King James Version  Trail

Saturday 10 September 2011


The Monument
The Steelyard
Tyndale Statue
Palace of Whitehall
Stationerís Hall
St Paulís Churchyard
St Paulís Cross
Museum of London


The Monument





17th Century London


In the 17th century city of London was a compact city of about 250,000 people crammed into a very small space.

The city was guarded by a high and broad wall broken up  by gates:

Suggestions for what they were called? Aldersgate, Bridgegate, Billingsgate, Aldgate, Bishopsgate, Newgate, Ludgate.

All main streets led to great market place of the Cheap, near St Paulís Cathedral.  It was the home of the great merchants and traders clustered around it. 

Religious houses everywhere: Blackfriars, Greyfriars, Cistertercians. Priories and nunneries were everywhere.

The Fire

55 years after the King James Version was published disaster struck London. On 2nd   September 1666, Thomas Farrinor, a baker, failed to turn off his oven. The result was that some 4/5ths  of the city was destroyed. This included 13,000 houses, 89 churches, and 52 Guild Halls.


This is why  we have to use our imagination at all the sites we visit. In some cases, Stationers Hall and St Paulís Cathedral new buildings have been put up.


The fire started in Thomas Farrinorís bakery. This monument commemorates the disaster.


The Monument is 61 meters high, to represent the distance from here to the site. Look east Ė how far is 61 meters? The first parking notice pole?  . This was the site of the bakery. 


The original inscription  commemorating the fire is in Latin. This reveals the attitude of people in 17th century about writing. Inscriptions were in Latin because that was the language of the educated people. The great majority of people couldnít read it, but that did not matter. It was this attitude that had prevented people reading the Bible. The King James Version was a game changer as we shall see.


An inscription in English was added later.

The People

On the trail we are going to think about a number of people who played a role in the development of the King James Version .

We are going to think about:

        monarchs such as Henry VIII and James I.

        reformers such as Martin Luther and William Tyndale

        printers such as Johannes Gutenberg and Robert Baker

The trail finishes at the Museum of London where we will watch a video of the fire and see the devastation that resulted. The main purpose of looking at the video is not to see the devastating experience of the fire but to get a feel for London 400 years ago. Try not to get too carried away with the drama look also at the streets, the houses the people and how they were dressed. 


The Riverside Walk, to look at some nautical history.

The Steelyard

Changing London

Look at the future before looking at the past.

Across the river is the Shard. It will be the tallest building in the EU at 310m with 72 floors. Due for completion  in  2012. It was originally known as The Shard of Glass, because it will be completely clad in glass.

The Shard typifies the change that is constantly taking place in London. Itís no wonder that when we want to look back more than 400 years we find little of the past. But there are two clues about the past here:

Despite the changes, itís certain that this is the spot we are looking for. For several hundred years it was known as the Steelyard. The name has nothing to do with steel, it is derived from the German stal, which means sample or pattern and hof which means courtyard.

In the 16th century this quay played a significant part in the development of  the KJV. It was here in 1526, 85 years before the KJV was published that New Testament Bibles in English were first smuggled into the country.

They were shipped down the Rhine to Antwerp and then across the North Sea and up the Thames. They arrived concealed in cargos of  wheat, rye and other grains, in bales of flax and hemp and in barrels of wax. The sacks, bales and barrels had special markings and the German importers knew where they would find the Bibles.

There are two pieces of evidence that this is the Steelyard.

        Timbers buried in the mud over the wall to give a clue that the river was not always like this. There was a quay here where vessels used to tie up and load and unload cargo.

         This section of the Riverside Walk is called Hanseatic Way.

       It is named after the Hanseatic League which was an alliance of merchant   

       associations within the cities of Northern Germany and the Baltic. They established

       enclaves in major European ports where they enjoyed almost diplomatic status and

      contributed generously to maintaining civic features such as walls or gates.

In 1475 the Hanseatic League purchased this site here and the Germans remained until the en d of the 16th century.

Back fr om the river we need to imagine warehouses where cargoes were stored. Probably solid  built warehouses, similar to the Hanseatic Warehouse on the South Quay in Kings Lynn.  But it wasnít all work. There were also four inns where the German importers would entertain English merchants. Large quantities of Rheine wine would be consumed as the merchants were shown samples of the goods on offer.

