This bronze sculpture, located in Watling Street in the City of London, commemorates Ward of Cordwainer which in medieval times was home to London’s shoe-making industry.
The term ‘cordwainer’ relates to a shoemaker who makes shoes from new leather and is derived from the fact that shoe-makers used leather – “cordovan” – from the then Moorish town of Cordoba in Spain (in London this trade was controlled by the Worshipful Company of Cordwainers).
The statue, the work of Alma Boyes, was erected in 2002 in celebration of the centenary of the Ward of Cordwainer Club and was a joint initiative of the club and the City Corporation. Initially erected in Bow Churchyard, it was relocated to its present location alongside St Mary Aldermary Church, close to the Queen Victoria Street end of Watling Street, a couple of years later.
It was during the reign of King James I that the first permanent English settlement was made in what was then called the New World (and is now better known as the United States of America).
Named Jamestown (after the King) and located on Jamestown Island, it was the capital of the new Virginia Colony and was founded by the London Company.
The ‘discovery’ and settlement of the New World impacted London itself in various ways – here we look at a couple of related sites in London…
First up is Blackwall in East London, from where three small merchant ships of the Virginia Company of London sailed in 1606 under orders from King James I to bring back gold from the New World. The site is now marked by the First Settlers Monument, first unveiled in 1928 and then restored in 1999.
Among those who was on board the ships is Captain John Smith (he of Pocahontas fame) – a statue of him can be found in Bow Churchyard in the City (pictured right, it’s a replica of an original in Richmond, Virginia). Captain Smith was buried in St Sepulchre-without-Newgate, where there is a window commemorating him.
Next we turn to the former, now non-existent, property of John Tradescant and his son, also John Tradescant. Gardeners to the rich and famous and avid collectors of all sorts of artefacts, they are noted for having founded “The Ark” – a house in Lambeth, in they showed off a collection of curiosities that they had gathered on his trips (both were were widely travelled).
These included objects presented to by American colonists including John the Elder’s friend Captain John Smith and those collected by personally by John the Younger (he made several trips to the New World). Among them was the mantle of Powhattan, the father of Pocahontas.
The pair’s name lives on in Tradescant Road in Lambeth (it marks one side of the Tradescant estate). They are both buried at St Mary-at-Lambeth which now houses the Garden Museum.