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 large property lay on the W. corner of St. Lawrence Lane with Cheapside. A 17th-century plan shows it as some 64 ft. E.-W. and 104 ft. N.-S. (19.51 m. by 31.7 m.) occupied by ranges of buildings on the street frontages with a yard and smaller buildings behind; this may also have been the pattern of building at an earlier date.
Twelfth to sixteenth century
The earliest identifiable interest in the property was that of Bermondsey Priory, and this may be the land in Cheapside which Herbert son of Alveredus gave the priory in or before the early 12th century. About 1220 this was the land of William son of Emma which lay on the opposite side of St. Lawrence Lane to a property on the E. corner of the lane and Cheapside from which Canterbury Cathedral Priory had rent. In 1283 Bermondsey Priory had a £2 rent from certain shops in magno vico, payable by the prior and convent of Novus Locus or Newark near Guildford (Surrey); in that year Bermondsey Priory remitted £1. 3s. 4d. of the rent for 8 years, in payment or compensation for a porch (porticus) which Newark Priory had built. In 1291 Bermondsey Priory had £3 in the parish of St. Mary le Bow, which probably included the rent of £2 from this property; Newark Priory's property was valued at only 1s. 6d. yearly. Ramsey Abbey also had a quit-rent of £2 from the property. Newark Priory's property may have extended into the adjoining parish of St. Lawrence Jewry: in 1322 the prior and his renter were impleaded for taking naam from Bona wife of Godewyn le Pheliper, for arrears of two rents from properties she held of them in that parish. One property was said to have been at one time a vacant plot in the seisin of Andrew Bokerel, and was now held of the prior for 10s. rent; the other had been granted out of seisin by a former prior to Roger de Silverlegh, again for 10s. rent. Subsequent references, however, seem to describe the priory's property here only as in the parish of St. Mary le Bow. (fn. 1)
In the later 14th century the property was in disrepair: Maud, widow of William Spark and wife of William Strokelady, fishmonger, held a shop and seld from Newark at £7. 8s. yearly for life, on condition she execute all repairs, but she had failed to do this and in March 1373 a party wall had become so ruinous that it endangered neighbouring buildings. Later in the same year the men of Cheap ward complained that a stone house belonging to the priory in St. Lawrence Lane was ruinous and dangerous; William Strokelady, Walter Salman, and other tenants were ordered to execute repairs immediately. Later Maud Strokelady granted her estate in the seld, shop rents, and tenements to the prior, in exchange for a £10 rent to William Cressewyk and Alice his wife, in exchange for board and lodging. A damaged record of an inquisition made in 1389 refers to a part of the property as a tenement which Reginald Aleyn and his wife Margaret held of Newark Priory for the terms of their lives and one year more; this tenement was valued at £5 p.a. (fn. 2)
Two more £10 rents, charged on this and other tenements, were granted by the priory in 1412 and 1415, to Richard Elton, citizen and draper, and Anne his wife, later wife of Robert Tatersall, for life, and to Richard Sweyn of Essex similarly. Both Richard Sweyn and Anne Tattersall complained separately of intrusion or disseisin of the rents in 1429; Alice Chartesey, who brought a similar plea in 1450, may also have had an annuity. A rent of £16 on all the priory's London properties was granted by prior William Whalley (d. 1462) to Geoffrey Boleyn and others, in exchange for a lump sum paid to the priory's use. This rent was redeemed in 1505, when the bishop of Winchester paid £306. 13s. 4d. to Sir William Boleyn, Geoffrey's son. (fn. 3)
In the 1460s the property was known as le Newrent, perhaps because it had recently been rebuilt: in 1466 the prior leased a tenement there to William Spycer, citizen and grocer, for 8 years at £3 rent, with all repairs. It was described as a tenement with shop, houses, solar(s), cellar(s), etc., formerly occupied by Thomas Swepston, grocer, and Marion his wife, bounded to the S. by the prior's tenement which John Twygge held, and to the N. by the tenement of John Feld, citizen and fishmonger, which William Sewster held. John Feld's tenement was probably the first in St. Lawrence Jewry parish, and also adjoined 11/12 to the E. In 1469 William Smyth, citizen and hatter, and his wife Margaret, assigned their lease for life of a messuage and 3 shops in le Newrentyarde to John Boetler, citizen and girdler. Two of Smyth's shops opened on to the yard or vacant ground, the third adjoined the great gate called Newrentgate to the S.; these, with the messuage, were let at £6 rent, and a fourth shop, occupied by Smyth, to the W., was let at £2. 13s. 4d. Spycer's and Smyth's properties probably did not comprise the whole of the prior's property as their combined rent-value of £11. 13s. 4d. falls far short of the £45. 13s. 4d. p.a. given for the whole in 1539. (fn. 4)
