The liberties and out parishes which surround, and compose the suburbs of, the city
High Holborn liberty.
Without the city bars is High Holborn liberty; or that part of the
parish of St. Andrew's Holborn which lies in the county of Middlesex,
and is therefore out of the jurisdiction of the city of London, and under a separate
government. In this liberty are the following two inns of court.
On the north side of Holborn, near the Bars, is Gray's-inn, so called from its
being formerly the residence of the ancient and noble family of Gray of Wilton,
who in the reign of Edward III. demised it to several students of the law. It is
one of the four inns of court, and is inhabited by barristers, students,
attorneys, and such single gentlemen as love retired and pleasant chambers.
The principal gate into this inn leads into Holborn, though the buildings areseated back from the street: there is another large gate into Gray's-inn-lane;
the west side of which lane is almost wholly occupied by the backs of the
buildings and the garden wall. The inn consists of several well-built courts,
particularly Holborn court, Coney court, and another at the entrance into the
garden. The hall where the gentlemen of the society dine and sup, is large and
commodious, but the chapel is too small; being a Gothic structure, that has
marks of much greater antiquity than any other of the buildings. But the
chief ornament belonging to this inn is its spacious garden, the benefit of
which is enjoyed by the public; all decent company being allowed to walk in
it every day. This garden consists of gravel walks, between vistas of lofty
trees, of grass plats, agreeable slopes, and a long terrace with a portico at each
end, lately rebuilt; which terrace is ascended by handsome flights of steps.
Though the width of the terrace has lately been enlarged by the taking in and
raising some waste ground behind, yet it has received an irreparable injury by
the building a row of houses with a new street, which intercept the fine prospect
of Hampstead and Highgate formerly enjoyed over a dwarf wall along the old
terrace. A small opening is indeed still remaining down John-street to the
north, which shews just enough of the prospect to make the loss of the rest more
sensible: and though an opening is left in the new garden wall opposite this
avenue, for some iron rails; yet the necessity of building this wall of due
height along a public passage destroys the full advantage even of this contingent
On the west side of Chancery-lane is situated Lincoln's-inn, one of the four
inns of court; on the spot where formerly stood the houses of the bishop of
Chichester and of the Black Friars, the latter erected about the year 1222, and
the former about 1226: but both of them coming to Henry Lacey, earl of
Lincoln, he built in their stead a stately mansion for his city residence. However, it afterward reverted to the bishopric of Chichester, and was demised by
Robert Sherbourn, bishop of that see, to Mr. William Syliard, a student there,
for a term of years, at the expiration of which doctor Richard Sampson, his
successor, in the year 1526 passed the inheritance thereof to the said Syliard and
Eustace his brother; and the latter, in 1579, in consideration of the sum of
500l. conveyed the house and gardens in fee to Richard Kingsmill and the rest
of the benchers.
Lincoln's-inn now principally consists of three rows of handsome uniform
buildings, which form three sides of the new square; of which the west side is
as yet chiefly occupied by the several departments of the Stamp-office. The
north side is open to the gardens, which are greatly improved with gravel walks,
grass plats, rows of trees, and a very long terrace walk, affording a fine prospect
of Lincoln's-inn-fields. In the middle of the square is a neat fluted Corinthian
column in a small bason surrounded with iron rails. This column supports a
handsome sun dial, which has four sides, and on the corners of the pedestal are
four naked boys spouting water out of Tritons shells. This is one of the neatest
squares in town, and though it is imperfect on one side, that very defect produces a beauty by giving a prospect of the gardens, which are only separated
from it by iron rails, and fill the space to abundantly more advantage. No area
is kept in better order for cleanliness by day, or illuminations and decorum by
night. This is one of the most considerable inns of court possessed by the gentlemen of the law.
In the old buildings are a good hall and a chapel of Gothic architecture: the
latter was built by Inigo Jones, who, notwithstanding his skill and reputation,
could not persuade them to have it in any other stile. It stands on massy pillars
forming an ambulatory or walk underneath, paved with broad stones. The
outside of the chapel is a good Gothic building, and the windows within are
finely painted with the figures at full length of the principal personages mentioned in the Scriptures; underneath which are the arms of a great number of the
members of the society (fn. 1) .
The gardens, which considering their confined situation are extreamly pleasant, are, like those of the Inner Temple and Gray's-inn, kept open at convenient
times for public use.
That part of the parish of St. Dunstan's in the west, which lies beyond the
city jurisdiction in the county of Middlesex, is, from the great repository of the
modern public records in the kingdom, called the liberty of the Rolls. This
liberty includes a part of Chancery-lane on both sides, the Rolls chapel,
Symond's-inn, the Six clerks and Cursitors-offices.
The Rolls chapel, on the east side of Chancery-lane, was originally founded
by king Henry III. in the place where stood a Jew's house forfeited to that
prince in the year 1233. In this chapel all such Jews and infidels as were converted to the Christian faith were ordained, and in the buildings belonging to it
were appointed a sufficient maintenance: but on the banishment of the Jews,
the house with its chapel were annexed by patent to the keeper of the Rolls of
The chapel, which is of brick, pebbles and some free stone, is 60 feet long,
and 34 in breadth; the doors and windows are Gothic, and the roof covered
with slate. In this chapel the Rolls are kept in presses fixed to the sides, and
ornamented with columns and pilasters of the Ionic and Composite orders.
These Rolls contain all the records, as charters, patents, &c. since the beginning
of the reign of Richard III. those before that time being deposited in the Record
office in the Tower: and these being made up in rolls of parchment gave occasion
to the name. At the north west angle of this chapel is a bench, where the
master of the Rolls hears causes in chancery: and attendance is daily given in
this chapel for taking in and paying out money, according to order of court, and
for giving an opportunity to those who come for that purpose, to search the
Rolls. The minister of the chapel is appointed by the master of the
Rolls, and divine service is performed there on Sundays and holidays.
On the walls are several old monuments; particularly at the east end is that
of Dr. Young master of the Rolls, who died in the year 1516. In a well
wrought stone coffin lies the effigy of Dr. Young, in a scarlet gown; his
hands lie across upon his breast, and a cap with corners covers his ears. On
the wall just above him, our Saviour is looking down upon him, his head
and shoulders appearing out of the clouds, accompanied by two angels.
The office of the Rolls is under the government of the master of the Rolls,
whose house is by the chapel, and has been lately rebuilt in a handsome manner
at the public expence. This is an office of great dignity, and is in the gift of
the king: he is always the principal master in chancery, and has several offices
in his gift (fn. 2) . The title of distinction his honour, your honour, so freely bestowed by the ignorant, in talking of, or addressing themselves to, their superiors,
particularly by common soldiers to their officers, belongs with propriety but to
one man in all the kingdom, and he is the master of the Rolls.
Northward from the Rolls is Symond's-inn, which consists of two small
courts; and is neither an inn of court nor chancery: but contains several
public offices, and serves to accommodate masters in chancery, solicitors and
Six clerks office, and Register office for Middlesex.
