A New History of London Including Westminster and Southwark. Originally published by R Baldwin, London, 1773.
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This ward is bounded on the north and east by Bishopsgate-ward, on the south by Cornhill-ward and Wallbrook-ward, and on the west by Colemanstreet-ward. It is divided into ten precincts; and extends from the east corner of Helmet or Cross-keys court in Wormwood-street, in the north-east, to the iron-gate over the common-sewer, near the back gate of Bethlehem-hospital in London-wall, in the north-west; from the east corner of Allhallows church on London-wall, where New-Broad-street begins, in the north, to the iron grate over the common-sewer, under the east end of St. Margaret's church in Lothbury, in the south west; up Pig-street to the pump facing St. Bennet Fink's church in the south; and from the pump, near the north-east corner of St. Martin Outwich's church-wall in Bishopsgate-street, in the south-east, to Scalding-alley in the Poultry, now called St. Mildred's court, which is the south west extremity. Within these limits are included, Threadneedle-street, both sides; Bartholomew-lane; Princes-street, almost as far as Catharine court on the east side; both sides of Lothbury, from the grate eastward; Throgmortonstreet, Pig-street, and Broad-street, both sides; Winchester-street, Augustinefriars, and Wormwood-street, as far as Helmet-court, in the east; so much of London-wall as extends from the north-west corner of Old-Broad-street to the grate near Bethlehem back gate, with the alleys and courts on the south side, as far as Swan-alley in Little Bell alley, Coleman-street parish.
In Threadneedle street behind the Royal Exchange, but rather to the westward, close to St. Christopher's church, stands the Bank of England, which was built in 1732; the business of the company until that time having been transacted in Grocer's-hall. This is a grand stone building in a good stile, only too heavily decorated with weighty ornaments (fn. 1). The original front next Threadneedlestreet is about 80 feet in length, of the Ionic order, raised on a rustic basement. Through this front is a grand gate that opens into the court-yard, and leads into the great hall. This is of the Corinthian order, with a pediment in the middle. The top of the building is adorned with a balustrade and handsome vases, and in the face of the above pediment is engraved in relievo, the company's seal, viz. Britannia sitting with her shield and spear, and at her feet a cornucopia pouring our fruit. The hall within this building is 79 feet long and 40 feet broad, wainscotted about eight feet high, with a fine fretwork ceiling, and is adorned with the statue of king William III. in a niche at the upper end.
Behind this is another quadrangle, with an arcade on the E. and W. sides thereof: and on the north side is the accomptant's office, which is 60 feet long and 28 feet broad. Over this and the other sides of the quadrangle are handsome apartments, with a fine stair-case, adorned with fret-work; and under it are large vaults, with strong walls and iron gates, for the preservation of the cash and bullion.
Considerable additions have lately been made to this edifice. All the adjoining houses on the east side to Bartholomow lane, and those occupying the west side of that lane almost to Lothbury, have been taken down, and their place sup plied with offices for the several departments of the national funds. These offices have the advantage of being all on the ground floor, and are elegantly finished both without and within; but are nevertheless open to considerable objections. The street view presents a range of fluted columns in pairs, with arched intervals between, which point out where windows ought to be placed, instead of being filled up as they are with dead stone. This fault is more than meer matter of opinion, being much more perceptible within, where the offices are all supplied with light from small glass domes in the roof. These lantherns throwing the light down perpendicularly, the reflection from the white paper of the books is too direct to the eyes of the clerks, a circumstance which is much complained of by them.
These new offices compose one wing of the original front; an intention being said to be formed of taking down St. Christopher's church, which by the late opening of Threadneedle-street is deprived of great part of its parish; and to erect another wing corresponding with that now finished. How far so extensive a plan may answer the vast expence it will call for to compleat it, is a question proper for the consideration of those who are immediately concerned: an indifferent spectator cannot view this expanded fabric without comparing it with the growth of the public debts negociated there; and trembling more for the safety of the one than of the other.
The Bank was established in 1694 (fn. 2), and is under the management of a governor, deputy governor, and 24 directors, who are annually elected by ballot, at a general court of proprietors: the possession of 4000l. capital stock is the qualification for a governor, 3000l. for a deputy governor, 2000l. for a director; and the proprietor of 500l. enjoys a vote in the general court. These courts are to be held statedly four times a year; or oftener on the demand of nine members.
