Bowyers' Hall City Walk 16 May 2016
18 Bowyers spent a most enjoyable Monday evening in May on a reprise of the 2015 Bowyers' Hall City Walk, led by Upper Warden Tony Kench, tracing the locations across the City of London where the Bowyers had been based in their heyday as longbow makers between 1300 and 1666.
We started with a toast to our great 1620s benefactor James Wood around his memorial plaque in St Nicholas Cole Abbey, then made a brief stop on St Peter's Hill (see photo), where the Bowyers met between 1651 and 1666, probably in the short-lived pre-Fire Upholders' Hall.
The walk then took us back to our beginnings on Ludgate Hill, which in the 1300s was known as 'Bowyer Row'. This was home to the Bowyers when the first big military longbow orders in London were placed by Edward III in the 1330s and 1340s (prior to the Battle of Crécy in 1346), and was where the Bowyers' Company took formal shape between 1356 (the Black Prince's victory at Poitiers) and 1363 (our first known mention in the tax rolls).
The Bowyers moved away from Ludgate Hill in the 1400s, and we followed the line of the City Wall round to Monkwell Square, by London Wall at Cripplegate, where Bowyers' Hall stood between the mid-1400s and the late 1500s, showing on old maps as a sizeable building that would have accommodated 20-30 working bowmakers. As demand for longbows steadily declined, the Bowyers moved to smaller premises nearby, leased from the Salters' Company from 1561 till the move to St Peter's Hill in 1651.
The final part of the walk took us through the Barbican to the site of Grub Street (now Milton Street), which in the 1500s was where bows were bought and sold conveniently for the nearby Finsbury Fields archery practice grounds, which stretched north to Islington.
We finished our evening in Finch's pub, in Finsbury Square, for an excellently convivial meal.