Picture of Paul Hentzner

Paul Hentzner

places mentioned

Arrival and London

Next Selection


We arrived at Rye, a small English seaport. Here, as soon as we came on shore, we gave in our names to the notary of the place, but not till he had demanded our business; and being answered, that we had none but to see England, we were conducted to an inn, where we were very well entertained; as one generally is in this country.

We took post-horses for London: it is surprising how swiftly they run; their bridles are very light, and their saddles little more than a span over.

Flimwell, a village: here we returned our first horses, and mounted fresh ones.

We passed through Tunbridge, another village.

Chepstead, another village: here, for the second time, we changed horses.

London, the head and metropolis of England: called by Tacitus, Londinium; by Ptolemy, Logidinium; by Ammianus Marcellinus, Lundinium; by foreigners, Londra, and Londres; it is the seat of the British Empire, and the chamber of the English kings. This most ancient city is the the county of Middlesex, the fruitfullest and wholesomest soil in England. It is built on the river Thames, sixty miles from the sea, and was originally founded, as all historians agree, by Brutus, who, coming from Greece into Italy, thence into Africa, next into France, and last into Britain, chose this situation for the convenience of the river, calling it Troja Nova, which name was afterwards corrupted into Trinovant. But when Lud, the brother of Cassibilan, or Cassivelan, who warred against Julius Caesar, as he himself mentions (lib. v. de Bell. Gall.), came to the crown, he encompassed it with very strong walls, and towers very artfully constructed, and from his own name called it Caier Lud, I.E., Lud's City. This name was corrupted into that of Caerlunda, and again in time, by change of language, into Londres. Lud, when he died, was buried in this town, near that gate which is yet called in Welsh, Por Lud—in Saxon, Ludesgate.

The famous river Thames owes part of its stream, as well as its appellation, to the Isis; rising a little above Winchelcomb, And being increased with several rivulets, unites both its waters and its name to the Thame, on the other side of Oxford; thence, after passing by London, and being of the utmost utility, from its greatness and navigation, it opens into a vast arm of the sea, from whence the tide, according to Gemma Frisius, flows and ebbs to the distance of eighty miles, twice in twenty-five hours, and, according to Polydore Vergil, above sixty miles twice in twenty-four hours.

This city being very large of itself, has very extensive suburbs, and a fort called the Tower, of beautiful structure. It is magnificently ornamented with public buildings and churches, of which there are above one hundred and twenty parochial.

On the south is a bridge of stone eight hundred feet in length, of wonderful work; it is supported upon twenty piers of square stone, sixty feet high and thirty broad, joined by arches of about twenty feet diameter. The whole is covered on each side with houses so disposed as to have the appearance of a continued street, not at all of a bridge.

Upon this is built a tower, on whose top the heads of such as have been executed for high treason are placed on iron spikes: we counted above thirty.

Paulus Jovius, in his description of the most remarkable towns in England, says all are obscured by London: which, in the opinion of many, is Caesar's city of the Trinobantes, the capital of all Britain, famous for the commerce of many nations; its houses are elegantly built, its churches fine, its towns strong, and its riches and abundance surprising. The wealth of the world is wafted to it by the Thames, swelled by the tide, and navigable to merchant ships through a safe and deep channel for sixty miles, from its mouth to the city: its banks are everywhere beautified with fine country seats, woods, and farms; below is the royal palace of Greenwich; above, that of Richmond; and between both, on the west of London, rise the noble buildings of Westminster, most remarkable for the courts of justice, the parliament, and St. Peter's church, enriched with the royal tombs. At the distance of twenty miles from London is the castle of Windsor, a most delightful retreat of the Kings of England, as well as famous for several of their tombs, and for the ceremonial of the Order of the Garter. This river abounds in swans, swimming in flocks: the sight of them, and their noise, are vastly agreeable to the fleets that meet them in their course. It is joined to the city by a bridge of stone, wonderfully built; is never increased by any rains, rising only with the tide, and is everywhere spread with nets for taking salmon and shad. Thus far Paulus Jovius.

Polydore Vergil affirms that London has continued to be a royal city, and the capital of the kingdom, crowded with its own inhabitants and foreigners, abounding in riches, and famous for its great trade, from the time of King Archeninus, or Erchenvinus. Here the kings are crowned, and solemnly inaugurated, and the council of the nation, or parliament, is held. The government of the city is lodged, by ancient grant of the Kings of Britain, in twenty-four aldermen—that is, seniors: these annually elect out of their own body a mayor and two sheriffs, who determine causes according to municipal laws. It has always had, as indeed Britain in general has, a great number of men of learning, much distinguished for their writings.

The walls are pierced with six gates, which, as they were rebuilt, acquired new names. Two look westward:

  1. Ludgate, the oldest, so called from King Lud, whose name is yet to be seen, cut in the stone over the arch on the side; though others imagine it rather to have been named Fludgate, from a stream over which it stands, like the Porta Fluentana at Rome. It has been lately repaired by Queen Elizabeth, whose statue is placed on the opposite side. And,
  2. Newgate, the best edifice of any; so called from being new built, whereas before it was named Chamberlain gate. It is the public prison.

On the north are four:

  1. Aldersgate, as some think from alder trees; as others, from Aldericius, a Saxon.
  2. Cripplegate, from a hospital for the lame.
  3. Moorgate, from a neighbouring morass, now converted into a field, first opened by Francetius1 the mayor, A.D. 1414.
  4. And Bishopsgate, from some bishop: this the German merchants of the Hans society were obliged by compact to keep in repair, and in times of danger to defend. They were in possession of a key to open or shut it, so that upon occasion they could come in, or go out, by night or by day.

