A New History of London Including Westminster and Southwark. Originally published by R Baldwin, London, 1773.
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The ward of Farringdon-within.
This ward with that of Farringdon-without, were antiently one ward, under one alderman, descending by inheritance or gained by purchase. Thomas de Ardene conveyed this aldermanry in 1277 to Ralph de Feur, then sheriff of London; as did John his son, to William Farendon, citizen and goldsmith in 1279: under whom and his son Nicholas, who was four times mayor, it remained 82 years; and these wards still retain their name. It was divided into the two wards of within the wall and without, in the year 1395 (fn. 1); and the boundaries of the inner ward are thus defined: on the east it is bounded by Cheap-ward and Castle Baynard-ward; on the north by Aldersgate and Cripplegate-wards, and the liberty of St. Martin le Grand; on the west by Farringdonwithout; and on the south by Baynard Castle-ward, and the river Thames.
Beginning where the great cross once stood in Cheapside, this ward runs westward on the north side, and down Gutter-lane, as far as Huggen-lane on the east side, and to Kery-lane on the west. Then from the south end of Gutterlane westward to Foster-lane, and down that lane to the north side of St. Foster's church-yard only on the east side, and to over against the south west corner of the said church-yard on the west side. But from thence to the stone wall on the west side of Noble-street is all in Aldersgate ward. Then from the said wall, down to Windsor-house, or Nevil's-inn, and down Monkwell-street, on the west side, and by London-wall to Cripplegate, and the west side of that gate, all which is in Farringdon-ward. Then from the south end of Foster-lane westward to St. Martin le Grand, and away to Newgate, including both sides of the way in Newgate-street, which terminates the north side of this ward. From the before mentioned cross this ward extends on the south side from Friday-street westward, including as much of Friday-street as to the N. E. corner of St. Matthew's church on the east side, and to the south corner of the said church on the west side. Then from this street to the Old Change, which is in this ward on the east side, as far as one house east of St. Augustine's church, adjoining to Watling-street; and on the west side to the place where once stood the gate built by Nicholas Farendon in 1361, at the entrance into the south church-yard of St. Paul's; and within the said gate, all that part which was formerly called the North church-yard. Then from the north end of the Old Change to the scite of the north gate of St. Paul's church-yard, which opened into Cheapside; so up the south side of Pater-noster-row to within about 12 doors of Avemary-lane, the west side of which lane is in this ward: and thence southward, Ludgate-street, formerly called Bowyer-row, as far as the spot where lately stood Ludgate: and on the north side, up Pater-noster-row, beginning where the conduit stood, facing the Old Change, to Pannier-alley, Ivy-lane, Newgate-market, and Warwick-lane, the east side of which lane, and the west end of Pater-noster-row, are in Baynard's Castle-ward. But Farringdon-ward within crosses Ludgate-street, and takes in the west side of Creed-lane, and all Black-friars.
At the west extremity of Newgate-street stands the gate which gives name to the street; and which is the only remaining gate of the old walls of London. Newgate takes its name from its being an additional gate built after the four original gates of this city. It is not certain that there was a gate on this spot before the reign of Henry I. though we find the apartments in that gate appropriated for the confinement of felons, as a county gaol for London and Middlesex, in the year 1218. It was also the common prison for nobles, and such great officers of state who happened to incur the displeasure of their sovereign.
Newgate being much damaged by the fire of London in 1666, was restored in the manner it now appears, in the year 1672. The west side of this gate is adorned with three ranges of Tuscan pilasters, with their entablatures, and in the intercolumniations are four niches, in one of which is a figure representing Liberty, having the word Libertas inscribed on her cap; and at her feet lies a cat, in allusion to the story of Sir Richard Whittington, a benefactor to the prison, who is said to have made the first step toward his good fortune by means of a cat. The east side of the gate is likewise adorned with a range of pilasters, and in three niches are the figures of Justice, Mercy, and Truth.
A late writer observes, that "Newgate, considered as a prison, is a structure of more cost and beauty than was necessary; because the sumptuousness of the outside but aggravates the misery of the wretches within: but as a gate to such a city as London, it might have received considerable additions both of design and execution, and abundantly answer the cost in the reputation of building. The gate of a city, erected rather for ornament than use, ought to be in the style of the ancient triumphal arches; and it must be allowed, that hardly any kind of building admits of more beauty or perfection (fn. 2)." If we consider Newgate as a place of confinement, it is indeed a very shocking one (fn. 3), but the foundation is now laid for a new prison, extending from the present gate to Surgeons hall in the Old Bailey; adjoining to which a new sessions house is nearly finished, and will be a massy stone rusticated building. The new gaol is to contain distinct squares for debtors, and for men and women selons, apart from each other; which when finished to receive the prisoners, Newgate will be taken down and the street thrown open. It is nevertheless to be lamented that this gaol was not removed from so crouded a part of the town to a more free and airy situation in some of the out parts.
There are several charitable legacies left to the prisoners in Newgate; and
among the rest Robert Dow, merchant taylor, who died in 1612, left 1l. 6s.
8d. yearly for ever to the sexton or bellman of St. Sepulchre's, to pronounce solemnly two exhortations to the persons condemned, before their
execution. He accordingly comes at midnight, and after tolling his bell, calls
"You prisoners that are within,
Who for wickedness and sin,
After many mercies shewn you, are now appointed to die to-morrow in the forenoon, give ear, and understand, that to-morrow morning, the greatest bell of St. Sepulchre's shall toll for you in form of and manner of a passing bell, as used to be tolled for those that are at the point of death: to the end that all godly people, hearing that bell, and knowing it is for your going to your deaths, may be stirred up heartily to pray to God to bestow his grace and mercy upon you, whilst you live. I beseech you, for Jesus Christ's sake, to keep this night in watching and prayer, to the salvation of your own souls, while there is yet time and place for mercy; as knowing to-morrow you must appear before the judgement seat of your Creator, there to give an account of things done in this life, and to suffer eternal torments for your sins committed against him, unless, upon your hearty and unfeigned repentance, you find mercy, through the merits, death, and passion of your only mediator and advocate Jesus Christ, who now sits at the right hand of God, to make intercession for as many of you as penitently return to him."
On the morning of execution, as the condemned criminals pass by St. Sepulchre's church-yard to Tyburn, he tolls his bell again, and the cart stopping, he
adds: "All good people, pray heartily unto God for these poor sinners, who
are now going to their death, for whom this great bell doth toll. You that are
condemned to die, repent with lamentable tears; ask mercy of the Lord,
for the salvation of your own souls, through the merits, death, and passion
of Jesus Christ, who now sits at the right hand of God to make intercession
for as many of you as penitently return unto him.
Lord have mercy upon you,
Christ have mercy upon you,
Lord have mercy upon you,
Christ have mercy upon you."
On the south side of Newgate-street, between Warwick-lane and Ivy-lane, is Newgate market; a commodious, square piece of ground, measuring 194 feet from east to west, and 148 feet from north to south; with a market-house in the center. Under the market house are vaults, and the upper part is occupied as warehouses by fruiterers and gardeners. The shops within this building are for tripe, butter, eggs, &c. and in the open area, surrounding the market-house, are fruit and greens. At a convenient distance round are sheds for poulterers, bacon-sellers, butchers, &c. The houses, which form the square, are most of them occupied by butchers; and the avenues or passages, which lead from Paternoster-row, Warwick-lane, Ivy-lane, and Newgate-street, are full of fishmongers, poulterers, bacon-shops, and cheesemongers.
