The City of London constituted most of London from its settlement by the Romans in the 1st century AD to the Middle Ages, but the conurbation has since grown far beyond its borders.
Ireland Yard is an alleyway leading off of Playhouse Yard
When the Black Friars monastery was dissolved by Henry VIII in 1538, most of the buildings were left to decay, whilst some of those occupying the outer fringes of the grounds were given to people who happened to be in the King’s favour at the time. One such beneficiary was Sir Thomas Carwardine who on a nod and a wink came away from the royal chamber clutching the title deeds to the priory church and east gatehouse.
Having little regard for ancient buildings he promptly pulled down the church and was on the verge of doing the same with the gatehouse, but on seconds thoughts decided to make it his home. Later in the century the refurbished ’house’ was sold to William Ireland, a City haberdasher, who stepped out of his door one day only to be frightened out of his wits by a bearded gentleman cuddling a skull and spouting forth about ghosts. He was not aware of it at the time but this petrifying fellow was none other than William Shakespeare who, to Ireland’s dismay, was about to become his next door neighbour. Because buses were not too frequent in those days, Shakespeare moved into Ireland Yard in 1612 so as to be conveniently near to Richard Burbage’s new theatre where the great man regularly featured at the top of the bill.
A short flight of steps on the north side of Ireland Yard lead up to the churchyard of St Ann Blackfriars
where a Corporation of London notice board by the steps records that, ’on this plot of land stood, in the middle ages, part of the provincials hall of the Dominican Priors of Blackfriars
with the dorter over. When the priory was dissolved in 1538 the parish church of St Anne Blackfriars
was built on this site. The church was destroyed in the great fire of 1666 and not rebuilt. The parish was united with the parish of St Andrew by the Wardrobe. The site was thereafter used as a churchyard alternately with the one in Church Entry
. It was closed in 1849.’
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As the City's boundaries have remained almost unchanged since the Middle Ages, it is now only a tiny part of the metropolis of Greater London, though it remains a notable part of central London. It holds city status in its own right and is also a separate ceremonial county.
It is widely referred to as 'The City' (often written on maps as City
and differentiated from the phrase 'the city of London') or 'the Square Mile' as it is 1.12 square miles in area. These terms are also often used as metonyms for the United Kingdom's financial services industry, which continues a notable history of being largely based in the City.
The local authority for the City, the City of London Corporation, is unique in the UK and has some unusual responsibilities for a local council, such as being the police authority. It also has responsibilities and ownerships beyond the City's boundaries. The Corporation is headed by the Lord Mayor of the City of London, an office separate from (and much older than) the Mayor of London.
The City is a major business and financial centre, ranking as the world's leading centre of global finance. Throughout the 19th century, the City was the world's primary business centre, and continues to be a major meeting point for businesses.
The City had a resident population of about 7000 in 2011 but over 300,000 people commute to it and work there, mainly in the financial services sector. The legal profession forms a major component of the northern and western sides of the City - especially in the Temple and Chancery Lane areas where the Inns of Court are located, of which two—Inner Temple and Middle Temple - fall within the City of London boundary.