CHAPTER VII - EXTERIOR, TOWER, AND BELLS
Each century, since the foundation, is more or less represented in
the exterior of the church.
Of the twelfth century there only remain portions of two buttresses
and of the wall of the south side of the quire and the lower part of
the walls of the south chapel (pl. LXV, p. 126). On the north side
there is a small portion of the wall of the east bay of the nave which
was uncovered in 1914 (see pl. LIV).
Of the thirteenth century there is the clerestory window and an
arch of the ground arcade in the same bay of the nave but formerly
inside the church (see pl. LIV); also the south-west portal in Smithfield, with a fragment of the west front adjoining (see pl. XXIV b,
Of the fourteenth century there are the buttresses and portions of
the wall of the Lady Chapel (pl. LXIV, p. 122).
Of the fifteenth century there can be seen small portions of the ends
of the square east wall on either side of the present apse and
portions of the masonry between the clerestory windows.
To the sixteenth century some of the brickwork on the wall of the
east end of the north ambulatory and of the south ambulatory may be
attributed, as well as the lower portions of the wall of the prior's house.
Of the seventeenth century there remains the brick tower (see
pl. XXI b, p. 14) and the brick wall of the north triforium.
Of the eighteenth century the rough coping of the quire alone
remains, as the round-headed east windows were removed in 1885.
The greater part of the exterior is of the nineteenth century. At
the west end there is the flint casing of the west front (see pl. LIV), and
the west porch (see pl. LV, p. 107); the north transept and the
north porch (see pl. LVIII, p. 118); the windows of the north quire
aisle; the windows and the flint casing of the Lady Chapel walls
between the buttresses (see pl. LXIV, p. 122); the south transept
and south porch (see pl. XXI b, p. 14).
Of the present century there are the casing of the greater part of
the east wall of the south quire aisle, parts of the south wall, the south
chapel (see pl. LXV, p. 126) and the south triforium.
Of the design of the exterior of Rahere's church nothing is really
known, though it has been the subject of conjecture: (fn. 1) The seal of
the priory used by Rahere in 1137 (Vol. I, pl. XIII, p. 318) represents
a church which may or may not be intended for a representation of the
church built by him. (fn. 2) Three towers are shown with conical roofs and
projecting eaves. The central tower is larger than the others; it is surmounted by a large cross and has two windows. The western tower
is shown on this side of the roof, the other two on the farther side of it;
which may be intended to convey the idea of three western towers as
at Ely, or a central tower at the crossing and two western towers.
We know there were one or more turrets, as in 1914 the stones forming
the upper portion of one were found on the site of the north transept.
This may have been similar to that at Romsey at the north-west
corner of the north transept, which was built at the same time as
that of St. Bartholomew's. It gave access to the roof as does the
present turret at St. Bartholomew's in the same position on the new
The seal represents the south side of a church (fn. 3) with apparently
two or more windows and an eastern chapel lower than the rest of
the church with one window only and a large cross on the gable.
The eastern end is square, not apsidal. The roofs of both buildings
are high pitched, hung with large tiles or stones, with overhanging
A later seal used in 1242 (fn. 4) also shows towers with conical roofs
as in the first seal. These towers are built in three stories with
windows in each story, and there is also a circular central tower with
windows in the upper story. On the reverse of the seal a central
tower is again shown; this time it is castellated and carries a crocketed
spire surmounted by a cross (Vol. I, pl. XIII, p. 318).
The reader must form his own conclusions as to whether or not
these representations of a church on the seals are entirely conventional, bearing in mind that it was customary to depict a building
on a seal in the style in vogue at the time, so that the style of architecture on a seal is a more reliable guide to the approximate date
when the seal was engraved than to the date when the building it
depicts was erected. This custom was followed at St. Bartholomew's
to the last, for the seal of the Dominicans, set up here by Queen
Mary in 1556, shows a canopy supported by pilasters in the Renaissance style.