All that triangular range of houses in the front of the Bank, which divided the west ends of Cornhill and Threadneedle-street, which formed the west side of Castle-alley, and met in an angle at the end of the Poultry; have lately been taken down and handsomely rebuilt so as to open a wide street from the front door of the Bank into Cornhill, and to render Threadneedle-street and Cornhill more spacious and open at the angle that parts them. The houses that part this Bank street from Castle-alley consist of handsome shops; and the opposite side of this short street is all occupied by the Sun Fire office. It would have been better if these two uniform ranges had been all the buildings erected in the place of those taken down, and that the remaining space had been left open: for the few houses added on the west side of the Sun Fire office, though well built, still run into a sharp aukward angle that disgusts the eye on approaching them from the Poultry.
The Sun Fire office was projected by John Povey, about the year 1706, for insuring houses, merchandize and goods from fire, which, till then was never done. Povey having for some time carried on his project with success, conveyed his right therein to certain purchasers; who, by a deed of settlement of the 7th of April, Anno 1710, erected themselves into a society by the name of The Sun Fire Office, for insuring houses, goods, wares, and merchandizes from loss and damage by fire. This society not confining themselves, like other offices, within the bill of mortality only, have extended their insurance to all parts of the island.
By common insurances are understood all brick or stone buildings, not inhabited by the hazardous trades hereafter specified, nor the goods hereunder mentioned: under that of hazardous insurances are understood timber and plaister buildings, or goods and merchandize, called hazardous: and under the head of doubly hazardous, are to be understood all thatched timber, or plaister buildings, wherein hazardous goods, or trades are deposited, or carried on. Hazardous trades and goods are, apothecaries, chymists, bread and bisketbakers, ship and tallow-chandlers, stable-keepers, inn-holders and malthouses; hemp, flax, tallow, pitch, tar, turpentine, hay, straw, fodder of all kinds, and corn unthrashed.
To this office belong several firemen, and porters, to assist in extinguishing fires: and for the conveniency of the western parts of the town, the society have an office in Craig's-court, Charing cross.
At the north east end of Great Winchester-street, but with the front in Broad-street, stands the Pay-office of the navy; which is kept in the remains of the marquis of Winchester's mansion-house, called Winchester-place, well adapted for the purposes of the said office; but very old and plain. It is under the direction of a treasurer and paymaster, who pay for all the stores used in the royal navy, and the wages of those that sail in his majesty's service.
At the north east extremity of Threadneedle-street, where it enters Bishopsgate-street, is situated the South-sea-house. This house stands upon a large extent of ground; running backward as far as Old-Broad-street, facing St. Peter le Poor. The back front was formerly the Excise-office; then the SouthSea company's office; and hence is distinguished by the name of the Old South-sea house. As to the new building, in which the company's affairs are now transacted, it is a magnificent structure of brick and stone, about a quadrangle, supported by stone pillars of the Tuscan order, which form a fine piazza. The front in Threadneedle-street is large, plain, and of the Doric order; but the decorations about the door, and the central window over it, are remarked as much too elegant to correspond with the stile of the rest of the building. The walls are of a great thickness; the several offices are admirably disposed; and the great hall for sales, the dining room, galleries and chambers, are hardly to be equalled. Under all are arched vaults to preserve every thing that is valuable from accidental fire.
The first erection of this company, and their extraordinary transactions in the year 1720, have already been related (fn. 3) : it remains to add, that notwithstanding the terms of their charter, the company never carried on any considerable trade; and now they have no trade. Their capital is in the government's hands, for which they receive interest, and 8000l. per ann. out of the treasury, toward the expence attending the management of their affairs; which is intrusted to a governor, sub-governor, deputy governor, and 21 directors, annually chosen on the 6th of February, by a majority of votes. Such members of the company as have 1000l. in the capital stock in their own names, having one vote; such as have 3000l. two votes; such as have 5000l. three votes; and such as have 10,000l. or more stock, four votes; and none above.
On the north side of Throgmorton-street stands the spacious and noble hall of the company of Drapers. This hall was built upon the ruins of a palace erected by Thomas Lord Cromwell in the reign of king Henry VIII. which, being forfeited to the crown by his attainder and execution, was purchased by the company of Drapers, who converted it into a hall for transacting the business of their corporation: that building being destroyed in the fire of London, the Drapers company built their present hall, which is a most elegant building, composing the four sides of a quadrangle, each of which is elevated on columns, and adorned with arches, formed in a piazza round a square court; and between each arch is a shield, mantling, and other fretwork. On the east side is the commonhall, to which the ascent is by a grand staircase; and within it is adorned with a stately skreen and fine wainscot. On the skreen, between the two doors, hangs the picture, a three-quarters length, of Henry Fitz-Alwine, a draper, and the first lord-mayor of London. At the north end of this room are the pictures, at full length and as big as life, of king William III. in his stadtholder's under his royal robes; and the pictures of king George I. and king George II. in their royal robes, as big as life. The other apartments are equally elegant, and in the room called the ladies chamber, where the company sometimes treat their ladies with balls, there hangs a large beautiful chandelier of cut glass which was presented to the company by Sir Joseph Eyles.
