The Stuarts


East India Company founded 1600
In 1599, when the Dutch monopoly on pepper sent the price soaring from 3 shillings to 8 shillings a pound, a group of 200 London merchants formed an association to develop their own trade with the East Indies. They raised £70,000 and the following year the Company and Merchants of London Trading with the East Indies was granted a charter. Based in Leadenhall Street their first headquarters was the house of Sir William Craven, who was Lord Mayor of London in 1610. The East India Company was to become the dominant influence in trade across south east Asia and the Indian subcontinent.

Poet John Milton born 1608
The poet and author John Milton was born in December 1608. His father, also named John, was a scrivener who lived and worked out of a house on Bread Street, where the Mermaid Tavern was located on Cheapside. Author of Paradise Lost, Milton’s views were broadly Protestant and he was an accomplished polemical writer and a civil servant in the government of Oliver Cromwell.

Civil War and Cheapside Cross 1643
As London came under Parliamentary governance and parliament ordered the removal of the symbols that remained of the old Catholic Church, including the demolition of several of the famous crosses located as markers amongst the streets of the City. On 2 May 1643 the cross in Cheapside was removed. St Paul’s Cross outside St Paul’s Cathedral was also taken down.

First London coffee house 1652
The first coffee house in London was opened in St Michael’s Alley, off Cornhill. Coffee was advertised as ‘a very good help to digestion, quickens the spirits, and is good against sore eyes’. These coffee houses were where brokers first started to meet to do business.

The Great Plague 1665
Bubonic plague struck London with full force in the summer. It quickly decimated the population, killing rich and poor. At its peak more than 7,000 died in a single week and by the end of the year it had claimed the lives of around 100,000 Londoners.

The Great Fire of London 1666
The fire, which broke out early in the morning of 2 September at the bakery of Thomas Farynor in Pudding Lane, raged for five days. In the end it was estimated to have consumed 13,200 houses, St Paul’s Cathedral, 87 churches, 6 chapels, the Guildhall, the Royal Exchange, the Custom House, 52 livery company halls, 3 gates, and 4 stone bridges.

New Temple Bar completed 1673
A new city gateway designed by Sir Christopher Wren was completed in 1673. Marking the western boundary of the City of London on the road to Westminster was the main ceremonial entrance to the City. Considered a bottleneck to traffic it was removed in 1878 by the City of London Corporation and recently restored to the south side of Paternoster Square linking the square with St Paul’s Cathedral in 2004.

Work starts, St Paul’s Cathedral 1675
Between 1670 and 1675 Christopher Wren worked on several designs for the new St Paul’s Cathedral. The first of these was accepted, but by 1672 rejected as too modest. Parliament had agreed to allow the remains of the old medieval building to be demolished. Following several variations each in turn accepted and then rejected Wren’s new design of 1675 started to take shape. Completed in 1711, 36 years later the new Cathedral proved a worthy successor to its predecessor.

The Monument completed 1677
The Monument commemorated the Great Fire. Constructed between 1671 and 1677, a Doric column of Portland stone it is 202 feet high. At the time it was the tallest freestanding stone column in Europe. Designed by Sir Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke, working both as an Architect and an Engineer Hooke was to collaborate with Wren again engineering the structure that supported the dome of St Paul’s.

First fire insurance company 1680
The ravages of the Great Fire highlighted a need for building insurance. Nicholas Barbon set up his ‘insurance office for houses’. He planned to insure up to 5,000 homes throughout the City.

Frost Fair on the Thames 1684
During the winter of 1683 from early December to the beginning of February 1684 the Thames was frozen. On occasion during winters between the 15th and 19th centuries and largely because the river’s flow was sufficiently obstructed by London Bridge the River Thames would freeze over. During this exceptionally cold winter the ice was thick enough (11 inches) to support market stalls and booths for two months. King Charles II, his family and members of the Court came to enjoy the festivities.

Edward Lloyd’s Coffee House 1688
Ship owners and maritime traders preferred coffee houses rather than taverns as suitable venues in which to conduct business. One of the most popular coffee houses proved to be Edward Lloyd’s, which opened at some point during the 1680s. The first evidence of his premises is a note in the London Gazette in February 1688/9. It became the place to carry out shipping business and spawned the modern international insurance business that is Lloyd's of London.

Bank of England founded 1694
First proposed by William Paterson in 1691, the Bank of England was founded in 1694 and granted the duties on the tonnage of ships and upon beer, ale and other liquors. First housed in Mercers’ Hall and then in the Grocers’ Hall, The Bank moved to its present site in 1734. The first Governor of the Bank was a Huguenot, Sir John Houblon.

Synagogue in Bevis Marks 1679
Near City Wall a new synagogue was established. The architectural style of the synagogue reflected a Christian nonconformist chapel. A Quaker, Joseph Avis, undertook the construction and furniture from the Cromwellian and Queen Anne period adorned the interior. Built for Spanish and Portuguese Jews, its establishment signified new acceptance of Jews in the City again, having been persecuted and banished from England by Edward I in 1290. The structure was completed and dedicated in 1702. Apart form the roof, which was replaced early on after a fire it is intact today.

St Paul’s Cathedral completed 1711
Sir Christopher Wren’s son placed the final stone of St Paul’s Cathedral in 1711. The new Cathedral had taken 36 years to build at a cost of £850,000. Most of the money had been raised by a tax on coal imports into the City.

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