Martin's (St.) Lane, the street which, since the rebuilding of the City after the Great Fire, has been called St. Martin's-le-Grand.
Martin's (St.) Le Grand, a collegiate church and sanctuary, on the site of the General Post Office (no traces remain), founded or enlarged by Ingelric, Earl of Essex, and Girard, his brother, in 1056, and confirmed by a charter of William the Conqueror in 1068. It stood within the walls of the City of London, but was a liberty by itself, the Mayor and Corporation often endeavouring, but in vain, to interfere with the privileges of the precinct. Criminals on their way to execution from Newgate to Tower Hill passed the south gate of St. Martin's, and often sought, sometimes successfully, to escape from their attendants into the adjoining sanctuary. ... At the dissolution of religious houses the college was levelled to the ground, and a kind of Alsatia established, let to "strangers born," and highly prized from the privileges of sanctuary which the inhabitants, chiefly manufacturers of counterfeit ware, latten and copper articles, beads, etc., continued to enjoy, till the Act 21 James I. c . 28 (1623), declared that all such privilege of sanctuary should thereafter be void. ... When the excavations were making in 1818 for the General Post Office, an early English crypt and the vaults of a still earlier foundation were discovered and destroyed.
The wide street now known as St. Martin's-le-grand extends north from Cheapside and Newgate Street to Aldersgate Street. It occupies the line of the old St. Martin's Lane, but is much wider. The college lay on the east of it, but the sanctuary included the west side of St. Martin's Lane. The General Post Office (the older building) occupies the whole of the east side of St. Martin's-le-Grand to St . Ann's Lane; and the entire west side is occupied by the new portion of the General Post Office, and an open space (1889) upon which the extended premises of the Post Office are to be built.
---London, Past and Present. H.B. Wheatley, 1891.
Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.