Aldgate was the easternmost gate into the walled city. The name
Aldgateis thought to come from one of four sources: Æst geat meaning
Eastern gate(Ekwall 36), Alegate from the Old English ealu meaning
ale,Aelgate from the Saxon meaning
open to all,or Aeldgate meaning
old gate(Bebbington 20–1).
The gate was one of the four original gates in the wall that was built by the Romans in about 200 CE. In A Survey of London, John Stow remarks that Aldgate used to have two
portcloses(portcullises), but in 1598 had only one (Stow 1.29). These portcullises would have been lowered at night to protect the city. The gate itself also doubled as a residence. Geoffrey Chaucer lived above Aldgate from 1374 into the 1380s (Benson xx-xxii). In
The Manner of Her Will,poet Isabella Whitney points out that the city gates were also centres of commerce since they seem to have been a popular place for fruitsellers, or
fruit wives,to peddle their wares. She writes,
To every gate under the walls / that compass thee about, / I fruitwives leave to entertain / such as come in and out(249–52). The gate was rebuilt in 1609 to include a statue of James I and was eventually demolished in 1761 (Smith 14).
Aldgate Street was important to London because it was part of a major east-west route through the City, and Aldgate was therefore a heavily used gate.
See also: Chalfant 29.
- Bebbington, Gillian. London Street Names. London: B.T. Batsford, 1972.
- Benson, Larry D., ed. The Riverside Chaucer. 3rd ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1987.
- Chalfant, Fran C. Ben Jonson’s London: A Jacobean Placename Dictionary. Athens: U of Georgia P, 1978.
- Ekwall, Eilert. Street-Names of the City of London. Oxford: Clarendon, 1965.
- Smith, Al. Dictionary of City of London Street Names. New York: Arco, 1970.
- Stow, John. A Survey of London. Reprinted from the Text of 1603. Ed. Charles Lethbridge Kingsford. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon, 1908. [Also available as a reprint from Elibron Classics (2001). Articles written before 2011 cite from the print edition by volume and page number.]
The Manner of Her Will.The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Ed. M.H. Abrams and Stephen Greenblatt. 7th ed. 2 vols. New York: Norton, 2000. 1.606–14.
Last modification: 2016-05-27 14:37:29 -0700 (Fri, 27 May 2016) (tlandels)