Speculum Britanniae

first parte
An historicall, & chorographicall discrip-
tion of Middlesex. Wherin are also al-
phabeticallie sett downe, the names of the
cyties, townes, parishes hamletes, howses of
name &c. Wth. direction spedelie to
finde anie place desired in the
mappe & the distance
betwene place and
place Without compasses.
OF John Norden Anno 1593



[Page 11]

1.1. The nature of the soyle and fertilitie of MYDDLESEX.

MYDDLESEX is a small Shire, in length not twentie myles, in circuite (as it were by the ring) not about 70. myles, yet for the fertilitie thereof, it may compare with any other shire: for the soyle is excellent, fat and fertile and full of profite: it yeeldeth corne and graine, not onelie in aboundance, but most excellent good wheate, especiallie about Heston, which place may be called Granarium tritici regalis, for the singularitie of the corne. The vaine of this especiall corne seemeth to extend from Heston to Harrow on the hill, betweene which as in the mid way, is Perivale, more truely Purevale. In which vale is also Northold, Southold, Norcote, Gerneford, Hayes, &c. And it seemeth to extend to Pynner, though with some alteratio~ of the soile. It may be noted also how nature hath exalted Harrow on the hill, which seemeth to make ostentation of it scituation in the Purevale, from whence, towardes the time of Harvest, a man may beholde the fields round about, so sweetely to addresse themselves, to the siocle, and sith, with such comfortable aboundaunce, of all kinde of graine, that the husbandman which waiteth for the fruits of his labours, cannot but clap his hands, for joy, to see this vale, so to laugh and sing.

Yet doth not this so fruitefull soyle yeeld comfort, to the wayfairing man in the wintertime, by reason of the claiesh nature of soyle: which after it hath rasted the Autume showers, waxeth both [Page 12] dyrtie and deepe: But unto the countrie swaine it is as a sweete and pleasant garden, in regard of his hope of future profite, for

The deepe, and dirtie loathsome soyle,
Yeelds golden gaine, to painefull toyle.

The industrious and painefull husbandman will refuse a pallace, to droyle in these golden puddles.

This part of MYDDDLESEX may for fertilitie compare with Tandeane, in the west part of Somersetshire. But that Tandeane, farre surpasseth it for sundrie fruites, and commodities, which this countrie might also yeelde, were it to the like imployed: but it seemeth they onely covet to maintaine their auncient course of life, and observe the husbandrie of their fathers, without adding, any thing to their greater profite.

This shire is plentifullie stored, and as it seemeth beautified, with manie faire, and comely buildinges, especially of the Merchants of London, who have planted their houses of recreation not in the meanest places: which also they have cunningly contrived, curiously beautified, with divers devises, neatly decked with rare invencions, inuironed with Orchards of sundrie delicate fruites, gardens with delectable walks, arbers, allees, and great varietie of pleasing dainties: all which seeme to be beautifull ornaments unto this countrie. But who so turneth his eies unto the stately & most princely pallaces of Queene ELIZABETH in many parts of this shire most sweetely scituate, garnished with most princelie delights, beholding also the houses of Nobilitie, may saie as Vadian of a fruitefull and pleasant place in Egypt, Facies istius terre pulcherima est, &c. The face or superficies of this countrey, is most beautifull, the fields fresh and greene, the valleyes delightfull to behold, the townes villages and stately buildings enterlaced with the pleasant woodes are glorious to be seene.


[Page 35]

There was betweene London and Southwarke long time passage by ferrie untill the Citizens caused a bridge of woode to be erected: after that, in the time of R 1 c. 2. anno 1176. they beganne to build a bridge of stone, which in the time of king JOHN they most artificially finished, anno 1209. contriving it of 20. at ches, and in the midst a drawe bridge, and uppon the same bridge on either side, the houses so artificially combined, that the whole bridge seemeth not onely a mayne and faire streete, but men seeme to passe under a continuall roofe; the bridge is in height 60. foote, in bredth 30. foote, the arches are in sunder 20. foote, there are under the north arch of this bridge, most artificially erected certain wheeles or tide myles, which rise and fall according to the ebs & flouds, and they raise the water by pypes and counductes so high that it serveth such citizens houses in all places of London, as will bestow charge towarde the conducting thereof: The buildings uppon this bridge, on either side were consumed with fire Anno 1208.

There is neere the three Cranes, a Church called now S. Michaels, sometime Whittingdon Colledge founded by sir Whittingdon, sometime Mayor of London.

