A New History of London Including Westminster and Southwark. Originally published by R Baldwin, London, 1773.
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BOOK III. A Survey of the Borough of Southwark; including the adjoining parishes of Rotherhithe, Newington, and Lambeth.
CHAP. I. Southwark
The borough of Southwark naturally comes under consideration immediately after the city of London properly so called, though it is separated from it by the river Thames, and though situated in another county; as being under the jurisdiction of the chief magistrate of London, and as being a ward of the city without the walls on the south, as Portsoken is on the east, and Farringdon Without on the west (fn. 1). The neighbourhood of this borough to the city of London occasioned a connection in their affairs that would not warrant a separation of their history; and even there the occasion for mentioning it has but seldom occurred.
The borough of Southwark comprehends the parishes of St. Olave, St. Saviour, St. George, St. Thomas, and Christ-church; which, together with the adjacent parishes, compose that part of the district within the bill of mortality, situate south of the river Thames, in the hundreds of Kingston and Brixton, and county of Surrey. The length of the borough in its largest extent, following the course of the river to which the direction of the principal streets conform, from Vauxhall bridge to the east end of Holding-street Rotherhithe, is, accord ing to Maitland, 6 miles, 23 poles, and 2 feet. Its breadth is too various to be computed; down the high street leading from London bridge is; as may well be supposed the broadest part. However as the river forms so great an elbow between London bridge and Westminster bridge, that the direction of these two bridges is nearly at right angles with each other; that circumstance, with the intermediate bridge at Blackfriars, will probably cause all the ground comprehended between the Circus, the river, and the two extream bridges, to be covered with buildings within a few years to come: when St. George's fields will no more resemble fields than Goodman's-fields do at present (fn. 2).
By virtue of the grant of Edward VI. formerly mentioned (fn. 3), Southwark has ever since been subject to the lord-mayor, who has under him a steward and bailiff, the former of whom holds a court of record every Monday at St. Margaret's hill, for all debts, damages, and trespasses, within his limits; and the lord-mayor proclaims Southwark fair on the 19th of September. Nevertheless though the inhabitants of this borough are by express words placed under the same circumstances as the citizens of London, yet the intention of this royal grant has not taken place, as will appear by the memorial in the note (fn. 4).
The High-street which is frequently called the Borough, and which on the west side is chiefly occupied by butchers, leads from London bridge to St. Margaret's hill; where formerly stood a church dedicated to St. Margaret; on whose scite is now erected a court of justice, which court-house stands on a small colonade that leads to a tavern, over which is the court-room where the steward for the city of London holds a court of record every Monday, for all debts, damages, and trespasses within his limits. On the front of this edifice is the statue of king Charles II. under which is the following inscription:
There are also three court-leets held in the Borough: for it contains three liberties or manors, viz. the great liberty, the guildable, and the king's manor, in which are chosen constables, aleconners, &c. with other business peculiar to such courts. Court-leets are likewise kept at Bermondsey, Rotherhithe, and Lambeth.
From this court house, directly southward, runs a spacious, wide, and well inhabited street of substantial tradesmen and inn-keepers, which, as far as the south-west corner of St. George's church, is called St. Margaret's-hill. On the east side of this street is the Marshalsea prison and court; in which are confined all persons committed for crimes at sea, as pirates, &cc. and for debt by land. The judges of the court are, the lord steward of the king's houshold; a steward of the court, who must be a barrister at law; and a deputy steward. In all civil actions, tried in this court, both the plaintiff and the defendant must belong to his majesty's houshold. The persons confined in this prison for crimes at sea are tried at the Old Bailey. In the same prison is the Palace court, with a jurisdiction that extends 12 miles round the palace of Westminster, the city of London excepted: and debtors within any part of Westminster, and 12 miles round, may be arrested and carried to this prison for a debt of 40s. Actions for debt are tried in this court every Friday; and there are the same judges as in the Marshalsea-court. But in this court neither plaintiff nor defendant must belong to his majesty's houshold. The buildings are run much to decay: but there is a spacious and convenient court room.
