Budge Row, EC4N
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Budge Row lies off the north side of Cannon Street, about 80 yards west of the main line station.

About 500 years ago the area surrounding here was closely associated with the clothing trade. If you had walked along Cannon Street in those times you would probably have seen a representation of few other trades than drapers and skin merchants selling their wares. In the adjoining alleys and courts the wives of traders would be busy throughout the day and night making up articles of clothing for the stalls. It was no coincidence, but for local convenience, that the Skinners Company, in 1327, established their Hall in nearby Dowgate Hill and have held their gatherings there ever since.

Women of the day were restricted in their choice of clothing according to their status. In 1338, and again twenty years later, the City authorities ordered that women of low standing should not wear clothing made from buge or wool. If the like had bought an old fur coat for a penny or two at the local jumble sale her fate could well have been a prison sentence for wearing it.

Since the years of World War II, Budge Row has seen many changes; it now survives as a pedestrian way, covered at its southern end by a large concrete block of offices. Even the line of its path has changed direction since chess fanatics from the City wide scurried along here to book a table at the Gambit Café.

St Antholin’s church stood at the northern end of the Row, on a site previously occupied by three predecessors. The first church was probably founded during the 12th century but complete rebuilding took place about 1400 and again in 1513. On Monday 3rd September 1666, almost as the bells stopped pealing from evensong of the previous day, Mr Farriners Great Fire was lapping at the doors of Watling Street. It took hold of St Mary Aldermary, across the road, and then leapt onto St Antholin’s, reducing it to ashes within minutes and leaving its bells as a pool of molten metal. Christopher Wren completed the rebuilding in 1682, topping his creation with the most slender spire imaginable. In 1874, many years after the death of Wren, and when they thought he would not mind, the diocese declared St Antholin’s redundant and pulled it down. The spire was sold as scrap for five pounds but someone considered it worthy of preservation and erected its upper part in the garden of Roundhill House at Sydenham in Kent.

The Wren church of St Antholin once stood on the corner of Budge Row. It was demolished in 1875 to clear a site for the new Queen Victoria Street. In more recent years considerable redevelopment has taken place and the Row is not as it used to be. Surrounded and covered by a 13 storey modern office block and paved in Tarmac, the name is all that survives of the old alley.

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