There was in that place which is nowe knowne by the name of Blackefryers, an auncient and strong castle, which was called Palatyne, burned in the time of WILLIAM the Conquerour: in the place of which castle are at this day erected many faire & beautifull buildings, and here and there the auncient wals and buildings as yet appeare.

On the east part of the Citie, is a most famous and strong Castle, called the Tower of London, the maine tower whereof, some suppose to be builded by JULIUS CAESAR. It is strong and ample, well walled and trenched about, beautified with sundrie builddings, semblable to a little towne.

There is in Cornehill a most famous monument, stately erected by sir thomas Gresham knight, who named it the Burse, whereunto afterwarde Queene ELIZABETH gave the name of Royall exchange; It is the place of the place of the publike meeting of Marchaunts, aswell English as foraine, wherunto twice every day they dulie resort, the form of the building is quadrate, with walks round the mayne building supported with pillers of marble, over which walkes is a place for the sale of all kinde of wares, richly stored with varietie of all sorts. It was builded about the yeere 1568.

Leadenhall neere Cornhill was builded by one Sunken Eyre, about [Page 36] anno 1444. a place of provision, or store house for releefe for the poore in time of dearth.

Manie things might be spoken of this famous Citie which would too far exceede my purpose. It hath latitude 52. degrees, & longitude 19. degrees 15. minuts. It is most sweetely seituate upon the Thamis, served with all kinde of necessaries most commodioussie. The aire healthfull, it is populous, rich and beautifull, be it also faithfull, loving and thankfull.

Lodghill D. 16. a hill or fort in Harnesey or Hornesey parke, and is called Lodghill, for that thereon sometime stoode a lodge, when the parke was replenished with Deare, but it seemeth by the foundation that it was rather a castle, then a lodge, for the hill is at this day trenched with two deepe ditches, now olde and overgrowne with bushes: the rubble thereof, as bricke, tile, and Cornish slate, are in heapes yet to be seene, which ruines are of great antiquity, as may appeere by the okes, at this day standing (above 100. yeeres grouth,) upon the very foundation of the building. It did belong to the bishop of London, at which place have beene dated divers cuidences, some of which remaine yet in the bishops regestrie (as is said.)

This parke hath beene replenished with stately timber trees in great aboundance, now with the famous fort fallen to the ground as the Poet saith,

Euum cuncta rapit furtiuáque temporamutant.
Naturam, fortem, Nominaque & faciem.
  • ** Ludraues, b. 18. a faire house scytuate in a valley neere Enseylde chace, belonging vnto
  • Lymehouse, G. 22.
  • Lalam, I. 8.
  • Littleton I. 8. in regard of the quantitie it may be called Linletowne.

1.3. M.

  • More hall, E. 4.
  • Mylhill, D. 14.
  • Muswell hill, D. 18. called also Pinsenall hill: there was a chapple sometime bearing the name of our Ladie of Muswell: where now alderman Roe hath erected a proper house, the place taketh name of the Well and of the hill, Mousewell hill, for there is on the hil a spring of faire water, which is now within the compas of the house. There was sometime an image of the ladie of Muswell, whereunto was a continuall resort, in the way of pylgrimage, growing as is (though as I take it) fabulouslie reported, in regard of a great cure which was performed by this water, vpon a king [Page 37] of Seats, who being strangely diseased, was by some deuine intelligence, aduised to take the water of a Well in England, called Muswell, which after long scrutation, and inquisition, this Well was found and performed the cure; absolutely to denie the cure I dare not, for that the high God hath giuen vertue vnto waters, to heale infirmities, as may appeere by the cure of Naaman the leper, by washing himselfe seauen times in Iordan, and by the poole Bethesda, which healed the next that stepped thereinto, after the water was mooued by the angell.
  • * Mockings, called also the mannor of Mockings, D. 22. an auncient house, of the Lord Comptons, moated about.
  • Morehatch, A. 20. a hamlet of Enfeylde.
  • Marybone, F. 18.
  • Meerstreete, F. 22. a member of Hackney.

1.4. N.

  • Northend, C. 16. a hamlet of Finchley.
  • ** Newington, E. 20. there, the Earle of Oxforde is sometime refident, in a very proper house.
  • Neesdon, or Neusdon, E. 14. a house sometime the Elringtons. Northolt lodge, F. 6.
  • Northolt, F. 8. it soundeth Northwood, for hols in the Germayne toung signifieth wood.
  • Norwood, or Northwood, F. 8.
  • Norcote, or Northcote, G. 8.