It was no coincidence that the smuggling took place on this quay here and we will follow up the German connection in a moment.

The Reformation

So what changed in 85 years? We are focusing on 1611 when the KJV was published. Why was it necessary to smuggle Bibles in English in 1526? The short answer is the Reformation which swept across Europe in the 16th century.  Many people were unhappy with the way things had developed and they wanted change, they wanted reform. Not minor change, but sweeping reform including an end to the abuses which had developed and they wanted to read the Bible in their native languages.

Eventually the protesters set up their own churches and so the protestant churches came into being.

The story of the Reformation really goes back 1500 years before bible smuggling started. The Christian church was launched in Spring of AD30 when the Apostle Peter spoke to the crowd in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost, just 6 weeks after Jesus of Nazareth had been crucified. The church grew at an amazing speed and within 100 years it extended across all Mediterranean countries.

Fast forward 1500 years and the church is an international corporation, with vast power and fabulous wealth. Its many thousands of employees made up a Europe wide network, a branch in every village. With Head Office in the Vatican. It is an incredible story of phenomenal growth. But growth brought its problems. Over the years it moved away from its roots, particularly its Biblical roots and there was substantial corruption. The language of the church was Latin, so all Bibles across Europe were in Latin.

The Reformation was borne in Germany. This movement for change swept across Europe in the 16th century.  

Martin Luther

The Reformation was triggered when  an Augustinian monk who was also a professor of theology at the university of Wittenberg blew the whistle. 

The monk was Martin Luther. He was also a professor of theology at the university.  He was concerned for some time about the abuses and corruption in the church, but in 1517 he was so outraged that he decided to become the whistleblower. An   envoy from the Vatican arrived in Witttenberg to promote the sale of indulgencies to raise money to rebuild St Peterís Basilica in Rome. An indulgence was a letter the church sold to people to remit the time spent in purgatory and it also released the sinner from the need to do a penance. Which sounded like good value, but Martin  Luther knew the purgatory was an invention of the church.  The whole case for purgatory and doing penance was based on a mis-translation of one word in the Bible. The Greek word clearly means repent, but it was translated as penance which is about self mortification and self denial.

He wrote to his bishop arguing that fund raising by selling letters of indulgence was a corrupt practice without any basis in scripture and he set out Ninety-Five Theses he proposed to present at the university to prove his case. He believed that if you are going to b low the whistle, donít do it quietly Ė blow it hard so that people will hear it.  So as well as writing the letter he nailed the list of 95 theses to the door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg. The whistle was blown and like all scandals, such as MPs expenses or phone hacking, more corruption and abuses came to the surface and the Reformation had started.

Henry VIII

Back in England Henry VIII had concerns about but he was not on the same wavelength as Luther. He wanted a male heir and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, was not going to produce a son. He wanted  a divorce so he could marry Anne Boleyn.

In 1533 Henry broke with the Catholic Church and became the head of the Church of England. His divorce was now legal and he married Anne Boleyn. Henry became Supreme Head of the Church by an Act of Parliament in 1534.

So because of the change in attitudes brought by the Reformation and because Henry VIII cut the ties with Rome it was no longer necessary to smuggle Bibles.

Wool Exports


Downstream, Between the old Billingsgate Market and the Tower are the Legal Quays where most of the imports and exports of London were handled. In the middle of this stretch of the river is the Custom House. The current Custom house is only about 200 years old.  At this time the job of collecting duties was privatised by selling the right to collect revenue to rich merchants. The merchants would give the king a lump  sum of money and in return, he allowed them to collect all the revenue to recoup the payment with interest.   


In 1526 when Bible were being smuggled into the Steelyard, William Uredale was collecting revenue from people exporting wool, sheepskins and leather.

This is an extract from his records, which has been obtained from the National Archieves. It lists the names of the exporters and the quantities they were exporting.


Monarch did not rely totally on the honesty of the merchants to produce accurate record and in each port a controller of customs was appointed. It was his job to keep an independent record and once every year the records of collectors and the controller had to be reconciled.  The most famous of controllers was Geoffrey Chaucer, appointed as controller in London in 1374. He held the job for 12 years.


So on  a typical day in 1526 William Uredale was collecting revenue on consignments of wool were being loaded in vessels at the Legal Quays down there, whilethe German importers were checking for the special markings on their sacks of wheat bales of flax and barrels of wax.  