However, we have evidence that there was a south-west tower to
the façade facing Smithfield, (fn. 5) and it is very probable that there was
also a corresponding tower at the north-west corner, for that was the
fashion in the twelfth century, as at Southwell, St. Albans, Durham,
Ripon, and Tewkesbury. Wyngaerde's map shows small turrets also
at the corners of what is probably intended to represent the quire
(pl. LVI a, p. 110).
The West Front.
The west wall of the present church was erected in the year 1543
and cased with flint and stone in 1893 (see pl. LIV, p. 106). We have
already referred (fn. 6) to the payment made in the former year of £80
from the Augmentation funds by Henry VIII 'for repairs to the late
priory', which would have been sufficient for building this wall and
filling in the north transept arch; for the work was done in the
meanest possible manner. The wall is probably built (fn. 7) on the west
wall of the pulpitum and composed of such pieces of the ruins of the
nave as the king had not carted away to his works then in progress.
It has now a plain flat gable to correspond with the pitch of the
roof, but at first it was battlemented and possibly of a higher pitch;
for there is a bricklayer's bill of the year 1720, a year when much
money was spent on the church, which includes (fn. 8) 'for taking down
and rebuilding of battlement wall at the west end of the church to
the level of the beam that lies over the great window £12'. Then
or at some previous time the wall had been plastered, for in the year
1836 a committee of the vestry reported (fn. 9) 'that it was necessary
for the west front to be stripped of plaster and cemented in compo.'
In the centre of the wall was one large window, divided into four
lights by three plain unmoulded mullions, and one similar transome.
Below the window was the west door which is shown in the engraving
dedicated to Sir Hans Sloane in 1737 (pl. XXI a, p. 14); but there was
a porch in the seventeenth century, for in the year 1620 Strype says
'the porch at the west end was rebuilt, and in 1632 it was repaired and
beautified'. (fn. 10) In 1715 the vestry 'ordered the churchwarden to pull
down the church porch in the great churchyard and rebuild it', (fn. 11) but
no porch is shown in the Hans Sloane engraving.
In the year 1864 a square plain porch was built and an oak door
set on the south side of it. There was a small two-light window
beside the door, shown in the engraving, and a large buttress on the
north end of the west face of the wall. When in 1864 an excavation
was made to form a dry area round the church, there was found below
this buttress the base of the nave pier, which is still left exposed
(see pl. XL, p. 45). It shows thirteenth-century work on its west
side, though twelfth-century work on the east side.
In the year 1893, when the present porch was built, this west wall
was faced with flint and stone and the large window was built up to
strengthen the wall (fn. 12) (pl. LIV, p. 106). It has now, in the upper half,
a mural arcade of three arches; the two side ones are pierced with
narrow lancet windows to light the organ loft. Above the arcading
is a circular traceried window set in a narrow band of stone work
which extends from side to side. Below the arcading is a wide band
of chequer pattern flint and stone work with a wide expanse of plain
flint work below. The buttress already mentioned on the left and
the porch built in 1864 are both faced with flint and stone in the
The West Porch.
Adjoining this newly faced work and standing in front of the base
of the seventeenth-century tower is the new west porch (pl. LV, p. 107).
This was built by Sir Aston Webb in 1893. It is in two stories and
is built in Portland stone and flint throughout. The lower story
is of flint with stone dressings in which is placed an arched stone
doorway, with a broad band of chequer work in the upper portion.
On the jambs of this doorway are two short cylindrical shafts with
finely carved projecting base mouldings; by the side of these and
on the jambs the outer orders of the arch die away into the masonry.