[Page 47]

This Citie of Westminster is knowne to have no generall trade whereby releefe might be administred unto the common sort, as by Marchandize, clothing, or such like, whereby the common wealth of a Citie is maineteined, and the inferiour people set to worke, had they not therefore some other meanes, the common sort could nor be susteined.

The first and principall meane whereby they are releeved, is hir Majesties residence at White hall, or S. Ieames, whence if hir [Page 48] grace be long absent, the poore people forthwith complaine of penury and want, of a hard and miserable world. And therefore doe the people in manner generally seeme to power forth dayly petitions, that it might please God to draw hir Majestie to be resident at one of these places, whereat they rejoyce and fare long the better. The like desire of hir Royall presence have other places, where hir Majesties Pallaces are placed. And hir Majestie in gracious consideration of their estates, doth visit them as it were Alternis vicebus, by turne at hir highnes pleasure, more for the comfort and releefe of the poore people, then for hir owne private delight. Therefore yee Citizens of Westminster, and other, whatsoever, forget not to be thankefull to the the Almightie for hir Royall presence, hartely praying the King of Kings, to maintaine hir a prospering Queene long and many yeeres, and every faithfull hart will joyne with you, having also the benefite of hir blessed inclination.

The seconde meane whereby this poore Citie is maintained, and the people releeved, is by the fower Termes in the yeere, for it hath pleased God to establish there, the place where Justice, lawe, and everie mans right is (God graunt it) with equall ballance, indifferently administred: whereunto great multitudes of people, usually flocke, whose resort although the Citie enjoie but in the forenoone, yet yeeldeth their presence, manie pence to the poore towne.

There was in the time of EDW. 1. a discontinuance of the lawe, in this Citie, and was thence remooved to Yorke, where it continued, seaven yeeres after reduced to the former place. It hath beene often discontinued by the disfavour of Princes, and their conceived displeasure against the inhabitants of the place, for disobedience, as a generall punishment. Receive this ye inhabitants of Westminster, as a necessarie premonition, that ye rest carefull and vigilant, least the king of kings moove her Majestie to place the determination of causes else where, which now is unto you no small support.

The third and last meane (though it come seldome) is that great and generall convencion of all the estates of this lande, the high Court of Parleament, which draweth unto it a great accesse of noble persons, and others, to the place of assemblie, which is also set most gratiously within this Citie, which yeeldeth no small releefe unto the same, which also (as is recorded in histories) hath beene holden at divers other places in this land.

It is not yet forgotten, no doubt, how the God offended, visited not onely this Citie, but also London, with a dangerous late infection, insomuch as the last Michaelmas Terme was remooved [Page 49]to Hertforde castle, which pinched the poore, and made the rich to complaine, in both these Cities: yet a more gentle forewarning of his displeasure he cannot shew, who longing for new obedience in us, calleth us by divers meanes, and without speedie and harty repentance we shall likewise perish.

This is a selection from the original text


corn, delightful, fat, penury, poor, soil

Source text

Title: SPECULVM BRITANNIAE. The first parte An historicall, & chorographicall discrip- tion of Middlesex. Wherin are also al- phabeticallie sett downe, the names of the cyties, townes, parishes hamletes, howses of name &c. Wth. direction spedelie to finde anie place desired in the mappe & the distance betwene place and place Without compasses. BY THE TRAVAILE AND VEW OF John Norden Anno 1593

Author: John Norden

Publication date: 1593

Edition: 2nd Edition

Place of publication: London

Provenance/location: This text was transcribed from images available at Early English Books Online: http://eebo.chadwyck.com/home Bibliographic name / number: STC (2nd ed.) / 18635 Physical description: [8], 48, [4] p., [3] folded plates : Copy from: Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery Reel position: STC / 326:05

Digital edition

Original author(s): John Norden

Language: English

Selection used:

  • 1 ) tp, pp.11-12, 35-37, 47-49


Texts collected by: Ayesha Mukherjee, Amlan Das Gupta, Azarmi Dukht Safavi

Texts transcribed by: Muhammad Irshad Alam, Bonisha Bhattacharya, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Muhammad Ehteshamuddin, Kahkashan Khalil, Sarbajit Mitra

Texts encoded by: Bonisha Bhattacharya, Shreya Bose, Lucy Corley, Kinshuk Das, Bedbyas Datta, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Sarbajit Mitra, Josh Monk, Reesoom Pal

Encoding checking by: Hannah Petrie, Gary Stringer, Charlotte Tupman

Genre: Britain > surveys description maps

For more information about the project, contact Dr Ayesha Mukherjee at the University of Exeter.