In our next stop we will explain how William Tyndale overcame the obstacles to publishing the Bible in English and how eventually it cost him his life.




Tyndale Statue



The  bronze statue by Sir Joseph Boehm commemorates the life and work of Tyndale.  The right hand is resting on an open Bible, which resting on an early printing press.

Opposition to a Bible in English

Why was the church so opposed to a Bible in English that everyone could read?

The argument  was that it was the job of the clergy to explain the Bible to the people and the bible stories were displayed in the stained glass windows in churches. The bishops also recognised that translating the Bible into English could raise disputes about the translation of passages.  They knew that the Greek word translated as penance in the Latin Bible would appear as repent in an English Bible. This would then threaten the whole idea of purgatory and undermine their authority.

Translations of the Bible into various forms of English, such as Old English, were made over the centuries, but these were hand-written copies with a very limited circulation.

Earlier attempt to publish a Bible in English

Some 140 years before Tyndale, in 1380, the church had seen off a challenge from  John Wycliffe an  Oxford professor. He produced the First Bible in English Ė hand written.

In 1382 he was expelled from Oxford University because of his opposition to traditional Church doctrines. He died 2 years later.  After his death he was condemned as a heretic and his bones should be dug up, burned, and cast into the River Swift. His translation of the Bible was suppressed. He was also vicar of St Maryís church in Lutterworth and there is  memorial to him at the church which is close to Junction 20 on the M1.  At this time a law was introduced that before a translation of the Bible into English was made, it had to be approved by a bishop.

William Tyndale Early Years

The law requiring the approval of a bishop for a translation of the Bible to be made was still in force 140 years later when William Tyndale came on the scene.

Tyndale was a scholar and an ordained priest, fluent in Latin, Hebrew and Greek with a bachelor and masters degrees. He went to Oxford in 1513 when he was 19 and later moved to Cambridge university. At this time Henry VIII had been monarch for 4 years and was at that time landing his army in France for a campaign that cost a lot of money, but achieved nothing. 

While at university the Reformation was launched. Martin Luther blew the whistle and nailed his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenburg. Lutherís pamphlets were debated enthusiastically. Tyndale left university realising the desperate need for people being able to read the Bible for themselves.

During his 7 years at the two universities he led a sheltered academic life, far removed from the daily life struggle of people like ploughmen, bakers and weavers. It was his next move in 1521 to the manor  house in Gloucestershire as a tutor to two young boys,  he saw not just the need for a Bible in  English, but the need for a Bible in English that the ploughman the baker and the weaver could understand. He made his commitment: ďIf God spare my life, ere many hears, I will cause a boy that driveth a  plough shall know more Scripture than thou dost.Ē The vow was made to a visiting bishop. He had an amazing skill to do this.  He had the talent for seizing the emotion with sudden, urgent phrases. Jesus wept. 

The Translator

He came to London in 1523 and went to the Bishop of London Ďs Palace in  St Paulís Churchyard offering to make a translation of the Bible into English.  Cuthbert Tunstall had just taken up his job and there was a flood of Lutheran books into the country. The last thing Tunstall wanted was a Bible in English. No job. No approval for a translation.

He lived with a wealthy cloth merchant and started his translation, but after 6 months decided the risk was too great and he moved to the continent. He showed up next in Wittenberg where the university register for1524 shows that a William Daltin arrived from England. Tyndale reversed the syllables of his name to secure anomimity. This was the start of 11 years avoiding royal agents. The ĎScarlet Pimpernelí of the 16th century. Here he met Martin Luther, whose writings had made such an impression on him.


He completed translating the New Testament and moved to Worms in the Rhineland where 6000 copies were printed and shipped to England in spring 1526. They sold at 1/8d for an unbound copy. Half a weekís wages for a labourer.  2/8d for a bound copy.  It was these Bibles that were smuggled into the Steelyard.

Back in London there was consternation and anger that the Bible could be read by the great unwashed population. But there was confidence that the breech in the wall that had protected Scripture from the eyes of the people could be repaired. Bishop Tunstall preached against Tyndale and the English Bible and a  Bible was burned ceremoniously at St Paulís Cross, where we will go in a while.

At this time Henry VIII had other things on his mind, he brought Anne Boleyn to Whitehall Palace, just across the road, which our next stop, in readiness for a divorce from Catherine.

