A New History of London Including Westminster and Southwark. Originally published by R Baldwin, London, 1773.
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The ward of Farringdon-without.
This large ward forms the western extremity of the city of London; and is bounded on the east by the ward of Farringdon-within, the precinct of the late priory of St. Bartholomew near Smithfield, and the ward of Aldersgate; on the north, by the Charter-house, the parish of St. John's Clerkenwell, and part of St. Andrew's parish without the freedom; on the west by High-Holborn, and St. Clement's parish in the Strand; and on the south by the river Thames.
The extent of this ward is to be computed from Newgate, and the spot where Ludgate lately stood: on the east is the whole precinct of the late priory of St. Bartholomew; a part of Long-lane, on the north, toward Aldersgatestreet; and all Smithfield, to the bars in St. John's-street. The north side of Holborn up to the bars at the east end of Middle-row is included; from thence the boundary line tends southward between Staples-inn and Castle-yard, and in an irregular direction crossing Chancery-lane near the south end, points to Temple-bar: from whence it runs down to the river, on the west side of the Temple. From where Ludgate stood the line runs behind the houses on the south side of the hill to Fleet-ditch now covered over; by which it is guided down to the Thames.
Smithfield, as it is generally called, or West Smithfield as it is sometimes termed, to distinguish it from East Smithfield, on Little Tower-hill; is the greatest market for black cattle, sheep (fn. 1), and horses in Europe; it was celebrated as a horse market by Fitz Stephen, toward the close of the twelfth century. It is also a market for hay and straw. The name is thought to be derived from its being a smooth or level field; but this is meer conjecture, Anciently it was much larger than it now appears; its area having been greatly contracted by the surrounding buildings: the whole west side extended as far as the sheep market does at present; and was called the Elms, from the number of those trees that grew there. This appears to have been the place of execution for offenders in the year 1219. Henry II. granted to the priory of St. Bartholomew the privilege of a fair to be kept annually at Bartholomew tide, on the eve, the day, and the morrow; to which the clothiers of England, and the drapers of London repaired, and had their booths and standings in the churchyard within the priory, which was separated from Smithfield only by walls and gates. The gates were locked every night and watched, for the safety of the goods deposited there; and the narrow street or lane afterward built where the cloth was sold, still retains the name of Cloth-fair. This fair, which was at first instituted for the conveniency of trade, was at length prolonged to a fortnight, and became of little other use but for idle youth, and loose people to resort to: upon which it was again reduced to the original term of three days, and the booths, for drolls and plays in the middle of Smithfield, by the falling of which many persons had lost their lives, were ordered to be no longer erected.
In the days of chivalry, justs and tournaments used to be held in Smithfield, before our kings and their courts; of which, several instances are upon record: and during the memorable struggle between gloomy superstition and the common sense of mankind, numbers of sincerely pious christians were here consigned to the flames by the Romish clergy, for daring to dispute the dogmas of the catholic church.
Spacious as Smithfield is, it is now so surrounded with streets, that the keeping a beast market there is highly improper on account of the dangers the neighbouring inhabitants, and indeed those in all parts of the town are weekly in from the fury of exasperated oxen. The fellows employed to drive these creatures from the market to the slaughter-houses are much more destitute of rational powers than the harmless animals they treat with a wanton inhumanity that calls for a legal restraint: for however necessary such employments may be, it is far from being necessary that the animals by an unhappy necessity devoted to death for our support, should be more injuriously treated than the case requires. A consideration that, if we have not sympathy enough to attend to on the real merits of the case, ought at least to be rectified for our own safety.
When London had a regular wall and gates, this market was without the wall, though near enough to render it convenient; as slaughter-houses were situate in and about Butcherhall lane between Newgate and Aldersgate. It is therefore much to be lamented that under the great alteration of circumstances, this market is not removed to some convenient spot about Islington; where it might be formed into a regular spacious square, surrounded by slaughterhouses and other convenient buildings, so contrived as not to be offensive even in appearance. If any material objection occurred to this removal, it may be worth considering whether it is not practicable to erect slaughter-houses in the neighbourhood, somewhere about Chick-lane, or other ruinous parts: and to stop all the avenues into Smithfield during the market hours, except such as led to the slaughter-houses; or to places built for the reception of cattle, till it was convenient to kill them.
Beside the market at Islington above hinted, another might be established somewhere near the borough of Southwark, to prevent the driving cattle through the metropolis: and if these could be carried into execution, Smithfield might be converted into a noble regular square, either for the purpose of trade, or as private dwellings for merchants and opulent tradesmen. (fn. 2) It is however much to be doubted after all, whether this market, if removed, could be kept detached from other buildings; and that disagreeable as the neighbourhood to such a place is, let it be placed wherever it may, whether a town would not quickly be collected round it.
At the bottom of the hill, which without Ludgate is called Ludgate-hill, and without Newgate Snow-hill, formerly ran the rivulet Fleet, lately termed Fleet-ditch. This ditch after the fire of London was made navigable for barges to come up by the assistance of the tide, as far as Holborn-bridge, where Turnmill brook fell into this channel. The sides were built of stone and brick, with warehouses on each side, which ran under the street, and were designed to be used for the laying in of coals and other commodities. It had five feet water at the lowest tide at Holborn-bridge: the wharfs on each side of the channel were thirty feet broad; and were rendered secure from danger in the night by rails of oak being placed along the sides of the ditch. Over this canal were four bridges of Portland-stone, viz. at Bridewell, Fleet-street, Fleet-lane, and Holborn.