Opposite to the Rolls chapel, on the west side of Chancery-lane is an old
building, formerly the city residence of the prior of Neckton-park in
Lincolnshire, and then called Herefleet-inn; but which is now occupied by the
office of the six clerks in chancery. Behind this, at the north east corner of
Bell-yard, in a small neat brick building, is kept the Register-office of deeds for
the county of Middlesex.
Saffron hill liberty.
On the north side of Holborn-hill lies the liberty of Saffron-hill and Ely
rents; consisting of part of Hatton-garden, including Ely-house already mentioned (fn. 3) , with Saffron-hill and a number of poorly built courts and alleys in the
neighbourhood. These lie in the parish of St. Andrew's Holborn, but out of the
city jurisdiction, in the county of Middlesex.
Northward from Saffron-hill and Smithfield lies the district known by the
name of Clerkenwell: which obtained that name from a spring at the lower end
of Clerkenwell-green, where the parish clerks of the city used annually to exhibit dramatic representations of historical events recorded in the sacred scriptures:
and so well were their theatrical powers and subjects approved, that they had the
nobility, the lord-mayor, and citizens of London among the spectators (fn. 4) .
Here was formerly a priory of nuns, founded by Jordan Briset, a wealthy baron,
about the year 1100, in a field adjoining to Clerks, or Clerken Well, and
dedicated to the honour of God, and the assumption of the Blessed Virgin.
This priory continued till it was suppressed by Henry VIII. in the year 1539.
On the north east side of St. James's church, which anciently belonged to this
priory, is still to be seen the ambulatory, or south side row of this priory, consisting of six arches; and though the eastern part of the cloister is destroyed, yet
the nuns hall, which was situated at the north end, is still remaining; though
at present converted to a more useful purpose, that of a work-shop: the
garden on the east side was formerly the cemetery belonging to the nunnery.
Some time after the dissolution of the convent, the ground came to the inheritance of Sir William Cavendish; who being created duke of Newcastle, built a
large brick mansion on the north side of the church, and on the east side of the
Close, which still bears the name of Newcastle-house, though it is by being
deserted reduced to the state of a cabinet warehouse.
St. John's square.
A little south east of Clerkenwell priory, where at present St. John's-square,
&c. is situated, stood the hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, which was founded
by the aforesaid Jordan Briset, who for that end purchased of the prioress and
nuns of Clerkenwell ten acres of land, whereon he erected the hospital about
the year 1110. But the church was not dedicated to St. John the Baptist till
the year 1185. This foundation became the chief seat in England belonging
to the knights hospitalers, who from the greatest poverty, by the profuse
liberality of bigots and enthusiasts, soon attained to that degree of riches and
honour, that their prior was reckoned the first baron of the kingdom; and who
for state and grandeur vied with the king. Such was the antipathy of the
populace to these imperious knights, that the rebels of Kent and Essex under
Wat Tyler and Jack Straw, anno 1381, consumed this stately edifice by fire.
However it was rebuilt in a still more magnificent manner, and thus continued
till the year 1541, when it was suppressed by Henry VIII. It was soon after
converted into a repository of martial stores, and of the royal hunting equipage:
and to this use it was applied till the year 1550; when Edward Seymour duke
of Somerset, and protector of the kingdom, caused the church, with its lofty
steeple, to be demolished, and employed the stones in building his magnificent
palace of Somerset-house in the Strand.
St. John's church.
St. John's-square is an irregular area, surrounded with buildings; and at the
east end is the parish church of St. John's, a plain brick building with stone
corners; in the gift of the lord chancellor. The square is entered by two gates,
which bear evident marks of great antiquity; that on the north leads to Clerkenwell green, but the largest and most remarkable is that on the south called St.
John's-gate leading into the lane of the same name. This gate, which has a fine
lofty Gothic arch, had long been encumbered with a billiard room which filled
all the upper part from the spring of the arch; but this has lately been cleared
away, and the arch being repaired is now restored to its original dimensions.
There are several escutcheons of arms carved over the gate on each side,
with inscriptions under them, but these are too much defaced by time to be
St. James's Clerken-well.
On the north side of Clerkenwell-green stands the parish church of St. James's
Clerkenwell; which is part of the church of the antient priory, thus denominated from its dedication to St. James the minor, bishop of Jerusalem. This
priory is mentioned above, and the church belonging to it not only served the
nuns but the neighbouring inhabitants; and was made parochial on the dissolution of the nunnery. In 1623 part of the steeple, then greatly decayed by age,
fell down; upon which the parish contracted with a person to rebuild it: but
the builder, being desirous of getting as much as possible by the job, raised the new
work upon the old foundation, and carried it on with great expedition; but
before it was entirely finished, it fell down, and destroyed part of the
church, which were both soon after rebuilt, as they are at present.
This church is a very heavy structure, partly Gothic, which was the original
form, and partly Tuscan. The body, though it has not the least appearance of
elegance, is well enlightened, and the steeple consists of a low heavy tower
crowned with a turret.
The living is a curacy in the gift of the parish; every householder
paying taxes having a vote in the choice of a minister, whose settled annual
stipend is but 4l. 19s. 10d. The remainder of his income is contingent, being
raised by a voluntary subscription among the parishioners; and is therefore more
or less, in proportion to their approbation of their pastor.
Clerkenwell Bride well, and New-prison. Cold Bath fields.
Behind Clerkenwell church to the north east are two prisons adjoining to each
other; the one a house of correction for disorderly persons, called Clerkenwell
Bridewell, and the other a prison of ease to Newgate for the county of Middlesex, called the New-prison.
North-west from these prisons lie Cold Bath-fields, consisting of some streets
which form the extremity of this part of the town. These surround a square of
the same name, consisting of small neat houses; in the center of which is a
handsome old house with a small garden, and containing a good cold bath,
which gives name to the neighbourhood.
The north side of this square is as yet open to the fields, but a little to the
east stands the Small Pox-hospital for receiving patients who catch the disease in
the natural way; and is a very plain neat structure. The center, which
projects a little from the rest of the building, is terminated on the top by an
angular pediment, on the apex of which is placed a vase upon a small pedestal.
This excellent charity was instituted in the year 1746, and is supported by a
subscription of noblemen, gentlemen, and ladies, who were desirous that a
charity useful in itself, and so beneficial to the public, might be begun near
this great metropolis, there not being any hospital of the kind in Europe.
A neat hospital for inoculating this disorder has been lately built clear of the
town on the north side of the New Road (fn. 5) .
Tea-drinking gardens and Sadler's wells.
