Ward of Portsoken
St Botolph's Aldgate[1]
Ward of Portsoken is located in Greater London
Ward of Portsoken
Ward of Portsoken
Ward of Portsoken shown within Greater London
Population985 (2011 Census. Ward)[2]
Ceremonial countyGreater London
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townLONDON
Postcode districtE1
Postcode districtEC3
Dialling code020
EU ParliamentLondon
UK Parliament
List of places
51°30′52″N 0°04′31″W / 51°30′52″N 0°04′31″W / 51.5144; -0.0752

Portsoken is a historical district and a ward in the City of London. It is predominantly outside of the walls, in the far east of the small City proper, near Aldgate. It is one of the City's 25 ancient wards and is part of the East End of London.

Aldgate and Tower wards are west, east are Middlesex and Mansell Streets in Whitechapel. To the north are Bishopsgate and Spitalfields; to the south, the former liberties of the Royal Mint by the Thames.

The Sir John Cass's Foundation Primary School has been moved into this (largely residential) local government electoral purposes area (ward) when it added in the 2003 boundary review, and is the only part of the ward within the former wall.


John Stow's survey of London records that the ‘soke’ (later ‘liberty’) was granted in Saxon times east of Aldgate to a Guild of Knights in exchange, essentially, for regular jousting. Norman kings confirmed these rights but later the land was voluntarily transferred to the Priory of the Holy Trinity by the descendants of the Guild.

In 1120 or 1121 (the exact date is unknown), Portsoken was granted as a liberty to the Priory of Holy Trinity, which had been founded in 1107 by Queen Matilda, the wife of King Henry I. The sitting prior of Holy Trinity became, ex officio, an alderman of the City of London Corporation representing Portsoken ward, and remained so until the Dissolution of the Monasteries by King Henry VIII in 1531.[3]

In 1332, a tax assessment showed 23 taxpayers in Portsoken, however, this figure consisted only of freemen of the City of London who possessed moveable property worth more than 10 shillings, and so did not include the poor, non-citizens, or members of religious orders.[4] A later subsidy roll from 1582 showed that the ward's taxpayers had been assessed to pay a total of 57 pounds, 11 shillings and 4 pence.[5]

Boundary changes in 1994 altered the City-Tower Hamlets boundary in the area quite considerably. A small part of Portsoken ward was removed to Tower Hamlets, however a much larger area was transferred to the City from Tower Hamlets, though not all initially to Portsoken.[6] With the 2003 ward boundary review, much of the additional territory in this part of the City was given to Portsoken, as it consisted mainly of residential and related buildings including the Middlesex Street Estate.[7] With the loss of some business-dominated parts, the gaining of this residential area and the gaining of the primary school, Portsoken is now regarded as one of the City's four residential wards, with a population of 985 (2011).[8]

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