From St. George's church the high street is called Blackman-street; and at the south west end of this street, at the angle where the new road turns off to the Circus in St. George's fields, is situated the King's Bench prison. This is a place of confinement for debtors; and for those sentenced by the court of King's Bench to suffer imprisonment for libels and other misdemeanors; but those who can purchase the liberties have the benefit of walking through a part of the Borough, and in St. George's-fields.
This prison is situated in a fine air; but all prospect of the fields, even from the uppermost windows, is excluded by the height of the walls with which it is surrounded. It consists of two rows of small houses, forming a street between them, where the prisoners open shops and follow their professions. At one end of this range is a larger house called the State-house, where those prisoners who can afford it are accommodated with more agreeable apartments than in the other parts of the prison. Opposite the State-house is a neat chapel; and beyond them is a large open spot of ground which is converted into a public garden. It is a new erection within these last ten or twelve years; and the marshal, who has the custody of the prison, has a handsome house at one end. Prisoners in other jails may remove hither by a Habeas Corpus.
About the middle of the Borough high street, on the east side, stands the large noble charitable foundation called St. Thomas's hospital. This hospital is traced as far back as the year 1207, when the priory of St. Mary Overy's being destroyed by fire, the canons erected an hospital near the spot for the celebration of divine service until their monastery could be rebuilt. In the year 1215, this hospital, by the consent of Peter de la Roche bishop of Winchester, was removed for the greater convenience of air and water, to a place, where Richard, prior of Bermondsey, but two years before, had built an almonry, or alms-house, for the reception of indigent children and necessitous proselytes. The hospital was now dedicated to St. Thomas the Apostle, and endowed with land to the amount of 343l. per annum; from which time it was held of the abbot of Bermondsey, until the dissolution of the religious houses, when it fell into the hands of Henry VIII.
When the corporation of London purchased the manor of Southwark of king Edward VI. in 1551, this hospital was immediately repaired, and enlarged, and, in the November following receiving into it 250 sick and helpless objects, still retained its original name of St. Thomas. The king in 1553, by a charter dated June 6th 7 Edw. VI. incorporated the mayor, commonalty, and citizens of London, as governors of the four hospitals of St. Thomas, St. Bartholomew, Christ, and Bridewell. The Orders published in 1557, by the corporation, for the government of these hospitals, are inserted in the Addenda, following the Appendix.
Though this hospital escaped the great fire in 1666, yet great part of its possessions were then destroyed; and two other fires, that afterward happened in Southwark, reduced it to great distress. The building grew old and wanted repairs, and the funds on which it depended for support failed: however in 1699 the governors opened a subscription for rebuilding it upon a more extensive plan, which was executed at different times, and compleated in the year 1732.
The hospital now consists of three quadrangles or square courts. In the front
next the street is a handsome pair of large iron gates, with a door of the same
work on each side for the convenience of foot passengers. These are fastened on
the sides to stone piers, on each of which is a statue representing one of the patients. These gates open into a very neat square court, encompassed on three
sides with a colonade, surrounded with benches next the wall, for people
to sit down. On the south under an empty niche is the following inscription.
"This building on the south side of this court, containing three wards, was
erected at the charge of Thomas Frederick of London, Esq; a worthy
governor and liberal benefactor to this hospital, Anno 1708."
Under the same kind of niche on the opposite side is this inscription,
"This building on the north side of this court, containing three wards,
was erected at the charge of Thomas Guy, Esq; citizen and Stationer
of London, a worthy governor and bountiful benefactor to this hospi
tal, Anno 1707."
The center of the principal front, facing the street, is of stone: on the top is
a clock under a small circular pediment, and beneath that king Edward VI.
holding a gilt scepter in his right hand, and the charter in his left. A little
lower, in niches on each side, is a man with a crutch, and a sick woman; and
under them, in other niches, a man with a wooden leg, and a woman with her
arm in a sling. Over the niches are festoons, and between the last-mentioned
figures the king's arms in relievo. Under which is this inscription:
"King Edward the Sixth, of pious memory, in the year of our Lord 1552,
founded and endowed this hospital of St. Thomas the Apostle, together
with the hospitals of Christ and Bridewell in London."
