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The Barbican and other London watch towers

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Barbacan; Burhkenning; Barbecanna

In the civil parish of City Of London.
In the historic county of London and Middlesex.
Modern Authority of City and County of the City of London.
1974 county of Greater London.
Medieval County of City of London.

OS Map Grid Reference: TQ32268190
Latitude 51.51986° Longitude -0.09346°

The Barbican and other London watch towers has been described as a certain Urban Defence.

There are no visible remains.


The site of an outer fortification of the City, possibly a watch-tower. Stow said it was pulled down by Henry III in 1267 after the war with the Barons. (PastScape)

Stow also reports other watch towers in the city but not located and all destroyed at the same time.

On the North West side of this City, near unto Redcross Street, there was a Tower, commonly called Barbican, or Burhkenning; for that the same, being placed on an high Ground, and also builded of some good Height, was (in old Time) used as a Watch Tower for the City; from whence a Man might behold and view the whole City towards the South, and also see into Kent, Sussex and Surrey, and likewise every other way, East, North, or West. Some other Burhkennings or Watch Towers there were of old Time, in and about the City, all which were repaired, yea, and others new builded by Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Glocester, in the Reign of King Henry the Third, when the Barons were in Arms, and held the City against the King. But the Barons being reconciled to his Favour, in the Year 1267, he caused all their Burhkennings, Watch Towers, and Bulwarks, made and repaired by the said Earl, to be plucked down, and the Ditches to be filled up, so that nought of them might be seen to remain. And then was this Burhkenning, amongst the rest, overthrown and destroyed; and altho' the Ditch near thereunto, called Houndsditch, was stopped up, yet the Street (of long Time after) was called Houndsditch, and of late Time (more commonly) called Barbican. The Plot or Seat of this Burhkenning, or Watch Tower, King Edward III. in the Year 1336, and the Tenth of his Reign, gave unto Robert Efford, (or Ufford) Earl of Suffolk, by the Name of his Manor of Base Court, in the Parish of S. Giles without Cripplegate, of London, commonly called the Barbican. (Stype)

Whilst, because they were destroyed in the Barons War, these towers had a perceived military function on a more day to day bases their function would have had more to do with policing and fire watch. Site probably under the Barbican Arts Centre which, ultimately, takes its name from this fortification.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:01

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