The college of Physicians, near the north-east extremity of Warwick-lane, though a structure seldom noticed, is esteemed a very delicate building. Yet so unlucky is its situation, that so far from being seen to advantage, it is seldom seen at all. The entrance is through a grand octangular porch, or theatre, crowned with a dome which finishes in a cone; very capacious for admitting carriages, and well enlightened: this was built by Sir Christopher Wren; but being in a narrow dirty lane, and the houses on each side built close to the front, it is almost hid from the passenger. This leads into a square court, where the building opposite, which contains the library, and other rooms of state and convenience, was the design of Inigo Jones. The ascent to the door is by a flight of steps, and in the under part is a basement story: the whole front is decorated with pilasters of the Ionic and Corinthian orders. In a niche over the door is a statue of king Charles II. and directly opposite on the inner front of the octangular porch, stands that of Sir John Cutler. The buildings which compose the sides of the court are uniform, and have the window cases handsomely ornamented. The orders are well executed, and the whole edifice is both beautiful and commodious.
This college contains a hall, in which the physicians sit to give advice to the poor gratis; a committee-room; a library, furnished with books by Sir Theodore Mayern, and the marquis of Dorchester; a great hall for the quarterly meetings of the doctors, adorned with pictures and sculpture; a theatre for anatomical dissections; a preparing room, where there are thirteen tables, containing all the muscles in the human body; and over all, garrets to dry the herbs for the use of the dispensatory.
On the north side of Newgate-street, adjoining to Christ-Church, is Christ's hospital, or the Blue-coat hospital, founded by King Edward VI. (fn. 4) on the scite of the dissolved convent of Grey Friars. The establishment was for the maintenance and pious education of poor fatherless children, of whom 340 were taken into the new hospital in the year 1552. This laudable design of the young king was well seconded by the benefactions of his subjects; Sir William Chester, knight and alderman, and John Calthrop, citizen and draper, built the brick walls on the side next to St. Bartholomew's hospital, and arched over the town ditch from Aldersgate to Newgate, as being offensive to the hospital. King Charles II. in the year 1673, added a mathematical school and a ward to the hospital, for the instruction of forty boys in navigation, and endowed it for seven years with 1000l. per annum, to be paid out of the Exchequer. Twelve of these boys are put apprentice every year to masters of ships, and twelve boys of the best genius are elected to supply their place. But lest this mathematical school should fail for want of boys properly qualified to supply it, one Mr. Stone, a governor, left a legacy to maintain a subordinate mathematical ward of 12 boys, which is known by the name of Stone's Ward, where boys are prepared for reception into the king's ward.
Every half year there is a public examination of all the boys in the hospital before the governors, assisted by the head-master of St. Paul's school, and other proper examiners. The mathematical boys are presented to the king every New-year's day, when they carry some of their mathematical drawings with them as evidences of their proficiency: they are also presented once a year to the lord chancellor, the lords of the treasury, and the lords of the admiralty, separately. Six of these boys pass a particular examination every half year before the elder brothers of the Trinity-house, previous to their being put to sea; and they are so well esteemed, that young captains, both in the Royal navy and in the East-India service, are very glad to get one of these lads to act in the capacity of school-master on board their ships to perfect them in the theory of navigation.
There have at times been 1000 children at once in this school, who wear a long coat of blue warm cloth, close to the arms and the body, hanging loose to their heels, girt about their waist with a red leather girdle, buckled; a loose petticoat underneath, of yellow cloth, (of late years the boys are allowed breeches) a round thrum cap, tied with a red band, yellow stockings, and black low-heeled shoes. The boys in the mathematical school, as a badge of distinction, wear on the breasts of their coats a plate of silver, with an emblematical device on it, the dye of which is kept in the Tower, where they are all stamped: this badge they retain during their apprenticeship, as a security against their being pressed into the king's service.
Children are received into this hospital at seven years of age, and those who have not already been taught to read are sent down to Hertford, none being now sent to Ware; at which place there is a school and proper instructors to prepare them for being sent to the hospital at London; where they are received as room is made for their admission by the eldest boys being bound out apprentices.
Christ's hospital is so much concealed by the contiguous houses, that it cannot be seen intire. It is spacious, and though built in the old manner, is not ill contrived. The principal buildings form the four sides of a large area, which have porticos continued round them. These have gothic arches, and the walls are supported by abutments; being the remaining cloister of the old priory. It serves for a thoroughfare, and as a place of recreation for the boys, especially in rainy weather: but, being gone to decay, it was repaired by the direction of Sir Christopher Wren. As to the exterior view, the hospital is very irregular; the several parts having been erected at different times, and being therefore a mixture of the gothic and modern stiles of building.
This hospital is extremely well conducted; there are eight wards which contain each above 50 beds for the children; that for the girls is apart from the rest, and there is also a ward for the sick, which is accommodated with a kitchen, a consultation chamber, and other convenient offices. The schools are the antient grammar school, the mathematical and writing schools, and a school for the girls, where they are taught to read, to few, and to mark. The writing school is a neat modern edifice, built with brick and stone in the year 1694, at the end of the great hall. It was founded by Sir John Moore, one of the aldermen of the city, and president of the house, whom it is said to have cost 5000l. and contains long writing boards sufficient for 300 boys to sit and write upon. His statue stands in the middle of the west side of the school-room without.
The great hall was built at the expence of Sir John Frederick, after the fire of London; and here the boys dine and sup. At the upper end of this room is a large picture representing king James II. sitting with his nobles, the governors, &c. with the half figures of king Edward VI. and Charles II. hanging as pictures in the same piece. There is also a painting of the athematical school done by Vario; reckoned worth 1000l. At the other end is a large piece representing king Edward VI. delivering the charter to the lord mayor, who kneels, with the aldermen behind him; the young king is accompanied by bishop Ridley and several others, who stand about him. In this hall is a good organ, that plays when the boys sing their psalms or anthems.
The plan of education in this hospital has been enlarged by the appointment of a master to instruct boys in the art of drawing; a qualification extremely useful in many professions: beside whom they have also a music master. The charity is supported by an annual revenue in houses and lands; by the licensing and looking after the carts allowed by the city, each of which pays a certain sum for sealing; and by the duty paid upon every piece of cloth brought to Blackwell-hall (fn. 5). The governors amount to about 300, and are commonly men of opulence, who recommend themselves by their charity. Out of these one is president, who is generally some senior alderman that hath passed the chair. Another is treasurer, who takes care of the affairs of the whole house, and of the revenues, therefore is commonly resident, and hath a good house to dwell in, but without any salary. Boys are chosen into this hospital every Easter, and each governor has a privilege of presenting an unqualified child every third time, by which is meant the child of a non-freeman, or of a freeman, whose parents are alive. Admission into this school is esteemed so good an introduction to life, that an election of a child has been said to be worth 100l. It is however to be hoped, that this is merely an ideal estimate of its value, and that no governor has ever been known to abuse his trust by making a pecuniary advantage of his presentation.
