Lost London: Gates Special – Aldgate

Once the eastern-most gateway into London, Aldgate is another of London’s gates which dates from Roman times.

The gate, which stood over the short street in the City now simply known as Aldgate, was rebuilt several times during the Middle Ages before, thanks again to the need for road widening, it was demolished in 1761.

Some sections of the gate were apparently taken to Bethnel Green, just to the east, where they were rebuilt as an addition to a 17th century mansion known as Aldgate House.

The name Aldgate is generally thought to mean ‘Old Gate’ but alternative theories suggest it derives from ‘Ale Gate’ (a connection with a local alehouse perhaps?) or ‘All Gate’ (that, is, all are free to enter).

The most famous person associated with the gate is the Middle English writer Geoffrey Chaucer – he lived in apartments above it for more than 10 years – from 1374 to 1386 – while working as a customs official.

Aldgate is also one of the wards of the City of London.

PICTURE: An artist’s impression of how Roman Aldgate may have looked as seen on a plaque marking the site of the former gate (part of a series of plaques on the former London Wall Walk).