When the citizens proposed to erect a Mansion-house for their Lord-mayor, and pitched on Stocks-market for the situation of it; Fleet-ditch was arched over between Fleet-bridge and Holborn-bridge, and filled up to receive that market. (fn. 3) When the building a new bridge at Blackfriars pointed out the expediency of converting the remainder into an open street, the arch work was continued from Fleet-bridge down toward the river, until the undertaking was stopped, as hath been already related. (fn. 4) So that Fleet-ditch now exists only as a common sewer like Wallbrook.
On the east side of the Fleet-market between Ludgate-hill and Fleet-lane, is situated the Fleet prison; a very antient place of confinement, having been a prison in the reign of Richard I. It is very large, and was reckoned the best prison in the city for accommodations; but the buildings within being old, part of them lately fell down. The body of this prison is a lofty brick building, of considerable length, with galleries in every story, which reach from one end of the house to the other: on the sides of which galleries are rooms for the prisoners. All sorts of provisions are brought into this prison every day, and cried as in the public streets. A public coffee-house, with an eating-house, are kept in it; and all sorts of games and diversions are carried on in a large open area, enclosed with a high wall. This is properly the prison belonging to the court of Common pleas; the keeper is called warden of the Fleet, which is a place of very great benefit as well as trust. Prisoners for debt in any part of England may be removed by Habeas corpus to the Fleet; and enjoy the rules, or liberty to walk abroad, and to keep a house within the liberties of this prison, provided he can give security to the warden for his forth-coming. The rules comprehend all Ludgate-hill, from the Ditch to the Old Bailey on the north side of the hill, and to Cock-alley on the south side of the hill: both sides of the Old Bailey, from Ludgate-hill eastward to Fleet-lane, all Fleet-lane, and the east side of the ditch or market, from Fleet-lane to Ludgate-hill.
Near the top of Holborn-hill on the north side, stands Ely-house, the antient town residence of the bishops of Ely. It occupies a great extent of ground; before it is a spacious court, and behind it a garden; the buildings are very old, and consist of a large lofty hall, several old-fashioned apartments, and a good chapel. But the expensive state which these large old town mansions required the owners to maintain, have occasioned them in general to be deserted, for more private houses; and Ely house is neglected among others. When a more convenient Excise office was lately wanted, the ground on which Ely-house stood was thought of for it; but its situation was objected to: when an intention was formed of removing the Fleet-prison, Ely-house was judged proper on account of the quantity of ground about it; but the neighbouring inhabitants in Hatton Garden petitioned against the prison being built there: a scheme is now said to be in agitation for converting it into a stamp office, that business at present being conducted in chambers in Lincoln's-inn.
Formerly there were about 40 acres of orchard and pasture belonging to Elyhouse; which falling to the crown at the death of bishop Cox, queen Elizabeth gave that inclosed land to lord chancellor Hatton and his heirs for ever. The chancellor built a large house upon the premises; which being removed, the ground was afterward laid out into streets, and covered with very good and genteel buildings; among which that called Hatton Garden is reputed one of the handsomest in or about London.
Between Water-lane and the Temple, on the south side of Fleet-street, is a district known by the name of White-friars; which took its name from the White-friars, or Carmelites, who had their house in this place, and their garden probably extended to the water side. They were cloathed in white, and having made a vow of poverty lived by begging. Their convent was founded by Sir Richard Gray, Knt. ancestor to the Lord Gray of Codnor in Derbyshire in the year 1241, and was afterward rebuilt by Hugh Courtney, earl of Devonshire, about the year 1350. In the conventual church were interred many persons of distinction. Upon the dissolution of the priory of White-friars, the church and buildings, in process of time, became ruinous, and were pulled down; they were afterward converted into private buildings, and now contain several courts, lanes, and alleys.
In the year 1608, the inhabitants of White-friars obtained several liberties, privileges and exemptions by a charter granted them by king James I. which rendered the place an asylum for insolvent debtors, cheats and gamesters, who gave to this district the name of Alsatia (fn. 5) : but the inconveniences the city suffered from this place of refuge, and the riotous proceedings carried on there at length induced the legislature to interpose, and to deprive them of privileges so pernicious to the community (fn. 6). From the present very ruinous state of the houses here, and from its neighbourhood to Black-friars bridge, White-friars will probably in a few years, from one of the worst, become one of the most elegant parts of the town.
Between White-friars and Fleet-ditch is Dorset-court, or Salisbury-court, where formerly stood the town house of the bishop of Salisbury, afterward inhabited by the earls of Dorset: which house was many years ago taken down and converted into private buildings. Between this court and the Thames stood the playhouse where Shakespeare used to act; since occupied by the office belonging to the New River company, which having been lately burned down is now rebuilt in a very uniform neat stile.
The west end of Fleet-street is parted from the Strand by Temple-bar, a very handsome gate, where anciently were posts, rails, and a chain, as in other places where the city liberties terminated. Afterward a house of timber was erected across the street, with a narrow gateway, and an entry through the south side of it; but since the fire of London the present structure was erected, and is the only gate at the extremity of the city liberties. This gate has an elegant appearance; the great arch is elliptical, and very flat; and there is a postern on each side for foot passengers. It is built entirely of Portland stone, of rustic work below, and of the Corinthian order. Over the gateway, on the east side, in two niches, are stone statues of queen Elizabeth and king James I. with the king's arms over the key-stone, and on the west side are the statues of king Charles I. and king Charles II. in Roman habits.