These particulars may be concluded by observing, that there is not perhaps a charitable institution existing which answers the intention better than this hospital. Notwithstanding the great number of boys contained in it, they are, contrary to most other public schools, remarkable for their decent and orderly behaviour at all times; and as from being well instructed they generally succeed in the several professions they are placed out in, so they often, in the days of prosperity, recollect and acknowledge the obligations they were originally under to the place of their education, by grateful donations and legacies.
On the east side of St. Paul's church-yard stands St. Paul's school, founded in 1509, by Dr. Colet, dean of St. Paul's cathedral (fn. 6), the surviving son of Sir Henry Colet, twice lord mayor. This school is for the free education of 153 boys, by a master, an usher, and a chaplain; under the regulation of the mercer's company, who were appointed trustees of the foundation. The original salaries of the masters were but small, but by the improvement of the estate since that time, the good management of the company, and some additional sums left to this foundation, the salaries of the masters are become considerable; the upper master having 300l. a year, beside the advantage of additional scholars and boarders, by which he generally makes about 200l. a year more; the second master has 250l. a year, and the third 90l. a year.
The original school, sharing the common fate in 1666, was restored nearly in the same proportion as it was before. It is a very handsome though singular edifice; the middle building, in which is the school, is of stone; it is much lower than the ends, and has only one series of windows, which are large, and raised a considerable height from the ground. The center is adorned with rustic, and on the top is a handsome pediment, in which are the founder's arms placed in a shield; upon the apex stands a figure representing learning. Under this pediment are two windows which are square, and on each side are two circular windows crowned with busts, and the spaces between them are handsomely ornamented in relievo. Upon a level with the foot of the pediment runs on either side a handsome balustrade, on which is placed on each side a large bust with a radiant crown, between two flaming vases. The buildings at each end are of brick, ornamented with stone, and are appropriated to the uses of the first and second master. They are high and narrow, consisting of three stories, each story of three windows; the central windows arched, and those on each side rectangular. A fourth central window is continued above the cornice, supported with scrolls, and over that a balustrade.
The school within is spacious. It consists of eight classes, or forms; in the first, the children learn their rudiments; from thence, according to their proficiency, they are advanced unto the other forms, till they rise to the eighth. Whence, being commonly well instructed in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, and sometimes in other oriental languages, they are removed to the universities: many of them enjoy exhibitions, some of ten pounds a year for seven years, if they continue so long, toward their maintenance.
At the upper end of Cock Alley, in Ludgate-street, is situated Stationers hall, on the ground where formerly stood an antient palace, first the residence of the duke of Brittany, afterward of the earls of Pembroke and Abergavenny. This hall, though it is a plain brick building, is well adapted to the business of the company, which consists in printing and vending all almanacks, the singing psalms, bound up with common prayer-books, some school-books, &c. of which they retain the exclusive property. There is an ascent to it by a flight of steps, and the light is thrown in by two series of windows; the lower large and upright, and the upper of an elliptical form, Underneath it, and at the north end, are warehouses for the company's stock.
On the north side of Cheapside, between Foster-lane and Gutter-lane, is the hall of the company of Sadlers: this hall is a handsome building, though not a large one, and stands in a small court, with a very elegant gate to the street. In Gutter-lane we find a small but convenient hall belonging to the company of Embroiderers.
Two gateways, one above and the other below where Ludgate stood, lead into Water-lane Blackfriars; on the east side of which lane stands Apothecaries hall. This hall is a beautiful edifice, and has a pair of gates leading into a paved court: at the upper end of which you ascend by a grand flight of stairs into the hall room, built with brick and stone, and adorned with columns of the Tuscan order. The ceiling of the court-room and of the hall are ornamented with fretwork; the wall is wainscotted 14 feet high, and adorned with the bust of Dr. Gideon Delaun, apothecary to king James I. and with several pieces of good painting: among these are the portraitures of king James I. and of the gentleman who procured their charter, and who had been obliged to leave France for religion. In this building are two large laboratories; one for chemical and the other for galenical preparations; where great quantities of the best medicines are prepared, for the use of apothecaries and others; particularly for the surgeons of the royal navy, who here furnish their chests, with all useful and necessary medicines.
Lower down nearer the river, and on the west side of the same lane, is a large building known by the name of Scots hall; erected for the use of the Scots corporation, a laudable society for the relief of poor natives of Scotland residing in the cities of London and Westminster; and for educating the orphans of Scots parents within the same limits. This society was founded by James Kinneir, a Scots merchant of London, who in the year 1665 obtained a charter to incorporate a box club of his countrymen, and a confirmation of it the following year: they were impowered to erect an hospital within the cities of London and Westminster, to be called the Scots hospital of king Charles II. and to chuse governors who were constituted a body politic and corporate with a common seal.
This humane foundation had like to have been crushed in its bud by two very dreadful events, the plague and the fire of London, which happened in the very years of its establishment. However, those who had the direction of the work, in the year 1670 took a lease of a piece of ground in Black-friars, to build upon, for the term of a thousand years, at a ground rent of 40l. and by charitable contributions were enabled to erect their hall, with two houses at Fleet ditch, and four in Black-friars, which were soon after finished at the expence of 4450l. All matters belonging to this corporation are managed by the governors without see or reward; for they not only spend their own time, but contribute quarterly for the support of the society, and the relief of the poor: they provide for the sick; they grant pensions to the reduced and aged; they bury the dead, and give money to such as are disposed to return to Scotland. The sums disbursed by the society amount to about 600l. per annum. The governors of this charity celebrate the festival of St. Andrew, the tutelar saint of Scotland, on the 30th of November annually at this hall, when they have a ball.
In this ward stands the cathedral church of the see of London, dedicated to St. Paul; which may be truly characterized as the most magnificent protestant church in the world. The particulars relating to the antient cathedral, that have been delivered down by historians, are thus briefly brought together. The first cathedral of the episcopal see of London was built in the area, where had been the Roman Prætorian camp, and in the situation on which all the succeeding fabrics stood: but this structure was demolished during the persecution under the Emperor Dioclesian. This persecution being however short, the church is supposed to have been re-edified under Constantine; afterward to have been destroyed by the Pagan Saxons, and restored again upon the old foundations, when they embraced Christianity in the seventh century; when Sebert, king of Essex, advanced Melitus to the bishopric of London. In 675, Erkinwald, the fourth Bishop of London from Melitus, expended great sums of money in repairing and beautifying the ancient edifice, augmenting its revenues, and procuring for it privileges from the Pope, and the Saxon princes then reigning: for these works the bishop was canonized at his death, and his body placed in a shrine above the high altar, where it remained the admiration of succeeding ages, till the fatal destruction of the whole fabric by fire. This catastrophe happened in the year 961: and as it was rebuilt the same year, it is probable, that these early structures, how grand soever they might then be thought, were only wooden buildings.
