A Beautiful Book - Paternoster Row London EC4..

Cooking, religious practice and printing are traditionally interconnected, so it is hardly surprising that these particular activities dominated the street-scene of Paternoster Row, London EC4. The clergy of the medieval St Paul’s Cathedral would walk here while chanting the Lord’s Prayer. The Row was ecclesiastical in character. Stationers and publishers sold religious books there, as well as alphabets, paternosters, aves, creeds, and graces. Paternoster Row, to the north of the cathedral, and Paternoster Square to the west, became the literary heart of London. Its history was bound up with that of the great publishing firms and the great literary enterprises of that period. Here was issued, among a host of other well-known ventures, the London Magazine, the Annual Register, and the Encyclopaedia of Ephraim Chambers. Trübner & Co. was one of the publishing companies on Paternoster Row. Longmans had their immense offices there with its fourteen windows in front.

Next to Longmans were the premises of Whittaker & Co., extending half way down Ave Maria Lane which, since 1670, is home to the famous livery hall of the Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers. By the mid-nineteenth century London was the greatest market for books in the world. Some 15,000 persons were employed in the book printing,  book binding and the sale of books. Paternoster Row boasted that an edition of a thousand copies in octavo required no more than ten or twelve hours for the binding. Unfortunately, and in spite of its pious past, the Row was devastated by aerial bombardment during the Blitz in the night raid of 29/30 December 1940. It was later characterized as the Second Great Fire of London. In a period of twelve hours, more than 24,000 high explosive bombs and 100,000 incendiary missiles were dropped.


A Beautiful Book - Longmans, Green and Co. - Longman & Rees - William Morris - William Caxton - Whittaker & Co