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City Dog House

The City Dog House, located in northern London, was adjacent to Moorfields1 and was located outside of The Wall and the city wards.2 It was also referred to by the Lord Maiors dog-house, The Lord Mayors dogge-house, the Lord Mayors Dog-house, the Dog-house in Finsbury Field, and the Lord Mayor’s Dog-kennel. On the Agas map, it is labelled as Dogge hous. Built in 1512, the Lord Mayor’s dog house, as it was most frequently called, housed the Lord Mayor’s hunting dogs (Hope 42). This area was popular for recreational pursuits, such as archery, as depicted on the Agas map.3 Before 1527, when Moorfields and Finsbury Field were drained, the place was also popular for ice skating (Thornbury 196). Besides having a history as a place for recreation, the Dog House was located near Finsbury Manor, which was owned by the Lord Mayor and located in the outskirts of London, where the frequently mentioned odour and noise of the Dog House would be less bothersome (Poore 336).
The hounds were looked after by an officer called the Common Hunt, who resided in or near the Dog House itself. The Common Hunt was a high-ranking position, second only to the Master Sword-bearer (Pennant 347). The Common Hunt, also called Master Common Hunt, attended to the Lord Mayor on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays (Pennant 348).
From The Noble Art of Venerie by George Gascoigne, 1611. Image courtesy of LUNA at the Folger Shakespeare Library.
From The Noble Art of Venerie by George Gascoigne, 1611. Image courtesy of LUNA at the Folger Shakespeare Library.
By the early 1600s, the Dog House seems to have fallen into disrepair, being referred to as verie old and reuinous and not fit for habitation as well as having stinking smelles (Waller 34). The Common Hunt writes next year that it doth rayne into the rooms of the Dogge hous’e throughout, and that the same will, in short time,- fall downe (Waller 34). The house, however, remained standing, though we do not hear about it for some time so perhaps some repairs were finally made. After some debate on the importance of the Common Hunt’s position in preserving the history of London, the office was abolished in 1807.
The Lord Mayor allowed well-off citizens to use his hounds to hunt. These hounds were used for an event called the citizen’s common hunt (not to be confused with the officer mentioned above). Strype describes one of these common hunts on 18 September 1562: There was a great cry for a mile, then the hounds killed him [the fox] at St. Giles, Cripplegate; a great hallooing at his death and blowing of horns; and the Lord Mayor and all his company rode through London to his place in Lombard Street (Strype 25).
The hounds were treated well. After a stag hunt, they were given choice pieces of meat from the dead stag, and on their return to the Dog House the hounds had their feet bathed and greased (Velten 89). The popularity of the common hunt fell until in the late eighteenth century, when the Lord Mayor’s hounds were only used once a year for the Epping Forest hunt. Previously a respectable and serious affair, the Epping hunt had become a laughingstock by 1807 when the City of London abolished the office of the Common Hunt. Without the Lord Mayor’s hounds, fewer hounds, that were of poorer breeding, were used, along with horses of lower quality. Riders were frequently drunk and the affair extremely chaotic. The Epping hunts ended in 1847 (Velten 94).
The Dog House was certainly well known in its day, as evidenced by references to it in period literature. In Thomas Dekker’s Belman of London, for example, a character refers to hounds from the City Dog House, saying, nay my Lord Maiors Hounds at the dog-house being bidden to the funerall banquet of a dead horse, could not pick the bones cleaner (Dekker, Belman 23). It was also one of the few places where ordinary Londoners could witness hunting techniques like the practice of coupling younger and older dogs for training. Dekker describes a pair of people who went away like a cupple of hounds from the dogge-house (Dekker, A Strange Horse-Race 24). Other literary references allow us to guess at conditions in the Dog House. For example, one Londoner claimed a prison stinkes more then the Lord Mayors dogge-house (G.M. 13). Others mention the Lord Mayor’s Dog House as a fanciful place to commit suicide by dogs or as a place to throw someone you are not fond of. The noise and smell thus made it a proverbially frightful place for early modern Londoners (Jessey 130; Rowley 64). We can guess at the hounds’ diets from a mention in Natura Exenterata of the Dog House in Finsbury Field as being a place to acquire horse marrow, and also from Dekker’s above comment regarding the dead horse (Philiatros 216).


  1. On some maps, such as the 1572 Braun and Hogenberg map of London (Londinum Feracissimi), the boundaries differ so that the Dog House also abuts Mallow Field. (KMC)
  2. For a list of wards in early modern London, see Wards in the placeography. (TLG)
  3. See the archers on the Agas map here. (JT)


Cite this page

MLA citation

Casebeer, Kate. City Dog House. The Map of Early Modern London, Edition 7.0, edited by Janelle Jenstad, U of Victoria, 05 May 2022, mapoflondon.uvic.ca/edition/7.0/CITY1.htm.

Chicago citation

Casebeer, Kate. City Dog House. The Map of Early Modern London, Edition 7.0. Ed. Janelle Jenstad. Victoria: University of Victoria. Accessed May 05, 2022. mapoflondon.uvic.ca/edition/7.0/CITY1.htm.

APA citation

Casebeer, K. 2022. City Dog House. In J. Jenstad (Ed), The Map of Early Modern London (Edition 7.0). Victoria: University of Victoria. Retrieved from https://mapoflondon.uvic.ca/editions/7.0/CITY1.htm.

RIS file (for RefMan, RefWorks, EndNote etc.)

Provider: University of Victoria
Database: The Map of Early Modern London
Content: text/plain; charset="utf-8"

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ED  - Jenstad, Janelle
T1  - City Dog House
T2  - The Map of Early Modern London
ET  - 7.0
PY  - 2022
DA  - 2022/05/05
CY  - Victoria
PB  - University of Victoria
LA  - English
UR  - https://mapoflondon.uvic.ca/edition/7.0/CITY1.htm
UR  - https://mapoflondon.uvic.ca/edition/7.0/xml/standalone/CITY1.xml
ER  - 

TEI citation

<bibl type="mla"><author><name ref="#CASE1"><surname>Casebeer</surname>, <forename>Kate</forename></name></author>. <title level="a">City Dog House</title>. <title level="m">The Map of Early Modern London</title>, Edition <edition>7.0</edition>, edited by <editor><name ref="#JENS1"><forename>Janelle</forename> <surname>Jenstad</surname></name></editor>, <publisher>U of Victoria</publisher>, <date when="2022-05-05">05 May 2022</date>, <ref target="https://mapoflondon.uvic.ca/edition/7.0/CITY1.htm">mapoflondon.uvic.ca/edition/7.0/CITY1.htm</ref>.</bibl>





  • citizen’s common hunt

    A stag-hunting event which was popular until the late seventeenth century. (KMC)

    This term is tagged in the following documents:

  • master common hunt

    A high ranking officer charged with the care and keeping of the Lord Mayor’s hunting hounds. He lived in or near the City Dog House. (KMC)

    This term is tagged in the following documents:

Variant spellings