The church flourished greatly during the Saxon heptarchy; Kenrad, king of Mercia, declared it as free in all its rights, as he himself desired to be at the day of judgment; Athelstan endowed it with fifteen lordships; Edgar, with two; and Egleflede his wife with two more: all which were confirmed by the charters of Ethelred and Canute, which solemnly imprecate curses on all who dare to violate it. Edward the Confessor was the next benefactor to this church; but at the Norman invasion some of its revenues were seized by the Conqueror: no sooner however was he seated on the throne, than he caused full restitution to be made: and even confirmed all its rights, privileges, and immunities, in the amplest manner.
By a dreadful fire which happened in 1086, this church, with the greatest part of the city, were laid in ashes: but this destruction served to make way for a more magnificent building than had ever yet been dedicated to the purposes of devotion in this kingdom, Maurice, then bishop of London, having undertaken this great work, obtained of the king the old stones of a spacious castle in the neighbourhood, called the Palatine Tower, situated near the river Fleet; but though he lived twenty years, and prosecuted the work with uncommon earnestness, yet he left the completion of what he had begun to succeeding generations. The successor of this bishop even applied the whole revenue of his see toward the advancement of this great work; but like the former left it unfinished: after which it is supposed to have been compleated by lay persons; but at what time, or in what manner, is no where recorded. Indeed William Rufus is said to have exempted all ships entering the river Fleet with stone or other materials for the new cathedral, from toll and custom; and it is not improbable that he might take this structure under his own particular direction. But notwithstanding the time and expence bestowed upon this church, it was thought not sufficiently magnificent; the steeple was therefore rebuilt and finished about the year 1221; and then Roger Niger, being promoted to the see of London in 1229, proceeding with the choir, compleated it in 1240, and solemnly consecrated it a fresh the same year.
The ornaments of this cathedral exceeded those of every other church in the kingdom. The high altar stood between two columns, adorned with precious stones; surrounded with images beautifully wrought, and covered with a canopy of wood painted with the representation of Saints and Angels. The new shrine of St. Erkenwald stood on the east side of the wall above the high altar, adorned with gold, silver, and precious stones; but not being thought sufficiently rich, in 1339 three goldsmiths of London were retained by the dean and chapter to work upon it a whole year, at the end of which its lustre was so great, that princes, and nobles, ambassadors, and other foreigners of rank, flocked from all parts to visit it, and to offer their oblations before it. The picture of St. Paul, finely painted, was placed in a wooden tabernacle on the right side of the high altar, and was esteemed a masterly performance. Against a pillar in the body of the church, stood a beautiful image of the Virgin Mary; and that a lamp might be continually kept burning before it, and an anthem sung every day, John Burnet, bishop of Bath and Wells, bequeathed a handsome estate. In the center stood a large cross, and toward the north door a crucifix at which offerings were made, that greatly increased the revenue of the dean and canons. The last piece of ornament we shall mention, was the fine dial belonging to the great clock, which being visible to all who passed by, care was taken that it should appear with the utmost splendor, and in particular an angel pointed to the hour.
Within the north side of the inclosure, in the middle of the church yard, was situated a pulpit cross, at which sermons were preached weekly; and here was held the folkmote, or general convention of the citizens. Facing this cross stood the charnel house, in which the bones of the dead were piled up, a thousand loads whereof were removed to Finsbury fields in the reign of Edward VI. and there laid in a moorish place, with so much earth to cover them, as raised a considerable mount, on which were erected three windmills.
Under this cathedral was a parish church called St. Faith's, in which several persons of distinction were formerly interred: but no records remain that mention the time when divine worship was performed in it. A church dedicated to St. Faith stood originally at the east end of the cathedral; but that building was demolished, to make way for an enlargement of St. Paul's church, in the year 1251, or 1256: in lieu whereof a conveniency was made under the choir, on the spot where St. Faith's church had stood, to serve the parishioners for a parish church.
St. Paul's cathedral was encompassed with a wall about the year 1109, which extended from the north east corner of Ave Mary-lane along Pater-noster-row, to the north end of the Old Change in Cheapside; whence it ran southward to Carter-lane, and passing on the north side of it to Creed-lane, turned up to Ludgate-street. To this wall there were six gates; and on the north west corner of the church yard was the episcopal palace, contiguous to which on the east was a cemetery denominated Pardon Church Haugh, where Gilbert Becket sheriff of London erected a chapel in the reign of King Stephen. On the east of the church yard was a clochier or bell tower by St. Paul's school; wherein were four great bells, called Jesus bells, from their belonging to Jesus chapel in St. Faith's church; but these, together with a fine image of St. Paul on the top of the spire, being won by Sir Miles Partridge, Knt. of Henry VIII. at one cast of the dice, were taken down and sold.
The first remarkable misfortune that befel this stately cathedral was in 1444, when, about two o'clock in the afternoon, its lofty wooden spire was fired by lightning; but, by the assiduity of the citizens, it was soon seemingly extinguished: however to their great surprise and terror it broke out again with redoubled fury at about nine o'clock at night; but, by the indefatigable pains of the lord-mayor and citizens, it was at last effectually extinguished. The damage was not however fully repaired till the year 1462, when the spire was compleated, and a beautiful fane of gilt copper in the form of an eagle was placed upon it. About an hundred years after this accident, another of the same kind happened to it, generally attributed to the same cause, but much more fatal n its consequences: the fire consuming not only the fine spire, but the upper roof of the church, and that of the isles. It was universally believed that this fire was occasioned by lightning, yet, Dr. Heylin says, that an ancient plumber confessed at his death, that it was occasioned through his negligence in leaving a pan of coals in the steeple while he went to dinner, which, taking hold of the dry timber in the spire, was got to such a height at his return, that he judged it impossible to quench it, and therefore concluded it would be more consistent with his safety, not to contradict the common report. This calamity was followed by a general contribution among the clergy, nobility, great officers of state, the city of London, and the queen herself, who gave a thousand marks in gold towards its speedy repair, with a warrant for a thousand loads of timber to be cut in any of her woods, wherever it should be found most convenient. In five years time, the timber roofs were entirely finished, and covered with lead, the two largest being framed in Yorkshire, and brought by sea; but some difference in opinion arising about the model of the steeple, that part of the work was left unattempted; and it was never after rebuilt: for upon raising the roofs, the walls were found to be so much damaged by the fire, that it was judged necessary to make a general repair of the whole building; but this was deferred for a long time.
At length Mr. Henry Farley, a private citizen, after above eight years earnest solicitation of king James I. prevailed on his majesty to interpose in order to prevent the ruin of this venerable fabric; when that prince, considering of what importance appearances are in the promotion of public zeal, caused it to be rumoured abroad, that on Sunday the 26th of March, 1620, he would be present at divine service in St. Paul's cathedral. Accordingly on the day appointed, his majesty came thither on horseback in all the pomp of royalty, attended by the principal nobility and great officers of his court; and was met by the lordmayor, aldermen, and livery in their formalities, who, upon the king's alighting at the great west door, joined in the procession to the choir. Here he heard an anthem, and then proceeded to the cross, where Dr. King, bishop of London, preached a sermon suitable to the occasion, from a text given him by his majesty, in Psalm cii. 13, 14, and this sermon was afterward circulated with considerable effect through the whole kingdom. After divine service his majesty and the whole court were entertained at the bishop's palace, where it was agreed to issue a commission under the great seal, directed to the principal personages in the kingdom, empowering them to consider of the necessary repairs, and to raise money for carrying them into execution. But though the commissioners afterward met to prosecute this purpose, yet the whole affair came to nothing.