Of the several inns of court for students of law in this ward, the most considerable are the two societies of the Middle and Inner Temple; which occupy all that space of ground formerly belonging to the Knights Templars, on the south side of Fleet-street, between White-friars and Essex-house. These knights, who were truly members of the church militant, by uniting devotion and heroism in their profession, were instituted on the following occasion. Several of the crusaders settled at Jerusalem, about the year 1118, formed themselves into an uniform militia, under the name of Templars, or knights of the Temple; from their being quartered near a church built on the spot where Solomon's temple had stood. They undertook to guard the roads, for the security of the pilgrims who came to visit the Holy Sepulchre; and some time after they had a rule appointed them by Pope Honorius II. who ordered them to wear a white habit; to which in the time of Pope Eugenius they added a cross of red cloth. Men of birth in all parts of Europe soon adopted the profession of Templars and became brethren of the order: they built themselves temples in principal cities after the form of the Holy Sepulchre, particularly in England, where this in Fleet-street was their chief house, and was often used as a sanctuary for the preservation of treasure and valuable effects in turbulent times. The order in England was in so flourishing a condition in the 13th century that they frequently entertained the nobility, foreign ambassadors, and even the king himself; and many great councils and parliaments were held in their house. At length however their riches occasioned a relaxation from the rigid obligations of a monastic life; and the rival order of the knights hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem, whose poverty as yet preserved them from the like corruptions, succeeded to the popularity the Templars lost by their indolence and luxury. Philip the Fair of France, who thought the hive was full of honey, determined to burn the bees; which he literally performed on many of the order, after contriving to brand them with crimes sufficiently odious to justify the suppression of the order. After the order had been abolished by Pope Clement V. at the instigation of Philip, the knights in England were distributed in other convents; and by the pope's order their possessions were transferred to the order of St. John (fn. 7).
These knights, whose chief house in England was where St. John's square in Clerkenwell now stands, lett this Temple out to students of the commonlaw; and in their possession it has ever since remained.
The Temple, which contains all that space of ground from the White-friars westward to Essex-house, is divided into two inns of court, the Inner Temple, and the Middle Temple (fn. 8). These inns have separate halls, but both houses resort to the Temple church: yet the buildings which have been erected at very different times, with very little order or regularity, are perfectly united, and it is impossible for a stranger to know where the Inner Temple ends and the Middle Temple begins, except at the entrances, which are the only visible fronts to the street. Backward there are many courts of handsome new built houses, and behind them, gardens and walks fronting the Thames, which have lately been much enlarged, by a new embankment already mentioned; the wall of which may be conceived as the string of the bow formed by the old bank. These gardens are extreamly pleasant from their situation close to the river; they enjoy a fine view of Black-friars bridge; between the large arches of which on a clear day, London bridge forms an agreeable distant perspective appearance.
The Middle Temple-gate into Fleet-street was built in the stile of Inigo Jones, in 1684. The front is graceful though narrow; and is of brick with four large stone pilasters of the Ionic order, and a handsome pediment: between the first and second story the following inscription is cut in a course of stone. SURREXIT IMPENSIS SOCIETAT. MED. TEMPLI, MDCLXXXIV. and beneath, just over the gate, is the figure of a Holy Lamb.
The great hall of the Middle Temple was originally built in king Edward III's reign; but was rebuilt in the year 1572, in the reign of queen Elizabeth, and is esteemed one of the finest halls in the kingdom. In the treasury chamber is preserved a great quantity of armour, which belonged to the Knights Templars, consisting of helmets, breast and back pieces, pikes, a halbard, and two very beautiful shields, with iron spikes in their centers, of the length of six inches, and each about twenty pounds weight. They are curiously engraved, and one of them richly inlaid with gold: the insides are lined with leather stuffed, the edges adorned with silk fringe; and broad leathern belts are fixed to them, for the bearers to sling them upon their shoulders.
In Garden court in the Middle Temple is a library founded by the will of Robert Ashley, Esq; in the year 1641, who bequeathed his own library for that purpose, and 300l. to be laid out in a purchase, for the maintenance of a librarian, who must be a student of the society, and be elected into that office by the benchers.
The chief officer of each of the Temples separately, is a treasurer, who is annually elected from among the benchers or senior members; and whose office is to admit students, and to receive and pay all cash belonging to the society. Both the Temples are however under one master, who since the dissolution of the Hospitallers in the time of king Henry VIII. has been a divine, constituted by letters patent from the crown without any other induction.
The church, which is common to both societies, was the old church of the Knights Templars. The entrance at the west is through a circular tower of Saxon architecture in which are buried some Knights Templars, whose figureslying on the ground are preserved by iron rails. The church is purely gothic, and it is great pity that the altar, pulpit, organ, gallery, &c. had not been kept in the same stile of architecture; which would have made it as regular, if not so rich, as the chapel of Henry VII. The first church here was founded in 1185, and dedicated to the Virgin Mary; though it was more generally known by the name of the founders than by that of the protectress. The old church was taken down in 1240, and another erected after the same model. The present edifice was one of those that escaped the fire of London in 1666; but in 1695 the south west part was new built, and in 1706 the whole was thoroughly repaired.