Underneath is a passage into the second quadrangle, which is built with colonades, except on the north side, where the front of the chapel is adorned with
lofty pilasters of the Corinthian order, placed on high pedestals: on the top is a
pediment, as well as in the center of the east and west sides, and above the
piazzas the fronts of the wards are ornamented with handsome Ionic pilasters.
In the center of this court stands the statue of king Edward VI. upon a lofty stone
pedestal, upon which is the following inscription in capitals:
Of King Edward the Sixth,
A most excellent Prince,
Of exemplary Piety and Wisdom
above his years;
The glory and ornament of his age,
and most munificent founder
Of this hospital,
Was erected at the expence
Of Charles Joyce, Esquire,
in the year MDCCXXXVII.
In the middle of the east side of this court is a spacious passage into the next, the structure above being supported by rows of columns. The buildings in the third court are older than the others, and are entirely surrounded with a colonade, above which they are adorned with a kind of long slender Ionic pilasters, with very small capitals. In the center is a stone statue of Sir Robert Clayton, dressed in his robes as lord-mayor, surrounded with iron rails: upon the west side of the pedestal are his arms in relievo, and on the south side the following inscription:
"To Sir Robert Clayton, knight, born in Northamptonshire, citizen and "lord mayor of London, president of this hospital, and vice president of the new workhouse, and a bountiful benefactor to it; a just magistrate, and brave defender of the liberty and religion of his country. Who (besides many other instances of his charity to the poor) built the girls ward in Christ's hospital, gave first toward the rebuilding of this house 600l. and left by his last will 2300l. to the poor of it. This statue was erected in his life time by the governors, An. Dom. MDCCI. as a monument of their esteem of so much worth; and to preserve his memory after death, was by them beautified Anno Dom. MDCCXIV."
By this noble charity many hundred thousands of the poor have since its foundation received relief, and been cured of the various disorders to which human nature is subject; and though the estates at first belonging to this foundation were ruined, yet by the liberal munificence of the citizens since that time, the annual disbursements have of late amounted to near 8000l. The house contains 19 wards, and 474 beds, which are constantly occupied; beside these they have a considerable number of out patients.
Near St. Thomas's hospital, on the same side of the street, stands Guy's hospital for the cure of sick and lame persons; a foundation noble in itself, and rendered much more so, from the circumstance of its being built and endowed by one person. Mr. Thomas Guy was a citizen and bookseller of London, who from a small beginning amassed an immense fortune, by industry and frugality; but more particularly by purchasing seamen's tickets in the reign of Queen Anne; and by buying and selling South Sea stock in the year 1720. He was never married, and had no near relations: therefore toward the close of his life, he resolved to be the founder of the most extensive charity ever established by one man. He was 76 years of age when he formed this resolution, and having no time to lose, immediately took of the president and governors of St. Thomas's hospital in Southwark, a lease of a piece of ground opposite to that hospital, for the term of 999 years, at a ground-rent of 30l. a year. As this spot was covered with small, old, and ill tenanted houses, he pulled down the buildings in the year 1721, and, proceeding with great expedition, caused the foundation of the intended hospital to be laid the following spring; and this vast fabric was roofed before the death of the founder, which happened on the twenty-seventh of December 1724.
The motive that induced Mr. Guy to erect this hospital in so low and close a situation, was his design of putting it under the management of the governors of that of St. Thomas. By the advice of his friends he altered his resolution; but it was then too late to think of chusing another situation, for the building was raised to the second story: however he rendered the place as agreeable as possible by its elevation above the neighbouring streets.
The charge of erecting and furnishing this hospital amounted to the sum of 18,793l. 16s. great part of which he expended in his life-time; and he left 219,499l. to endow it; both together amounting to 238,292l. 16s. a much larger sum than was ever before left in this kingdom by one single person to charitable uses.
The building consists of two quadrangles beside the two wings extending to the street, from one to the other of which extend neat iron rails upon a dwarf wall; in the middle of which are noble iron gates with stone piers. These gates open into a square, in the middle of which is a brazen statue of the founder, by Mr. Scheemakers, dressed in his livery gown, very well executed.
On the west side of the pedestal is represented in basso relievo, the parable of the good Samaritan; on the south side are Mr. Guy's arms; and on that side of the pedestal facing the east, is our Saviour healing the impotent man.