Eastward from the Small Pox-hospital, on the south side of the Spaw-field,
is an humble imitation of the Pantheon in Oxford-road; calculated for the
amusement of a suitable class of company: here apprentices, journeymen,
and clerks, dressed to ridiculous extreams, entertain their ladies on Sundays;
and to the utmost of their power, if not beyond their proper power, affect
the dissipated manners of their superiors. Bagnigge-wells and the White-conduit
house, two other receptacles of the same kind, with gardens laid out in miniature taste, are to be found within the compass of two or three fields: together
with Sadlers-wells, a small theatre for the summer evening exhibition of tumbling, rope-dancing, and other drolls, in vulgar stile. The tendency of these
cheap enticing places of pleasure just at the skirts of this vast town is too
obvious to need farther explanation (fn. 6) ; they swarm with loose women, and with
boys whose morals are thus depraved and their constitution ruined, before they
arrive at manhood: indeed the licentious resort to the tea drinking gardens was
carried to such excess every night, that the magistrates lately thought proper to
suppress the organs in their public rooms;—it is left to their cool reflection
whether this was discharging all the duty they owe to the public.
St. Sepulchre's liberty.
Entering the town again to the east, we find that part of the parish of St.
Sepulchre's which lies without the bounds of the city, in the county of
Middlesex, and which therefore forms a distinct liberty, in respect to its
In the middle of St. John's-street in this liberty, facing west Smithfield, is
Hicks's-hall, the county hall in which the justices of Middlesex hold their
sessions. This is a very plain brick edifice with a portico at the entrance. It
was built by Sir Baptist Hicks, Viscount Campden, as has already been related (fn. 7) ,
and who was for some time a mercer in Cheapside.
Between St. John's-street on the west, Goswell-street on the east, and Longlane on the south, stands the Charter house, originally purchased for the burial
of those who died of the plague in the year 1349 (fn. 8) , and which is now extraparochial. Here Sir Walter Manny founded a Carthusian monastery, which, by
the corruption of the French term Chartreux, obtained the name of the Charterhouse. On the dissolution of religious houses, this monastery came to the
possession of Sir Thomas Audley, with whose daughter it went by marriage to
Thomas duke of Norfolk, and descended to Thomas earl of Suffolk. In 1611,
Thomas Sutton, Esq; citizen and girdler, purchased this house by the name of
Howard house, commonly called the Charter-house, for 13,000l. in order to
establish a charitable foundation, for which he obtained letters patent of James I.
the same year; and which were afterward confirmed by parliament. The expence of fitting up this house amounted to 7000l. and he endowed the hospital
and school with fifteen manors and other lands to the annual value of 4493l.
19s. 10d. ½: which estate is at present improved to above 6000l. a year.
In this house are maintained 80 pensioners, who according to the institution
ought to be gentlemen, merchants, or soldiers, who are fallen into misfortunes.
These are provided with handsome apartments, and all the necessaries of life,
except cloaths, instead of which each of them is allowed a cloak and 7l. per
annum. There are also 44 boys supported in the house, where they have good
lodgings, and are instructed in classical learning, &c. Out of these, there are 29
students at the universities, who have each of them an allowance of 20l. per
annum for the term of eight years. Others, who are judged more fit for trades,
are put out apprentices, and the sum of 40l. is given with each of them. As a
farther encouragement to the scholars brought up on this foundation, there are
nine ecclesiastical preferments in the patronage of the governors, who, according
to the constitution of the hospital, are to confer them upon those who were
educated there. The pensioners and youths are taken in at the recommendation
of the governors, who appoint in rotation.
The buildings, which are extremely irregular, have nothing but their convenience and situation to recommend them. The rooms are well disposed, and
the square in the front is very neat, and kept in as good order as most in town.
This square and the large garden behind give a free air, and at one and the
same time contribute both to health and pleasure.
Adjoining to the Charter-house is Glass-house liberty, a part of the parish
of St. Botolph Aldersgate-street, situated in Goswell and Pick-ax streets, thusnamed from a glass-house which antiently stood there. There was formerly
but one government in the parish; but the poor of this liberty increasing confiderably, the city liberty separated from them, and obliged those in this district
to maintain their own poor.
St. Luke's Old-street.
On the great increase of the parish of St. Giles, Cripplegate, the commissioners for erecting fifty new churches purchased a piece of ground in Oldstreet, and erected one of those churches upon it; after which the inhabitants,
applying to parliament, had the Middlesex liberty of St. Giles appointed for the
parish (fn. 9) .
The church was finished in 1732, and was consecrated the next year on St.
Luke's day, when the name of that saint was given as its patron. Though
the building is convenient, and well enlightened with two rows of windows,
it is a very singular structure. In the center of the west front is the entrance,
adorned with coupled Doric pilasters; and to this door is an ascent by a small
strait flight of steps. Over the entrance is a round window, and on each side a
small tower covered with a dome, and ornamented with two windows in front,
one of the usual form, and another over it, answering to that over the door.
The tower is carried up square, and behind it the roof of the church forms to
the west a kind of pediment, broken by the rise of the tower to which it joins
on each side. The uppermost stage of the tower diminishes very considerably,
and this, which is the base of an obelisk, supports on each side a dial;
From hence arises, as a steeple, a fluted obelisk, which reaches to a great
height, diminishing slowly; and being of a considerable thickness toward
the top, the upper edges are sloped of: the whole is terminated by a ball
The advowson of this church is in the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's, and
it is not to be held in commendam; all licences and dispensations for that purpose being declared void by the above-mentioned act.
Manor of Finsbury.
In this parish lies the manor named Finsbury, or Fensbury, from the neighbouring fen or moor, now called Moorfields: a manor of considerable antiquity,
as appears by its having a prebend in St. Paul's cathedral in the year. 1104.
Moorfields formerly extended from the north side of London-wall, where
Bethlehem hospital (fn. 10) is now built, up to Hoxton; but being one continued
marsh, they were in 1511 made passable by proper bridges and causeways (fn. 11) .
Since that time the ground has been gradually drained and raised, and the whole
is now surrounded with buildings. Being still of great extent it is divided into
lower, middle, and upper Moorfields; the former of which has been decently
laid out (fn. 12) , and has the hospital extending along the whole south side: the
other divisions still lie waste, though a fine regular spot of ground, and capable
of great improvement.
Along the west side of upper Moorfields lies the Artillery-ground, where the
Artillery company and Trained bands of the city of London are exercised (fn. 13) .
This large spot of ground is walled all round, and has a handsome pair of iron
gates in the front, which is in the south side next to Chiswell-street. In the middle of the north side is the Armoury, a neat building of brick, strengthened with rustic stone at the corners; before it is a flight of steps, and there
are a few others at the door, which is in the center, and is large, lofty, and
adorned with a porch formed by two Tuscan columns and two pilasters supporting a balcony. The front is ornamented with a pediment supported at the
corners by quoins. On the top are placed several large balls, and on the apex
of the pediment is a lofty flag staff. On each side the main building stands, at
some distance backward, a small edifice, where the provisions are dressed at the
company's feasts. The hall of the armoury is hung round with breast-plates,
helmets, and drums; and fronting the entrance is a handsome pair of iron gates
which open to a spacious stair-case painted with military ornaments, and adorned
with the statue of a man dressed in a compleat suit of armour. This stair-case
leads into a spacious room, which has the King's arms over one fire place, and
those of the company over the other. It has two chandeliers, and is adorned
with very fine guns, swords and bayonets, presented by the officers of the company, and handsomely disposed on the walls.