Tyndale continued his translation work moving on to the Old Testament, but the work came to an end when he was arrested and taken to the castle of Vilvorde, 6 miles north of Brussels. He was convicted of heresy in August 1536 and condemned to death. He was executed by strangling and his body was burned at the stake. His final prayer was: ďLord open the king of Englandís eyes.

But the king of England was otherwise engaged at this time. Two years earlier he had severed relations with the Pope and set up the Church of England. He was now the supreme head of the Church of England. In the year of Tyndaleís death he was busy stripping the assets from the monasteries. The dissolution brought wealth to the royal treasury in the shape of a windfall of cash. But more was happening.  Catherine died of natural causes and his second wife Anne Boyelyn was executed for treason.

Three years after Tyndaleís death the Great Bible, with the Tyndale text, was published. In 1539 it was authorized by Henry VIII  to be read aloud in the church services of the Church of England.


William Tyndaleís prayer was answered: The King of Englandís eyes had been opened.


His vow fulfilled: I will cause a boy that driveth a  plough shall know more Scripture than thou dost.


By the time Henry VIII died in 1547 the Bible in English was freely available.


Next Whitehall Palace


Palace of Whitehall



The Palace was the largest and most complex in Europe. It resembled a small town.

It extended from Northumberland Avenue almost to Derby Gate, just short of Westminster Bridge. In the west it went right through to St Jamesís Park.     

In 1611 the river came up to where we are standing, there was no embankment roadway.


Itís estimated that in the 1540ís Henry spent £30,000 or £11m in todayís money extending the property to include a recreation centre with a bowling green, tennis courts, a pit for cock fighting and a tiltyard for jousting. The cock fighting pit is now the site of the Cabinet Office, 70 Whitehall.


The only part of the Palace that remains is the Banqueting House, which you can visit in Whitehall. Itís not the 1611 building, that was destroyed by fire and the current building was finished in 1634. Charles I was executed in front of the building in 1649.


The Palace was destroyed by fire in 1698, only the  Banqueting House and some buildings in Scotland Yard survived. Because of the budget deficit, another biggest deficit the country had ever known, there was no money to re-build it and much of the site was leased for the construction of town houses.


In 1611, the year we are interested in, the palace hosted the first known performance of William Shakespeare's play The Tempest


James I


This is where James I lived with his Queen Consort Anne of Denmark. Their second son, Charles, became Charles I. James was medium height and plump. He wore padded clothes and this made him appear ungainly. He suffered from arthritis, gout and stomach colic.   It is alleged that he never washed his hands, but always wiped them on a damp napkin.


The story starts in March 1603 when Queen Elizabeth died, It was the end of the Tudor monarchs and the start of the Stewart dynasty. James VI of Scotland was in Edinburgh 398 miles away, but the same day, without email or encrypted diplomatic messages, he was  proclaimed James I of England.


Tensions in the kingdom


The Puritans, who were clergymen within the Church of England, were trying to move the church away from  away from Catholicism and towards original Christianity, were equally quick off the mark. They saw the change in monarchy as an opportunity to influence the church towards their viewpoint. They also saw it as the time to weaken the power of the Bishops.


The result was the Millenary Petition, so called because 1000 clerics signed it.

The Millenary Petition  had a list of demands for changes to church practices which the petitioners described as popish. One of which was the signing of the cross during baptism.


Hampton Court conference


On Jamesís first day in the office this petition was clogging up the in tray. As an experienced King he clearly heard the alarm bells ringing. Mis-handling the Petition could de-stabilise the country. This was not about minor procedural changes, it was a power struggle. Just how difficult the situation was is shown by the failed attempt to blow him up, together with the House of Lords in 1605, just 2 years later. Today, James probably has equal fame with the plot leader, Guy Fawkes.


In 1603 at the start of his reign, James decided the best way to handle a power struggle was to get the parties together  and try some conflict resolution techniques. He called a conference to discuss ďabusesĒ in the church and invited Bishops and Puritans to attend.


