LUKE'S, ST., a suburban parish, in the Finsbury division of the hundred of Ossulstone, county of Middlesex; comprising the liberties of the City-road, East Finsbury, West Finsbury, Golden-lane, Old-street, and Whitecross-street; and containing 49,829 inhabitants. The earliest notice of this district occurs in its connexion with the Eald or Old street, by which term the Saxons designated the Roman military way from the western extremity of the metropolis, without the great Fen, which is stated to have given name to Fensbury, now Finsbury, and to Moorfields. The road is said to have extended from London Wall to Hoxton, and to have been continued through the churchyard of St. Leonard's, Shoreditch, and through the parish of Bethnal-green, to the Old Ford near Hackney. The southern part of the Fen was gradually raised by various deposits, and particularly by many hundred cart-loads of bones removed from the charnel-house of St. Paul's, by order of the Duke of Somerset, when Protector; whence it obtained the name of Bonehill (now Bunhill) Fields. A portion of the site was appropriated by the city as a cemetery during the plague in 1665, and is now a burialground. Another portion of the same fields was assigned for the practice of archery, by the corporation of the city of London, in 1498; it was subsequently let in trust to Sir Paul Pindar, and appropriated in 1641 as a place of exercise for the city trained-bands. It is now inclosed by buildings, and is the property of the Hon. the Artillery Company, who, during the late war, formed a very efficient regiment, equipped at their own expense, and who still continue to muster occasionally, and have an armoury, a mess-room, and other apartments, forming a handsome and substantial building, in front of which is a spacious plot of ground for field exercise, called the "Artillery Ground." In Goldenlane was the original playhouse of Alleyn, founder of Dulwich College; the front, bearing the royal arms, is yet remaining. Peerless Pool, called by Stow "Perilous" Pool, and in 1743 converted into one of the largest swimming-baths in the kingdom, is still used for bathing. Adjacent to Bunhill-row, was the lord mayor's "Dog-house," or kennel for the city hounds; and at Mount Hill, near the upper end of Goswell-street, now levelled and covered with buildings, was one of the bastions erected by the parliamentarians, in 1643.
St. Luke's was anciently part of the parish of Cripplegate, the church of which being found inadequate to the accommodation of the parishioners, an additional one was erected in Old-street by the commissioners for new churches in the reign of Queen Anne, who assigned to it the present district; which, after the completion of the church, was laid out in numerous streets and squares, covered with buildings in every direction, and has become one of the most extensive and populous parishes in the suburbs of the metropolis. It is well paved, lighted with gas, and supplied with water by the New River Company. The City of London Gas Company have one of their establishments in Brick-lane, in the parish; and there are various cooperages, breweries, an indigo-manufactory, and a rope-walk. Since the formation of the Regent's canal, extensive lime, timber, and coal wharfs have been formed. The city basin, communicating with the canal, crosses the City-road, and forms a grand depot for merchandise forwarded by water to every part of the kingdom; the principal carriers have large wharfs and warehouses on the banks. The living is a rectory not in charge; net income, £578: patrons, the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's. The church, built in 1732, is a plain substantial edifice of stone, in the Grecian style, with a lofty steeple in the form of a fluted obelisk; the interior is neatly arranged, and the roof is supported by Ionic pillars separating the nave from the aisles: a new organ, of great power, was opened in March, 1844. In the churchyard are the tombs of several of the Caslons, eminent type-founders in the parish. St. Barnabas' district church, King'ssquare, a neat edifice of brick, with a stone portico of the Ionic order, surmounted by a slender spire, was erected in 1823, by the Parliamentary Commissioners, at an expense of £12,853, and contains 1608 sittings, of which 917 are free: the living is a perpetual curacy; net income, £120: patron, the Rector. St. Paul's district church, in Bunhill-row, a neat edifice in a simple pointed style, was consecrated July 10th, 1839: the living is also a perpetual curacy, in the Rector's gift. On the north side of the City-road is another church, completed in the winter of 1847-8; it is built of Kentish ragstone, and has a handsome tower and spire. There are places of worship for Baptists, Independents, Wesleyans, and Calvinistic Methodists. Of these, the Tabernacle was erected by the Rev. G. Whitefield, founder of the Calvinistic Methodists, and in it he himself for some time preached: that belonging to the Wesleyans was built on the site of the City foundry (which was used for casting cannon so late as 1715), by the Rev. J. Wesley, who was interred behind it in 1791. In front of the latter is Tindal's, or Bunhill-fields, burial-ground; the dues for interments in which are received by the corporation of London: the number of persons interred annually averages from 1200 to 1500. Among the numerous distinguished nonconformist divines buried here, may be enumerated John Bunyan, author of the Pilgrim's Progress, who died in 1618; Dr. Williams, founder of the Dissenters' Library in Redcross-street, who died in 1716; Dr. Isaac Watts, the poet, logician, and divine, who died in 1748; the Rev. Dr. Neale, author of the History of the Puritans, who died in 1765; Dr. Lardner, author of the Credibility of the Gospel History, who died in 1768; Dr. Gill, who died in 1771; Dr. Richard Price, the eminent mathematician, author of Reversionary Payments, &c., who died in 1791; the Rev. Theophilus Lindsey, who died in 1808; Dr. A. Rees, editor of the Encyclopædia, who died in 1825; and the Rev. John Townsend, founder of the Deaf and Dumb Asylum, who died in 1826.
The parochial school for boys was established in 1698, and that for girls in 1761; the school-house, in Goldenlane, was built in 1780: these schools are supported by subscription, and by a fund of £6500 three per cent. consols., which has arisen from benefactions and savings. The free school founded by William Worrall in 1689 has an endowment producing about £300 per annum. The Haberdashers' Company have a house and premises in Bunhill-row, in which a considerable number of boys are instructed. St. Luke's Hospital, for lunatics, is noticed under the head of London. Almshouses for eight aged women were founded in 1650, by Mrs. Susan Amias; the income exceeds £220 per annum. Edward Alleyn, founder of Dulwich College, erected ten houses, in Pesthouse-row, now Bath-street. Six were founded in the City-road by the Dyers' Company, in 1776: six others, founded by the Girdlers' Company, were rebuilt in 1741; and four houses founded by the Ironmongers' Company, in Mitchel-court, Old-street, were rebuilt in 1811, pursuant to the will of Thomas Lewer, Esq. The French Hospital, in Bath-street, for the maintenance and support of French Protestants, was incorporated in the reign of George I.; it is a substantial building of brick, occupying three sides of a quadrangular area, the centre of which is laid out in gardens. The City of London Lying-in Hospital, originally instituted in 1771, in Shaftesbury House, Aldersgate-street, and subsequently removed to its present situation, is supported by subscription, and constitutes a school of midwifery, to which female pupils only are admitted.