Bunhill-fields burial ground.
The present Artillery-ground, together with the land on the north side as far
as Old-street, was antiently termed Bonhill, or Bunhill-field. A part of this
field, on the north side of the Artillery-ground, now called Tindal's, or the
Dissenters' great burial ground, was consecrated and walled at the expence of
the city, in the pestilential year 1665, as a common cemetery for the interment
of such bodies as could not have room in their parochial burial grounds. But
not being used on this occasion, Dr. Tindal took a lease of it, and converted
it into a burial ground for the use of the dissenters. There are a great number of
raised monuments with vaults underneath belonging to particular families, and
a multitude of grave-stones with inscriptions.
St. Luke's hospital.
At the north-west corner of Upper Moorfields stands St. Luke's hospital for
lunatics; a neat but very plain edifice: nothing is here expended in ornament,
and we only see a building of considerable length plaistered over and whitened,
with ranges of small square windows, on which no decorations have been
bestowed. This hospital, which takes its name from its being situated in St.
Luke's parish, is supported by private subscriptions, and is designed as an im
provement upon Bethlehem, which was incapable of receiving and providing for
the relief of all the unhappy objects for whom application was made. But no
person is to be admitted who has been a lunatic above twelve calendar months;
or who has been discharged as incurable from any other hospital for the reception
of lunatics; or who has the venereal disease; is troubled with epileptic or convulsive fits, or is deemed an ideot; nor any woman with child. The hospital
was opened in 1751, and is very amply supported since.
Tabernacle, and Foundery
Adjoining to the north side of this hospital is an old building called the
Foundery, now a meeting-house under the direction of the Rev. John Wesley;
and beyond that, on the south side of Old-street-road, is another of the same
kind, called the Tabernacle, where the late Rev. George Whitefield used to
preach. These are the principal meeting-houses of the sect called methodists;
who, though esteemed dissenters from the church of England, profess a strict
adherence to the articles of that church, which they charge the present establishment with departing from. How difficult it may be to fix a sense on the dogmas
contained in those articles is well known from the long contests concerning
them; and these two gentlemen, the principal leaders of the methodists, could
not settle the knotty point of predestination between themselves. Be this as it
may, Mr. Wesley is a man of abilities, Mr. Whitefield was a man of great good
sense; both of them have been assiduous labourers in their profession, and the
parochial clergy left them a plentiful portion to glean from the streets and
lanes of the city, from the highways and the hedges. Whatever may be said
of their particular opinions and modes of worship, they have certainly done
much positive good in bringing numbers of the lowest, and therefore neglected
part of the people, to a sober turn of life, and a serious habit of thinking. There is
another tabernacle or chapel of a similar nature in Tottenham-court-road, under
the patronage of lady Huntingdon; where service is performed according to the
New city of London Lying-in hospital.
On the north side of Old-street-road, and fronting the south-west corner of
the city road, there is now building under the direction of Mr. Mylne, the architect of Blackfriars-bridge, a new brick edifice for the city of London Lying-in
hospital; instead of the confined one at present kept in Shaftsbury house, Aldersgate-street (fn. 14) . The situation of this hospital, so long as it remains unincumbered
by surrounding houses, will be very airy and pleasant; and the structure is as
neat as the purpose requires. It consists of a center crowned with a light open
turret, and two wings which project a little beyond the main building. The
wards for the patients are in the wings, each of which are to contain four
wards of ten beds each, on two floors. Regular and convenient offices are laid
out behind, and on the north side will be a pleasant garden.
Behind this new hospital to the north-west, there was formerly a dangerous
pond, which, from the number of persons that used to lose their lives by venturing into it, obtained the name of perilous pond: but in 1743, an ingenious
projector, Mr. Kemp, converted this place into one of the most agreeable public
baths in the world; and altered its name from perilous pond to peerless pool.
It is now an open pleasure bath 170 feet long, and above 100 feet broad; being
a brick bason skirted with stone, having a smooth gravel bottom five feet deep
in the middle, four feet at the sides, and but three feet at one end. The descent to this bath is by six flights of railed steps conveniently disposed round it;
and contiguous are many boxes and arbours for undressing and dressing in;
some open, others inclosed and more private. On the south side is a neat arcade,
under which is a looking-glass over a marble slab; a small collection of books,
and the news-papers every morning, for the amusement of the subscribers.
Here is also a cold bath, generally allowed to be the largest in England, it
being 40 feet long, and 20 feet broad, with dressing-rooms at each end. To
these are added, a well-stocked fish-pond 320 feet long, for the use of those
subscribers who are fond of angling. On each side this pond is a terrace walk
planted with lime trees, the slopes of which are covered with shrubs; and the
ground about the pleasure bath is agreeably laid out and planted. The baths are
well attended by waiters; and the free use of this place, so well calculated for
the health of those who are confined all day to their compting-houses and
shops, is purchased by a very easy annual subscription.
Norton Falgate liberty.
The north end of Bishopsgate-street-without enters into a small extraparochial liberty called Norton Falgate, belonging to the dean and chapter of
St. Paul's cathedral. The inhabitants maintain their own poor, and marry and
bury where they please; but they generally make use of a chapel, built
originally for them near Spital-yard, by Sir George Wheeler, prebendary of
St. Leonard Shoreditch.
As the inhabitants of this liberty are out of the city jurisdiction, as they
refused to be included in the act for paving the parish of Shoreditch, and are
too poor as a body to pave their own streets; we still see in Norton Falgate,
between the improved streets of Bishopsgate and Shoreditch, a relic of the old
inconvenient method of paving the metropolis: which at least serves by contrast
to shew the superior elegance of the new plan.
Norton Falgate, which is a continuation of Bishopsgate-street, ends in a long
street called Shoreditch, which appears to have been antiently a village situated
along the Roman highway, termed Eald-street by the Saxons; and then at a.
considerable distance from the city of London, though they are at present
united. This parish, so far from deriving its name from the vulgar tale of
Jane Shore, concubine of Edward IV. is said by Stowe to have been called by
the name of Soerditch above 400 years before his time (fn. 15) : but as he mentions
it in one place by the name of Sewer's ditch (fn. 16) , this may probably have been its
original name, as having been a ditch to which the common sewers on that side
the town were conducted: though Maitland is of opinion that the Hamlet
owes its name to one of the predecessors of Sir John Sordig, or Soreditch, who
was lord thereof in the year 1339.
At the north east end of the high street called Shoreditch stands the parish
church of St. Leonard, Shoreditch, which is thought to be of a Saxon foundation. The last structure, which was a very mean heavy pile, stood till the year
1735, when the inhabitants having the year before applied to parliament, it
was pulled down, and the present light and elegant edifice was soon after
erected in its room, of brick and stone. To this church there is an ascent by a
double flight of plain steps, which lead to a portico of four Doric columns,
supporting an angular pediment. The body of the edifice is plain, but well
enlightened, and the steeple light, elegant and lofty. The tower at a proper
height has a series of Ionic columns, and on their entablature are scrolls which
support as many Corinthian columns placed on pedestals, bearing a
dome; from whose crown rises a series of columns of the Composite order; on
the entablature of which rests the spire standing upon balls; and on the top,
as usual, is a ball and vane (fn. 17) .
