Fleet Street

Fleet_Street._By_James_Valentine_c.1890.

As early as the 13th century, it seems to have been known as Fleet Bridge Street, and in the early part of the 14th century it began to be mentioned frequently by its present name, spelled in accordance with the customs of those days. Fleet Street began as the road from the commercial City of London to the political hub of Westminster. The length of Fleet Street marks the expansion of the City in the 14th century. At the east end of the street is where the River Fleet flowed against the medieval walls of London; at the west end is the Temple Bar which marks the current City of London/City of Westminster boundary, extended there in 1329. At Temple Bar to the west, as Fleet Street crosses the boundary out of the City of London, it becomes the Strand; to the east, past Ludgate Circus, the route rises as Ludgate Hill.

From the eastern end of the street towards the west can be seen various statues and monuments. At the north-eastern corner is a bust of Edgar Wallace, and then at number 106 set in an ornate niche a full-length representation of Mary, Queen of Scots the building originated as the London office of a Scottish insurance company, she has no connection with the area. Above the entrance to the old school-house of St Dunstan’s is a statue of Queen Elizabeth I taken from the old Ludgate which was demolished 1766. This statue dated of 1586 is considered to be the oldest outdoor statue in London, there are few other claims that are older.[citation needed] In the porch below are three statues of ancient Britons also from the gate, probably meant to represent King Lud and his two sons

The barber Sweeney Todd is traditionally said to have lived and worked in Fleet Street (he is sometimes called the ‘Demon Barber of Fleet Street’). An urban myth example of a serial killer, the character appears in various English language works starting in the mid-19th century. Neither the popular press, the Old Bailey trial records, the trade directories of the City nor the lists of the Barbers’ Company mention any such person or indeed any such case.