Sixteenth and seventeenth centuries
In the 1530s this property was charged with a quit-rent of £2 to Ramsey Abbey, which also had £1. 5s. rent from the neighbouring property, 11/12. This quit-rent was extinguished when the property came into the Crown's possession. The quit-rent of £2 to Bermondsey Priory, mentioned in the 13th century and still being paid in the 15th, may have lapsed before the Dissolution as it is not included in contemporary accounts for the priory. Newark Priory's former property in St. Mary le Bow parish was granted to Sir Edmund Walsingham in 1539, when it was described as 8 tenements occupied severally by Thomas Abram, John Edwardes, John Warner, John Thomson, John Henyam, John Lyncolne, Bartholomew Mawger, and John Skinner. This property was to be held in tail male for the service of a twentieth of a knight's fee and £4. 11s. 4d. rent or tenth to the Court of Augmentations. A rent of 8s. from the tenants of 11/12 was also granted. (fn. 5) Abram, Edwardes, Warner, Thomson, and Henyam were residents of the parish in 1541, and Abram, Thomson, and Henyam were still residents in 1544. Abram probably lived in 36B (q.v.), but the others probably lived in 35. (fn. 6)
Sir Edmund Walsingham died in 1550, succeeded by his son (Sir) Thomas. On the latter's death in 1584 the 8 tenants of the property were Richard Graunger, Ralph Carkett, Ralph Blackamore, Thomas Harbart, William Bonner, George Hewes, Andrew Moore, and Henry Field. Edmund Walsingham, esquire, son of Sir Thomas, died without issue in 1589, and was succeeded by his brother Thomas. (fn. 7)
This Sir Thomas Walsingham died in 1630, succeeded by his son Sir Thomas. The estate, which included a manor held in knight service, had not been released from the Court of Wards and Liveries when in 1631 a dispute arose over an alleged intrusion and nuisance by Francis Barnes, esquire, of Woolwich, owner of the Bull Head tavern (11/11-12E), and his tenant Anthony Bayle. The Bull Head had a door, which the occupants made use of, leading into the yard of 104/35 and giving access to St. Lawrence Lane and Cheapside. Bayle had also made a place for voiding urine, to the nuisance of Walsingham's tenants. A paling in the yard, erected by Walsingham, had also recently been pulled down. Barnes and Bayle claimed to have had the door and access time out of mind, but the court, after taking depositions, decided that the access was on sufferance only, and decreed that the door should be shut up, the way stopped, and the public nuisance (the urinal) removed. (fn. 8)
An undated pre-Fire plan (see Fig. 15) shows the property as a range of 4 houses (35A-D) fronting Cheapside, separated by a gate or alleyway in St. Lawrence Lane from a further 3 (E-G) fronting that lane. The alleyway led into a yard in which 3 smaller tenements (H) stood; no doorway is shown in the party wall with 11/12 but the yard extended to that wall, and also to a point on the N. wall or boundary. There was also an alley or entry between 35B and 35C on the Cheapside frontage, leading into the yard: it appears to have been partly built or bridged over. The date of the plan is not certain, and may be later than 1638, but the occupants listed in the tithe assessment of that year seem to have occupied the same number of units: 7 with street frontages and one in the yard, possibly occupied as 3 units. This also corresponds with the 8 tenants listed in 1539 and 1584. In 1638 there appear to have been 4 tenements on Cheapside, occupied (probably E. to W., and therefore corresponding to D, C, B and A) by Mr. Gardner (£30 p.a.), Mr. Antony (£30 p.a.), and Mr. Wright (£60 p.a., probably 2 tenements). Mr. Walden had a shop valued at £10. 10s. p.a., listed after Mr. Wright: this was probably part of H in the yard. In St. Lawrence Lane there were 3 tenements occupied (probably N. to S., corresponding to G, F, and E) by Mr. Scott (£16 p.a.), Mr. Sheafe (£20 p.a.), and Mr. Yaile (£20 p.a.). After Mr. Yaile are named Mrs. Powell (£8 p.a.) and Mr. Nicolls (£6 p.a.): these 2 probably held parts of H, in the yard. William Martyn, draper, of Bull Head Yard in Bow parish, who died in 1638, had probably occupied part of H. (fn. 9)
