Aldgate was one of seven historic gates through the defensive Roman wall that surrounded London and was the easternmost gateway through wall. The name Aldgate is derived from Ale‐gate, which means open to all. In the Saxon period it was called Eastgate. The current form of the word Aldgate did not occur until about 1486.
It is believed that a gate at Aldgate was already spanning the road to Colchester in the Roman period, when the London City Wall itself was constructed. Unlike other city entrances, no tolls were ever demanded at this gate.
During later reconstruction, it’s likely that it had twin arches flanked by towers. It was finally demolished about 1759 and briefly re‐erected in Bethnal Green.
Jews began to settle to the north of the gate in 1181 until their expulsion in 1290 by King Edward I. The area from this time became known as Old Jewry. The Jews were later welcomed back by Oliver Cromwell, and again settled in the Aldgate area.
Around 1420 Whitechapel Bell Foundry was founded in Aldgate but was later moved to nearby Whitechapel. The Aldgate Pump was at the junction of Aldgate, Leadenhall Street and Fenchurch Street.
In 1374, when Geoffrey Chaucer was the Controller of Customs for Hides, Skins and Wools, he was granted a lease on a dwelling above Aldgate. Queen Mary made her first entry to London through this gate in 1555.
Improvements to Aldgate Square commenced in 2012 and were completed in 2018. These replaced the one‐way gyratory system with two‐way traffic, new cycling facilities on Aldgate High Street, Middlesex Street and St Botolph Street, including a fully segregated north‐south cycle route along the western side of Aldgate Square, with new pedestrian crossing points along the route.
The improvements also included two new public spaces in which seventy‐one trees were planted. New drinking water fountains were provided at both public spaces and the gardens of St Botolph without Aldgate Church were revamped. Two water features including parabolic jets and a shallow pool were also installed plus a pavilion café.