This beautiful gothic structure is built of stone, firmly put together, and enriched with ornaments. It consists of a long body with a turret, and a round tower at the west end, that has much the air of a piece of fortification. The diameter of this tower at the floor is 51 feet, and its height 48 feet; the length of the church, exclusive of the tower, is 83 feet; its breadth 60 feet; and its height is 34 feet. The body of the church is enlightened with large well proportioned windows, composed of three gothic arches, a principal in the center, and a lower on each side. These windows stand so close that there are but very slender piers left between them to support a heavy roof; they are therefore strengthened with buttresses: but these buttresses, as in most other gothic structures, exclude more light than the piers would have done, had they been larger, and the windows smaller. The tower, though very massy, with few windows, and those small; yet there are buttresses carried up between them; the top is crowned with plain square battlements, and from the center rises a fane. The turret upon the body of the church is small and plain, and serves to receive a bell (fn. 9). In brief, the outside has a venerable aspect, but nothing either grand or elegant; the principal beauties are within.
On entering the round tower, you find it supported by six pillars, wainscotted with oak six feet high; and adorned all round, except the east part, which opens into the church, with an upper and lower range of small arches, and black apertures: but the most remarkable objects in this part, are the tombs of eleven of the Knights Templars who lie interred here; eight of which are covered with the figures of armed knights: of these, five lie cross legged; to indicate that they had made a vow, to go to the Holy Land, to make war on the infidels. Three of these are the tombs of Earls of Pembroke, William Marshal, the elder, who died in 1219; his son, who died in 1231, and Gilbert Marshal, his brother, who was slain in a tournament at Hertford in 1241. The other effigies lie strait legged; and the rest of the tombs are only coped stone; but they are all of gray marble.
This tower is divided from the body of the church by a very handsome screen in the modern taste; which will be described hereafter. On passing this screen we find the church has three roofs supported by tall and slender pillars of Sussex marble. The windows are adorned with small neat pillars of the same stone, and the floor paved with black and white marble. The isles are five in number; three as usual, running east and west, and two cross isles. The walls are neatly wainscotted with oak above eight feet high, and the altar-piece, which is of the same wood, is much higher, finely carved, and adorned with four pilasters and two columns of the Corinthian order. The pulpit, which is placed near the east end of the middle isle, is finely carved and veneered; the sounding board is pendant from the roof, and enriched with several carved arches, a crown, festoons, cherubims and vases.
The screen at the west end of the isles is like the altar-piece, of wainscot, and is adorned with ten pilasters of the Corinthian order, with three portals and pediments. The organ gallery is supported by two fluted Corinthian columns, and ornamented with an entablature and a compass pediment, with the king's arms well carved. This is said to be the finest toned organ in all London. Near the pediment, on the south side, is an enrichment of cherubims and a carved figure of a Pegasus, the badge of the society of the Inner Temple; and in the pediment on the north side is an enrichment of cherubims, and the figure of a Holy Lamb, the badge of the society of the Middle Temple: for the gentlemen of the Inner Temple sit on the south, and those of the Middle Temple on the north side of the middle isle. In the church are the tombs of many judges, masters in chancery and eminent lawyers.
In Chancery-lane are several inns of court with public offices belonging to the law: on the east side are Serjeant's-inn, Symond's-inn, the Rolls chapel, where the rolls of the court of chancery are kept; and the Cursitors-office: on the west side, are, Lincolns-inn, the Six Clerks office, the Examiner'soffice, the Masters in Chancery's-office, &c. But these are all out of the city liberty, except Serjeants-inn, at the south east end of the lane; where the several judges and serjeants have their chambers. This inn consists of two courts of low mean buildings; in one of which is a small neat hall. There is a court of the same name on the south side of Fleet-street adjoining to White-friars, which consists of handsome new houses; and was formerly an inn of court for serjeants, but is now private property. The hall is converted into an office for the Amicable Society for a Perpetual Assurance, incorporated in the year 1706. The plan of this society is to make a provision for the wives, children, or other relations of the members, after an easy, certain, and advantageous manner. The number of persons incorporated was not to exceed 2000, but might be less: each person receives a policy, under the seal of the corporation, intitling his nominee or assigns to a dividend, on his or her decease, in the manner mentioned in the Charter. After paying the charges of the policy, and 10s. entrance-money, each person was originally to pay 61. 4s. per annum, but the annual payments have since, by the increase of the society's stock, been reduced to 5l. a year, payable quarterly. From these payments the dividends to claimants arise; and so considerable has been the increase for these eighteen years last past, that each claim during that period has amounted upon an average to upward of 155l. Thus by means of this society, persons enjoying places or employment for life, whose income is subject to be determined or diminished at their respective deaths, may leave to their families a claim, or right to receive 150l. at least for every five pounds annually paid in (fn. 10).
On the north of St. Dunstan's church stands Clifford's-inn, one of the inns of chancery, and a member of the Inner Temple. It was formerly lord Clifford's mansion: but now the habitation of gentlemen in the law, chiesly attornies and officers belonging to the Marshal's-court.
In Holborn we find several inns within the limits of this ward; and beginning at the east end, fronting Hatton Garden is Thavie's-inn, formerly an inn of Chancery founded by John Thavie, Esq; in the reign of Edward III. It was a member of Lincoln's-inn, and was chiefly occupied by Welch attorneys, but is now wholly deserted and lies in ruins. A scheme is said to be in agitation for converting the ground into a street or square for private houses; which may be done to good advantage, as it is a large spot and well situated.
