[Milton-L] Milton in London?
duran0 at purdue.edu
Mon Aug 18 09:30:17 EDT 2008
Many thanks to Thomas Corns for preparing and sharing the self-guided tour.
If I ever take up the opportunity to coordinate a study-abroad in London, I
will no doubt use this guide.
English and Comparative Literature
500 Oval Drive
West Lafayette, Indiana 47907
<duran0 at purdue.edu>
From: Thomas Corns <els009 at bangor.ac.uk>
Reply-To: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Date: Mon, 18 Aug 2008 12:21:24 +0100
To: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Conversation: [Milton-L] Milton in London?
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Milton in London?
Dear Leslie (and colleagues)
As an add-on to the Milton symposium in London earlier this year I produced
a self-guided tour. I think a few people took it though I had no feedback. I
paste it below.
Self-guided tours of Miltonic site of interest in London and Westminster.
For this you will need a London A-Z (widely available from bookshops and
newsagents) and you will probably need to use the Underground (³the Tube²).
There are two walks, which can be done in one longish day, or of course
separately. Each starts from a Tube station. If travelling by Tube, take
advice on the best kind of ticket for your purpose; single-journey tickets
soon prove expensive. Except for the first part of the first walk, no
concession is made to chronology of Miltonic association.
Walk 1: London.
Take the Tube to the stop at St Paul¹s. Walk in the direction of Cheapside;
take the first right down New Change. Take the first left into Watling
Street. Take the first left into Bread Street.
The Milton birthplace is on the right side, just before the junction with
Cheapside. Here he was born at 6.30 a.m. on Friday 9 December 1608 in the
house at the sign of the Spread Eagle. From 14 July 2008 there should be a
blue plaque on the side of a bank building, marking the spot.
Once you reach Cheapside, turn left and walk into the environs of St Paul¹s
Cathedral. Not, of course, the Cathedral Milton knew, which was destroyed in
the Great Fire of 1666. St Paul¹s School, which he attended, was to the east
of the Cathedral. The published of the Poems of Mr John Milton (1645),
Humphrey Moseley, had his business premises in St Paul¹s churchyard, which
was the centre of the book trade till 1666.
Exit the environs of the Cathedral at the south-west, and walk down Ludgate
Hill. Cross New Bridge Street, and, on the far side of the road, turn left
and walk down it in the direction of the Thames. Very soon, take the first
right into St Bride¹s Lane and Court. Walk through this. It takes you around
St Bride¹s Church and comes out in Fleet Street. Milton had lodgings here in
³St Bride¹s Churchyard² in the house of a tailor called Robert Russell, for
a fairly short period after his return from Italy in 1639 through to 1640.
On Fleet Street, walk back towards St Paul¹s. Cross New Bridge Street again,
and walk up Ludgate Hill, this time on the left side of the road. Take
Warwick Lane, the fourth turn to the left. At its junction with Newgate
Street, turn right, cross the road when possible, and take the first left
into King Edward Street, which leads into Little Britain, where Milton
briefly lodged with the bookseller and auctioneer Edward Millington, round
about 1670. Follow Little Britain off to the left, into a maze of narrow
streets, which give an unsalubrious view of St Bartholomew¹s Hospital.
Immediately to the right is the opening of Bartholomew Close. Wander in and
explore, taking care to remember the route. From May through to August 1660,
Milton lay in hiding in a friend¹s house around here. Retrace your steps to
where you turned off King Edward Street, and turn left, through Montague
Street, to the large roundabout at the Museum of London (well worth a
visit). Take the first exit, up Aldersgate Street and start walking on the
left side of the road. Most of the streets of London survived the Great Fire
and the Blitz; two in which Milton lived in this area did not. Over the road
Barbican and Jewin Street once ran into Aldersgate Street.
In Barbican, Milton took a substantial house in 1645-47. This was the house
where John Milton senior, the poet¹s father, and Richard Powell, his
father-in-law, died. In Jewin Street, Milton lived for a while from 1661.
Walk north up Aldersgate Street. Towards the lower end was the printshop of
Matthew Simmons, who printed several of Milton¹s prose works, later taken
over by his son Samuel, who was responsible for the two early editions of
Paradise Lost. A little further along was the pretty Garden-House ... at
the end of an Entry, and therefore the fitter for his turn, by reason of the
Privacy, besides that there are few Streets in London more free from Noise
then that.¹ It was the first of several properties Milton was, at various
times, to occupy on the north-west edge of the City. He moved there in 1640
and stayed for five years.