In 1652 Francis Rowe held 35D, on the corner of Cheapside and St. Lawrence Lane, by a lease from Walsingham, who then granted a new lease of the same in reversion to Edward Anthony, to commence in 1658, for 25 years at £50 rent and £100 fine. Between 1652 and 1659 Sir Thomas Walsingham sold the property to Richard Betenson or Bettison (cr. bt. 1663 or 1666 and d. 1679), who as part of the marriage settlement of his son Richard settled it on William Elliot, esquire, and Sir Edward Monyns, bt., to hold in trust for himself for life and subsequently for the younger children of the son's marriage. In 1659 Richard Betenson leased 35A and B in Cheapside, adjoining 11/12, to John Traherne, in consideration of his surrender of a lease made by Walsingham with 8 years still to run, for 20 years at a fine of £80 and rent of £100. (fn. 10) In 1660 Betenson leased 35C in Cheapside (between Traherne and Anthony) to Jeremy Malpas for 20 years from 1659, in consideration of his surrender of a lease granted by Walsingham with 8 years still to come, at a fine of £50 and rent of £70. (fn. 11) Thomas Benson held two tenements (part of 35H) within the yard at the back by a lease from Bettenson of March 1666, for 21 years at a fine of £250 and rent of £3. Benson occupied a large tenement identifiable as the Bull Head in All Hallows Honey Lane parish in 1662-3. According to the Hearth Tax of early 1666, the occupants of 35 were as follows. John Treherne, silkman, occupied 35A, with 4 hearths; John Wright, silkman, occupied 35B, with 4 hearths; Jeremy Malpas occupied 35C, with 9 hearths (it may perhaps have had more upper rooms than its neighbours); Edward Anthony, silkman, occupied 35D, with 6 hearths. John Davies, mercer, occupied 35E, the first tenement in St. Lawrence Lane, with 4 hearths; Maurice King, silkman, occupied 35F, with 5 hearths; William Sudbury, tobacconist, occupied 35G, with 5 hearths. Jos. (? Joseph) Clifton, victualler in Bull Head Yard, had 6 hearths, probably corresponding to 35H; he was listed between the occupants of 35B and 35C, indicating that the alley between these 2, shown on the plan, gave him access to Cheapside. (fn. 12) According to post-Fire documents, the occupants of 35E-H before the Fire included William Davey, Maurice King, Christopher Featherstone, boxmaker, Joseph Clifton, victualler, and possibly also Richard Baker. (fn. 13)
After the great fire
The existence of the trusts of the marriage settlement, limiting the interest of any one person in the property, meant that the Betensons had recourse to the Fire Court several times to settle rebuilding arrangements with their tenants.
John Traherne was reluctant to rebuild (35A-B) without substantial concessions, claiming that a quarter of the house would be lost by building upright without jetties according to the new regulations. Betenson could not give any land further back because of the yard which was common to all his tenants, and eventually they agreed that Traherne should rebuild at his own cost, and have his term increased by 40 years and his rent reduced to £50. (fn. 14) Malpas (35C) was also reluctant to rebuild, because of the trusts and encumbrances on the freehold, but agreed to do so with an extension of 40 years and a rent reduced to £38. This agreement, made in November 1667, was superseded in December 1668: 35D the corner tenement, held by Edward Anthony, was so reduced in size by the widening of St. Lawrence Lane that it was decided to throw the 2 plots together for rebuilding. At least 3 ft. 6 in. (1.07 m.) was proposed to be cut off Anthony's site at the Cheapside end, leaving a width of 9 ft. (2.74 m.) which would be reduced to 6 ft. 4 in. (1.93 m.) by the building of walls, and this was considered insufficient for a house of 4 storeys. Anthony therefore surrendered the property to Betenson, along with the lane or passage from Cheapside between Treharne's and Malpas' tenements, said to be about 4 ft. (1.22 m.) wide, and the Fire Court empowered Betenson to treat with Malpas for adding the passage and the unstaked part of Anthony's plot to his own plot surveyed above. Betenson's other tenants objected to the loss of the passage, but the later decree of the Fire Court seems to have been upheld. Ogilby and Morgan's map, surveyed in 1676, shows no passage here. After Anthony's surrender a larger piece of land was staked out for the widening of St. Lawrence Lane, and Betenson was compensated for a tapering strip 5 ft. (1.52 m.) wide at the S. end, containing 232 1/4 sq. ft. (21.58 sq. m.). (fn. 15)
Thomas Benson's site in the yard behind was said to be 'very much improved' after the Fire, and he agreed to rebuild for an extension of 38 years. A site rather larger than 2 of the back shops shown in the pre-Fire plan was surveyed for him. In St. Lawrence Lane, Richard Baker had a plot also rather different from the pre-Fire plan. Jeremy Malpas agreed to rebuild on a plot late occupied by William Davey and Maurice King, which lay to the N. of Baker, with a short frontage to St. Lawrence Lane, extending back the width of the tenement and abutting on Mr. Sharp (see 11/12) to the W. (fn. 16)
These post-Fire surveys and agreements indicate that the yard of Betenson's property was now known as Bull Head Yard. According to Ogilby and Morgan's map of 1676 a passageway then ran from St. Lawrence Lane W. to Trump Alley, which itself ran N. and S. through 11/11 and 12 from Cheapside to the new way cut through from St. Lawrence Lane to Honey Lane Market, subsequently known as Trump Alley or Trump Street. This extended access may account for the 'improvement' alleged with regard to Benson's tenement in Bull Head Yard.