On the same side of Holborn, between Fetter-lane and Castle-yard, is Bernard's-inn, an inn of Chancery, belonging to the dean and chapter of Lincoln, as says the record of Henry VI. the twenty-third of his reign; and was founded by inquisition in the Guildhall of London, before J. Norman, mayor, the king's escheator. The jury said, that it was not hurtful for the king to license Thomas Atkins, citizen of London, and one of the executors of John Mackworth, dean of Lincoln, to give one messuage in Holborn, in London, with the appurtenances, called Mackworth's-inn, but commonly known by the name of Bernard's-inn, to the dean and chapter of Lincoln, to find one sufficient chaplain, to celebrate divine service in the chapel of St. George, in the cathedral church of Lincoln, where the body of the said John is buried. This inn is subordinate to Gray's-inn, and consists of three small courts, the largest of which has a passage into Fetter-lane.
Opposite Bernard's-inn, on the north side of Holborn, is Furnivals-inn, an inn of chancery, so called according to Stow from Sir William Furnival, to whom it belonged in the reign of Richard II. This inn has an extensive uniform front in Holborn with two courts behind; the second of which includes a small garden. The buildings are old, but the apartments are pleasant, and are very retired, the inn having no passage through it.
On the west side of where Fleetditch lately was, before it was arched over, about the midway between the end of Fleet-street and Black-friars bridge, stands Bridewell hospital; on the spot where once stood a royal palace, even before the conquest: and which continued, with some little intermission, in that state till the reign of king Edward VI. It was rebuilt by king Henry VIII. in the year 1522, for the reception of the emperor Charles V. and obtained the name of Bridewell, on account of a remarkable well adjoining, and its neighbourhood to St. Bride's church.
At the solicitation of bishop Ridley, king Edward VI. gave the old palace of Bridewell to the city, for the lodging of poor wayfaring people, the correction of vagabonds, strumpets, and idle persons: and as the city had appointed the Greyfriars, now called Christ's Hospital, for the education of poor children; St. Bartholomew's and St. Thomas's in Southwark, for the maimed and diseased; Edward formed the governors of these charitable foundations into a corporation; allowed them a proper authority for the exercise of their offices, and constituted himself the founder and patron. For this purpose he gave to the lord mayor, commonalty and citizens, land to the yearly value of 450l. and suppressing the hospital of the Savoy, gave for the above charitable uses great part of the revenue, together with the bedding and furniture. In the following reigns granaries and storehouses for coals were erected at the expence of the city within this hospital, and the poor were employed in grinding corn with hand-mills; which were greatly improved in the reign of queen Elizabeth.
Bridewell was entirely consumed in 1666, with all the dwelling houses in the precinct belonging to it, from whence had arisen two thirds of its revenue: the hospital however was rebuilt in 1668, and consists of two courts, in which the buildings are convenient, and not very irregular, The chapel has galleries on the north and west side, supported by columns of the Tuscan order, and at the west end are places for the hospital boys, and others for the prisoners. The wainscotting and finishing are very neat. The court room is adorned with columns of the composite order, a gallery, and the names of all the benefactors to the hospital wrote in gold. There is here a chair for the president, and convenient seats for the governors.
For the encouragement of manufactures, a number of handicraft tradesmen of several professions are allowed habitations in this hospital, for the purpose of taking apprentices at the appointment of the governors to train up to their respective occupations. These tradesmen are termed Arts Masters of Bridewell, and their apprentices are well known by the name of Bridewell boys. They wear a very aukward dress consisting of close blue cloth jackets without any skirts; clumsy trousers of the same thick stuff; with white hats: and having faithfully served their apprenticeship, are not only made free of the city, but have 10l. toward beginning business for themselves.
To this hospital strumpets, pickpockets, vagrants, and disobedient and incorrigible servants, are committed by the lord-mayor, and aldermen; as are also apprentices by the chamberlain of the city, who are obliged to beat hemp, and, if the nature of their offences require it, to undergo the correction of whipping. The affairs of the hospital are managed by the governors, who are above three hundred, beside the lord-mayor and court of Aldermen; all of whom are likewife governors of Bethlehem hospital.
On the compleating of Blackfriars bridge, the front of Bridewell hospital, then greatly decayed, was taken down and handsomely rebuilt several feet backwarder; to give the street a strait direction from Fleet-street to the bridge: by which means the front court is much contracted from its former size.
Between the north side of Christ's hospital, and the houses that form the south east side of Smithfield, is the hospital of St. Bartholomew; which belonged formerly to the priory of St. Bartholomew in Smithfield founded in the reign of Henry I. about the year 1102, by one Rahere the king's minstrel, who was himself the first prior. This priory and hospital being dissolved by Henry VIII. he in the last year of his reign restored the hospital with an endowment of 500 marks annually, for the relief of 100 poor and sick of the city of London; on condition that the citizens should add 500 marks yearly on their parts. The managers of this foundation were incorporated by the name of the hospital of the mayor, commonalty, and citizens of London, governors for the poor, called Little St. Bartholomew's, near West Smithfield. Since that time the hospital has received prodigious benefactions from charitable persons, by which means not only the poor of London and Southwark, but the distressed of any other parts of the king's dominions, and from foreign countries, are taken in, whether sick or maimed, and have lodging, food, attendance, and medicines, with the advice and assistance of some of the best physicians and surgeons in the kingdom.