The superstructure of this hospital has three floors beside garrets, and the same construction runs through the whole building, which is so extensive as to contain twelve wards, in which are 435 beds: in short the whole has a plainness that becomes the nature of the institution, and at the same time a regularity that does honour to the builder; being disposed for the mutual accommodation of the sick, and of those who attend them.
On Mr. Guy's death, his executors, in conformity to his last will, applied to parliament and obtained an act to incorporate themselves and 51 other gentlemen nominated by the testator, as governors of the new hospital (fn. 5). The charity has ever since been conducted so as to answer the benevolent intentions of the founder.
At the south east end of Kent-street is a hospital antiently used for the reception and cure of lepers, and, as Stow informs us, was called the Lock; but at present belonging to St. Bartholomew's hospital in London: this is still called the Lock hospital, and is, with another hospital of the same nature at Kingsland in Islington parish, allotted for the reception of venereal patients. It is a small edifice lately rebuilt; with an old chapel at the south end, and a garden behind.
At the angle where the new road from Westminster bridge parts into two, one branch toward Kennington common, and the other to the Circus in St. George's fields; is a large building first erected for an inn, but now occupied by a public charity, and known by the name of the Asylum. In the year 1758 two excellent charitable institutions were formed, the one a house of reformation for penitent prostitutes, called the Magdalen house; and the other a house of refuge for the maintenance and education of destitute or orphan young girls within the bills of mortality, called the Asylum (fn. 6). Girls are admitted into this house from eight to twelve years of age, on producing certificates signed by two substantial housekeepers of the parish where they reside, representing their age and necessity. They are regularly and alternately employed in reading, knitting, sewing, and in the business of the kitchen, to which latter employment four are appointed weekly, to be with the cook, to assist her, and to receive from her the necessary instructions in plain cookery, curing provisions, and other employments of the kitchen. They likewise make the beds, clean the rooms, assist in washing and ironing the linen, and in other houshold business, according to their respective ages and abilities, at the discretion of the matron. The chaplain preaches on Sundays, and performs the other parts of divine service, and catechises the children. On the other days of the week prayers are read by the matron or teacher; and some portion of scripture is read by those of the children who are best able.
On the west side of the road from Blackfriars bridge to the Circus in St. George's fields is the building lately finished for a Magdalen house, instead of that temporary one in Prescot-street, Goodman's fields. This building has already been mentioned on its first erection (fn. 7), it remains therefore only to make some brief mention of the general purpose and æconomy of the charity.
The unhappy women, for whose benefit this institution was formed, are received by petition; and there is a distinction in the wards according to the education or behaviour of the persons admitted : the inferior wards consisting of meaner persons, and of those degraded for misbehaviour, Each person is employed in work or business according to her ability, and has such part of the benefit arising from her labour and ingenuity as the committee judge she deserves; which sum may be increased by the bounty of the house, as favourable opportunities offer, for establishing them in the world. The articles of their employment are, making their own cloaths both linen and woollen; knitting, spinning, making bone lace, black lace, artificial flowers, childrens toys, winding silk, drawing patterns, making women and childrens shoes, mantuas, stays, coats, &c. but no part of their labour is to be sold in the house, but at some other place appointed by the committee. In their work, as in every other circumstance, the utmost humanity and tenderness are observed, that this establishment may not be thought a house of correction, or even of hard labour, but a safe retreat from their distressful circumstances.
After the continuance of any woman in the house three years, upon the modest and virtuous demeanor and industrious conduct of such woman, or upon application of her parents or friends, or any housekeeper of sufficient credit, if such friends declare they will forgive her past offences, and will provide for her; or if such housekeeper will receive such woman as a servant; in either of these cases the governors discharge them with a discretionary bounty.
Every woman placed in a service from this house, and who continues one whole year in such service, to the entire approbation of her master or mistress, upon its being made appear to the satisfaction of the committee, they give the woman a gratuity as a reward for her good behaviour.