This church is both a rectory and a vicarage; the arch-deacon of London
has been parson or rector ever since the reign of king John, and presents the
vicar: all matters ecclesiastical in the parish, in subordination to the bishop,
are subject to his jurisdiction, except in the liberties of Hoxton and Nortonfalgate, which belong to the dean and chapter of St. Paul's.
In this parish are two prebends, and part of a third, belonging to St. Paul's
cathedral, in the city of London: the first, denominated Eald-street, or Oldstreet, received that appellation from the Saxons, as being part of the Roman
military way: the second, which had been a separate village for many ages, by
the name of Hochestone, vulgarly Hoxton, likewise shews itself to be of a
Saxon origin: the third called Haliwel, had its name from a vicinal fountain,
which, for the salubrity of its water, had the epithet of Holy conferred
Priory of Holywell.
In King John's court, Holywell-lane, are to be seen the ruins of the priory
of St. John Baptist, of Benedictine nuns, founded by Robert the son of
Gelranni, prebendary of Haliwell, and confirmed by a charter of Richard I.
in the year 1189. It was rebuilt in the reign of Henry VII. by Sir Thomas
Lovell, knight of the garter; who was there buried: and the following distich
was in consequence painted in most of the windows.
"All the nuns of Holywell,
Pray for the soul of Thomas Lovell."
The remains of this priory are popularly conceived to be relics of king
John's palace, though it does not appear that any royal mansion ever stood in this
On the north side of Old-street is the antient village of Hoxton; the principal part of which consists of a neat square, surrounded by small houses well
inhabited. This district has a market for the supply of the neighbourhood,
which lies remote from any other.
On the east side of Bishopsgate-street-without antiently stood an hospital
dedicated to St. Mary, and called St. Mary Spital; the ground belonging
to which has since the dissolution of the house been known by the name of
Spital-fields. These fields are now formed into a great number of streets, lanes,
and alleys, inhabited by the descendants of those French refugees who fled over
hither from the persecution that followed the revocation of the edict of Nantz
by Louis XIV (fn. 18) ; and established the flourishing silk manufactures now principally exercised in this part of the town. Spital-fields composed a hamlet belonging to Stepney parish, until the great increase of inhabitants occasioned the district
to be made a distinct parish, and one of the fifty new churches to be erected
in it (fn. 19) .
Christ's church Spital fields.
On the south side of Church-street stands the parish church called Christ's
church Spital-fields; the foundation of which was laid in 1723, and finished in
1729. The body of this church is solid and well proportioned; its length is
111 feet, its breadth 87, the height of the roof 41 feet, and that of the
steeple 234: it is ornamented with a Doric portico, to which there is a handsome ascent by a flight of steps; and upon these the Doric order arises supported
on pedestals. The tower over these has arched windows and niches, and
on its diminishing for the steeple, is supported by the heads of the under corners,
which form a kind of buttresses: from this part rises the base of the spire, with
an arcade; its corners are in the same manner supported with a kind of pyramidal buttresses ending in a point, and the spire is terminated by a vase and vane (fn. 20) .
However the merits of this building may be determined by rules of art, the
steeple is by no means a pleasing pile; but appears to be a laboured mass of
stone, in which the architect has brought together more materials than he had
taste to employ. A prosessed critic asserts that it deserves the severest condemnation; being after a monstrous expence one of the most absurd piles in
Europe (fn. 21) .
The living is a rectory in the gift of the principal and scholars of Brazen-nose
A little to the north west of the church is Spital-fields market; which is a
great market, but principally for roots and greens.
St. Matthew's Bethnal Green.
Behind Spitalfields to the north east lies the parish of St. Matthew Bethnalgreen, another hamlet taken out of Stepney parish (fn. 22) . The old Roman way
from London led through this hamlet, and joining the military way from the
west, passed with it to Lee ferry by Old Ford: and Bonner, the brutal bishop
of London, had a palace here. The church dedicated to St. Matthew the Evangelist, was erected in the year 1740 at the north-east corner of Hare-street,
Spitalfields, and is a neat commodious edifice, built with brick, coped and
coined with free-stone; and the tower, which is not high, is of the same
materials. Though the village of itself is small, yet as part of Spitalfields
anciently belonged to that hamlet, this parish is now very populous. The
advowson of the rectory is in the principal and scholars of King's-hall and
Brazen-nose college Oxford.
St. Mary White-chapel.
On the south side of Whitechapel-street, which is a long broad street, extending from the Minories to near Mile End, stands the parish church of St. Mary,
White chapel. This structure is of no modern date; but the place has been
the seat of a building for religious service of a much longer time. The church,
which in earlier ages stood in this place, was called Saint Mary Matfellon; and
many vague conjectures have been made with respect to the origin of that
term; but it appears to have been derived from an oriental word, signifying
mother of a son, so that the church was dedicated to the Virgin Mary, as
mother of Christ; though this epithet has given way to that of Whitechapel,
from its having been white-washed or plaistered on the out side.
This church was originally a chapel of ease to the church of St. Dunstan on
Stebun heath, now called Stepney; but was a rectory in the gift of the minister
of Stepney in 1329; in whose successors the advowson continued till purchased
by the principal and scholars of King's-hall and college of Brasen-nose in Oxford
about the year 1711. In 1673 the church, then in a very old and ruinous condition, was taken down and rebuilt as it now appears. It is a coarse irregular
building. The body, which is formed of brick, and ornamented with stone
rustic work at the corners, is 93 feet in length, 63 in breadth, and the height
of the tower and turret 80 feet. The principal door is adorned with a kind of
rustic pilasters, with cherubims heads by way of capitals, and a pediment above.
The body has many windows, which are of various forms and sizes, a sort of
venetian, oval and square. The square windows have ill proportioned circular
pediments, and the oval windows, some of which stand upright, and others
crossways, are surrounded with thick festoons. The steeple, which is of stone,
and appears to be a part of the old structure, rises above the principal door, and
is crowned with a plain square battlement, in the center of which rises a small
turret with its dome and vane.
Goodman's fields. Rag-fair.
This parish which is very extensive comprehends Goodman's fields, which
have already been mentioned (fn. 23) ; and Rag-fair in Rosemary-lane, where old
cloaths are sold every day by multitudes of people standing in the streets: there
is here a place called the Change, where all the shops sell old cloaths. Many of
the shops about, where this daily market is kept, deal for great sums in cast off
The south east corner of Rosemary-lane leads to Wellclose square, situated
between Knock Fergus and Ratcliffe-highway; and which is by some called
Marine-square, from the number of sea officers who live there. It is a neat
square of no great extent; its principal ornament is the Danish church, situated
in the center, in the midst of a church-yard well planted with trees, and
surrounded by a handsome wall adorned at equal distances with iron rails.