At the north-west angle of the quadrangle there is a paved passage to the gardens belonging to this hall: over this passage, upon an arch built of brick and stone, is a strong room, covered with a large back or cistern of water. This is the record room, where the company keep their writings, books, and papers; and their plate, which, for quantity and workmanship, is said to exceed all the services of plate in other companies. The gardens are pleasant and commodious; and are open every day except Sundays and rainy days, for the recreation of genteel company. The ground they occupy is very near upon a square. The middle is inclosed with iron rails, and laid out in grass beds, gravel walks, and borders of flowers; with a statue of Flora in the center. Without the rails are fine spacious walks, kept in good order, and agreeably shaded with rows of lime trees. At the south-west corner is a very handsome pavilion for the accommodation of company in hot weather.
By a great fire that happened in Throgmorton-street, May 8th, 1772, the front of Drapers-hall was almost destroyed; the company had the good fortune however to save Fitz Alwine's picture, with another of Mary queen of Scots and her infant son James I. their fine antique marble chimney piece, and their furniture: but lost a grand lanthorn at the bottom of the hall stairs that cost upward of 200l. There is no doubt but this hall will be quickly restored in a manner suitable to the opulence of so respectable a fraternity.
At the east end of Threadneedle-street on the south side, stands the hall of the company of Merchant Taylors; in the front of which is a large handsome door-case, adorned with two demi-columns, whose entablature and pediment are of the composite order. The inside is furnished with tapestry, containing the history of their patron, John Baptist, and though these hangings are old, they are curious and valuable. The great hall is so capacious, that it is better adapted for the reception of numerous assemblies, than any other in the city, and is therefore occasionally used for such purposes, particularly by the East-India company; and by the society of free-masons for their annual feasts.
Almost facing the east end of Bethlehem hospital, and on the south side of the street called London-wall, stands Carpenters hall, in a court, to which there is an entrance by a large pair of gates. The building, though very old, and composed of timber and plaister, like many of the city halls before the fire of London, is not without its beauty and peculiar ornaments: and it enjoys an agreeable prospect into Drapers gardens, which lie toward the south.
There are six parish churches in this ward; in describing which we shall begin at London-wall, where a little to the east of Bethlehem hospital, stands the church of Allhallows London-wall. The time of founding this church is uncertain, but it is conjectured to be some time after the foundation of the priory of the Holy Trinity near Aldgate, in whose patronage this church was originally, and who presented Thomas Richer de Sanston thereunto in the year 1335. At the dissolution of religious houses under king Henry VIII. this church with the priory to which it belonged, were surrendered to the crown in whom the advowson still remains, the lord-chancellor or lord-keeper, for the time being, presenting to it.
The old church escaped the fire of London in 1666; but was become so ruinous, that in 1765 the parishioners obtained an act of parliament to empower them to pull it down, together with the parsonage-house, and to enable them to raise money by annuities to rebuild it. The new church, which has been finished some time, is built with brick and stone; and though plain, yet is very neat. It is somewhat longer than the old church, and the parsonage house is built at the north east corner of the church-yard.
On the west side of Broad-street, nearly opposite the back entrance to the South-sea house, is situated the parish church of St. Peter le Poor. That this church is of ancient foundation is manifest from a register of it in 1181. It was dedicated to St. Peter the apostle, and distinguished from other churches of that name, by the addition of le Poor; either from the poor state of the parish at the time of its foundation, or from the neighbouring priory of St. Austin, the brothers of which affected great poverty. It is supposed to have been rebuilt in 1540; and appears to have been a very mean edifice originally: in 1615 it was enlarged with the left wing, at the sole expence of Sir William Garway, Knt. whose monument is to be seen in this church; and who expended 4000l. on this improvement. The parishioners, spirited up by this generous act, repaired the whole church, new built the steeple with a good gallery at the west end of the church, and new cast and hung the bells, at the charge of 1587l.