In  January 1604 he  walked from the royal apartment through the grounds of the Palace, down to the privy stairs, about 500 yards upstream. He stepped on to the Royal Barge which then cast off and the oarsmen got busy  for the 11-1/2   mile trip up river. About 1 hour of rowing if the tide was right. You can make the same journey today and the return fare is £22.50


James stepped off the barge and into his back garden at Hampton Court. Built by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey. After a short walk across the lawn, he was in was in the hall where the conference was held. It is unlikely that he had been on a conflict resolution course, but he used the tactic employed by ACAS and  other conflict resolution bodies use today Ė keep the two parties apart and find out what their real concerns are, and how far they are likely to go in getting a compromise.  It works well with industrial disputes today and it worked well with James.


On Day 1 it was the turn of the Bishops arrayed in all their splendid colourful dress.  The Bishops were in a difficult position. They were aware of the short-comings of the Church but they did not want to move in a direction whereby the Puritans dictated how the Church was organised and run. While they wanted the short-comings addressed, they did not want to see their position diluted. James got their agreement to some changes including allowing baptisms to take place in the home as well as in the church.


On Day 2 it was the turn of the Puritans, who represented the more moderate wing. There were only 4 representatives, compared to the 19 Anglicans. They were dressed in all black. The radicals were not invited at the insistence of James. They were every much a part of the church as the Bishops. James had already rejected their petition but now he asked what things they thought was amiss in the church? 

They made four requests which were essentially an appeal for greater piety and for the church to clean up its act and get closer to the original Christianity.  Reynolds, the leader of the delegation also requested that there should be a new translation of the Bible as the old one was deficient. James seized on this throw away line, because he saw it as the outcome that could satisfy both sides of the conflict. The Puritans wanted it. The bishops could be persuaded to accept it. As an experienced monarch in  Scotland he learned his PR the hard way. If the daily Mail had been around then he would have fed them the story which suggested the heading ĎConference breaks the deadlock - King Gets Agreement on New Bible Versioní. 


James ordered Oxford and Cambridge Universities to launch a project to produce a new translation of the Bible.


King James had achieved a very British compromise.


The next stop is the restaurant for lunch.


Stationerís Hall

The Hall

This was then and is now the home of the Worshipful Company of Stationers who later added  and ĎNewspaper Makersí to their title.

Their origin goes back to 1403 when  the Mayor and Aldermen of the City of London approved the formation of a fraternity or Guild of Stationers. These were booksellers who copied and sold manuscript books and writing materials.

By the early 16th century printers had joined The Stationers' Company and by the mid century the printers had more or less ousted the manuscript trade. In 1557 the Guild received a Royal Charter of Incorporation. It protected them from outside competition. Restrictive practices have been around for a long time.

At this time the company introduced a rule that every document had to be registered and once registration had taken place, no other printer was allowed to print the document. The printer who registered the document then had copy right. This arrangement was replaced by the Copyright Act of 1710.

The Translation

Work on agreeing the final draft of the NKV started here in 1610. It was a logical site to produce the text for a new publication, because all publishers and printers were located in the vicinity of the Hall.

Back in 1603 James appointed the translation team, drew up the project brief and set out the ground rules for the  team.  54 learned men, who were the best biblical scholars and linguists of their day were appointed to the team.

The team was divided into six  groups. Two groups were to be based in each of three locations, Oxford, Cambridge and Westminster. A section of the Bible was assigned to each group for translation. The committees worked on the task for nearly seven years.

The translators were given strict guidelines:

The translators thoughtfully left a record of their attitude to the task of translation. The preface, 15 pages.

Although they had different view abut many things, they were united in their belief that the Bible they were translating was the word of God. That God had inspired men in earlier centuries to record their experiences. But they did not believe that they, as translators were inspired. But they were committed to doing their best to produce an accurate translation.

As each book of the bible was translated, it was sent to the other groups for their agreement. This process took six years.

When all drafts had been agreed representatives of all the revising committees met in Stationers Hall. The editing process was for each passage of the translation was read aloud. The sound of the text was important. If everyone remained silent, the chapter was approved. Objection were discussed until agreement  was reached.

This process took another year. But in 1611 the finalised text was handed to the Royal Printer, Robert Barker.

Move on now to look at the printing.

St Paulís Churchyard

St Paulís Cathedral.

