Many of the highways and byways around the precincts of St Paul’s Cathedral bear names which have ecclesiastical origins.
It is very likely that Amen Court housed the scribes and letter writers employed in writing the great volumes of the Cathedral.
Reputedly built by Sir Christopher Wren, Amen Court is a secluded little solace hidden away behind Ave Maria Lane
. This charming little Court contains the late 17th century houses of the residentiary cannons of St Paul’s Cathedral, some of which still retain the original torch-light extinguishers, positioned by their doors. One or two are further graced with old iron foot scrapers. Tucked away at the far end a pretty garden adds the finishing touches to this tranquil setting.
Before the Great Fire, the ground on which Amen Court is constructed was occupied by the Oxford Arms, one of the many galleried coaching inns of the City. All were built on a similar style where the galleried rooms, usually of two storeys, bordered three sides of the court and the fourth side was built up with stabling. In the Oxford Arms courtyard the stables lay on the west side, up against the Roman Wall. The old inn was burnt down in the Fire but as the cogs of commerce once again began to grind and as the construction of new St Paul’s Cathedral was taking shape, the Dean and Chapter rebuilt the inn on the same site. Adjoining the inn, on the site of part of the old courtyard, they built the cannons’ houses with a connecting door to the inn. In a later lease of the inn it was stipulated that on no account was this door to sealed up or barred.
The Oxford Arms inn is long gone; like the rest of the old coaching inns of London it rapidly lost trade when the railways claimed a foot-hold in the carriage business and the Oxford stage was forced off the road.
It is unfortunate that we mortals do not have the run of Amen Court; it is protected by a high gate and the only means of gaining access is by prior application to the Dean and Chapter of St Paul’s Cathedral.
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.
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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.