In the succeeding reign another commission was obtained, by the assiduity of archbishop Laud; which was attended with better success; so that in 1632, Inigo Jones his majesty's surveyor-general, was ordered to begin the repairs at the south east end, and to bring them along by the south to the west end. That celebrated architect in nine years time, finished the whole both within and without, except the steeple; which was intended to be entirely taken down: a magnificent portico of the Corinthian order was also erected at the west end, at the sole expence of king Charles I. ornamented with the statues of his royal father and himself. Every thing being now in readiness for erecting the steeple and spire, which were to be of stone, an estimate was made of the money contributed, and that already expended in repairs; whereby it appeared that 101, 330l. 4s. and 8d. had been received into the chamber of London on this account, and but 35, 551l. 2s. 4d. paid out, so that there appeared to be a fund in hand sufficient to erect it in the most magnificent manner: but the flames of civil war soon after breaking out, a period was not only put to this great design, but fanatical zeal was gratified in degrading the building as much as possible. The revenues were seized, the famous pulpit cross in the church yard was pulled down; and the scaffolding of the steeple was assigned by parliament for the payment of arrears due to the army. Saw pits were made in the body of the church, part of the south cross was suffered to tumble down; the west part of the church was converted into a stable; and the stately new portico into shops for milliners and others, with lodging rooms over them: at the erecting of which, the magnificent columns were piteously mangled, being obliged to make way for the ends of beams, which penetrated their centers. The restoration put an end to these indignities; a new commission was procured for its immediate reparation, and great sums of money raised by a voluntary contribution: but before any thing material could be accomplished, the dreadful fire of London reduced the whole edifice to little better than a heap of ruins.
After two years fruitless labour, the old fabric was found to be incapable of any substantial repair: it was therefore resolved to erect a new cathedral that should equal, if not exceed the splendor of the old one. Letters patent were granted to several lords spiritual and temporal, authorising them to proceed in the work, and appointing Dr. Christopher Wren, afterward Sir Christopher, surveyor-general of all his majesty's works, to prepare a model. Contributions came in so extremely fast, that in the first ten years above 126,000l. was paid into the chamber of London; a new duty for the carrying on of this work was laid on coals, which at a medium produced 5000l. per annum, and his majesty generously contributed 1000l. a year toward the work. Dr. Wren had drawn several designs in order to discover what would be most acceptable to the general taste; and finding that persons of all degrees declared for magnificence and grandeur, he formed a very noble one, conformable to the best stile of the Greek and Roman architecture, and caused a large model to be made of it in wood. But the bishops not approving of it, as not being sufficiently in the cathedral stile, the surveyor was ordered to amend it: he then produced the scheme of the present structure, which was honoured with the king's approbation. The first design, however, which was only of the Corinthian order, like St. Peter's at Rome, the surveyor set a higher value upon than on any other he ever drew, and as the author of his life observes, would have put it in execution with more chearfulness, than that which we now see erected. This curious model is still in being in the cathedral, and may be seen for a small expence: it is a real curiosity, and it is little to the honour of those who ought to preserve it, to suffer it to fall to pieces.
In taking down the walls of the old building, Dr. Wren was obliged to have recourse to art; for the height of the tower so terrified the men that they absolutely refused to work on it. He caused a hole of about four feet wide to be dug in the foundation of the north west pillar, it being supported by four pillars each fourteen feet diameter; and then wrought a hole two feet square into the center of the pillar, in which he placed a little deal box, containing only eighteen pounds of gunpowder. A cane was fixed to the box with a match, and the hole closed up again with as much strength as possible, Nothing now remained but to set fire to the train, and the surveyor was exceeding curious to observe the effect of the explosion, which indeed was wonderful: this small quantity of powder not only lifted up the whole angle of the tower, with two arches that rested upon it; but also the two adjoining arches of the isles! This it seemed to do somewhat leisurely, cracking the walls to the top, and lifting up visibly the whole weight about nine inches; which suddenly tumbling back again, dropped into an enormous heap of ruins, without scattering! It was half a minute before this huge mountain opening in two or three places, emitted some smoke. The shock of so great a weight from a height of 200 feet, alarmed the inhabitants round about with the terrible apprehensions of an earthquake. A second trial of the same kind was made by a person appointed by Dr. Wren; who disobeying the orders he had received, put in a greater quantity of powder, and took less care in securing it: therefore though the desired effect was produced, yet one stone was shot as from the mouth of a cannon to the opposite side of the church yard, and entered a private room where some women were at work. The neighbours instantly made application against the farther use of gunpowder, and orders were issued from the council board accordingly.
The surveyor being now reduced to the necessity of making new experiments, resolved to try the battering ram of the ancients: he therefore caused a strong mast forty feet long to be shod with iron at the biggest end, and fortified every way with bars and ferrels, and having caused it to be suspended, set it to work. Thirty men were employed in vibrating this machine, who beat in one place against the wall a whole day without any visible effect. He bid them not despair, but try what another day would produce; on the second day the wall was perceived to tremble at the top, and in a few hours it fell to the ground.
Some curious circumstances that were observed in clearing the foundation, have already been noticed in the early part of this history (fn. 7); the original foundation of the old church appeared to consist of Kentish rubble stone, artfully worked with exceeding hard mortar, after the Roman manner, much excelling the superstructure. What induced the architect to change the scite of the church, and eraze the old foundations which were so firm, was the desire of giving the new structure a more free and graceful aspect; yet after all, he found himself too much confined; and unable to bring his front to lie exactly from Ludgate. However, in his progress he met with one misfortune that made him almost repent of the alteration he had made; he began the foundation from the west to the east, and then extending his line to the north east, where he expected no interruption, he fell upon a pit, filled up with rubbish: he wanted but six or seven feet to complete his design, yet there was no other remedy but digging through the sand, and building from the solid earth, that was at least forty feet deep. He therefore sunk a pit eighteen feet wide, though he wanted at most but seven, through all the strata and laid the foundations of a square pier of solid good masonry, which he carried up till he came within fifteen feet of the present surface; and then turned a short arch under ground to the level of the stratum of hard pot-earth, upon which arch the north east quoin of the choir now stands. This difficulty being surmounted, and the foundations laid, he for several reasons made choice of Portland stone for the superstructure; but chiefly as the largest scantlings were to be procured from thence: however, as these could not be depended upon for columns exceeding four feet in diameter, this determined the architect to make choice of two orders instead of one, and an Attic story, as at St. Peter's at Rome, in order to preserve the just proportions of his cornice; otherwise the edifice must have fallen short of its intended height. Bramante in building St. Peter's, though he had the quarries of Tivoli at hand, where he could have blocks large enough for his columns of nine feet diameter, yet, for want of stones of suitable dimensions, was obliged to diminish the proportions of the proper members of his cornice; a fault against which Dr. Wren resolved to guard.
