Old London Map c1572.  Franz Hogenberg

And so Dear Reader, we are going to take a break from murderous queens, scheming duchesses,  bad kings, good kings, missing royal children and silly bishops.  We are going to take a look at London’s Old Gates.  Where were they positioned, how many were there, and what become of them?  Part of the old Roman and Medieval London Wall they were once the only exits and entrances into old London, unless of course you were leaving or arriving via old London Bridge although there were smaller posterns here and there for pedestrians.  How did they they manage to survive and contain what would appear was  an unstoppable ever growing population? Well up until the late 16th century as can be seen by the map above late medieval London was still pretty much contained by its old walls but by the mid 18th century the Gates were destroyed in order to facilitate the widening of roads etc.,  Ah …. I understand it had to be but still, it makes the heart weep a little to think of these grand old Gates totally and utterly destroyed.  

There were seven gates – in no particular order….


Moor Gate.  Medieval.    Originally a small postern gate.    This was demolished in 1415 and Thomas Falconer, mayor,   caused London Wall to be breached near Coleman Street and a new postern to be  built to allow pedestrians to ‘walk by causeways out to the hamlets of Isledon (Islington) and Hoxteth (1).  Repaired in 1472 by William Hampton,  fishmonger and mayor,  the postern  was enlarged,  and  made higher so that the trained bands could march through with their pikes upright (2).  This was  after there were a couple of instances of eyes getting poked out – I made this last bit up but you never know!.     In June 1483  Richard of Gloucester, later Richard III  probably went through the Moor Gate to review his northern troops after their arrival and when they were encamped in the open fields between Moorfields and Holywell Priory (3).   After it was demolished in 1762 the stones were used to prevent London Bridge been washed away by the tide.

Stood approximately near the junction of Coleman Street and London Wall.

Moorgate c1483.  From the Copperplate map.  Drawn by Julian Rowe.  Illustration from Richard III The Road to Bosworth.  P W Hammond & Anne F Sutton


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