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bank as a quiet retreat from the hurly-burly of London life. The bridge
was opened to the public nine years later and from then on streets
stretched out from the main thoroughfare into the heart of the countryside.|
Prosperous tradesmen had established themselves in
most of the houses, conducting a variety of trades from the curling of
ostrich feathers for the hats and head-dresses of court ladies to the
manufacture of wigs and perukes for the professional classes. At Number 25,
Great Surrey Street, a curious sign caught the eye of the casual visitor.
Displayed over the shop of Antony Walker, describing himself as a "Furnishing
Ironmonger, Brazier and Hardwareman", was a wooden effigy of a dog or hound
with its head over a three-legged iron pot of a type still sold to serve as
coal scuttles. In the time of the founder of Haywards this sign, still
preserved today in the Cuming Museum, Southwark, and said to date from the
16th century, was in the possession of Antony Walker, though its subsequent
history is sometimes obscured. There is little doubt, however, that it had
at one time stood over the portals of an inn.
Whether originally such signs had started as
ironmongers' signs and were borrowed later by the more convivial trade,
or the other way about, is not known. It is reasonable to suppose that had
this particular example been designed by an ironmonger for his own use, the
dog as well as the pot would have been fashioned of iron or brass rather
than wood. Mentioned by Wynkyn de Worde, a printer apprenticed to Caxton,
such signs had been known from at least the early 15th century and were
taken to reproach a slovenly housewife who, rather than wash her dishes
clean under the pump, put them down for the dog to lick. Its use as a
sign by ironmongers is explained by the fact that they make both "dogs"
for the fire and pots to stand or hang over it.
There were a number of ironmongers in Great Surrey
Street or the adjoining roads. With the retirement of Antony Walker and
the occupation of his premises by a coachbuilder, who had no claims to
dogs and pots, there would have been fierce competition