There has been a church on this site since 604. Previous cathedral burned down in September 1666. John Evelynís dirary. ď It was astonishing to see what immense stone the heat had calcinated, so that all the ornaments, columns, friezes, capitals and projectures of Portland stone, flew off even to the very roof. Thus lay in ashes that venerable church, one of the most ancient pieces of early piety in the Christian world.Ē

Wren laid the first stone of the new cathedral 21 June 1675, 11 years after it was destroyed. In 1694 John Evelyn visited the cathedral again and wrote in his diary: ďA piece of architecture without reproach.Ē

The first service was held  on 5 December 1698.Wren had to wait until December 1711 before he received the outstanding balance of half his salary. Parliament did not work to a payment within 30 days rule.

History of Printing

St Paulís Church Yard is where most of the printing in London was done.

The Egyptians and the Chinese were into printing. They impressed images on to paper or cloth. But it wasnít until around 1440 that Johannes Gutenberg, a goldsmith by profession,  invented block printing with moveable type.

The printing trade was well established even before Gutenberg's time, using woodblock technology. A sheet of paper was placed on the inked woodblock and an impression taken by rubbing - a complex and time-consuming procedure.

The genius of Gutenberg's invention was to split the text into its individual component letters to form words and lines. The letters were then placed in slots in cases.  This was movable type.

The storage container for the type had an upper and a lower slot. Capital letters were stored in the upper slot and small letters in the lower slots. We still refer to letters now as upper or lower case.

Gutenbergís invention went beyond the text to the design of a printing press. This device held the cases of type. The paper was laid on the type and then a heavy platen was lowered onto the type which was covered in ink. The platen, was operated by a handle, and it forced the platen down onto the type and the result was an impression of text on the paper.

Before Gutenberg, a printing process could produce forty pages per day. With Gutenbergís press the output was 3,600 pages per day from a single press. This is a difference of 90 times.  What effect on the cost of printing?

From Mainz in Germany, printing spread within several decades to over two hundred cities in a dozen European countries. By 1500, printing presses were in operation throughout Western Europe had already produced more than twenty million volumes.

In 1470  William Caxton went to Cologne to lean the art of printing.  In 1476 he returned to London and set up a printing press in Westminster. He printed more than 100 books.

 In the 16th century, with presses spreading further afield, their output rose tenfold to an estimated 150 to 200 million copies. The operation of a press became so synonymous with the enterprise of printing that it lent its name to an entire new branch of media,  ??  the Ďpressí.

The impact of this printing breakthrough was absolutely enormous. It brought a knowledge revolution. Learning and ideas could be spread around quickly and cheaply. It sparked off a scientific revolution. New discoveries and the results of experiments were public knowledge almost as soon as they were discovered.

But today we are thinking about the Bible and it is true to say that if Johannes Guttenberg had not come up with the idea of moveable type the Reformation could not have happened when it did.  The power of the Reformation came from the rapid spread of ideas in the pamphlets that a host of writers, including Martin  Luther and William Tyndale produced.  Without moveable type Bibles in English and German could not have been produced in any quantity. Without movable type the church would have been able to stamp out the production of Bibles, because there would be so few of them and each Bible would cost so much that only the most wealthy would be able to afford to buy one.

Here in 1611, St Paulís Churchyard housed the leading edge technology of the age. The printers of London were the growth industry of the country.

Robert Barker Royal Printer

Among the printers here was  Robert Barker, the Royal Printer, who printed the KJV. His father Christopher was the previous Royal Printer and we know that by 1583 he had 5  printing presses. The Royal Printer held a valuable monopoly and consequently he would have to have paid a handsome price to the king for the privilege. In 1600 the Stationers Company recognised his right to his father's office of Royal Printer and another large sum would have been paid to the king for passing on the privilege.

Robert Barker was a printer, but in todayís language he was more of a publisher. His base was here in St Paulís Churchyard. His workshop, with the printing presses, was in Aldersgate.  The Barkers lived in Noble Street off Aldersgate, next to the Museum of London, where we are heading.  So he would come out of his house in the morning, walk around the corner to his workshop to check on how the presses were running. Then walk down what is now St Martins le Grand, to his publishing office here in St Paulís Churchyard. A very enviable commute.

The abiding fear or printers has always been errors in the text. There were errors in the KJV. Psalm 119 v 161 which should have read: rulers have persecuted me without cause actually appeared as ďPrinters have persecuted me without a causeĒ. But the most damaging error appeared in a later edition. Notí was omitted from the seventh commandment in Exodus 20. So adultery became compulsory. He was fined £300 for missing out not and printingí thou shalt commit adulteryí.  If spell checking had been available in the 17th century, it would not have detected these errors.