Though the old building escaped the dreadful fire in 1666, yet the chief part of its revenues being in houses, the hospital was greatly injured by that calamity. In the year 1729, the hospital became so ruinous that there appeared an absolute necessity of rebuilding it: and a subscription was entered into by many of the governors, and other charitable persons, amongst whom was Dr. Ratcliff, for defraying the expence, upon a plan then prepared, containing four detached piles of stone building, to be connected by gateways, and to form a quadrangle. The east side of this square which compleated the whole, was but lately finished; and it is now altogether one of the most pleasing structures in London, when viewed from the area within, which it surrounds, and where only it can be seen to advantage: its situation, considering the magnificence of the plan, is indeed very whimsical; all the four sides being so compleatly surrounded with houses, that a conclusion might be drawn that it was studiously concealed from public view.
That part of the building which opens to Smithfield and which may be esteemed the principal front, is allotted for the public business of the hospital: it contains a large hall for the general courts of the governors; a compting house for the meetings of committees; rooms for examining, admitting, and discharging of patients; with other necessary offices. Here is a stair-case painted and given by the late Mr. Hogarth, containing two pictures, representing the good Samaritan and the pool of Bethesda; which, for truth of colouring and expression, are thought to equal any thing of the kind in Europe. The front of the hospital, toward Smithfield, is adorned with pilasters, entablature, and pediments, of the Ionic order, with the figure of king Henry VIII. standing in full proportion in a niche; and the figures of two cripples on the pediment.
The other three sides of the quadrangle contain the wards for the reception of patients; and being all of them two stories high, with four wards on a floor, each side consists of twelve lofty spacious wards, of between twenty and thirty beds respectively.
At the bottom of Crane court in Fleet-street is the building used for the meetings of the Royal Society, the institution of which learned body has already been related in the order of time (fn. 11). By the charter of Charles II. they were incorporated by the name of the Royal Society, to consist of a president, council, and fellows, for promoting natural knowledge and useful arts, by experiments: in this charter his majesty declared himself their founder and patron, giving them power to make laws for the government of themselves; to purchase lands and houses; to have a common seal, and a coat of arms. He also made them a present of a silver mace gilt, to be carried before the president; and as a farther mark of fa vour, he, by letters patent of the 8th of April 1667, gave them Chelsea college with its appurtenances, and twenty-six or twenty-seven acres of land surrounding it. But the society neglecting to convert a part of it into a physic garden, as was intended, and the king being resolved to erect an hospital for old and maimed soldiers, thought no place more proper for such a design than this college; he therefore purchased it again of them for 1300l.
When Gresham college, where the society first held their meetings, was converted into a temporary Exchange on the Royal Exchange being consumed by the great fire, and the apartments were filled with public offices; the society were accommodated in Arundel house, by the honourable Henry Howard afterward duke of Norfolk (fn. 12). He also presented them with that fine collection of books, part of the library of the kings of Hungary, purchased by the earl of Arundel on his return from his embassy at Vienna. This generous donation consisted of 3287 printed books in most languages and faculties; chiefly the first editions soon after the invention of printing; and a valuable collection of manuscripts in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and Turkish, amounting to 554 volumes, which, together with the former, are thought to be of such value, as not to be paralleled. In 1715, this library was augmented with another valuable collection bequeathed to the society by their secretary Francis Aston, Esq; which, together with the numerous benefactions of the works of the learned members, in all faculties, but more especially in natural and experimental philosophy, amount to above 3600. Daniel Colwall, esq; in the year 1677, gave his great and curious collection of natural and artificial rarities, which compose the greatest part of the catalogue, published anno, 1681, by doctor Grew, under the title of Museum Regalis Societatis. But these curiosities, by the generosity of other curious persons, are now increased to above six times the number of those enumerated in the catalogue.
This learned body is governed by a president and council, consisting of twentyone fellows, distinguished by their rank and learning. A treasurer, who receives and disburses all the money. Two secretaries, who read all letters and informations; reply to all addresses or letters from foreign parts, or at home; register all experiments and conclusions, and publish what is ordered by the society. The curators, who have the charge of making experiments, receive the directions of the society, and at another meeting bring all to the test.
Every person to be elected a fellow of the Royal Society, must be proposed and recommended at a meeting of the society, by three or more members: and when any one is admitted, he pays a fee of five guineas, and afterward 13s. a quarter, as long as he continues a member, toward the expences of the society; for the payment whereof he gives a bond. But most of the members on their first admittance chuse to pay down twenty guineas, which discharges them from any future payments.
Their memoirs, under the title of Philosophical Transactions, are now published annually in a 4 to volume; (that for the year 1770, being volume LX.) which are presented gratis to the fellows. Their meetings are held on Thursdays in the afternoon, and their annual election of officers is on St. Andrew's day.
For above a century past the king's printing house was situated in Black-friars. But Mr. Basket's patent expiring in January 1770, and the new one coming into the hands of Charles Eyre, Esq; of Clapham, and Mr. William Strahan an eminent printer in New-street Shoe-lane; they removed the business to a large convenient building they had erected for that purpose near the house of the latter, in Goldsmiths-row behind Gough-square Fleet-street, now called the king's new printing house. Here bibles, common-prayers, acts of parliament, king's speeches, proclamations, &c. are printed by authority.