St. Paul's cathedral is planned in the form of a long cross : the walls are wrought in rustic, and strengthened as well as adorned by two rows of coupled pilasters, one over the other; the lower Corinthian, and the upper Composite. The spaces between the arches of the windows, and the architrave of the lower order, are filled with a great variety of curious enrichments, as are those above.
The west front is graced with a most magnificent portico, a noble pediment, and two stately turrets: when a spectator advances up Ludgate-hill toward the church, the elegant construction of this front, the fine turrets over each corner, and the vast dome behind, fill the mind with a pleasing astonishment. At this end, there is a noble flight of steps of black marble, that extend the whole length of the portico, which consists of twelve lofty Corinthian columns below, and eight of the Composite order above; these are all coupled and fluted. The upper series support a noble pediment crowned with its acroteria. In this pediment is a very elegant representation in bas relief, of the conversion of St. Paul, which was executed by Mr. Bird, an artist, who, by this piece, has deserved to have his name transmitted to posterity. Nothing could have been conceived more difficult to represent in bass relief than this conversion; the most striking object being naturally the irradiation of light, but even this is well expressed, and the figures are excellently performed. The magnificent figure of St. Paul, also, on the apex of the pediment, with St. Peter on his right and St. James on his left, have a fine effect. The four Evangelists, with their proper emblems on the front of the towers, are also very judiciously disposed, and well executed: St. Matthew is distinguished by an angel; St. Mark, by a lion; St. Luke, by an ox; and St. John, by an eagle.
To the north portico, there is an ascent by twelve circular steps of black marble, and its dome is supported by six large Corinthian fluted columns, fortyeight inches in diameter. Upon the dome is a large and well proportioned urn, finely ornamented with festoons; over this is a pediment supported by pilasters in the wall, in the face of which are carved the royal arms, with the regalia, supported by angels. Statues of five of the Apostles are placed on the top at proper distances. The south portico answers to the north, and like that is a dome supported by six noble Corinthian columns: but, as the ground is considerably lower on this, than on the other side of the church, the ascent is by a flight of twenty-five steps. This portico has also a pediment above, in which is a phœnix rising out of the flames with the motto Resurgam underneath it.; as an emblem of the rebuilding the church after the fire. This device had perhaps its origin from an accident, which happened at the beginning of the work, and was particularly remarked by the architect as a favourable omen. When Dr. Wren was marking out the dimensions of the building, and had fixed upon the center of the great dome; a common labourer was ordered to bring him a flat stone, from among the rubbish, to leave as a direction to the masons: the stone which the fellow brought for this purpose, happened to be a piece of a grave stone with nothing remaining of the inscription but this single word in large capitals, RESURGAM, a circumstance which Dr. Wren never forgot. On this side of the building are likewise five statues, which take their situation from that of St. Andrew on the apex of the last mentioned pediment.
The dome, which rises in the center of the whole, appears extremely grand. Twenty feet above the roof of the church is a circular range of thirty-two columns, with niches placed exactly against others within. These are terminated by their entablature, which supports a handsome gallery adorned with a balustrade. Above these columns is a range of pilasters, with windows between; and from the entablature of these the diameter decreases very considerably; and two feet above that it is again contracted. From this part the external sweep of the dome begins, and the arches meet at fifty-two feet above. On the summit of the dome is an elegant balcony; and from its center rises the lanthorn adorned with Corinthian columns; and the whole is terminated by a ball, on which stands a cross, both elegantly gilt. These parts, which appear from below of a very moderate size, are extremely large.
This noble fabric is surrounded at a proper distance by a dwarf stone wall, on which is placed the most magnificent balustrade of cast iron perhaps in the universe, of about five feet six inches in height, exclusive of the wall. In this enclosure are seven beautiful iron gates, which, together with the balusters, in number about 2500, weigh 200 tons and 85 pounds, which having cost 6d. per pound, the whole, with other charges, amounted to 11,202l.
In the centre of the area of the grand west front, on a pedestal of excellent workmanship, stands a statue of queen Anne, formed of white marble with proper decorations. The figures on the base represent Britannia with her spear; Gallia, with the crown in her lap; Hibernia, with her harp; and America with her bow. These, and the colossal statues with which the church is adorned, were all done by the ingenious Mr. Hill, who was chiefly employed in the decorations. As a superstitious regard to placing this cathedral due east and west, has given it an oblique situation with respect to Ludgate street in front; so the great front gate in the surrounding iron rails, being made to regard this street rather than the church it belongs to; the statue of queen Anne which is exactly in the middle before the west front, is thus thrown on one side the straight approach from this gate to the church, and contributes to inspire an idea of the whole edifice being awry.
At the west end, are three doors ornamented on the top with has relief; the middle door, which is by far the largest, is cased with white marble, and over it is a fine piece of basso relievo, in which St. Paul is represented preaching to the Bereans. On entering this door, the mind is struck by the extent of the vista: an arcade supported by lofty and massy pillars on each hand, divide the church into the body and two isles, and the view is terminated by the altar at the extremity of the choir, subject nevertheless to the intervention of the organ standing across and forming a heavy obstruction, for which all its powers of harmony cannot atone. The pillars are adorned with columns and pilasters of the Corinthian and Composite orders, and the arches of the roof are enriched with shields, festoons, chaplets and other ornaments. In the isle on one hand is the consistory, and opposite to it on the other is the morning prayer chapel, where divine service is performed every morning early, Sunday excepted: these have very beautiful screens of carved wainscot, that are admired by the best judges.
Over the center where the great isles cross each other, is the grand cupola or dome; the vast concave of which inspires a pleasing awe. Under its center is fixed in the floor a brass plate, round which the pavement is beautifully variegated; but the figures into which it is formed can no where be so well seen as from the whispering gallery above. Here the spectator has a full view of the organ, richly ornamented with carved work, with the entrance to the choir directly under it. The two isles on the sides of the choir, as well as the choir itself, are enclosed with very fine iron rails and gates.
The organ gallery is supported by eight Corinthian columns of blue and white marble; though wooden columns would have been more suitable to the support of a wooden gallery: the choir has on each side thirty stalls, beside the bishop's throne on the south side, and the lord mayor's on the north. The carving of the beautiful range of stalls, as well as that of the organ, is much admired. The reader's desk, which is at some distance from the pulpit, is an enclosure of very fine brass rails gilt, in which is an eagle of brass gilt, that supports the book on his back and expanded wings.
The altar piece is adorned with four noble fluted pilasters, painted and veined with gold in imitation of lapis lazuli, and their capitals are double gilt. In the intercolumniations below, are nine marble panels; the table is covered with crimson velvet, and above are six windows, in two series.
