Historical references to London's sounds

A database of several hundred historical descriptions and references to London's sounds. They're drawn mainly from primary sources such as autobiographies, diaries and statutes, as well as novels written around the times they depict.

11th to
16th to
18th Early
 Hue-and-cry     1 4 2      
 Laws, curfews and control of crowds   2 1 2        
 Sentries and nightwatchmen   1 2       1  
 Public executions     2 2 1      
 Courts of law       2        
 Prison regimes       1 1      
 Other legal proceedings           1    
 Sounds of crime     1          

Period referred to: 1481

Sound category: Authority: Laws, curfews and control of crowds

Title of work: Calendar of Letter-Books of the City of London

Type of publication: Administrative chronicle

Author: Unknown

Year of publication: 1481

Page/volume number: Folios 167n–168b

Medieval regulations controlling the noise of wiremongers

Ordinacio de Wyremongers.

The same day came the Wardens and Fellowship of the Mistery of Wyremongers and prayed that certain articles for the regulation of the Craft might be approved and enrolled, to the following effect (inter alia) :—

That no one of the Craft work anything pertaining to the same upon Saturday nor on the vigil of any double Feast after the last pele of evensong rung in the parish church, under penalty of forfeiting 2 pounds of wax or 8 pence for the pound.

[. . .]

Also that henceforth no person work in the Craft after 9 P. M., to the annoyance of his neighbours with knocking or filing, under penalty of paying one pound of wax to the Guildhall Chapel and one pound to the use of the Craft, or 8 pence for the pound.

Period referred to: Late 13th century

Sound category: Authority > Curfews and control of crowds

Title of work: Letter Books of the City

Type of publication: Administrative record

Author: Unknown

Year of publication: 1297

Page/volume number:

Curfew ordinance from 1297

"On behalf of the King and his son, and their Council, the Warden and the Aldermen ordain, – That no person shall be so daring as to be found walking through the streets after curfew rung at St. Martin's le Grand; and that every one, under the penalty that is awarded thereto, shall come when he is summoned to the watch, as well at the City Gates as in the streets, armed and arrayed as he ought to be.

"And that every one shall keep clean the front of his tenement, that so the streets be delivered from all incumbrances before Friday next, at Vespers; and where incumbrances shall be found after the time aforesaid, let the owner be amerced in half a mark.

"And that the stands be removed forthwith, before Vespers.

"And that on Sunday every Alderman, in his own Ward, shall take such stands as shall be found in the streets, and do his will therewith; and if after that time any stand shall be found in the streets, the Warden shall do his will therewith.

"And that no taverner or brewster shall keep the door open after curfew rung, as aforesaid; and that whosoever shall be convicted thereof, shall be amerced in half a mark, which shall be expended in repairing the walls and the gates of the City.

"And that fullers' implements shall be forthwith removed, before Vespers.

"And that pentices which are too low shall be forthwith pulled down, that so persons may ride on great horses beneath.

"And also, that pig-sties that are in the streets shall be speedily removed; and that no swine shall be found in the streets, on pain of forfeiture thereof, in aid of making the walls and gates."