This was the condition of St. Peter le poor at the time of the general conflagration of London, which it escaped: it is a mean gothic structure, and is made more so by its untoward situation: for one of its corners being thrust into the street, obstructs the passage, and destroys the vista. It is of considerable breadth in proportion to its length, being 54 feet long, and 51 broad; the height to the roof is no more than 23 feet, and the height of the tower and turret together 75 feet. The body is plain, the windows very large; and the dial is fixed to a beam, that is joined at one end to a kind of turret, and extends across the street like a country sign post. The tower rises square, without diminution, is strengthened at the corners with rustic; and upon this is placed a turret, which consists of strong piers at the corners arched over, and covered with an open dome; whence rises a ball, with a fane.
At the south east end of Threadneedle-street, the parochial church of St. Martin's Outwich forms the angle where it enters Bishopsgate-street. It is dedicated to St. Martin, bishop of Tours in France about the year 376. In the year 1325 John de Warren, earl of Surry, presented to the living; but that earl dying without issue, and leaving his estates to the crown, the advowson of this church was purchased by John Churchman in 1387, for William and John de Oteswich. These two brothers, by licence of king Henry IV. in the 6th year of his reign, gave the advowson of this church, four messuages, and 17 shops, with the appurtenances, in the parish of St. Martin Oteswich, &c. to the master and wardens of the taylors and linen-armourers, and to their successors, in perpetual alms, to be employed for the help and relief of the poor brethren and sisters of the said company. By virtue of which grant the merchant-taylors have the right of patronage to this church: and the addition of Oteswich or Outwich has been made to distinguish this foundation from others of the same name.
This church, which was rebuilt about the year 1540, is one of the few that escaped the fire in 1666. It is an old gothic structure, of the meaner style, 66 feet long, and 42 broad; the height of the roof 31 feet, and the height of the steeple 65 feet. The body is of brick, strengthened at the corners by a massy rustic; the windows are large, of the coarse gothic kind, and the top is surrounded with plain square battlements. From the tower rises an open, arched turret, supported by four piers; and from the dome rises a fane. This church received so much damage by the fire in Bishopsgate-street in 1765 (fn. 4), that the turret and dome were entirely rebuilt.
On the south side of Threadneedle-street, a little to the eastward of the back of the Royal Exchange, is the church of St. Bennet Fink, vulgarly so called from its dedication to St. Benedict, an Italian saint, and founder of the order of Benedictine monks: it received the addition of Fink from its rebuilder, Robert Fink. It is of ancient foundation, and was originally a rectory, John de Anesty being collated rector thereof before the year 1323. The patronage of this church, which was formerly in the family of the Nevils, coming to the crown, king Edward IV. gave it to the dean and chapter of Windsor; and the impropriation being in the dean and chapter, it is generally supplied by one of the canons who is licensed by the bishop of London.
The old church being destroyed by the fire in 1666, the present structure was erected in 1673. The body is of an irregular form, enlightened by large arched windows, which reach to the roof. This is encompassed with a balustrade, and crowned with a lanthorn: a dome rises upon the whole extent of the tower, and on its top rises a turret. The church within has been much commended as a well judged piece of architecture; its elliptical figure being very convenient for an auditory. The church-yard was given to the parishioners as a free burial place without any expence.
Behind the Royal-Exchange, at the south east end of the lane denominated from it, is the church of St. Bartholomew. This church is of ancient foundation; for in the year 1331, John de Tyerne was presented to this living, on the death of John de Aldeburgh, the rector: and it was become so decayed in 1438, as to require to be rebuilt. It was burnt down in the great fire in 1666; and the present church arose in its place, and consists of a very irregular body, with a tower crowned with arches, supported by columns of the Corinthian order. At the time of the reformation this living, then in the gift of the abbey of St. Mary of Grace, came to the hands of the crown, in which it still remains.
Between Prince-street and the front of the Bank in Threadneedle-street stands St. Christopher's church, which is a rectory, founded by the noble family of the Nevils about the year 1368, and dedicated to St. Christopher, a convert from paganism, and martyr for the Christian faith under Decius the emperor. It was rebuilt of stone in 1506; and has stood to this time, with the help of necessary and substantial repairs: for the outward walls and the steeple withstood the fire of London in 1666, the inside only being consumed. The body is well enlightened; and the tower is crowned with four handsome pinnacles; but it is altogether a very plain edifice. The bishop of London has been the patron of this church for above 300 years.