In the great cupola which is 108 feet in diameter, the architect imitated the Pantheon at Rome, excepting that the upper order is there only umbratile, and distinguished by different coloured marbles; in St. Paul's it is extant out of the wall. The Pantheon is no higher within than its diameter; St. Peter's is two diameters; this shews too high, the other too low; St. Paul's is proportioned between both, which shews its concave every way, and is very lightsome by the windows of the upper order. These strike down the light through the great colonade that encircles the dome without, and serves for the abutment of the dome, which is brick of two bricks thick; but as it rises every way five feet high, has a course of excellent brick of eighteen inches long banding through the whole thickness; and to make it still more secure, it is surrounded with a vast chain of iron strongly linked together at every ten feet. This chain is let into a channel cut into the bandage of Portland stone, and defended from the weather by filling the groove with lead. The concave was turned upon a center; which was judged necessary to keep the work true, though a cupola might be built without a center; but it is observable that the center was laid without any standards from below to support; and as it was both centering and scaffolding, it remained for the use of the painter. Every story of this scaffolding being circular, and the ends of all the ledgers meeting as so many rings, and truly wrought, it supported itself.
As the old church of St. Paul had a lofty spire, Dr. Wren was under an obligation to give his building an altitude that might secure it from suffering by the comparison. In order to do this he made the dome without much higher than that within, by raising a strong brick cone over the internal cupola; so constructed as to support an elegant stone lanthorn on the apex. This brick cone is concealed by a cupola formed of timber and covered with lead; between which and the cone are easy stairs that ascend to the lanthorn. Here the spectator may have a view of contrivances that are indeed astonishing. He only ribbed the outward cupola, which he thought less gothic than to stick it full of such little lights as are in the cupola of St. Peter's, which could not without difficulty be mended, and, if neglected, would soon damage the timbers. As the architect was sensible, that paintings, though ever so excellent, are liable to decay, he intended to have beautified the inside of the cupola with mosaic work; which, without the least fading of colours, is as durable as the building itself: but in this he was unhappily over-ruled, though he had undertaken to procure four of the most eminent artists in that profession from Italy. This part is however richly decorated and painted by Sir James Thornhill, who has represented the principal passages of St. Paul's life in eight compartments. These paintings are all seen to advantage by means of a circular opening, through which the light is transmitted with admirable effect from the lanthorn above; but they are already sadly cracked and decayed.
The last stone on the top of the lanthorn was laid by Mr. Christopher Wren, the son of the architect, in the year 1710; and this noble fabric, lofty enough to be discerned at sea eastward, and at Windsor to the west, was begun and compleated in the space of 35 years, by one architect, the great Sir Christopher Wren; one principal mason, Mr. Strong; and under one Bishop of London, Dr. Henry Compton: whereas St. Peter's at Rome, the only structure that can come in competition with it, continued 155 years in building, under twelve successive architects; assisted by the police and interests of the Roman see; and attended by the best artists of the world in sculpture, statuary, painting and mosaic work.
On entering the south door, there is a pair of stairs within a small door on the right, leading up to the cupola, and a stranger by paying two pence may gratify his curiosity with a prospect from the gilt iron gallery round the foot of the lanthorn, over the dome, which in a clear day affords a fine view of the river, of the whole metropolis, and all the adjacent country. The ascent to this gallery is by 534 steps, 260 of which are so easy that a child may ascend them; but those between the inner and outer domes are unpleasant, and in some places dark: the little light that is afforded, is however sufficient to shew the wonderful contrivances of the architect. But as the first gallery, surrounded by a stone balustrade, affords a very fine prospect, many are satisfied, and unwilling to undergo the fatigue of mounting higher.
On the stranger's descent he is invited to see the whispering gallery, which will likewise cost two-pence; he here beholds to advantage the beautiful pavement of the church below, and from hence he has the most advantageous view of the fine paintings in the cupola over his head. Sounds are propagated here to an astonishing degree; the least whisper against the wall on the opposite side seems as if it was close to our ear on this, though the semicircular distance between them is no less than 140 feet: and the shutting of the door resounds through the place like a clap of thunder, or as if the whole fabric was crushing to pieces.
In the south west turret is the clock, the great bell of which is said to weigh 84C. The quarters are struck upon two smaller bells of different sizes, which hang under the great one. These bells are all fixed, and are struck by hammers; the great one only has a clapper, and it is tolled on the deaths of any of the royal family by means of a rope which is tied to the clapper on such occasions. The bell that rings to prayers is in the opposite turret.
As St. Paul's cathedral is the only work of the same magnitude that ever was compleated by one man, it is the greater curiosity, and may call for a few particular remarks. The division of the building into two orders, the reason of which has been already mentioned, has been censured as a great fault; as the effect would have been much more noble had only one been used. The lower part of the church is thought not to harmonize with the upper; and the church and dome appear to be the works of different masters. On a comparison with St. Peter's at Rome, St. Paul's is in some respects the superior: the west front is designed more in character as a building erected for public worship; whereas that of St. Peter's has the air of the front of a palace, while the pediment is mean and paltry. The dome of St. Paul's is more elegantly shaped, and there is no comparison between the lanthorns on the top; that of St. Peter's is heavy, clumsy, and produces an ill effect: but the body of the church, being of one order, is very grand, though it suffers by an introduction of parts which are rather too minute. The interior of St. Peter's is extreamly noble; the high altar, which was designed and executed by the celebrated Bernini, is most judiciously placed under the center of the great dome, and produces the finest effect imaginable: the monuments and decorations are introduced with propriety, though some capital errors may be pointed out in the design. St. Paul's is much more correct, but suffers greatly for want of embellishments both in painting and sculpture: the dome affords a most convincing proof of this; for by the painting and gilding bestowed on it, the spectator, after viewing that, finds nothing else worth attending to: nor can all the beauties of the most regular architecture make amends for the desolate appearance of the naked pannels, which every where present themselves to his notice.
As a conclusion to these descriptive particulars, a table of the dimensions of the two cathedrals compared cannot but be acceptable to the curious reader; the measures of St. Peter's being taken from the authentic dimensions of the best architects reduced to English feet.
The cathedral of St. Paul is the episcopal church of the diocese of London; and under the bishop are a dean, a precentor, chancellor, treasurer, five archdeacons, 30 prebendaries, 12 petty canons, or minor canons, six vicars choral, and several other inferior officers. All the prebends, or canonries, are in the collation of the bishop; and out of these 30 canons, there are three residentiaries, beside the dean; so called from their continual residence to take care of the concerns of the church (fn. 8).
On the north side of St. Paul's church-yard, stands the Chapter-house belonging to St. Paul's; a handsome brick building in which the convocation of the province of Canterbury used to sit to consult about ecclesiastical affairs, and to form canons for the government of the church: but though the upper and lower house are called by the king's writ at every session of parliament, yet, happily for the tranquillity of the nation, they are now always prorogued as soon as they have chosen prolocutors, and before they enter upon any business.
On the north side of Ludgate-street, directly opposite to the avenue into Black-friars, stands the church of St. Martin Ludgate; so named from the saint to whom it was dedicated, and from its situation which was close to Ludgate while that gate was in being. This is an antient rectory, and was in the abbot and convent of Westminster in the year 1322: when Henry VIII. after the dissolution of the monastery, erected Westminster into a bishopric, he conferred it upon the new bishop. But that see being dissolved by Edward VI. queen Mary, in the year 1553, granted the advowson to the bishop of London and his successors, in whom it still continues.
The old church was destroyed by the fire in 1666, and when rebuilt was enlarged with the scite of the parsonage house; the present edifice is tolerably well enlightened; the steeple consists of a plain tower, and a pretty lofty spire, raised upon a substantial arcade.
