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Bishopsgate, London

exterior of St Helens, Bishopsgate, London
St Helens, Bishopsgate
Bishopsgate was one of the major entrance ways to the City of London. The tiny parish of St Helen's in Bishopsgate, was William's first home in the city, and was conveniently located for those theatre-types who needed to commute to Shoreditch.

Outside the city gate was the original site of Bedlam, the infamous lunatic asylum (now the site of the ever so slightly saner Liverpool Street Station), along with the White Hart and Dolphin Inns. These three-storey hostels were able to accommodate several hundred guests (and their horses). The area was also home to market stalls selling second-hand clothes, pawnbrokers and metal foundries. The crowded tenement buildings of "Petty France," and a growing community of Jewish immigrants, were also to be found outside the gate.

The Four Swans Inn, Bishopsgate, London, circa 1900
The Four Swans Inn, Bishopsgate
Inside the gate was a vast and crowded array of Inns, restaurants and the many entertainments required to service the newly arrived visitor to London.

Many of the Inns in the area, like the Black Bull, were also home to the small-scale theatres where William himself may have appeared on stage.

As with any area that attracted tourists and revelers, Bishopsgate was a hotbed of crime; pickpockets and con men infested every street.

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The Oxford Arms near Bishopsgate, London, circa 1900Shoreditch, London

The River Thames, LondonShakespeare's London

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