On the south bank of the Thames, near St. Olave's church, is situated the Bridge house; by which we are to understand several large buildings, erected as store houses for timber, stone, and other materials for repairing London bridge. It seems to have had its foundation with the bridge itself, and had formerly several granaries, for the service of the city in a time of scarcity; and also ten ovens for baking bread, for the relief of the poor citizens: but these granaries are now applied to the use of the cornfactors, who here lay in considerable quantities of corn. The bridge house is under the management of the bridge-masters, whose office is to look after the reparation of the bridge.
Near London bridge, on the north side of Tooley-street, stands the parish church of St. Olave Southwark. Though the time when a church was first erected in this place cannot be discovered, yet it is mentioned so early as the year 1281. However, part of the old church falling down in 1736, and the rest being in a ruinous condition, the parishioners applied to parliament for a power to rebuild it, which being granted (fn. 8), the church was taken down in the summer of the year 1737, and the present structure finished in 1739.
It consists of a plain body strengthened with rustic quoins; the door is well proportioned without ornament, and the windows are placed in three series; the lowest upright, but considerably broad; those above them circular, and others on the roof large and semicircular. The tower consists of three stages; the uppermost of which is much diminished; in this is the clock, and in the stages below are large windows. The top of the tower is surrounded by a substantial balustrade; and there is a plain uniform simplicity through the whole building. The living is a rectory in the gift of the crown.
The great increase of the parish of St. Olave, abovementioned, particularly that part now called Horsley-down, and which being written Horse-down by Stow, was most probably then a large field for the grazing of cattle; occasioned Horsley-down to be erected into a parish by the name of St. John the Evangelist, to whom the church is dedicated. This is one of the 50 new churches ordered to be built by act of parliament (fn. 9); and an act was passed for making a provision for the minister (fn. 10). The parish being taken out of that of St. Olave, is also in the gift of the crown.
The body of the church is enlightened by two ranges of windows, with a Venetian one in the center. The tower rises square, with a balustrade on the top: from whence rises a spire, which is well wrought and would have appeared properly diminished, had not the architect absurdly endeavoured to give it the resemblance of an Ionic fluted column.
A little to the west of the south end of London bridge stands a church of great antiquity well known by the name of St. Mary Overy's, though called St. Saviour's in the statute book. On the spot where it is built, it is said there was antiently a priory of nuns founded by one Mary, the owner of a ferry over the river Thames, before the building of London bridge: hence we are furnished with the obvious derivation of the present name, which appears to have been originally, St. Mary of the Ferry, or St. Mary of Ferry's, and at length as we now find it, St. Mary Overy's. Some time after, the priory was converted into a college of priests; but that establishment, as well as the former, proving of no long duration, it was in the year 1106 founded by two Norman knights, and the bishop of Winchester, for canons regular. This edifice was destroyed by fire about the year 1207; but it being soon after rebuilt, Peter de la Roche, bishop of Winchester, added to it a spacious chapel, which he dedicated to St. Mary Magdalen; and this being afterward appointed for the use of the inhabitants, it at last became their parish church.
On the suppression of religious houses, the parishes of St. Mary Magdalen, and St. Margaret, purchased the conventual church of king Henry; and were the next year united by act of parliament, and the church being then repaired, was called by the new name of St. Saviour's. The rectory is in the gift of the parish.
Both the construction and extent of this Gothic structure resemble a cathedral more than a parish church. The length is 260 feet, and that of the cross isle 109: the breadth of the body is 54 feet, and the height of the tower, including the pinnacles, is 150 feet. The construction of the windows, entrances, and every other part, is purely in the Gothic style, except a modern door, which is neither Gothic, nor agreeable to the rules of any other architecture. The tower, which is square, and well proportioned, is supported by massy pillars over the meeting of the middle and cross isles; it is crowned with battlements, and has a tall slender pinnacle at each corner. This church is noted for having a fine peal of bells.
Near this church, in the place now called Bankside from its situation, were formerly the stews or public bawdy houses, licenced and regulated by the bishops of Winchester: the constitutions for the government of which were confirmed by parliament in the 8 Henry II. (fn. 11).
These stews, or bawdy-houses, in the year 1381, were plundered by Wat Tyler; at which time it appears they were kept by Flemish bawds. In the year 1506, they were, by order of Henry VII. shut up; but, being re-opened soon after, their number was reduced from eighteen to twelve: in the year 1546 they were, by proclamation of Henry VIII. entirely suppressed.