Between Christ's hospital and the north side of Newgate street stands Christ's church, which originally was the church belonging to the convent of Grey Friars, or Franciscans, now converted into Christ's hospital. At the dissolution of that religious house, king Henry VIII. gave the church to the mayor, commonalty and citizens of London, to make a parish church of, in lieu of the two churches in St. Ewen, in Newgate-market, near the north corner of Eldeness, now Warwick-lane, and of St. Nicholas in the Shambles, on the north side of Newgate street, where now there is a court. Both those churches and their parishes were thereupon demolished; and as much of St. Sepulchre's parish as stood within Newgate was added to this new erected parish church, which was then ordered to be called by the name of Christ Church, founded by king Henry VIII. The right of patronage was given to the governors of St. Bartholomew's hospital.
This magnificent church was begun to be erected by Margaret, consort of Edward I. in the year 1306; and was 21 years in building. In its dimensions it exceeded every place of devotion in London excepting the cathedral; and extended from Butcherhall lane, to the Grey-friars gateway (fn. 9). The fire of London having destroyed this old church, the choir or east end only was rebuilt; which is nevertheless said to be the largest parish church within the city. Since the fire of London, it has been made the parochial church for the inhabitants of this, and the parish of St. Leonard Foster-lane, which is annexed to it; and which being a rectory in the gift of the dean and chapter of Westminster, they present alternately with the governors of Bartholomew hospital.
The tower is square, and of a considerable height, crowned with a light handsome turret, adorned with vases. The inside is neatly ornamented; the walls and pillars are wainscoted; and there are very large galleries on the north, west, and south sides.
On the east side of Foster-lane near the south end, is the church of St. Vedast, dedicated to Vedast, bishop of Arras in the province of Artois. It is probably of some antiquity, for a presentation to it by the prior and convent of Canterbury is recorded in the year 1308. In process of time the patronage was transferred to the archbishop of Canterbury; and it has been a peculiar of that see ever since the year 1421. This church suffered much in the great fire of London: yet it was afterward repaired for the most part upon the old walls: and the steeple stood till the year 1694, when it was found in such a weak condition that the parishioners had it taken down and rebuilt, at their own charge, entirely of stone. It is 69 feet long, 51 feet broad, and 36 feet high to the roof; and is well enlightened by a range of windows, placed so high, that the doors open under them. The tower is plain, and the spire, which is short, rises from a double base.
A writer of some esteem recommends "the steeple of Foster-lane to the attention of the passenger. It is not a glaring pile that strikes the eye at the first view, with an idea of grandeur and magnificence; but then the beautiful pyramid it forms, and the just and well proportioned simplicity of all its parts, satisfy the mind so effectually, that nothing seems to be wanting, and nothing can be spared (fn. 10)."
On the west side of Friday-street is situated the church of St. Matthew, the patronage of which was antiently in the abbot and convent of Westminster; and upon their suppression, when the conventual church was converted into a cathedral, Henry VIII. conferred it upon the bishop: but the new bishopric being soon after dissolved, Edward VI. granted it to the bishop of London, in whom the advowson still continues. After the fire of London this church, on being rebuilt, was made the parish church for its own parish together with that of St. Peter Cheap, of which living the duke of Montague is patron.
The present church of St. Matthew Friday-street is a plain stone building, with one series of large arched windows, and at the east end is the steeple, which consists of a square brick tower, void of all ornament.
At the north west end of Watling-street, and at the corner of the narrow street called the Old Change, stands the church of St. Austin or St. Augustin; dedicated to Augustin the first archbishop of Canterbury (fn. 11). This church was antiently stiled Ecclesia Sancti Augustini ad Portam, from its vicinity to the south-east gate of St. Paul's church-yard; but its origin is not traced higher than about the year 1190, when the state thereof was settled by the dean and chapter of St. Paul's, in whom the advowson still remains.
The old church was burnt down in 1666, and has been very substantially rebuilt with stone. It is well pewed and wainscotted; the pulpit is finely embellished; and the altar-piece is spacious and beautiful, having peculiar to it a winged heart with these words in gold on a blue ground, Sursum corda, i. e. Lift up your hearts.
This church, after the fire of London, was made parochial for St. Austin's and St. Faith's annexed to it; which when in being was only a kind of chapel within the cathedral church of St. Paul. It was dedicated to St. Faith, a virgin of Agen in Aquitain in France, who suffered martyrdom for the Christian faith under Dioclesian the emperor; and was called Ecclesia Sanctæ Fidei in cryptis, or the church of St. Faith in the vaults under ground, being situated under the choir of the cathedral (fn. 12): this cellar continued as a parish-church till the cathedral was demolished by the great fire of London in 1666. It is a rectory, and one of the peculiars belonging to the dean and chapter of St. Paul's, where they are both patrons and ordinaries.
As the new bridge at Black-friars abuts upon the extremity of this ward, that majestic structure cannot so properly be mentioned in any other place as here. This bridge consists of nine arches, which being elliptical, the apertures for navigation are large, while the bridge itself is low: when a person is under one of these arches the extent of the vault overhead cannot be viewed without awe! The dimensions of this fabrick are as under.
|Length of the bridge from wharf to wharf,||995||English feet.|
|Width of the central arch||100||feet.|
|Width of the arches on each side, reckoning from the central one toward the shores||98||feet respectively.|
|Width of the carriage way||28||Total width of the passage over 42 feet.|
|Width of the raised foot ways on each side||7|
|Height of the balustrade on the inside||4||feet 10 inches (fn. 13).|
The upper surface of this bridge is a portion of a very large circle; so that the whole forms one arch, and appears a gently swelling ground under foot all the way. Over each pier is a recess or balcony, containing a bench, and supported below by two Ionic pillars and two pilasters; which stand on a semicircular projection of the pier, above high water mark: these pillars give an agreeable lightness to the apppearance of the bridge on either side. At each extremity the bridge spreads open, the footways rounding off to the right and left a quadrant of a circle; by which an open access is formed to the bridge, no less agreeable than useful on the approach. There are two flights of stone steps at each end, defended by iron rails, for the conveniency of taking water; each of which has a neat brick building beside the landing place at the top, as shelters and privies for the watermen. These stairs, however, by conforming to the curvatures at the ends of the bridge, are more elegant than convenient: a flight of 50 narrow stone steps without a landing place must be very tiresome to porters going up and down with loads; and no less dangerous in frosty weather, when if a person slips down near the top, there is nothing to check their fall till they reach the water at the flood, or the bottom, at the ebb of the tide. Beside the intrinsic merit of this bridge, it has been observed that from its situation it enjoys the concurrent advantage, of affording the best, if not the only true point of view for the magnificent cathedral of St. Paul; with the various churches in the amphitheatre extending from Westminster to the Tower (fn. 14).
The wooden frames on which the arches of this bridge were turned, were very ingeniously contrived for strength and lightness; allowing a free passage for boats under them while they were standing. A curious model of one of the arches of Blackfriars-bridge in mahogany, shewing the construction of the wood work under it, the foundations of the piers below, with the road and foot passages over it, and two patterns for the rails on each side, is preserved in the British Museum.