Next time you’re in the City, walk past the Gherkin along Bury Street and at the end of Holland House and you will see the relief of a ship.
This dates to when the offices were owned by Wm. H. Müller who were a Dutch shipping company and commissioned the building in 1916.
In itself a nice little fact and one that I point out in A London Miscellany Tour, Another Brick In The Wall.
Bury Street as its known today is an unremarkable sort of street flanked on both sides by offices.
Sandwiched as it is between the very modern Gherkin and Beavis Marks Synagogue, the oldest synagogue in the UK, Berry Street has been around for a big part of the City of London’s history.
Its first appearance is on the Agas map of 1561 when it was known as Burye Street.
The street and surrounding area was owned by the Bishop of Bury, hence the corruption of the name. Documents show that Sir Thomas Englefield (1455-1514), who was the speaker in the House of Commons of England owned a “Messuage called the Taverne of the Kyngeshedd“, a Dwelling House known as the Kings Head which was situated within the street. After the dissolution of the Monasteries in 1541 the area passed into the Crowns ownership, but the street kept its ecclesiastical connection.
During the early 17th century the street is known as Berry Street and is shown later on John Rocque’s map of 1746.
And it is to the early 1700s I turn during the Another Brick In The Wall tour to describe a very dark tale that took place around the environs of Bury Street in 1713.
I think that this is the main advantage of a guided walking tour over run of the mill sightseeing trip. You can stop, listen to the story, soak up the vibe and put yourself on the site back in history.
The sad story that will always leave a dark stain on the area relates to a young child called John Pace. John was a four year old orphan who was cared for by an aunt. He had been dropped off at a School in Tower Street, during the morning, but in the evening when his aunt called to collect him she was informed that he had already left. Returning home she found no sign of him and spent the rest of the night searching the district.
Apparently John had wandered off and got lost, and as night fell he went towards a Glass factory just east of the Aldgate to find a warm shelter. There he was found by Susan Perry, who told others sheltering there that she knew his parents and would return him home.
The following day, a Woman crying “Old Hats and Shoes”, saw Susan Perry sitting at a Door in Berry Street mending her Apron with a Child’s Hat upon her Head, which she sold to the old clothes woman, along with a Bodice-coat, Frock and Petticoat, for 9 d.
Travelling back down Leadenhall street the trader heard the news of a missing child being cried in the street, the description fitting the clothes that had just been purchased. Immediately returning to Berry Street, Perry was found sitting in a doorway mending other items of childs clothing. The trader seized her and called for a watchman, who took her before the justice. She admitted stripping the body of a dead child but refuted the charge of murder. Later that day a childs naked body was found in a ditch just off Berry Street. Death had been by strangulation and the aunt identified the body as being John Pace.
Perry was tried at the Old Bailey and found guilty of both Robbery and Murder, incarcerated at Newgate Prison where she was hung in February 1713.