Beside these parochial churches, there are two places of worship for foreign protestants which deserve mention. The first of these is Austin Friars church, situated in the street to which it gives name behind Drapers hall. On this spot was a priory dedicated to St. Augustin, bishop of Hippo in Africa, and founded for the Friars Eremites of that order, in the year 1253, by Humphrey Bohun, earl of Hereford and Essex. These friars were of the mendicant sort; and perhaps, because they passed under the notion of Begging-friars, the adjacent parish church might have the name Poor added to it; as much as to say St. Peter's church, near the Begging-friars. The founder and his family built a very fair and capacious church, with a most complete steeple, small, high, and streight; which was an ornament to the city. But, after the dissolution of the priory, the scite thereof, and the other buildings within its precincts, were granted away in parcels, by king Henry VIII. Edward VI. in the 4th year of his reign, granted all the church, except the choir, to a congregation of Germans, and other strangers, who fled hither for the sake of religion (fn. 5), ordered it to be called the Temple of the Lord Jesus; and several successive princes have confirmed it to the Dutch, by whom it is still used as a place of divine worship.
It is a large and spacious gothic edifice, supported by two rows of stone pillars. At the east end are several steps, which lead to a large platform, on which is placed a long table with seats against the wall, and forms round, for the use of the holy communion: the windows on one side have painted on them in several places, the word Jesus Temple. On the west end over the screen is a library thus inscribed, Ecclesiæ Londino Belgicæ, Bibliotheca, extructa sumptibus Mariæ Dubois 1659; it contains several valuable manuscripts, among which are the letters of Calvin, Peter Martyr, and other foreign reformers. This church is served by two ministers, who administer the sacrament on the last Sunday in every month; and exchange churches every first Sunday in the month with the Walloon congregation, for their administration of the Eucharist; their own church in Threadneedle-street being too small for them. The ministers have good salaries, and the church provides a sufficient subsistence for their widows.
This Walloon, or French protestant church stands on the north side of Threadneedle-street opposite Finch-lane. It is founded upon the ruins of the hospital of St. Anthony, which had been a Jews synagogue, built about the year 1231, and converted into a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. This hospital flourished, raised a large free-school, and built alms-houses at the west end of the church for poor men. Amongst other accounts of this hospital, Stow says, that he could remember that the overseers of the markets in this city would take a starved pig from the market people, and slitting its ear, would give it to this hospital; and that the proctors of St. Anthony's having turned it out into the streets with a bell about its neck, the pig enjoyed the privilege of ranging the city without danger. If any person gave it bread or other food, it was natural for the animal to whine after him for more: whence arose the proverb, "That he follows me like a Tantony, or St. Anthony's, pig." When any of these pigs became fit for the spit, the proctor took it up for the use of the hospital.
The destruction of this hospital is imputed to one Johnson (a schoolmaster here), who becoming a prebendary of Windsor, first dissolved the choir, conveyed away the plate and ornaments, then the bells, and lastly turned the poor out of the alms-houses, lett out the premises for rent, and the church for a place of worship to the French protestants; who hold it of the dean and chapter of Windsor to this day. They perform divine service in the French tongue, after the manner of the church of England. The old building being entirely destroyed by the fire of London, the present church was erected at the sole expence of the French protestants: it is a small, but neat place of worship, with a convenient vestry at the south-east corner.
The particulars in this ward may be closed with some account of the Penny Post Office; which though it is not carried on in any particular building that attracts the eye, is nevertheless a most useful institution for the speedy conveyance of letters and small packets not exceeding four ounces weight, to all distances within the metropolis and ten miles round at the easy charge of one penny paid at the delivery. A custom has however been introduced of obliging persons who live out of the bounds of London, Westminster and Southwark, to pay a penny also on the receipt of a letter. The first establishment of this scheme has already been related (fn. 6); and the principal office used to be kept in St. Christopher's alley, between that church and the Bank: but this alley having been taken in by the late enlargement of the Bank, it is now held in Throgmorton-street opposite to Bartholomew-lane.
This office is under the direction of the post masters general; who appoint
a comptroller, accomptant, receiver and comptroller's clerk and messengers.
There are six sorters, and eight subsorters of the letters, 74 messengers, or letter
carriers, and 334 houses within the bills of mortality appointed for receiving
letters, which are divided among the offices following.
1. The chief office, in Throgmorton-street opposite Bartholomew lane.
2. The Westminster office, in Coventry street.
3. The Hermitage office, in Queen-street Little Tower-hill.
4. The Southwark office, in St. Saviour's churchyard.
5. St. Clement's office, in Blackmore-street, Clare market.