company in 1365 and (3) The Worshipful Company of Clockmakers who became the 61st Livery Company in 1631. (4) The Worshipful Company of Drapers, stand on the north side of Throgmorton Avenue. They are one of the 12 Great Livery Companies – at Number 3. (5) The Worshipful Company of Merchant Taylors’ Hall stands on the south side of Threadneedle Street. They are also one of the 12 Great Livery Companies. Their number is either sixth or seventh – alternated each year with the Skinners’ Company. (6) The Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers is to be found at Furniture Makers’ Hall, at Austin Friars. They became the 83rd Livery Company in 1963. (6) The Worshipful Company of International Bankers share the same building and became the 106th Livery Company in 2004.
Moving into more modern times, one of the City’s earliest tower blocks actually stands on the site of Gresham House. It is, of course, the Nat West Tower which was later renamed Tower 42. It has always been one of the City’s most recognisable tower blocks. Its main entrance is on the east side of Old Broad Street.
The information above is only a small fraction of the vast history that relates to the Broad Street Ward. At one time there was a large religious house – Austin Friars Priory. Thomas Gresham lived in the ward and built an enormous house in which Gresham College was established – the first institution of higher learning in London.
Coleman Street Ward
Coleman Street Ward takes its name from Coleman Street – running almost N-S near the east side of Guildhall. This ward extends north of the original line of the Roman Wall. Within the modern boundary of the ward is a railway terminus. Not to be confused with Liverpool Street Station, this one is deep under the ground – it is Moorgate Station. As well as being an underground station, it is also a railway station, albeit much smaller than Liverpool Street Station. If it ever happens, it will also be an interchange with the ill-fated Crossrail project (or Elizabeth Line).
The ward had three parish churches at one time. It now has one – St Margaret, Lothbury – a fine Wren structure, still in use as a church, standing just north of the Bank of England.
The Chartered Accountants’ Hall stands at 1 Moorgate Place. Not far away is the Armourers’ and Braziers’ Hall, standing at 81 Coleman Street. The company became the 83rd Livery Company in 1322 and have occupied the same site for just short of 700 years. Established to make metal armour for the knights of old, their craft is still very much needed today in the form of body armour for the police, the army and many other services.
City Point, the highest building in the ward, was originally called Britannic House. It had a makeover from 2001 onwards and is now a more graceful shape on the outside as well as a more modern one. However, its internal concrete and steel structure remains from the original build.
One final building to mention is a pub – Ye Olde Dr Butler’s Head – to be found in Mason’s Avenue. It is one of the more unusual City hostelries.