Robert Barker was a talented printer, but an untalented businessman and in 1617 he had to sell his title of royal Printer. He regained the title in 1630.

Before we follow the route that Robert Barker would have taken on his walk home after a hard day at the office, we want to see St Paulsí Cross, which, before moveable type was invented, was the place people went to get the latest news.



St Paulís Cross

The Cross

St Paulís Cross was reconstructed in 1910.

Originally it was preaching cross with a pulpit and set on stone steps with a lead-covered roof and a low surrounding wall. The pulpit had room for 3 or 4 people.


Show site of cross.


It was the media centre of England. It was from here that important announcements were made.  Its first recorded use was in 1236 when John Mansell, a king's justice announced that Henry III wished London to be well-governed and its liberties guarded. Not exactly breaking news, but re-assuring.


It was important for printers whose workshops were here because printed material was often distributed with  an announcement and then redistributed to a wider audience.


The Puritans destroyed the cross and pulpit in 1643 during the Civil War.


History has been unfolded here over 900 years.


In 1526 Bishop Cuthbert Tunstall preached a strong sermon  against Tyndale and his Bible. Tunstall claimed he had found 1000 errors in the translation. He threw a copy into a blazing fire. This was only a symbolic burning, but Tunstall clearly thought that this pernicious practice of producing Bibles in a language that the people could understand would be stamped out quickly.


The Cross has seen many changes, particularly in attitudes. In the 16th century  Tyndaleís bibles were burned because they were seen a a threat to the stability of society.  In 1994 the British Museum paid £1m for a Tyndaleís Bible for ploughboys.

Damnable heresies became official teaching.


Outcome of the KJV Project


How satisfied were the major players with the outcome of the KJV project?


        The project got him off the hook when the Puritans wanted major reform in 1604.

        In the 7 years of the projectís life he could point to the fact that he was doing 

      something about reform.

        When the sparkling new copies of the Bible hit the streets, James would bask in the glory of a very successful venture.


The Bishops:

        By taking a small risk in agreeing to the project and making minor concession to the Puritans, they maintained the stability of the church.

        Publication of the KJV  helped in unifying the protestant and catholic wings of the church




The Puritans

        The moderate Puritans who attended the Hampton Court conference claimed the victory of getting the project launched.

        When publication arrived 7 years later, they claimed that their initiative had delivered an outstanding product.


The Translators

        They were well satisfied with their 7 years of work.

        They received acclaim for the quality of the KJV.


This gave the lie to the statement that committees cannot produce anything.


Others who had died:

Martin Luther who when he was 41, met this 30 year old Englishman in Wittenberg, might have thought Ė well that was a good development. 


The 45 year old Henry VIII who first authorised a Bible in English to be read in the Church of England churches in 1539 might have thought that he started a good thing.


William Tyndale who died  just 75 years before the KJV was published, would have been delighted to see the fruit of his work with some 80% of the Old Testament and 90% of the New Testament translated by him in this new shiny version. e would also be delighted that it was now freely available He would also be ecstatic that Godís word was freely available in a language that everyone understood. This included the ploughboy.


The Wider Legacy


None of these people could have foreseen the wider legacy of the KJV. Its

 impact on Britain and the world has been colossal.

It has had an enormous religious, literary and cultural influence in the English-speaking world

No publication in the last 400 years has been as widely bought, read, cited or memorized. It is the most widely published book in the English language.


It has brought change by transforming how English people spoke to each other

It has driven the making of the English speaking world over the last 400 years.

People world wide have learned English through its pages.


Although we are talking about a 400 year old book, phrases from its pages are still in use today:

The salt of the earth

The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. 


Move on to the final stop, the Museum of London to watch the video of the fire in 1666.


Remember we are now following the route Richard Barker, the Kingís Printer would follow on his way home from the office to his house in Noble St.



Museum of London



Show Tesco Extra where coach will pick up


Gresham St.  Noble Street where Richard Barker lived, is first on left.


St Annes is a Lutheran church, one of about half a dozen Lutheran churches in London.


Video 6 min.  Fire of 1666. 

Donít get carried away with the drama.  Look also at the houses, the people and their dress. Get a feel for how it was in London 400 years ago.


3 display cases larger display e fire. Typical house, What burned: hooks and eyes, tar, glass.


Display of how fires were fought.