Now comes a bit of a slog. Aldersgate runs into Goswell Road. As it crosses
Old Street and Clerkenwell Road, turn right into Old Street, and stay on the
right side of the road. Walk on for about half a mile until, at a fairly
significant crossroads, you turn right into Bunhill Row and walk south. On
the left side of the road you pass Bunhill Fields burial ground. You can, if
so minded, cut through to its entrance in City Road, and seek out the graves
of Bunyan, Defoe and Blake, together with a couple of minor Cromwells. Back
in Bunhill Row, we walk past Milton¹s final home. Here, shortly after his
marriage to Elizabeth, his third wife, he took a House in Artillery-walk
leading to Bunhill Fields .... his last stage in this World, but ... of many
years continuance¹ (Edward Phillips). The house was on the right side as you
The next bit is tricky and if you are visiting St Giles Cripplegate another
time, give it a miss. If not, at the junction of Bunhill Row with Chiswell
Street , turn right, cross the road, enter the sprawling complex of the
modern Barbican, and look for a sign to the church. It is, of course, where
Milton is buried.
For the energetic, unblistered, and absolutely committed, there are a couple
more Miltonic sites as a coda to this walk. Head south till you hit London
Wall. Turn right and return to the roundabout by the London Museum. Turn
left into. the southern part of Aldersgate Street. Cross the road when it¹s
safe to do so. At the junction with Newgate Street, turn left, and keep
walking, as the road ahead becomes Holborn Viaduct, until you reach the
major intersection of Holborn Circus. Your route is straight ahead (the
third exit if you walk clockwise) to Holborn and then High Holborn. Walk on
the left side of the road. After you pass Chancery Lane to your left, you
will be aware that you are walking past Lincoln¹s Inn. Keep going. Off to
your left is a short and narrow lane, Holborn Place, which leads to
Whetstone Park. It is singularly unprepossessing, the backs of houses in
Lincoln¹s Inn Fields and High Holborn, yet somewhere along here, from
1647-49, Milton lived in one of the better properties he occupied, backing
on to the fields themselves.
Go back to High Holborn. Cross the road when safe and take the first right
into Procter Street. The second right turn takes you into Red Lion Square,
which is pleasant to walk around, emerging in Drake Street. Milton lived
somewhere in the square after emerging from hiding in the late summer of
If you¹re staying in Bloomsbury you are almost home. Turn right along Drake
Street, left into Theobald¹s Road, and right again into Southampton Row.
Alternatively, to reach the nearest Tube station, retrace your steps down
Procter Street to High Holborn and turn right for Holborn station.
Walk 2: Whitehall and Westminster
>From Charing Cross Tube station, make your way to the north end of
Whitehall, and, at its very top, cross the road, with extreme caution, and
walk towards the Admiralty Arch (of to your left). You will find your road
crossed by a rather dismal little street, Spring Gardens. Here Milton lived
fairly briefly between his appointment as Latin Secretary to the Council of
State of the Purged Parliament and his move into government accommodation.
Retrace your steps to Whitehall, and cross the road again. Head off down it
away from Trafalgar Square. This area, now dominated by government
buildings, was a vast royal palace that became a sort of government compound
in the late 1640s and 1650s. Milton¹s apartment was in the area now covered
by Great Scotland Yard, second turning on your left. A little further on,
still on the left, you come to the Banqueting House, in front of which
Charles I was executed. The Banqueting House is certainly worth a visit,
though its role as a venue for state functions means it is subject to fairly
frequent and random closure to the public.
Continue down Whitehall to Parliament Square. Unless you opt to visit
Westminster Abbey at this point, turn right and continue along the north
side of the square until it becomes Great George Street. Cross the road and
take the first left turn into Storey¹s Gate. The third turn on the right
takes you into Tothill Street, which becomes Broadway, and then Petty
France. Here Milton lived from 1651 to 1660, presumably on the right side of
the street, the north, since his garden opened out into St James¹s Park. It
was still fairly handy for the government offices in Whitehall, and
obviously a pleasant location, though somewhat imprudent once Charles II and
his courtiers returned to occupy the royal palace around the park. The north
side is now covered in government buildings and a large army barracks.
You can retrace your steps along Petty France to St James¹s Park Tube
station, which is situated at the point where Broadway becomes Tothill
Street. There are better connection for most routes, however, from Green
Park station, though it¹s quite a long walk, past Buckingham Palace and
across Green Park by way of Queen¹s Walk.
I have walked these mean and not so mean streets, guided by Sister M.
Christopher Pecheux¹s very helpful Milton:A Topographical Guide (1981),
while researching John Milton: Life, Work, and Thought (Oxford: Oxford
University Press, forthcoming October 2008), co-authored with Gordon
Campbell. Both walks are quite tiring, but the abiding impression is of how
close together all the significant sites are: London and Westminster, for
all their density of population, covered areas the size of villages.
DISCLAIMER: Please don¹t blame me if you get lost, perhaps because of my
inadvertent confusion of right and left. It¹s important to have a street map
or an A-Z, and to keep an eye on it. Best of all, plan out the routes
TOM CORNS, Bangor University
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