The overlays that highlight 17th century London features are approximate and derived from Wenceslaus Hollar’s maps:

Open location in Google Maps: 51.520401, -0.078118

11 Annotations

First Reading

Ruben  •  Link

Spital Square was laid out in the 1720s and 30s on the site of the earlier Spital Yard. That in turn stood on the site of the Augustinian Priory and Hospital (hence the abbreviated name "Spital"). The hospital had been the first major building on the existing farmland, and was founded in 1197.
Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries signed its death warrant in 1539, and the area subsequently housed a mansion called Spittle House, on the site of the present St Botolph's Hall.
Spital Square was built to house a wealthy Huguenot silk weaver. The first owner was the man who built it - Peter Ogier III, the scion of a rich French Huguenot family. As a boy Peter was smuggled from France as a religious refugee. His family settled in Spitalfields and prospered as a silk merchant. In 1740…Peter made the decision to build a substantial home.
Beneath that home lay the remnants of the old Augustinian hospital. The south transept of the Priory Church lies beneath what is now number 37. The basement of the house also includes a stone corbel, probably from the Priory, and the foundations are made from re-used medieval stonework.
A century later, an 1842 account mentions that "a large proportion of houses in the square are inhabited by silk manufacturers".
By the latter half of the last century…number 37 was the only Georgian house left of the old Spital Square.
for more info see:…

language hat  •  Link

Pepys's spelling "spittle" is actually the older; here's part of the OED entry:

[ME. spitel, spittel, etc., = MLG. spittel, spettel, MHG. spittel, spittol (G. spittel), ultimately representing an aphetic form of HOSPITAL, modified on the analogy of native words in -el. [...] The common source of these is app. Italian or Levantine: cf. It. spedale, dial. spitale[...]; also med.L. spitalerius (1342 in Du Cange) [...].]

1. A house or place for the reception of the indigent or diseased; a charitable foundation for this purpose, esp. one chiefly occupied by persons of a low class or afflicted with foul diseases; a lazar-house. (Now written SPITAL.)
a1225 Ancr. R. 148 Moiseses hond,.. so sone he hefde withdrawen hire ut of his boseme, bisemede othe spitel-vuel, & thuhte leprus. [...] 1388 WYCLIF 1 Kings ii. 34 marg., Rabi Salomon seith, that he made in desert a spitele for pore men. c1400 Rom. Rose 6505 Whanne I see beggers quakyng,.. Lete bere hem to the spitel anoon. [...] 1556 Chron. Gr. Friars (Camden) 43 At sent Mary spettell, the iij. dayes in Ester weke, preched the vicar of Stepney one Jerome. 1601 B. JONSON Ev. Man in Hum. II. iii, May they lie and starue in some miserable spittle. 1698 FRYER Acc. E. India & P. 150 We descended from the Spittle, where we found the Poor faring well from their Benefactors. [...]

b. Distinguished from hospital, as being of a lower class than this.
1571 GRINDAL Articles Bivb, Whether your Hospitals, Spittles, and almose houses be well and godly vsed according to the foundation and auncient ordinances of the same. [...] 1621 BURTON Anat. Mel. III. i. III. i. 524 Put vp a supplication to him in the name of.. an hospitall, a spittle, a prison. a1641 BP. R. MONTAGU Acts & Mon. (1642) 385 They were fitter, if any were alive, for some Spittle or Hospitall, then for any service that they were able to do for Herod. [...]

Ruben  •  Link

A year ago I annotated that "Hospital" & "Hospice" were words imported from the Holy Land by the crusaders, together with the institution. Arab medicine was much better in those days than anything the crusaders knew. The original word was "Ushpezin", an Aramaic word (Aramaic was the lingua franca of the Middle East at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans), meaning what today we would call "hospitality" (not necessarily for sick people, but also for poor pilgrims).
The first military order was the Order of the Knights of St. John created in Jerusalem by King Godfrey to care for indigent pilgrims. Today you can still walk the original crusader St. John’s Hospital (alas, no roof!) in Jerusalem, between the Armenian and Jewish Quarters. This is probably the oldest Christian Hospital in this planet.
More on this in any good Old Jerusalem guide or in:……

language hat  •  Link

"Hospital" is *not* from Aramaic.
I'm sorry, but that's complete nonsense. It's not even debatable. The French word is from Latin hospitale 'place of reception for guests,' neut. sing. of hospitalis 'hospitable,' from hospit- (nominative singular hospes) 'host, guest.' Please look in a dictionary next time rather than relying on something you found on the internet.

Wim van der Meij  •  Link

Warrington has a note here and calls the Spittle: "Christ's Hospital".
By the way the German word for hospital is still 'Spital'. Here in my home town Zutphen, not far from the German border the local hospital is called: 'Het Spittaal'.

Pedro  •  Link

And someone who lived in Spittlefields during Roman times…

The discovery of a limestone sarcophagus with an inner lead coffin at Spitalfields in 1999 came as a surprise to the archaeologists excavating the site.


Terry Foreman  •  Link

Spital Square

"The late 17th and 18th centuries saw an estate of well-appointed terraced houses, built to accommodate the master weavers controlling the silk industry, and grand urban mansions built around the newly created Spital Square."…

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

Christ's Hospital, where the 'Spital Sermons are still preached annually, on Easter Monday and Tuesday
---Diary and correspondence of Samuel Pepys, the diary deciphered by J. Smith. 1854.

Spital Sermon. The sermon takes its name from the Priory or Hospital of St Mary Without Bishopgate, better known as St Mary Spital, founded in 1197. It has been preached every year since the late 14th Century.…

Bill  •  Link

The Spital sermons were originally preached in Spital Square, but they are now given at Christ Church, Newgate Street, on Easter Monday and Tuesday.
---Wheatley, 1899.

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.


  • Apr