Basing Lane ran west from Bow Lane to Bread Street. The part from Bow Lane to the back door of the Red Lion (in Watling Street) lay in Cordwainer Street Ward, and the rest in Breadstreet Ward. Stow did not know the derivation of the street’s name, but suggested it had been called the Bakehouse in the fourteenth century,
whether ment for the Kings bakehouse, or of bakers dwelling there, and baking bread to serue the market in Bredstreete, where the bread was sold, I know not(Stow).
A significant landmark on Basing Lane was the hostelry called Gerrard’s Hall
of a Gyant sayd to haue dwelled there(Stow). In the hall of the building, partly subdivided by Stow’s day into separate rooms, stood a pole nearly forty feet in length and fifteen inches in diameter (in compass, as Stow says), and a ladder nearly as long. Stow recounts the legend that the pole was Gerrard the Giant’s stave,
vsed in the warres to runne withall,but then points out that the name is likely a corruption of Gysors Hall, from John Gisors (Mayor in 1245) and his descendants who owned the hall. Stow solemnly discredits the myth of the giant by pointing out that the doors were too small for a giant:
Out of this Gisors hall, at the first building thereof, were made diuers arched doors, yet to be seene, which seeme not sufficient for any great monster, or other then men of common stature to passe through(Stow). Of the pole and ladder, he suggests that
the pole in the hall might be vsed of old time (as then the custome was in euery parish) to be set vp in the Summer as May-Pole, before the principall house in the Parrish or Streete, and to stand in the hall before the scrine, decked with holme & Iuy, all the feast of Christmas. The ladder serued for the decking of the may-pole, and roofe of the hall(Stow).
- 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.]
Last modification: 2016-05-27 14:37:29 -0700 (Fri, 27 May 2016) (tlandels)