This church is a commodious and elegant structure; but though the architect
appears to have understood ornaments, he has not been too lavish in the use of
them. The edifice consists of a tall and handsome body, with a tower and
turret. The body is divided by the projection of the middle part, into a fore
front in the center, and two smaller: at the west end is the tower, and at the
east it swells into the sweep of circle; the corners of the building are faced with
rustic. The windows, which are large and well proportioned, are cased with
stone with a cherub's head at the top of the arch, and the roof is concealed by a
blocking course. The tower has a considerable diminution in the upper stage,
which has on each side, a pediment, and is covered by a dome, from which
rises an elegant turret supported by composite columns.
Prince's square. Swedish church.
Eastward from Wellclose-square in the same line, is Prince's-square a neat
place principally inhabited by the families of gentlemen who belong to the
sea. Its chief ornament is the church and church-yard belonging to the
Swedes, surrounded with iron rails and well planted with trees. The front of the
church is carried up flat with niches and ornaments, and on the summit is a
pediment. The body is divided into a central part projecting forwarder than
the rest, and two sides. The central part has two tall windows, terminated by
a pediment, and in the midst of that is an oval window; but in the sides there
is only a compartment below with a circular window above. The corners of
the building are wrought in a bold, plain rustic. The tower rises square from
the roof, and at the corners are placed urns with flames; on that is a turret in
the lanthorn form with flaming urns at the corners: this turret is covered with a
dome, from which rises a ball, supporting the vane, in the form of a rampant
On the south side of Whitechapel road, near the mount, stands the London
Infirmary; one of the many charitable foundations that distinguish our country
and the present age. It is supported by voluntary contributions, for the relief
of all sick and diseased persons; particularly manufacturers, seamen in the merchants service, with their wives and children. This charity was instituted
November 1740, in a large house in Prescot-street, Goodman's-fields, afterward
used for the Magdalen hospital; but that becoming too small a more capacious
building was erected in the present airy situation. It is a very neat brick building, without being expensive, and consisting of one extended front without
either wings or inner courts, the whole is seen at one view. To the middle door
is an ascent by a flight of steps, and over this part extends a very large angular
pediment, within which is a dial. Above the ground floor extend two series,
of each twenty-three sash windows, their number and the length of the building
giving it an air of dignity. It is properly furnished, and fitted up with about
160 beds for the reception of the patients.
White chapel court and prison.
In Whitechapel-road is a court, called his majesty's court of record for the
manor of Stepney, for the trial of debts under 5l. contracted within the said
manor, with a prison for debtors, called Whitechapel prison.
Tower of London.
We now, in the order of place, arrive at the Tower of London, which stands
in a spacious but very irregular area on the banks of the river to the east of
Tower-street-ward. It is inclosed by a high brick wall, having battlements
above, and portholes at the angles below, for the admission of cannon. This
wall is surrounded by a broad deep ditch; and what is called Tower-hill without this ditch, is indeed a rude uneven ground of different heights which does
not appear to have been ever formed to any regular level, since the earth was
injudiciously laid around at the first digging of the ditch. Tower-hill is bounded
by buildings all round, and some good houses are to be found on the north and
Tower of London
The Tower at first consisted of no more than what is at present called the
White Tower; which, on doubtful authority, has been said to have been built by
Julius Cæfar (fn. 24) ; though other authorities assert it to have been marked out,
and a part of it first erected by William the Conqueror in the year 1076,
with a view to secure himself and followers a safe retreat, in case the English
should ever have recourse to arms to recover their liberties. That this was the
builder's design, evidently appears from its situation on the east side of
London, and its communication with the river whence it might be supplied
with men, provisions and military stores, and it still seems a place rather calculated for defence than offence. On the death of the Conqueror in 1087, his son
William Rufus, in 1098 surrounded it with walls, and a broad and deep ditch,
which was in some places 120 feet wide; several of the succeeding princes added
additional works, and Edward III. built the church. Since the restoration, it
has been thoroughly repaired: in 1663 the ditch was scoured; all the wharfing
about it was rebuilt with brick and stone, and sluices made for letting in and
retaining the Thames water as occasion may require; the walls of the
White Tower, have been repaired; and a great number of additional buildings have been added. At present, beside the White Tower, are the offices
of ordnance, of the Mint, of the keepers of the records, the jewel office, the
Spanish armoury, the horse armoury, the new or small armoury, barracks for
the soldiers, handsome houses for the chief officers residing in the Tower, and
other persons: so that the Tower now seems rather a town than a fortress. Lately
new barracks were erected on the Tower wharf; and the ditch was in the year
1758, railed round to prevent for the future all those melancholy accidents
which have frequently happened to people passing over Tower-hill in the dark.
The Tower is in the best situation that could have been chosen for a fortress,
it lying only 800 yards to the eastward of London bridge; and consequently near
enough to cover this opulent city from invasion by water. It is to the north of
the river Thames, from which it is parted by a convenient wharf and narrow
ditch, over which is a drawbridge, for the readier taking in or sending out
ammunition and naval or military stores. Upon this wharf is a line of about
sixty pieces of iron cannon, which are fired upon public occasions.
The wharf is inclosed from Tower-hill at each end, by gates opened every
morning for the convenience of a free intercourse between the respective inhabitants of the tower, the city, and its suburbs. Under this wharf is a water
gate through the Tower-wall, commonly called Traitor's Gate, by which it had
been customary, in former and more arbitrary times, to convey state prisoners
privately by water, to and from the Tower: but the lords committed to the
Tower for the last rebellion were publicly admitted at the main entrance.
Over this water-gate is a regular building terminated at each end by a round
tower, on which are embrasures for cannon, but at present none are mounted
there. In this building are an infirmary, a mill, and the water works that supply the Tower with water.
The principal entrance into the Tower is by three gates to the west, one
within the other; the first of these opens to a court, on the right hand of which
is the lions tower, where a number of curious wild animals are kept. The
second gate opens to a stone bridge built over the ditch; at the inner end of
which is the third gate much stronger than the two former; having a portcullis to let down upon occasion, and being guarded not only by soldiers, but by
the warders of the Tower.
Under this gate, on the right hand, is the drawbridge for foot passengers to and
from the Tower wharf.