On the east side of the street denominated the Old Bailey, which is supposed to have been originally called Bail-hill, from the sessions-house, for the trial of malefactors, which stands there at the end of Newgate-prison; is situated the hall of the company of Surgeons, built by them after their separation from the Barbers (fn. 13). This hall with the theatre belonging to it are in an elegant taste: the front of the hall has a basement story with square windows; and there is an ascent to the principal floor by a double flight of steps, between which below is a door level with the ground, for the conveniency of bringing in dead bodies after execution at Tyburn, for dissection. At the height of the steps is a range of Ionic pilasters, between the windows, of which there are two series, a story of large ones with square ones over them. The entablature of the pilasters supports a plain attic course, crowned with vases. The theatre for dissections and anatomical lectures is an octagon, in each side of which is a niche intended to receive skeletons of the most notorious criminals that come under the surgeons hands as part of their sentence: several of which are already occupied.
At the top of Snow-hill opposite to St. Sepulchre's church, in Angel-court, is the Hand in Hand Fire-office. This office was erected in the year 1666 for insuring houses only. Every insurer signs a deed of settlement, by which he is not only insured, but insures all that have signed that deed, from losses in their houses by fire: so that every person, thus insured, is admitted into joint partnership, and becomes an equal sharer in the profit and loss, in proportion to their respective insurances.
The conditions of insurance are 2s. per cent. premium, and 10s. deposit on brick houses, and double those sums on timber houses. No more than 2000l. is to be insured in one policy. The affairs of this office are managed by 24 directors, who are chosen by the persons insured, in rotation, and serve the office three years without any reward: this office keeps in its service 30 fire-men, who are protected from a press, are annually cloathed, and wear a silver badge, with two hands joined, and a crown over them.
At the south-east corner of Smithfield, at the end of Duck-lane, stands the parish church of St. Bartholomew the Great; antiently an appendage to the monastery of St. Bartholomew lately mentioned, for the conveniency of their tenants in the fair. When the priory church was taken down at the dissolution of the house, the choir was spared by the king's order for the enlargement of the adjoining church. Queen Mary however gave the church to the Friars preachers or Black-friars, who held it till Elizabeth turned them out; when the parliament restored the church to the parish. This church which escaped the great fire is a spacious edifice of the Gothic and Tuscan orders; 132 feet long, 57 broad, 47 high: the tower is 75 feet in altitude. The patronage, which in all probability was antiently in the prior and canons of the monastery, is now in private hands (fn. 14).
That large open spot of ground lying to the south of this church, called Bartholomew Close, was a court yard belonging to the old priory of St. Bartholomew; in which the fair was antiently held, until it was removed into Smithfield.
Just without the north front of St. Bartholomew hospital, stands what is now the parish church of St. Bartholomew's the Less, so distinguished from the other; but which was originally no more than a chapel to the hospital. On the dissolution of the priory it became the parish church to the district where it stood; and the patronage has been in the mayor and commonalty of London, since the gift of the hospital to the city.
A little without Newgate on the north side of the street at the top of Snowhill, stands the parochial church dedicated in commemoration of our Saviour's sepulchre or grave, at Jerusalem, Sanctum Sepulchrum, vulgarly called St. Sepulchre's. It is now a spacious building, but not so large as of old time, part of the scite of it being let out upon a building lease, and for a garden-plat. It is generally believed to be founded about the year 1100, at which time a particular devotion was paid to the Holy Sepulchre: and it was so decayed in the reign of Edward IV. as to require to be rebuilt. Roger bishop of Salisbury, in the reign of Henry I. gave the patronage of this church to the prior and convent of St. Bartholomew in West Smithfield, who established a perpetual vicarage in this church, and held it till their dissolution, when it fell to the crown. King James I granted the rectory with its appurtenances, and the advowson of this vicarage to Francis Philips, and others; after which the parishioners purchased the rectory with its appurtenances, and held them in fee-farm of the crown. The advowson of the vicarage was purchased by the president and fellows of St. John Baptist college, Oxon, who continue patrons of it.
The present structure was much damaged by the fire of London in 1666. The outward walls and the tower were capable of reparation; and the middle isle of the church was at the same time made with an arched roof, which was not so originally. The church measures 126 feet in length, exclusive of the broad passage across the west end; the breadth, exclusive of the north chapel, is 58 feet. The height of the roof in the middle isle is 35 feet; and the height of the steeple, to the top of the pinnacles, is 146 feet. The body of the church is enlightened with a row of very large gothic windows, with buttresses between, over which runs a slight cornice; and the top is finished with a plain and substantial battlement work, in the style of the public buildings in the reign of Edward IV. The steeple is a plain square tower, crowned with four pinnacles. The church-yard, which is on the south side of the building, was formerly inclosed with a high brick wall, without allowing any footway for passengers on the outside, to the great terror and danger of all who passed it. But among the other improvements in this city, the church-yard of St. Sepulchre's was one of the first; for in 1760 this front wall was removed, and the church-yard thrown intirely open.
It is the sexton of this parish who, as has already been mentioned (fn. 15), admonishes the condemned criminals in Newgate the night before their execution; and again as they are carried by the church on their way to Tyburn: the great bell of the church tolls on such occasions from six in the morning until ten as the passing bell.
At the north west angle of Shoe-lane on the descent of Holborn-hill, stands the parish church of St. Andrew Holborn. This living is a rectory that was originally in the gift of the dean and canons of St. Paul's, London, who transferred it to the abbot and convent of Bermondsey; and they continued patrons thereof till their convent was dissolved by Henry VIII. Henry granted this church to Thomas lord Wriothesley, afterward earl of Southampton, from whom it descended by marriage to the late duke of Montague.
