Sunday, March 02, 2014

Portpool Way

In Medieval times

the Northgate from the city

was a larger affair - with towers, a debtor's prison and dungeons underground

from where convicted men (and women) were led over a bridge to the chapel over the ditch (then stinking with fishy entrails and meaty offal, and sighed

before being carted to the gibbet to the east.

The chapel of St John's was then a hospital

for  the 'Sillie' people - or perhaps the most wise -

with 13 beds reserved for the poor

and then a school for blue-coated boys (but never girls).

Out of the city then, into the suburb,  the abbott's parish

where the taverns and inns of Bag Lane (now Canal Street)

served smuggled fish, and easy-going girls

and PortPool Way

(now Garden Lane) led

inexorably down

past cottages

now student digs.

There is still a sense

of the open air

not just the canal

but the place where the river pooled and spread

and ships from Gascony, Spain and Germany

dispelled their wine, flax and iron

in exchange for salt and skins

where today there are sheds, onions, cabbages

and a different sort of haven.


Blogger jem said...

I love these walks you take us on Clare. If I'd had you as my teacher at school I'd have love history far more (and probably English too, although I did like that then). The juxtapositions you notice make my haiku heart swoon. And I love the anti-bird spikes on the blue boy's book!

Thu Mar 06, 11:31:00 a.m.  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Thanks Jem! I'm delighted you like them. And yes, those spikes are pretty unsual. I think there must be a big pigeon problem just there.

Thu Mar 06, 06:29:00 p.m.  

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