A bit early for Halloween and obviously its not a ghost it’s me.
I was trying to get a picture of the remains of Whitefriars Monastery which is hidden away below office buildings near to Fleet Street and is behind thick glass.
The order was founded in what is now Israel in 1150. After fleeing from the Saracens in 1239, the White Friars made their way to England and established a church on Fleet Street in 1253. About a hundred years later it was replaced by a much larger church.The White Friars take their name from the White robes that they wore. They were a popular order and many of London’s nobility left them money in their wills. The extensive grounds included a cemetery, garden, and cloisters along with the church. After spending almost three hundred years in London they were closed down by Henry III in 1538. Edward VI (1537-1553) ordered the church’s demolition and allowed development of houses on the site. One of the few surviving buildings, the refectory of the convent, became the Whitefriars Theatre. Established in 1608, the Jacobean theatre only lasted for around a decade and was thought to have been abandoned by the art scene by the 1620s and then demolished.
This is all that remains of the Monastery building and is thought to have been the cellar of the priory mansion. It was discovered in 1895, later being restored in the 1920s when the News of the World were developing their Fleet Street offices. In 1991 the ruins were lifted up on a crane and replaced in a slightly different location.
After the priory closed the Friars left and most of the buildings were demolished. However the governance of the area, which had been in the powers of the Friary was never taken back by the authorities and for the next two hundred years the area became known as a Liberty, that is an area that is free from the control of monarch, parliament or the City of London, basically there were no rules! As you can imagine it wasn’t long before the area gained a reputation as the most lawless area in London with crime, vice and murder prevalent within it’s tangle of dark alleyways. It’s a fascinating area with many tales to be told and I’ve manged to put some of them together in a walking tour called Taking Liberties.