History of the Ward of Coleman Street

Coleman Street Ward was proud when Dorothy Mary Donaldson (1921-2003) served as its and indeed the City’s first female Alderman from 1975-1991. She became the first female Sheriff in 1981 and then the first woman to be Lord Mayor in 1983. Already a Baroness through marriage, she was appointed a GBE (Dame Grand Cross) in 1983. The painting (shown left) hangs in the City Land's room of The Old Bailey (2016).

Living in the Barbican, Dame Mary remained the only female Lord Mayor until the election of Fiona Woolf in 2013.

The bombing of London on 29th December 1940 destroyed the church of St Stephen in Coleman Street (see below), although the Armourers’ Hall was more fortunate (read more here).

 

The Old Dr Butlers Head in Masons Avenue traces its history back to the early seventeenth. Despite failing to pass his medical exams at Cambridge, Dr Butler managed to become Court physician to King James I and to make a good living out of his “medicinal ale”. For epilepsy he would fire a brace of pistols near his unsuspecting patient’s face, or in cases of the plague, plunge the poor soul into ice cold water!

For today’s generation Coleman Street Ward is home to a wide range of businesses, from lawyers, accountants and surveyors, to restaurants, tailors and pubs. We walk the same streets as our forebears, still mixing business with pleasure and enjoying the blend of past and present.

In 1603, a text entitled 'A Survey of London by John Stow', was produced. It was re-published in 1908 and is available online. It contains a number of interesting points about Colemanstreete Warde (sic)

Click here to take a look.

 

In 1773, a book was published called "A New History of London: Including Westminster and Southwark", by John Noorthouck. It is also available online and is similarly enlightening.

Click here to take a look.

 

Of particular interest in that volume is perhaps the section describing the original Ward Church - 'St Stephen, Coleman Street'. The square steeple is mentioned, together with the Church frontage having two pineapples and a carved cockerel.

 

Of particular interest in that volume is perhaps the section describing the original Ward Church - 'St Stephen, Coleman Street'. The square steeple is mentioned, together with the Church frontage having two pineapples and a carved cockerel.

Drawing of St Stephens from Noorthouck's book 1773

Drawing of St Stephens by John Coney c.1812

In 1839, George Godwin and John Britton published "The Churches of London: A History and Description of the Ecclesiastical Edifices of the Metropolis". In it they offer a description of a rather dull interior: "...a low room with a flat ceiling"; "...large awkward galleries"; "...a mean appearance"; and "'...a flat and insignificant altar-piece". The book is available online - Click Here

An engraving (shown left), is included in the book which shows a number of changes over the 1812  image shown above - notably, changes to the cornice and pediment above the main window (which has itself been restored to full length), plus the removal of the two pineapples - replaced with just one in the middle. A pencil drawing of 1911 shows a very similar view.

There is a more modern book called 'An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in London'. Published in 1929. Volume 4 concentrates on 'The City' and has some in-depth comments on the Ward Church of St Margaret Lothbury, but also quite a lot about St Stephen's (including an internal floor plan). Click here to take a look.

 

The Ward Boundary has clearly changed a great deal since the 1773 map above was produced. The Current Boundary no longer goes south of Lothbury (that area is now within the Ward of Walbrook), the western side of Coleman Street itself has moved into the Ward of Bassishaw and, given the original Ward Church of St Stephen was not rebuilt after being destroyed in 1940, the boundary with Broad Street Ward was redrawn to dissect the Church of St Margaret Lothbury.

However, north of London Wall, the Eastern part of 'Cripplegate Without' (notably, the Whitbread Brewery!), was transferred into Coleman Street as part of the 2003 City of London Ward Boundary Changes (the map to the right shows the year 2000 boundaries). But, in the 2013 Restructuring of Ward Boundaries, part of that acquisition from 2003 (the Milton Court development of residential accommodation) was passed back to Cripplegate - thereby protecting the 'business nature' of the Ward of Coleman Street - and indeed the residential nature of Cripplegate.

The online encyclopedia 'Wikipedia', obviously has a number of entries that reference the Coleman Street Ward - a few examples are presented below. Be aware, however, that Wikipedia often relies on input that is not always completely accurate.

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