The gates of the Tower are opened and shut every morning and night with
great formality. A little before six in the morning in summer, and as soon as
it is well light in winter, the yeoman-porter goes to the governor's house for the
keys, and from thence proceeds back to the innermost gate, attended by a serjeant and six of the main guard. This gate being opened to let them pass, is
again shut; while the yeoman-porter and the guard proceed to open the outermost gates, at each of which the guards rest their firelocks, as do the spur-guard,
while the keys pass and repass. The yeoman-porter, then returning to the innermost gate, calls to the warders in waiting to take in king George's keys; where
upon the gate is opened, and the keys lodged in the warders hall, till the time
of locking them up again, which is usually about ten or eleven at night, with
the same formality as when opened. After they are shut, the yeomen and guard
proceed to the main guard, who are all under arms, with the officers upon duty
at their head. The usual challenge from the main guard is, "Who comes
here?" To which the yeoman-porter answers "The keys." The challenger
returns "Pass keys," and the officer orders the guard to rest their firelocks;
upon which the yeoman-porter says, "God save King George," and "Amen"
is loudly answered by all the guard. The yeoman-porter then proceeds with
his guard to the governor's, where the keys are left: after which no person
can go out, or come in, upon any pretence whatsoever till the next morning,
without the watch-word for the night, which is kept so secret, that none but
the proper officers, and the serjeant upon guard, ever come to the knowledge
of it; and it is the same on the same night, in every fortified place throughout
England. But when that is given by any stranger to the centinel at the spurguard, or outer gate, he communicates it to his serjeant, who passes it to the
next on duty, and so on till it comes to the governor, or commanding officer,
by whom the keys are delivered to the yeoman-porter, who attended as before, the
main guard being put under arms, brings them to the outer gate, where the
stranger is admitted, and conducted to the governor; when having made known
his business, he is conducted back to the outer gate; and dismissed, the gate
shut, and the keys delivered again with the same formality as at first.
In examining those curiosities of the Tower, which are usually shewn to
strangers, it will be proper to mention them in the order they occur; beginning
with the collection of wild beasts kept there: these are uncommon fierce animals that have from time to time been presented to the king either by the Barbary states, other potentates, or by private hands. Having entered the outer
gate, and passed what is called the spur-guard, the keeper's house presents itself,
which is known by a painted lion on the wall, and another over the door that leads
to their dens. These dens are about twelve or thirteen feet high, divided into two
apartments one over the other; in the upper room the beast generally lives, and feeds
in that below stairs. They are viewed through large iron grates, like the windows
of a prison; so that they may be seen with the utmost safety. Some of these dens
are inhabited by lions, others by leopards, tygers, wolves, wild cats; together with
a fine large eagle. These animals are regularly fed with proper food; their
apartments are duly cleaned out and strewed with saw dust every day: which is
easily done by the means of sliding doors that confine the animals in one room
while the other is cleaning. In short by this decent course of life, the manners
of these animals are so far civilised, that though their forms are seen, their natural
ferocity is in a great measure lost.
The mint office is on the left hand on entering into the Tower, at a small
distance within the inner gate. There is no possibility of describing the particular processes that the different metals undergo here before they receive the
impression; the only operation that is permitted to be seen, being the manner
of stamping it, which is performed very expeditiously by an engine consisting of
the following parts. The power by which it works is a bar of iron about four
feet long, with a large ball of lead at each end; this is fixed horizontally upon
its center on a spindle like that of a printing press, playing in the frame by a
worm screw. To the point of this spindle below is fastened one side of the die
with the face of it downward; and at a little distance under it is fixed the other
side of the die with the face upward. Between these the pieces of gold, silver,
or copper, ready cut and weighed, and if either of the two former, ready
milled, are successively placed and stamped. The machine is worked by four
men, two at each end of the loaded bar above mentioned; who, with leathern
thongs tied at the weights, give it a smart pull in contrary directions. As it
swings, the upper die descends till it meets the piece of metal laid on the fixed
die below; where the pressure is estimated at two tons weight. The recoil after
so prodigious a jerk, reinstates the engine for another pull; and it is amazing to
see how dextrously the coiner, who sits at the bottom of the machine, performs
his part in these short intervals: for as fast as the men turn the spindle, so fast
does he supply the metal; twitching out the coin with his middle finger, and
putting in an unstamped piece with his fore finger and thumb. There are five
or six of these engines in the stamping room.
The white Tower is a large, lofty square, but irregular stone building,
no one side answering to another, nor are any of its watch towers, of which
there are four at the top, built alike. One of these towers is now converted
into an observatory. The building itself consists of three very lofty stories, under
which are spacious and commodious vaults, chiefly filled with saltpetre. It is
covered on the top with flat leads, from whence there is an extensive and
delightful prospect. In the first story are two noble rooms, one of which is a
small armoury for the sea service; having various sorts of arms very curiously
laid up, for above 10,000 seamen. In the other room are many closets and
presses, all filled with warlike engines and instruments of death. Over this are
two other floors, one principally filled with arms; the other with arms and
other warlike instruments, as spades, shovels, pick-axes, and cheveaux de
frize. In the upper story are kept match, sheep skins, tanned hides, &c. and
in a little room called Julius Cæsar's chapel are deposited some records. In this
building are also preserved models of the new invented engines of destruction
that have from time to time been presented to the government. On the top
is a large cistern or reservoir for supplying the whole garrison with water; it is
about seven feet deep, nine broad, and sixty in length: and is filled from the
Thames by means of an engine very ingeniously contrived for that purpose.
Near the south-west angle of the White Tower is the Spanish armoury, in
which are preserved the spoils of what was vainly called the Invincible
Armada (fn. 25) ; in order to perpetuate the memory of the signal victory obtained by
the English over the whole naval power of Spain in the reign of Philip II. These
consist of various species of arms in use at that time; together with fetters and
engines of torture, with which the fleet was plentifully stored on the presumption formed of a certain conquest of this kingdom. Of this they entertained no
doubt; for among other articles is shewn the consecrated banner with a crucifix
on it, bestowed on the Spanish general by the pope. The Spanish general's
shield, carried before him as an ensign of honour, is wrought in most curious
workmanship, with some of the labours of Hercules, and other allegories.
There are some other curious articles preserved in this room, the principal of
which are these.---Danish and Saxon clubs, weapons which each of those people
are said to have used in their conquest of England. These are, perhaps, curiosities of the greatest antiquity of any in the Tower.---King Henry the VIII's
walking staff, which has three match-lock pistols in it, with coverings
to keep the charges dry; and a short bayonet or dagger in the center of
the barrels. With this staff, the warders say, the king sometimes walked
round the city, to see that the constables did their duty; and that one night
as he was walking near the bridge foot, the constable stopped him to know what
he did with such an unlucky weapon, at that time of the night. Upon which
the king struck him; but the constable calling the watchmen to his assistance,
he was apprehended, and carried to the Poultry Compter, where he lay till
morning, without either fire or candle. When the keeper was informed of the
rank of his prisoner, he dispatched a messenger to the constable, who came
trembling with fear: but the king applauded him for his resolution in doing his
duty, and made him a handsome present. At the same time he settled upon St.
Magnus's parish an annual grant of 23l. and a mark, and made a provision for
furnishing thirty chaldron of coals and a large allowance of bread annually toward
the comfortable relief of his fellow prisoners.---A large wooden cannon called
Policy, because, as we are informed, when king Henry VIII. besieged Boulogne,
the roads being impassable for heavy cannon, he caused a number to be made of
wood, and mounted on proper batteries before the town, as if real cannon;
which so terrified the French commandant, that he gave up the place.---The
axe with which queen Anne Boleyn, the mother of queen Elizabeth, was beheaded, as also the earl of Essex, queen Elizabeth's favourite.---A small
train of ten pieces of brass cannon, neatly mounted on proper carriages, being a
present from the foundery of London to king Charles I. when a child, to assist
him in learning the art of gunnery.---Weapons made with the blades of scithes
fixed straight to the ends of poles, taken from the duke of Monmouth's party
at the battle of Sedgemoor.---In an inclosure at the end of this room is a
perfect model of that admirable machine, the idea of which was brought from
Italy by Sir Thomas Lombe, and first erected at Derby, at his own expence,
for making organzine or thrown silk.
