By the 15th century, the cathedral had become the centre of the London grapevine. "News mongers", as they were called, gathered there to pass on the latest news and gossip. Those who visited the cathedral to keep up with the news were known as "Paul's walkers".
According to Francis Osborne (1593–1656):
It was the fashion of those times ... for the principal gentry, lords, courtiers, and men of all professions not merely mechanic, to meet in Paul's Church by eleven and walk in the middle aisle till twelve, and after dinner from three to six, during which times some discoursed on business, others of news. Now in regard of the universal there happened little that did not first or last arrive here ... And those news-mongers, as they called them, did not only take the boldness to weigh the public but most intrinsic actions of the state, which some courtier or other did betray to this society.
St Paul's became the place to go to hear the latest news of current affairs, war, religion, parliament and the court. In his play Englishmen for my Money, William Haughton (d. 1605) described Paul's walk as a kind of "open house" filled with a "great store of company that do nothing but go up and down, and go up and down, and make a grumbling together". Infested with beggars and thieves, Paul's walk was also a place to pick up gossip, topical jokes, and even prostitutes. In his Microcosmographie (1628), a series of satirical portraits of contemporary England, John Earle (1601–1665), described Paul's walk thus:
Is the land's epitome, or you may call it the lesser isle of Great Britain. It is more than this, the whole world's map, which you may here discern in its perfectest motion, justling and turning. It is a heap of stones and men, with a vast confusion of languages; and were the steeple not sanctified, nothing liker Babel. The noise in it is like that of bees, a strange humming or buzz mixed of walking tongues and feet: it is a kind of still roar or loud whisper...It is the great exchange of all discourse, and no business whatsoever but is here stirring and a-foot...It is the general mint of all famous lies, which are here like the legends of popery, first coined and stamped in the church.