The hood mould rises from foliated corbels on which is carved the
date of the building, '18' on the one and '93' on the other; it ends
below the string of the upper story in a broad and heavily foliated
The upper story is divided into seven panels. In the central
one is a carved figure of Rahere holding a model of his church in his
right hand. On the pedestal below the figure is a shield of the arms
of the priory with angels as supporters. The canopy over the head
of the figure is cusped, with open tracery above. It is then carried
upward as a slender shaft and, penetrating the moulding above and
passing through the cornice of the battlement, terminates in a foliated
finial in the form of a Greek cross. This upper story forms a boldly
battlemented gable in such a way that the other six panels which
fill the gable decline from the central one. In two of the panels
windows are inserted; the remaining four are blind with hollowed
backs decorated with bands of flint and stone. On either side of the
outer panels is a square shaft, set at an angle, the base of which penetrates the string running between the two stories; the upper part
penetrates the end of the string running immediately above the
panels and also the end of the cornice of the battlement, above which
it projects and terminates in a moulded conical-shaped cap.
The stone string between the two stories is ornamented with two
shields midway between the centre panel and the sides of the porch;
on one is the number '11', on the other the number '23'—being the
date of the foundation. There is a handsome leaden hopper to the
rainwater pipe on the south side.
The Tower and Bells.
As the present tower forms part of the west front of the parish
church it may, together with the monastic tower and bells, be conveniently dealt with here.
It has been stated that there is nothing in the present building to
show for certain that there ever was a tower over the crossing, (fn. 13)
but the massive character of the piers of the crossing puts it beyond
doubt that the original intention was to build a central tower, and
that this was carried out is shown by the record, previously referred
to, (fn. 14) that in the year 1264 'by a flash of lightning a part was struck
down of the belfry of St. Bartholomew's, London'; (fn. 15) and that in the
year 1409 the pope stated that he understood that the prior had rebuilt
the bell tower. There is also in the Hastings MSS., (fn. 16) in the year 1442,
a drawing of Sir John Astley's fight with Philip Boyle in Smithfield, in
the background of which is shown a church which, though of the usual
conventional type, is intended to indicate St. Bartholomew's church
or hospital, and it is shown with a central tower (see Vol. I,
pl. VIII, p. 218); no reliance, however, can be placed on drawings
of this kind. In favour of the opinion that, if carried out, the tower
was not rebuilt over the crossing in 1405, is the evidence of the great
weakness of the north-east pier, which would have rendered such
a proceeding dangerous: also that in Wyngaerd's panorama of
London, (fn. 17)
c. 1543 (i.e. after the nave had been destroyed but the
crossing left), no central tower is shown, whilst a central tower is
shown to the church of the hospital; neither is there any reference
to the demolition of the tower in the king's grant to Rich. Wyngaerde,
however, does show a large tower standing on the north side of the
church; and Agas's map (see pl. LVI b, p. 110), which dates from after
1563, also shows what looks like a truncated tower on the north side,
but no central tower. This tower on the north side was evidently
the parochial steeple, which Stow says was repaired in 1603, and
which Strype in his edition of Stow (fn. 18) says was pulled down 'to the
very foundations' in 1628, when the present tower was built.
The above evidence, though not conclusive, seems to justify the
view that there was in the late twelfth or early thirteenth century
a central tower; that it was damaged by lightning in 1264; that it
was repaired and remained until towards the end of the fourteenth
century, when it was either destroyed by the earthquake of 1382, (fn. 19)
or taken down because of the settlement in the north-east pier of the
crossing; that it was then not considered safe to rebuild the tower
over the crossing, so a bell tower was built, as the pope said, not in
its old position, but on the north side of the church, either as a monastic
bell tower or as a parochial bell tower to Roger Walden's new parish
church. In the former case the whole ring of eleven bells may have
been hung there; in the latter case our present five parochial bells
only may have been hung there, as already suggested, (fn. 20) the monastic
bells being hung perhaps in a tower of the west façade. If two
arches of the crossing were rebuilt without the intention of replacing
the tower that would be sufficient cause for there being now no signs
left of an original tower.
The Augustinian churches of Bristol, Hexham, Oxford, and Waltham
all have central towers. Evesham Abbey and Chichester Cathedral
both have separate bell towers.
