St Michael, Crooked Lane was an ancient parish church dating from 1304 situated on the west side of Fish Street Hill in the City of London. It was rebuilt after the Great Fire to a design by Sir Christopher Wren, and demolished in 1831 to provide better road access to the newly built London Bridge.
.Crooked lane itself was a pretty busy thoroughfare in the 16th and 17th century. It had several taverns along its length and was home to a college established by Lord Mayor William Walworth in 1381. It was also the place to browse and buy second hand weapons.
In a time long before health & safety regulations, it appears that the demonstration of firearms to prospective customers was commonplace. That was until the 15th July 1560.
It appears that a nameless arms dealer was demonstrating a firearm to a potential customer, which involved a live firing. According to the 16th century chronicler John Stow the bullet passed through the wall of a house owned by a Dutchman, Adrian Arten and lodged between a Firkin and a Barrel of gunpowder. The resulting fire caused the powder to ignite, and in Stowe’s own words, ” foure houses were blowen vp, and diuerse other sore shattered, 11. men and women were slaine, and 16. so hurt and brused, that they hardly escaped with life.“