This lovely sandal belongs to one of the sons of King Lud whose statue used to stand on Ludgate, the western entrance to the City. Ludgate was built in 1586 after previous versions of the gate had not stood the test of time. It was rebuilt once again after the Great Fire of 1666, but finally demolished in 1760. According to Thomas Pennant, the remains were sold for 148 pounds, the purchaser to remove the rubbish.(1) The statue of Lud and his sons Androgeus and Theomantius (also called Tenvantius) had stood on top of the gate on the eastern side, while Queen Elizabeth I guarded the west side. When the gate was demolished, the statues were brought to St. Dunstan–in-the-West in Fleet Street where they live in the tiny court yard. When I went round in September, Elizabeth had been boarded up to protect her from the maintenance work that was being done, but the Gentle Author recently posted an old photograph on his blog Spitalfields Life which shows her statue.
As Lud was protected by the porch, he was not boarded up and still there to be seen, and although the son has a sandal on his foot, several other feet of the family are missing, nor do they have many arms between them; the centuries have not been kind.
The name of the gate still survives in Ludgate Hill, but the link with King Lud, a Celtic king who ruled the country in pre-Roman times, is almost certainly apocryphal, originating with Geoffrey of Monmouth in the twelfth century and repeated at the end of the sixteenth century by John Stow.(2) Richard Verstegan had his own reason for rejecting King Lud as the namegiver of the gate as, according to him, “it could never of Lud be called Ludgate, because gate is no British word, & had it taken name of Lud it must have bin Ludporth, and not Ludgate”.(3) Whatever the linguistic truth of that statement, the name is now thought to have derived from Old English ‘hlidgeat’, ‘swing gate’.
Ludgate Prison was established in the gatehouse in 1378 for petty offenders such as debtors; serious offenders went to Newgate prison. These debtors even gave rise to the now obsolete term Ludgathians.(4) In 1712, a curious booklet was issued, called The Present State of the Prison of Ludgate. In typical seventeenth and early eighteenth-century style, the title-page is rather verbose, stating that the purpose of the text is “Fully discovering all its customs, privileges, and advantages, whereby it exceeds all other prisons, and particularly shewing what treatment the prisoners meet with from their first entrance to their discharge”. And if that was not enough, the author continues with “useful remarks and pertinent observations on the former state thereof. Interspers’d with divers pleasant relations of the humours of the prisoners … Together with an account of divers impositions and innovations lately introduc’d”. And all that to show that “imprisonment is not so exceeding dreadful as some imagine”. This rather disagrees with the qualification Pennant gave later that century, “a wretched prison for debtors”.(5) The author of the booklet remains anonymous, using the pseudonymous ‘Philopolites’ to sign his dedication, but it is most certainly a defence against allegations made that not all was well in the prison and prisoners are exploited. Prisoners – and remember they were put there for debt – had to pay for all sorts of things, for sheets, for lamps and candles and for food, but, according to Philopolites, all is done according to fair rules and regulations and properly accounted for in the books. The lady [or in this case probably the man] doth protest too much, methinks.
You can read the whole pamphlet here.
(1) Thomas Pennant, Some Account of London (1790; 5th ed. 1813), p. 318.
(2) Geoffrey of Monmouth, Historia Regum Britanniae (±1136); John Stow, A Survey of London (1598).
(3) Richard Verstegan, A Restitution of Decayed Intelligence in antiquities (1634), p. 136.
(4) Ben Jonson, The comicall satyre of euery man out of his humor, (1600) unpaginated, signature C4v “Alwaies beware you commerce not with bankrupts, or poore needie Ludgathians”.
(5) Thomas Pennant, Some Account of London (1790; 5th ed. 1813), p. 319.