Though the church escaped the fire of London, it was some few years after found too ruinous for repair. It was therefore rebuilt in 1687, excepting the tower, the under part of which in 1704, being found sufficiently strong to be preserved, was finished above in the same stile with the rest of the edifice. This is one of the largest and best illuminated churches in London; and is 105 feet in length, 63 feet in breadth, 43 feet in height, and the altitude of the tower is 110 feet. The body is well built, and decently ornamented. It has two series of windows, which have all their ornaments; and along the top runs a neat balustrade. The doors correspond with one another, and there reigns throughout the whole an elegant uniformity. Over the communion table is a large painted window, exhibiting in the lower part the Messiah and his disciples at the last supper; and in a compartment above, his resurrection from the grave. This window though modern, as the name and date in one corner, Price 1722, indicates, is not inferior to any other of the kind in the glowing richness of the tints. The tower rises square, and consists only of two stages, crowned with battlements and pinnacles at the corners. The first stage which is plain has the dial; in the upper stage, there is to each front a very handsome window; tall, arched, and decorated with Doric pilasters, which support a lofty arched pediment, decorated with a shield within.
The cornice which crowns the tower is supported by scrolls; and the balustrade which rises above this has a very firm base. The work of the balusters is well contrived for the height; proportion of parts is more observed than little finishings, and they have consequently a very good effect. Each corner of the tower has an ornamental pinnacle, consisting of four large scrolls, which meeting in a body support a pine apple: from the crown of the fruit rises a well constructed fane. The church stands at an advantageous distance from the street, in a large church-yard, which by the steep descent of the hill is considerably higher than the street on the east end: it is parted from the street by neat iron rails, and is entered by a large pair of elegant gates.
Nearly about the same distance westward from what was once Fleet-ditch, is the church dedicated to a saint of whom we know no more than that her name was Bridget. This elegant church stands obscurely behind the houses on the south side of Fleet-street, a little to the eastward of Salisbury court. Though the origin of this church is unknown, it appears not to be of a late date, by its having had three rectors before the year 1362. It was originally a very small church, till about the year 1480, when it was greatly enlarged by William Venor, warden of the Fleet-prison, who caused a spacious fabric to be erected at the west end thereof consisting of a middle and two side isles; to which the old church served as a choir. It was originally a rectory, and the abbot and convent of Westminster were the patrons until their dissolution. It is supposed to have been converted to a vicarage about the year 1529; and king Henry VIII. after the dissolution of the convent, having given this church of St. Bride to the collegiate church of Westminster, it has continued a vicarage ever since. In 1610 the earl of Dorset gave a parcel of ground, on the west side of Fleet-ditch, for a new church-yard; which was consecrated on the 2d of August that same year, by Dr. George Abbot, bishop of London.
The old church being destroyed by the fire of London in 1666, the present edifice was designed by Sir Christopher Wren, and by him compleated within 14 years, in such an elegant manner, as to exceed most of our parish churches in delicacy and beauty. It is 111 feet long, 87 broad, and the steeple 234 feet high; by which it appears to be 32 feet higher than the monument. It has a plain and regular body, the openings all answering one another: the roof is raised on pillars; and the altar-piece, like the outside of the church, is very magnificent. The circular pediment over the lower part is supported by six Corinthian columns. The steeple is a spire of extremely delicate workmanship, railed upon a solid yet light tower: and the several stages by which the spire gradually decreases are well designed, and executed with all the advantage of the orders. This steeple contains one of the most melodious peals of bells in London.
The church of St. Dunstan, commonly called St. Dunstan in the west, to distinguish it from the other church dedicated to the same saint in Tower ward, called in like manner St. Dunstan in the east; is situated between the ends of Fetterlane and Chancery-lane, in Fleet-street: where it projects out into the street, and contracts the passage in a most aukward inconvenient manner. It appears to have been built four or five hundred years, since there are accounts of funerals and donations to it from the year 1421, with earlier anecdotes of little consequence: and it is easy to see that it has been repaired and altered at different periods, till the original style, whatever it was, is lost. It narrowly escaped the fire in 1666, the flames stopping within three houses of it. This edifice is but an incumbrance to the way, and without having any thing but deformity itself, spoils the beauty of the whole street; hiding the prospect of Temple bar, which would otherwise terminate the view very advantageously, and be seen almost as far again as it is at present. But as if the church did not sufficiently spoil the street, a range of paltry sheds are suffered to remain round it, though a parliamentary authority was obtained for removing them (fn. 16). The dial of the clock projects over the street at the west end with a double face, at the extremity of a beam; and over it by a kind of whimsical conceit, calculated only for the amusement of countrymen and children, is an Ionic porch containing the figures of two savages, carved and painted, as big as life, which with knotted clubs alternately strike the hours and quarters on two bells hung between them. In a niche at the east end of the church looking down the street, was lately placed the statue of queen Elizabeth which formerly stood over Ludgate (fn. 17).
It is a very ancient foundation, in the gift of the abbot and convent of Westminster: who, in 1237, gave it to king Henry III. toward the maintenance of the house called the Rolls, for the reception of converted Jews. It was afterward transferred to the abbot and convent of Alnwick, in Northumberland, in which patronage it continued till that religious house was suppressed by king Henry VIII. Edward VI. granted the advowson of this church, under the name of a vicarage, to lord Dudley, with whom it did not long continue, but after successive changes still continues in private hands.