Post-Medieval London, Pt. V – Social History contd.

The Lost City of London - Before the Great Fire of 1666

Another in the series on the history of London up to the time of the Great Fire of 1666, largely taken from my book, “The Flower Of All Cities” (Amberley, 2019) …

Entertainment and Culture

There continued to be at West Smithfield archery, wrestling and cock-fighting, a weekly horse fair, and an annual Bartholomew Fair every August, and also regular jousting tournaments. At East Smithfield a further fair; on Undershaft an annual May Fair; and on Cheapside further tournaments. In the Tower of London, a menagerie; and on Bankside in Southwark, animal-baiting.

A Medieval depiction of bear-baiting

In Tudor times, Henry VIII is known to have witnessed a bear-baiting at Paris Gardens, from a barge moored offshore, in 1539. In 1554, Henry Machyn wrote: “The sam day at after-non was a bere-beyten on the Banke syde, and ther the grett blynd bere [whose name was Sackerson] broke losse…

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