An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in London, Volume 5, East London. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1930.
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This Volume contains (in addition to the official Report) a series of articles giving a general survey of certain aspects of the art, architecture and monuments of the county of London, a Sectional Preface which, under separate headings, calls attention to any particularly interesting examples mentioned in the Inventory; an illustrated Inventory, with a concise account of the monuments visited; a list of monuments selected by the Commissioners as especially worthy of preservation; a glossary of architectural, heraldic and archæological terms; a map showing the topographical distribution of the scheduled monuments, and an index.
In this, the fifth volume of the Inventory of the County of London, a return has been made to the arrangement adopted in the case of West London of grouping the monuments described under boroughs rather than parishes.
Apart from this, the arrangement of the volume is similar to that of the Commission's earlier Inventories. The boroughs are arranged alphabetically with an introductory paragraph which gives the parishes included in each and calls attention to the more noticeable monuments.
As the Roman monuments of the County have been dealt with already in the third volume and there are no recognizable prehistoric monuments or earthworks within the area, this Inventory includes only two of the usual classes:—
(1) English Ecclesiastical Monuments.
(2) English Secular Monuments.
The early part of the 18th century was a period of great building activity in London, and for this reason the limitation of the Commission's reference to the year 1714 has, as in W. London and the City, been a source of considerable difficulty.
The exact year of erection of a private house is seldom preserved, and it is obvious that the criteria afforded by style and decoration may sometimes be insufficient to determine on which side of the dividing line a given building should be placed. I can only say that the fullest consideration has been given to monuments on the border-line and that if any have been passed over without mention, their omission must not necessarily be assumed to be due to an oversight.
The descriptions of all monuments are of necessity much compressed, but the underlying principle on which accounts of any importance are based is the same throughout.
As in W. London, the Borough is located by reference to the Ordnance Sheets (scale 6 inches to the mile) and by small letters in front of the number of each monument indicating the individual sheets wherever the borough extends over more than one sheet. In the case of churches, the description begins with a few words on the situation and material of the monument, together with a statement as to the development of its various parts. A second paragraph calls attention, when necessary, to its more remarkable features. This is followed by a concise description, mainly architectural, of its details. A fourth paragraph deals with the fittings in alphabetical order, while the concluding sentence gives a general statement as to structural condition. The accounts of less important buildings, whether secular or ecclesiastical, are still further compressed, and in the case of secular monuments, consist of a single paragraph, or of a mere mention of their situation if they belong to a group with certain characteristics described in a covering paragraph.
The standardization of the spelling of proper names in the Commission's Inventories has always presented considerable difficulties and almost any system is open to criticism. It is well known that during the period covered by our terms of reference, and indeed to a much later date, the art of spelling was in a very fluid state, proper names especially being subject to a wide variation, dictated partly by phonetic values and partly by individual caprice. In the absence, therefore, of any final court of appeal, it has been thought best to abide, in the matter of place-names, by the spelling adopted by the Ordnance Survey, without prejudice as to its accuracy. In the matter of personal names, in treating of individual funeral-monuments, etc., the actual spelling of the memorial has been reproduced in the detailed description, while in the rest of the text the normal spelling of the name has been followed.
The illustrations are derived, with a few exceptions, from photographs taken expressly for the Commission, and reproduced by H.M. Stationery Office, whose work deserves special recognition. They have been chosen both for their educational and for their æsthetic value. Had appearance alone been made the test of selection, many more might easily have been included. The map at the end of the volume shows the distribution of the monuments.
All the important parish churches described in the Inventory are provided with plans to a uniform scale of 24 feet to the inch. The plans of secular buildings have the appropriate scales attached.
Let me again draw attention to the fact that our Record Cards may be consulted by properly accredited persons who will give notice of their intention to our Secretary at 29 Abingdon Street, Westminster, S.W.l. The cards contain drawings of tracery and mouldings as well as plans and sketches of the monuments—forming in truth the complete National Inventory—and will ultimately be deposited for reference in the Public Record Office.
As in the past, no monument has been included in our Inventory that has not actually been inspected, while the account of every monument of importance has been checked in situ by a senior member of our own investigating staff. In a work of such intricate detail there must be mistakes. But I hope these are neither numerous nor serious. A further guarantee of accuracy lies in the fact that my fellow Commissioners, Mr. Page and Mr. Peers, have revised the reports of the Inventories of secular and ecclesiastical monuments. Further, the heraldry of the Inventory has been checked by my colleague the Reverend E. E. Dorling, F.S.A.; the descriptions of glass by my colleague Dr. M. R. James, F.S.A.; the description of brasses by Mr. Mill Stephenson, F.S.A. Nevertheless, I shall welcome any corrections and criticisms that may be sent to me with a view to their possible inclusion in some future edition.
I should add that I have received a Report from our special Publication Committee which from time to time is summoned to consider suggestions for improvement in the printing and production of our Inventories. This Committee, composed of Mr. Page, Mr. E. V. Lucas, Dr. Hagberg Wright, Mr. Harold Macmillan, Mr. W. R. Codling and our Secretary, in their recommendations, while not affecting the format of our volumes, deal with such matters as type, margins, etc., which will be adopted by the Commission for future volumes.
It is much to be regretted that owing to the financial exigencies of the time, our staff has not yet been restored to its pre-war strength.
The success that has already attended the publication of the Commission's Inventories, and their value in securing the preservation of monuments of historical interest that otherwise might have been destroyed, lead me again to express a hope that the reduction of the work of investigation will be only temporary.
CRAWFORD & BALCARRES.