You now come to the grand storehouse, a noble building to the northward
of the White Tower, that extends 245 feet in length, and 60 in breadth. It
was begun by king James II. who built it to the first floor; but was finished
by king William III. who erected that magnificent room over it called the New
or Small Armoury; in which that prince, with queen Mary, his consort, dined
in great form, having all the warrant workmen and labourers to attend them,
dressed in white gloves and aprons, the usual badges of the order of masonry.
This structure is of brick and stone, and on the north side is a stately door case
adorned with four columns, with their entablature and triangular pediment of
the Doric order, and under the pediment are the king's arms, with enrichments of trophy work. The ground floor of this large building is called the
Great Armoury; and contains a dreadful variety of the larger engines of destruction, consisting of cannons and mortars; many of which were taken from the
enemies of this country at different times, and others have historical anecdotes
relating to them, which are more entertaining on the spot than in meer narrative.
The walls are lined round with spunges, ladles, rammers, handspikes, wadhooks, &c. and under the cieling there hang on poles upward of four thousand
harness for horses, besides men's harness, drag-ropes, &c. Beside the trophies
of standards, colours, &c. taken from the enemy, this place is now adorned with
the transparent pictures brought hither from the fire-works played off at the conclusion of the peace in 1748.
The apartment over this is, perhaps for the extent, one of the noblest rooms
in the world; this is called the Small Armoury, and contains a wilderness of arms, so artfully disposed in racks in the middle, and all round
the walls, that at one view may be seen arms for near 80,000 men, all kept
bright, and fit for service at a moment's warning! A sight which it is im
possible to behold without astonishment; and beside those exposed to view,
there are sixteen chests shut up, each chest holding about 1200 muskets.
Of the convenient and ornamental disposition of the arms no adequate idea
can be formed by description; they were originally disposed by Mr. Harris,
who contrived to place them in this beautiful order both here and in the guard
chamber of Hampton Court. He was a common gunsmith, but after he had
performed this work, which is the admiration of people of all nations, he
was allowed a pension from the crown for his ingenuity.
The horse armoury is a plain brick building a little to the eastward of the
White Tower; and is an edifice rather convenient than elegant. Here the spectator is entertained with a representation of all those kings and principal heroes
of our own nation, with whose gallant actions he is supposed to be well acquainted, equipped and sitting on horseback, in the same bright and shining
armour they were used to wear in the field.
Among a great variety of suits of old armour, helmets, cuirasses, and horse
armour preserved in this room in bright order, may be distinguished, some of
those coats of mail, called Brigandine Jackets. They consist of small bits of
steel, so artfully quilted one over another, as to resist the point of a sword, and
perhaps a musket ball, and yet are so flexible, that the wearer might bend his
body any way, as well as in his ordinary cloaths.—A little suit of armour made
for king Charles II. when prince of Wales, and about seven or eight years of
age; with a piece of armour for his horse's head; curiously wrought and inlaid with silver.—An Indian suit of armour, sent by the Great Mogul as a present to king Charles II. This is a very great curiosity; it is made of iron quills
about two inches long, finely japanned and ranged in rows, one row easily
slipping over another: these are bound very strong together with silk twist,
and are used in that country as a defence against darts and arrows.—A neat
little suit of armour worn by a carved figure representing Richard duke of
York, the youngest son of king Edward IV.
The jewel office is a dark strong stone room, about twenty yards to the eastward
of the grand storehouse or new armoury, in which the crown jewels are deposited.
When these rich articles are shewn, the spectators are locked into that half of
the room assigned for them, where they sit down close to a grate, like that of a
nunnery; on the other side of which the person who shews the jewels displays
them separately by candle light. These precautions have been taken since the
reign of Charles II. when that desperado Blood made a bold attempt to carry off
the crown and other ensigns of royalty. The regalia shewn here are—The
imperial crown, that it is pretended all the kings of England have been crowned
with, from the time of Edward the Confessor (fn. 26) .—The orb or globe, held in
the king's left hand at the coronation.—The royal scepter with the cross.—The scepter with the dove; the emblem of peace.—St. Edward's staff, all
beaten gold, carried before the king at his coronation.---A rich salt cellar of
state, being a curious figure of the square or white Tower; used on the
king's table at the coronation.---Curtana, or the sword of mercy, borne between
the two swords of justice, spiritual and temporal.---A noble silver font, double
gilt, that the royal family are christened in.---A large silver fountain, presented
to Charles II. by the town of Plymouth.---The rich crown of state his
majesty usually wears on his throne in parliament.---The prince of Wales's
crown.---Queen Mary's crown, globe and scepter, with the diadem she wore in
proceeding to her coronation.—An ivory scepter, with a dove, made for the
late king James's queen.—The golden spurs, and the armillas, wore at the
coronation.---The ampulla, or eagle of gold, which holds the holy oil the
kings and queens of England are anointed with, and the golden spoon that
the bishop pours the oil into; which are great pieces of antiquity. The
crowns and scepters are enriched with jewels of great size and value.
ad Vincula in the Tower.
At the north west corner of Northumberland walk at the end of the new
Armoury, is situated the church of St. Peter ad Vincula, which was founded by
Edward III. and dedicated to St. Peter in chains. This is a plain Gothic building
void of all ornament: 66 feet in length, 54 in breadth, and 24 feet high from the
floor to the roof. The walls, which have Gothic windows, are strengthened at
the corners with rustic, and crowned with a plain blocking course. The tower
is plain, and is crowned with a turret. The living is a rectory in the gift of the
king; the rector, as minister of the Tower garrison, is paid by his majesty; and
the living is exempt from archiepiscopal jurisdiction (fn. 27) . In this church lie the
ashes of many noble and royal personages, executed either in the Tower, or on
the hill, and deposited here in obscurity.
The liberties of the Tower are not confined to the limits of the fortress; but
include both the Tower hills, part of east Smithfield, Rosemary-lane, Wellclose square, and the Little Minories; and in Spitalfields all the streets, lanes,
and alleys, built on the old artillery ground belonging to the Tower. For these
liberties there is a court of record held by prescription, at the king's arms on
Great Tower-hill, by a steward appointed by the constable of the Tower; before
whom are tried actions of debt for any sum, damage and trespass. Here also
the grand jury try all persons taken up in the Tower liberties for murders,
felonies and other crimes, when if they are found guilty they are committed
to Newgate to take their trials at the Old Baily. In the same house the coroner's inquest sit for the Tower liberties.