A prison denominated the Clink was erected for the punishment of offences committed in that district. This prison is still in being, and the bishop of Winchester's steward tries pleas of debt, damage or trespass in the liberty, for any sum.
Near the south east corner of Bermondsey-street, vulgarly called Barnabystreet, stands the church of St. Mary Magdalen. The village of Bermondsey was antiently a royal manor; and it appears from the Conqueror's survey that a church of the same name was situated in this place in the time of the Saxons. Adjoining to where this church now stands was founded in 1082 a priory, or abbey, by Alwine Child, a citizen of London; which priory being an alien and a cell to one in France, was among other foreign foundations, sequestered by Edward III. anno 1371, who constituted Richard Denton, an Englishman, prior thereof; in consideration of which, and the sum of two hundred marks, Richard II. demised it in 1380; and in the year 1399, the priory being converted into an abbey, pope Boniface appointed John Attelborough the first abbot thereof.
At the dissolution of this abbey of St. Saviour, Henry VIII. sold the convent with all the appurtenances, lands, fisheries, mill, and dock, now corruptly called St. Savory's mill and dock, to Sir Thomas Pope; who built a large house upon the ground on which the convent stood. This house afterward became the residence of the earls of Sussex, who were obliged to build a place for public worship; which was done on or near the place where the church now stands. The present edifice was built in 1680, at the charge of the parish; and is a plain structure, 76 feet long, 61 feet broad, 30 feet high to the roof, and 87 feet to the top of the steeple. The walls are brick, covered with stucco, and the door cases and arched windows are cased with stone; the tower which rises square is covered with a dome, on which stands a turret supporting a ball and vane. The advowson of this church is in lay hands.
At the south east corner of the street called St. Margaret's-hill is the parish church of St. George; the antiquity of which is recorded as early as the year 1122, when Thomas Arderne gave it to the abbot and monks of Bermondsey. The benefice is a rectory in the gift of the crown.
The present church was built in 1734 in consequence of an act of parliament passed for that purpose (fn. 12). The ascent to the great door is by a flight of steps, defended by plain iron rails. The door case, which is Ionic, has a circular pediment, ornamented with the heads of cherubims in clouds; and on each side of this pediment, which reaches to the height of the roof, the front is adorned with a balustrade and vases. From this part the tower rises plain, strengthened with rustic quoins, as is the body of the building, and on the corners of the tower are again placed vases. From hence are raised a series of Ionic columns supporting the base of the spire, which has ribs on the angles, and openings in all the faces. The top is crowned with a ball, from which rises the vane.
Opposite to St. George's church there stood formerly a magnificent house belonging to the duke of Suffolk; which coming into the hands of king Henry VIII. he converted it into a mint, the name of which still remains to the neighbourhood. For many years this mint continued a noted asylum for insolvent debtors, and for fraudulent persons, who, taking refuge there with their effects, set their creditors at defiance; until the pretended privilege of the place was annulled by the legislature (fn. 13).
On the north side of St. Thomas's-street, and contiguous to the hospital of the same name, stands the parish church of St. Thomas, originally erected for the use of the hospital; but the number of inhabitants having greatly increased in the precinct of that hospital, it was judged necessary to make the church parochial for their use, and to erect a chapel in the hospital for the use of the patients. This church is therefore neither a rectory, vicarage, nor donative, but a sort of impropriation in the gift of the hospital.
The church is a plain brick building, enlightened by one series of large windows, and the corners strengthened and adorned with rustic, as are the corners of the tower. The principal door has a cornice supported by scrolls with a circular pediment; and the tower, instead of a balustrade, is crowned with a blocking course of the Attic kind.
On the west side of the road leading from Black-friars bridge to the Circus in St. George's fields is situated Christ's church, founded by Mr. John Marshal, of the Borough, Gent. in 1627, who endowed it with 60l. per annum toward the maintenance of a minister. In 1670 it was made a distinct parish from St. Saviour's, and a rectory. The present church was built in or about the year 1737, at the expence of the parish (fn. 14), and is a regular well constructed building with a square tower and turret. The patronage at present is in thirteen trustees.