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John Thomas Smith’s Antiquities Of London

April 2, 2015
by the gentle author

For good reason John Thomas Smith acquired the nickname ‘Antiquity Smith’ – while working as Keeper of Drawings at the British Museum, between 1790 & 1800, he produced a large series of etchings recording all the antiquities of London, from which I publish this selection of favourites today

Old houses in the Butcher Row near Clement’s Inn, taken down 30th March 1798 – the right hand corner house is suggested to have been the one in which the Gunpowder Plot was determined and sworn

A Curious Pump – in the yard of the Leathersellers’ Hall, Bishopsgate

Sir Paul Pindar’s Lodge, Half Moon Alley, Bishopsgate

A Curious Gate in Stepney – traditionally called King John’s Gate, it is the oldest house in Stepney

London Stone – supposed to be the Millinarium of the Romans from which they measured distances

The Queen’s Nursery, Golden Lane, Barbican

Pye Corner, Smithfield – this memorialises the Great Fire of 1666 which ended at Pye Corner

Old house in King St, Westminster – traditionally believed to have been a residence of Oliver Cromwell

Lollards’ Prison – a stone staircase leads to a room at the very top of a tower on the north side of Lambeth Palace, known as Lollard’s Tower

Old house on Little Tower Hill

Principal gate of the Priory of St Bartholomew, Smithfield

Savoy Prison – occupied by the army for their deserters and transports

Mr Salmon’s, Fleet St

Gate of St Saviour’s Abbey, Bermondsey

Rectorial House, Newington Butts

Bloody Tower – the bones of the two murdered princes were found within the right hand window

Traitors’ Gate

The Old Fountain in the Minories – taken down 1793

The White Hart, Bishopsgate

The Conduit, Bayswater

Staple’s Inn, Holborn

The Old Manor House, Hackney

Dissenting Meeting House at the entrance to Little St Helen’s, taken down 1799

Remains of Winchester House, Southwark

London Wall in the churchyard of St Giles Cripplegate

London Wall in the churchyard of St Giles’ Cripplegate

Figures of King Lud and his two sons, taken down from Ludgate and now deposited at St Dunstan’s, Fleet St, in the Bone House

Images courtesy Bishopsgate Institute

You may also like to take a look at

John Thomas Smith’s Ancient Topography

John Thomas Smith’s Vagabondiana

John Thomas Smith’s Vagabondiana II

John Thomas Smith’s Vagabondiana III

9 Responses leave one →
  1. April 2, 2015

    So much of London has been destroyed in the course of time, and today the developers are trying to make short shrift of the London we know and love, too. I wonder how much will be left for the next generations, or will our London seem as far away to them as these pictures are for us today? Valerie

  2. April 2, 2015

    Fantastically higgledy-piggledy. How lovely

  3. Roger Cocks permalink
    April 2, 2015

    Love these beautiful drawings, squint your eyes and they are better than early photographs. Keep up your daily output GA, I look forward to my morning dose of Spitalfields Life, especially the history orientated posts.

  4. Shawdiane permalink
    April 2, 2015

    FANTASTIC ! Thank you for sharing these wonderful etchings of 1700′s London. What a shame we have none of those wonderful cranky buildings to view. The National Trust would be in their element ( I was a Custodian for a Trust Historic House – George Bernard Shaw where I lived for 8 years & we would have fought to conserve one of those, some of these buildings were still around when Shaw came to London at the age of 21) A fire risk they may have been but I am sure we could cope. The Victorians should have saved a few for posterity. No wonder there was a window Tax – some of those buldings were a Tax treat. London has lost SO much, what right have those sitting at their little council desks to obliterate ‘old London’, this is what real London is all about NOT Office Blocks! Please, share more of these they are wonderful. God Bless John Thomas Smith.

  5. April 2, 2015

    beautiful etchings.
    love their details, like the pile of wood on the corner at Butcher Row near Clement’s Inn (first image), and the complicated, much patched, side exterior wall of Old house on Little Tower Hill.

  6. April 2, 2015

    These are wonderful images, and remind us what has been lost through neglect and/or deliberate destruction. BTW, Smith had been a pupil of the sculptor Nollekens, and was expecting a legacy, which he didn’t in fact receive. It is thought that this two-volume biography of his mentor, full of gossip, was partly intended as revenge!

  7. April 2, 2015

    Truly appreciate your sharing these marvelous architectural images–so much character and ornament and hardly a plumb line among them. Beautiful art works that capture a past so rapidly disappearing.

  8. Valkrye permalink
    April 2, 2015

    Dear “Gentle author” Can’t tell you how much your posts entertain, enlighten, educate and most of all,simply delight. Reading your posts each day is one of the pure , true highlights of my day. This one, I adore with the sheer richness and variety of the architecture ~ it’s quirkiness and diverse unique beauties. Thank you for sharing all that you so generously do.

  9. Robert G. Redford permalink
    April 17, 2015

    Thank you so much for sharing these wonderful images. Thank goodness that the majority of old buildings within the Tower have been preserved although sad that this World Heritage site is now completely overshadowed by brutal modern architecture in the form of giant office blocks.

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