There is only one to the east:

Aldgate, that is, Oldgate, from its antiquity; though others think it to have been named Elbegate.

Several people believe that there were formerly two gates (besides that to the bridge) towards the Thames.

  1. Billingsgate, now a cothon, or artificial port, for the reception of ships.
  2. Dourgate, VULGO Dowgate, I.E., Water-gate.

The cathedral of St. Paul was founded by Ethelbert, King of the Saxons, and being from time to time re-edified, increased to vastness and magnificence, and in revenue so much, that it affords a plentiful support to a bishop, dean, and precentor, treasurer, four archdeacons, twenty-nine prebendaries, and many others. The roof of this church, as of most others in England, with the adjoining steeple, is covered with lead.

On the right side of the choir is the marble tomb of Nicholas Bacon, with his wife. Not far from this is a magnificent monument, ornamented with pyramids of marble and alabaster, with this inscription:

Sacred to the memory of

Sir Christopher Hatton, son of William, grandson of John, of the most ancient family of the Hattons; one of the fifty gentlemen pensioners to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth: Gentleman of the privy chamber; captain of the guards; one of the Privy Council, and High Chancellor of England, and of the University of Oxford: who, to the great grief of his Sovereign, and of all good men, ended this life religiously, after having lived unmarried to the age of fifty-one, at his house in Holborn, on the 20th of November, A.D. 1591.

William Hatton, knight, his nephew by his sister's side, and by adoption his son and heir, most sorrowfully raised this tomb, as a mark of his duty.

On the left hand is the marble monument of William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke, and his lady: and near it, that of John, Duke of Lancaster, with this inscription

Here sleeps in the Lord, John of Gant, so called from the city of the same name of Flanders, where he was born, fourth son of Edward the Third, King of England, and created by his father Earl of Richmond. He was thrice married; first to Blanche, daughter and heiress of Henry Duke of Lancaster; by her he received an immense inheritance, and became not only Duke of Lancaster, but Earl of Leicester, Lincoln, and Derby, of whose race are descended many emperors, kings, princes, and nobles. His second wife was Constance, who is here buried, daughter and heiress of Peter, King of Castile and Leon, in whose right he most justly2 took the style of King of Castile and Leon. She brought him one only daughter, Catherine, of whom, by Henry, are descended the Kings of Spain. His third wife was Catherine, of a knight's family, a woman of great beauty, by whom he had a numerous progeny; from which is descended, by the mother's side, Henry the Seventh, the most prudent King of England, by whose most happy marriage with Elizabeth, daughter of Edward the Fourth, of the line of York, the two royal lines of Lancaster and York are united, to the most desired tranquillity of England.

The most illustrious prince, John, surnamed Plantagenet, King of Castile and Leon, Duke of Lancaster, Earl of Richmond, Leicester, and Derby, Lieutenant of Aquitain, High Steward of England, died in the twenty-first year of Richard II., A.D. 1398.

A little farther, almost at the entrance of the choir, in a certain recess, are two small stone chests, one of which is thus inscribed:

Here lies Seba, King of the East Saxons, who was converted to the faith by St. Erkenwald, Bishop of London, A.D. 677.

On the other:

Here lies Ethelred, King of the Angles, son of King Edgar,

On whom St. Dustan is said to have denounced vengeance, on his coronation day, in the following words:— "Inasmuch as thou hast aspired to the throne by the death of thy brother, against whose blood the English, along with thy infamous mother, conspired, the sword shall not pass from thy house! but rage all the days of thy life, afflicting all thy generation, till thy kingdom shall be translated to another, whose manner and language the people under thee knoweth not. Nor shall thy sin be done away till after long chastisement, nor the sin of thy mother, nor the sin of those men who assisted in thy wicked council."

All which came to pass as predicted by the saint; for after being worsted and put to flight by Sueno King of the Danes, and his son Canute, and at last closely besieged in London, he died miserably A.D. 1017, after he had reigned thirty-six years in great difficulties.

There is besides in the middle of the church a tomb made of brass, of some Bishop of London, named William, who was in favour with Edward, King of England, and afterwards made counsellor to King William. He was bishop sixteen years, and died A.D. 1077. Near this is the following inscription:

Virtue survives the funeral.
To the memory of
Thomas Linacre, an eminent physician, John Caius placed
this monument.

On the lower part of it is this inscription in gold letters:

Thomas Linacre, physician to King Henry VIII., a man learned in the Greek and Latin languages, and particularly skilful in physick, by which he restored many from a state of languishment and despair to life. He translated with extraordinary eloquence many of Galen's works into Latin; and published, a little before his death, at the request of his friends, a very valuable book on the correct structure of the Latin tongue. He founded in perpetuity in favour of students in physick, two public lectures at Oxford, and one at Cambridge. In this city he brought about, by his own industry, the establishing of a College of Physicians, of which he was elected the first president. He was a detester of all fraud and deceit, and faithful in his friendships; equally dear to men of all ranks: he went into orders a few years before his death, and quitted this life full of years, and much lamented, A.D. 1524, on the 29th of October.

There are many tombs in this church, but without any inscriptions. It has a very fine organ, which, at evening prayer, accompanied with other instruments, is delightful.

1 His name was Sir Thomas Falconer.

2 This is not true, for her legitimacy was with good reason contested.

Paul Hentzner, Travels in England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth (London: Cassell, 1892)

Next Selection