About My Ward


Victorian London – Organisations and Public Bodies – City of London – Ward of Farringdon Without

FARRINGDON WITHOUT. One of the 26 wards of London, and by far the largest – so called from being without the walls. For the origin of the name see Farringdon Within. General Boundaries. – N., Holborn and Smithfield; S., the Thames, between Blackfriars Bridge and the Temple-stairs; E., New Bridge-street and the Old Bailey; W., Temple Bar and Chancery-lane. Churches in this Ward. – St. Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield; St. Bartholomew the Less, West Smithfield; St. Sepulchre’s; St. Andrew’s, Holborn; St. Dunstan’s in the West; St. Bride’s. John Wilkes was elected alderman of this ward, Jan 2nd, 1769, “while yet,” says Walpole, “a criminal of state and a prisoner.” At the east end of Fleet-street is an obelisk to his memory. The founders of the three rich banking-houses in Fleet-street, Messrs. Child, Messrs. Hoare, and Messrs. Gosling, filled at various periods the office of alderman of this ward.

Peter Cunningham, Hand-Book of London, 1850

cityThe Ward of Farringdon Without is a famous ward in the City of London.  It covers the western area of the City, including the Middle Temple, Inner Temple, Chancery Lane, Smithfield and St Bartholomew’s Hospital as well as the area of east of Chancery Lane. Sadly, modern boundary changes means that St Bride’s is no longer within the ward.

Originally known as the Ward of Anketill de Auvergne, Farringdon was named after Sir Nicholas de Faringdon, who was appointed Lord Mayor of London for ‘as long as it shall please him’ by King Edward II. The Ward had been in the Faringdon family for 82 years at this time, his father, William de Faringdon preceding him as Alderman in 1281, when he purchased the position. William de Faringdon was Lord Mayor in 1281-82 and also a Warden of the Goldsmiths’ Company. During the reign of King Edward I, as an Alderman and Goldsmith, William Faringdon was implicated in the arrest of English Jewry (some, fellow goldsmiths) for treason.

The Ward was split in two in 1394: Farringdon Without and Farringdon Within. ‘Without’ and ‘Within’ denote whether the ward fell outside or within the London Wall — such designation also applied to the wards of Bridge Within and Without.  John Stow’s  A Survey of London, 2nd ed. (London, 1603; STC #23343) graphically describes the somewhat larger ward boundaries of the seventeenth century.

The boundes of which ward without Newgate and Ludgate are theſe. Firſt on the eaſt part thereof, is the whole precinct of the late priorie of ſaint Bartholomew, and a part of Long lane on the north, towardes Alderſgate ſtreete and Ducke lane, with the hoſpitall of ſaint Bartholomew on the Weſt, and all Smithfielde to the Barres in ſaint Iohn ſtreet. Then out of Smithfield Chickelane toward Turmile brooke, and ouer that brooke by a bridge of timber in the field, then backe againe by the Pens (or folds) in Smithfield, by Smithfield pond to Cow lane, which turneth toward Oldborne: and then Hoſiar lane out of Smithfield, alſo toward Oldborne, till it meete with a part of Cow lane. Then Cocke lane out of Smithfield, ouer againſt Pye corner, then alſo is Giltſpur ſtreete, out of Smithfield to Newgate, then from Newgate weſt by S. Sepulchres church to Turnagaine Lane: to Oldboorne Conduit, on Snor hill,1 to Oldboorne bridge, up Oldboorne hill to the Barres on both ſides. On the right hand or north ſide, at the bottome of Oldboorne hill, is Goldlane, ſometime a filthy paſſage into the fields, now both ſides builded with ſmall tenementes. Then higher is Lither lane, turning alſo to the field, lately repleniſhed with houſes builded, and ſo to the Barre. Now on the left hand or ſouth ſide from Newgate, lieth a ſtreet called the Old Bayly, or court of the Chamberlaine of this citty: this ſtretcheth downe by the wall of the Cittie unto Ludgate: on the weſt ſide of which ſtreete, breaketh out one other lane, called ſaint Georges lane, till ye come to the ſouthend of Seacole lane and then turning towardes Fleetſtreete, it is called Fleete lane. The next out of the high ſtreet from Newgate turning down ſouth, is called the little Bayly, and runneth downe to the Eaſt of ſaint Georges lane. Then is Seacole lane which turneth downe into Fleete lane: neare unto this Seacole lane, in the turning towardes Oldboorn Conduit, is an other lane, called in record wind againe Lane, it turneth downe to Turnemill Brooke, and from thence backe againe, for there is no way ouer. Then beyond Old boorn bridge to Shooe lane, which runneth out of Oldboorne unto the Conduit in Fleeteſtreet. Then alſo is Fewtars lane, which likewiſe ſtretcheth ſouth into Fleetſtreete by the eaſt end of ſaint Dunſtons church, and from this lane to the Bars, be the bounds without Newgate. Now without Ludgate, this warde runneth up from the ſayd gate to Temple barre, and hath on the right hand or north ſide the ſouth end of the old Bayly, then downe Ludgate hill, to the Fleet lane ouer Fleete bridge and by Shooe lane, and Fewters lane, and ſo to New ſtreete (or Chancery lane) and up that Lane to the houſe of the Rolles, which houſe is alſo of this ward, and on the other ſide to a lane ouer againſt the Roules, which entereth Ficquets field. Then hard by the Barre is one other lane called Shyre Lane, becauſe it diuideth the Cittie from the Shire, and this turneth into Ficquets field. From Ludgate againe on the left hand, or ſouth ſide to Fleetebridge, to bride lane, which runneth down by Bridewell, then to Water lane, which runneth down to the Thames. Then by the White Fryers and by the Temple, euen to the Barre aforeſaid, be the boundes of this Faringdon Warde without.

As well as goldsmiths, in medieval times the Fleet Ditch attracted many tanners and curriers to the Ward.  I am  a member of the Leathersellers’ livery company whose trade included tanning.  As the City became more populous, these trades were banished to the suburbs and by the 18th century the River Fleet had been culverted and built over. In its later years, the Fleet became little more than an open sewer, and the locality was given over to slums due to undesirable odours. The modern Farringdon Street was built over it, with the Fleet Market opening for the sale of meat, fish and vegetables in 1737.

On 27 January 1769, the radical MP John Wilkes was elected Alderman for this Ward, while a prisoner in Newgate Prison.  This was after he had repeatedly been elected as a Member of Parliament and expelled from Parliament for ‘outlawry’; essentially for what was considered at the time ‘obscene and malicious libel’ against, King George III.

Charles Dickens described the market, in unflattering terms, in his novel Barnaby Rudge, set in 1780.

The air was perfumed with the stench of rotten leaves and faded fruit; the refuse of the butchers’ stalls, and offal and garbage of a hundred kinds. It was indispensable to most public conveniences in those days, that they should be public nuisances likewise; and Fleet Market maintained the principle to admiration.

In 1800 the City of London feared a French invasion and the ward inhabitants of Farringdon Without conjoined with neighbouring wards to appoint a committee to form an “Armed Association” to go by the title “the West London Loyal United Volunteers” under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Price.

In 1829, it had become necessary to widen Farringdon Street, and the market was moved to new premises at Farringdon Market. This did not thrive, and its activities were moved to West Smithfield

Like much of London the Ward suffered heavy damage during the Second World War.  Clink on this link to see the location of the bombs dropped on Farringdon Without.

Today, Farringdon Without is not only an historic area of London but one which contains a vibrant mix of working, residential  and cultural communities. I hope this web site will help me in my work to promote all aspects of the Ward to the wider world.