Cornhill was part of the city’s main major east-west thoroughfare that divided the northern half of London from the southern half. The part of this thoroughfare named Cornhill extended from St. Andrew Undershaft to the three-way intersection of Threadneedle, Poultry, and Cornhill where the Royal Exchange was built. The name Cornhill preserves a memory both of the cornmarket that took place in this street , and of the topography of the site upon which the Roman city of Londinium was built. Cornhill was the original corn market of London and was the only one allowed to operate after noon (Sugden 131). The Romans constructed their fortress on the north side of the Thames because the natural topography boasted two hills rising to the two
extensive plateauxlater named Ludgate Hill and Cornhill (Sheppard 21) whereas the south side of the Thames consisted of the marshy mudflats typical of a tidal river. Ludgate Hill and Cornhill were bisected by the Walbrook River. Harben writes that
[i]n early times, and so late as the 16th century, Cornhill seems to have extended further east and to have included part of Leadenhall Street to Lime Street to St. Andrew Undershaft(Harben; BHO).
Cornhill also held much literary importance. Sugden writes that Cornhill is mentioned in numerous texts, citing texts as early as Piers Plowman (
Ich wonede on Cornehulle [...]) and John Lydgate’s poem
Then into Corn-hyl anon I rode [...]). Sugden also lists Jonson’s The Staple of News, The Devil is an Ass and Dekker’s The Shoemaker’s Holiday.1
Cornhill still exists in modern London.
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- Harben, Henry. A Dictionary of London. London: Henry Jenkins, 1918. British History Online. Reprint. Open.
- Sheppard, Francis. London: A History. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1998.
- Sugden, Edward. A Topographical Dictionary to the Works of Shakespeare and His Fellow Dramatists. Manchester: Manchester UP, 1925..
Last modification: 2016-07-13 14:18:57 -0700 (Wed, 13 Jul 2016) (jtakeda)