Historical Gazetteer of London Before the Great Fire Cheapside; Parishes of All Hallows Honey Lane, St Martin Pomary, St Mary Le Bow, St Mary Colechurch and St Pancras Soper Lane. Originally published by Centre for Metropolitan History, London, 1987.
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This property lay between 29-30 on the W. and 32 on the E. It appears to have adjoined 24 on the S. In the 14th century there were two main parts of, or shares in, the property, belonging to St. Mary Spital and to Sir John de Bauquelle, knight, and his descendants, respectively. At this time there were probably shops with a room above on the Cheapside frontage and a seld behind. In the 15th century Ely Priory acquired a part of the property, probably that which had once belonged to de Bauquelle.
31 was probably the property in the Mercery in Cheapside where in 1246 the prior of St. Mary Spital was said to have erected a pentice. This may have been the moiety of the seld on the S. side of Cheapside once belonging to Gilbert Camuase (rectius Canuase?) which, probably c. 1220, Ralph de Cassel granted to the hospital. In 1306 John de Bauquelle and his wife Cecilia held 31 and were in dispute over a nuisance with the owner of 29-30. In the same year Roger le Sauvage and his wife Joan had a rent of £2 from John de Bakwell's seld which they granted with other properties to John de Drokenesford, who immediately granted it back to them and Joan's heirs. De Bakwell was dead by 1308, when his widow, Lady Cecilia, held the property. She still held it in 1318. A solar next to Cheapside on the N. side of the seld and extending between 29-30 on the W. and 32 on the E. belonged to Thomas de Farndon, citizen and goldsmith, in 1308, when his son, Thomas de Farndon, gave up to his father his hereditary right to the property. The father immediately granted the solar to Lady Cecilia, to whom the son then quitclaimed. She appears already to have possessed a moiety of the solar by reason of the death of her husband. (fn. 1)
In 1311 this may have been John de Baquelle's former tenement from which the king had granted a rent of £2. 13s. 4d. to his tailor, Thomas de Wight, for life. (fn. 2)
31 shared a stone wall with 32. In 1317 the prior of St. Mary Spital and Cecilia de Bauquelle complained that in the course of repairing their buildings in 31 they had fixed new corbels in the wall and that the owners of 32 had pulled them down. The case was found in the plaintiffs' favour. In 1363, when a similar case arose (see 32), the wall was said to be 3 ft. (914 mm.) thick and 85 ft. (25.91 m.) long and to belong entirely to 32. (fn. 3) This was presumably the length of the boundary between 31 and 32 and corresponds closely to the length of 31 as it can be determined from the evidence of surveys of adjacent properties drawn after the Great Fire.
In 1350 31 was described as the tenement of Thomas de Bakwell, who had ceased to hold it by 1379. This parcel of the property passed to William Bakewell who let it to John Mangul, citizen and mercer, for a term of 40 years from 1380. Mangul then acquired the other part of the property on lease from St. Mary Spital for a term of 40 years from 1382. In 1390 Mangul's former apprentice, Richard Newman, and William Brynton, citizen and mercer, acting as Mangul's executors conveyed Mangul's interest in 31 to Henry Permysted, citizen and draper. The property was now described as lands, tenements, or selds with solars and cellars formerly known as Godschepsceld and now known as le Unicorne. The former name suggests that the property had once been occupied by members of the Godchep family, who owned the adjacent property (32). Subsequently a moiety of 31 appears to have been among those properties which Henry Jolypas and John Mannyng, clerks, and John Bedyngton granted to John Wakeryng and Thomas Middelton, clerks, Walter Newenton and Walter Cotton, citizens, Robert Neuton, clerk, and John Fressh. The feoffees apparently held on behalf of John Fressh, citizen and mercer, who received a rent of £4. 13s. 4d. from Permystede for the moiety of 31, and also owned the reversion of the moiety. By his will, dated September 1397, Fressh left the rent and reversion to his daughter Margery and her husband Walter Cotton in tail, with reversion to his daughter Katharine in tail. In November 1397, after Fressh's death, his surviving cofeoffees granted the residue of his estate to Thomas Knolles, grocer, Alan Everard, mercer, and John Warmynton, clerk. Everard gave up his claim, and in 1401 Knolles and Warmynton granted several properties, including the rent and reversion of the moiety of 31, which was still held by Permystede, to Walter Cotton, mercer, for life, with remainder to Alan Everard, Thomas Cotton, Thomas Elsyng, Roger Harleton, and their heirs and assigns. Rents from 104/4 and 104/17 were also included. (fn. 4)
William Ruston, citizen, later held the seld called le Unicorn for a term of years from St. Mary Spital and for the life of Walter Cotton, mercer. At his death in 1439 Ruston left his interest there to his son John, who was to keep William's obit in the church of St. Mary Aldermanbury out of the income from the property. Should John die before the end of the term, the remainder was to be sold. William Ruston thus appears to have held the whole of 31 partly from St. Mary Spital and partly from Walter Cotton, who had a life interest in a share of the freehold. (fn. 5)
A part of the tenement or seld called the Unicorn, probably that which had once belonged to John Fressh and then to Walter Cotton came into the possession of the Augustinian priory of Spinney (Cambs.). The priory was united to Ely Priory in 1449, and in that year the prior and convent of Ely leased their part of the Unicorn to Richard Payn, citizen and draper, and John Hecham (?Becham), citizen and plumber, for a term of 21 years at £6. 6s. 8d. rent. The lessees were to be responsible for repairs, except in the case of damage caused by 'horrible tempest of wind'. (fn. 6)
In the 16th century St. Mary Spital let its part of the Unicorn for £3. 6s. 8d. rent. William Burwell, mercer, held it between 1516 and 1519. In 1523 the property was let to John Westgate, mercer, for a term of 30 years at the same rent. The tenant was responsible for all repairs. In 1539 Leonard Ewe held under this lease. In 1541 the share of the property which had belonged to Ely Priory was a messuage called the 'Unycornes Horne' held by John Brooke at £4. 13s. 4d. rent. In July 1541 the Crown granted the share of the messuage called the Unicorn which had belonged to the cell of Spinney to George Carleton for life. By October this property had reverted to the king, who granted the former shares of both St. Mary Spital and Ely Priory in 31 to William Stafford, esquire of the king's body, for service of a tenth of a knight's fee and 12s. rent. In November 1541 Stafford and his wife Mary granted these properties to Roland Shakerley, citizen and mercer, in return for a sum of money. Shakerley had probably held 31, or a part of it, as an undertenant in 1536, when he was said to hold a tenement on the W. side of 32. He and his wife were certainly running a business in Cheapside in 1537, when the rebel, Robert Aske, owed him £2. (fn. 7)
Roland Shakerley, esquire, died in 1565, when his tenement called the Unicorn was held by Thomas Thyckyns and George Allein, severally. The tenement was said to be worth £22. 6s. 8d. a year clear. He left two parts of this tenement with its cellars and solars to his wife Anne and her heirs for ever. Anne was still alive in 1570. In 1638 the tenement called the Unicorne was in the possession of Robert Parkhurst, knight, from whom the 12s. rent to the Crown was due. (fn. 8)