The rebuilding of the present tower at St. Bartholomew's in 1628
was due to the initiative of Sir Henry Martyn, judge of the Admiralty
Court, who subscribed £50 to the work (pl. XXI b, p. 14). The Earl of
Holland, Earl Bolingbroke, the Earl of Westmorland, Lady Saye and
Sele, Sir Heneage Finch, Sir Christopher Hatton, and Sir Henry
Wallop were among the subscribers, a full list of whom will be found
in the Appendix. (fn. 21) It is built over the east bay of the south aisle of
the nave, that is at the south-west corner of the present church, and
stands three feet in front of the west wall. It measures on the
ground level 19 ft. from north to south and 24 ft. from east to west.
It is 74 ft. 6 in. from the present church floor level to the top of the
battlements, or 68 ft. from the churchyard level when the tower was
built. It is built in brick with a stone string-course below the
battlements, and is in four floors with buttresses to the height of the
two lower ones.
Internally the ground floor is occupied by the aisle. It opens into
the cloister, the nave, the west porch, and the south transept. The
first floor is the west bay of the triforium of the nave. The second
floor covers the outer wall of the east bay of the clerestory of the nave,
the window of which opens into it. The bells are in the floor above
from which access is obtained to the roof. The ringing chamber is
on the first floor.
Externally the ground floor and part of the first floor are concealed by
the west porch, built in 1893. The earliest view that we have is the
Hans Sloane engraving of 1737 (see pl. XXI a, p. 14). (fn. 22) It shows, on the
ground floor, a central round-headed doorway in which the present
cloister doors appear. In front of this is a small portico with a pediment. Above, on either side, are two small windows which used to
open into the chamber of the first floor. Between these, during the
restoration of 1864, a doorway was formed, approached by a wooden
ladder from the church path. (fn. 23) Higher, but still opening into the
same chamber, is a round-headed window divided into three lights by
two debased mullions; there is a similar window in the second story.
In the third, or bell story, there is a window very similar to the one
below, but it is divided into four lights, and is unglazed. There is a
stone string above the first, second, and third stories. The tower is surmounted by battlements with an open wooden bell turret on the roof.
In the engraving the turret is shown supported by four braces, which
have since disappeared. The bell there shown was probably the
'Saints' or Sanctus bell, mentioned several times in the churchwardens' accounts between 1687 and 1701. That bell was unfortunately
replaced in the year 1815 by a heavier one on which the clock could
strike the quarters. There is a vane shown on the turret, which was
replaced in 1816 by a copper one, 9 ft. 6 in. high.
There is a clock immediately above the belfry window, the date of
which is unknown, but in 1666 the churchwardens paid £4 2s. for
mending it, and 'did take a bond of the clockmaker to make good
The Bells in the Tower.
With the exception of the Sanctus bell mentioned above, the bells
of the parish church remain as they were at the time of the suppression
of the monastery. Mr. H. B. Walters, who contributes the following
account of the bells, says that there is only one other church in the
whole of England (St. Lawrence, Ipswich) which possesses more than
four pre-reformation bells, and that a ring of five medieval bells
should have survived in London is most remarkable. (fn. 24)
These five bells bear the following inscriptions:
1. + Sancte Bartholemeo Ora Pro Nobis
2. + Sancta Katerina + Ora Pro Nobis
3. + Sancta Anna + Ora Pro Nobis
4. + Sancte Iohannes Baptiste Ora Pro Nobis
5. + Sancte Petre Ora Pro Nobis
Ornamental 'stop' on bells
The inscriptions are in black letter 'minuscules', with Gothic
capital letters as initials throughout. Each bell bears an initial
cross, except the third, where the cross is placed in the middle of
the inscription; and the first three bear in addition an ornamental
'stop', consisting of a pair of lozenges placed one above the other,
flanked by two smaller lozenges. On the first this stop is at the end
of the inscription; on the second, in the middle; and on the third it is
in the place of the initial cross. The cross is not the same in each
case; on the first, second and fifth it is in the form of a cross fleury
in a square frame; on the other two bells it is in the form of a kind
of double fleur-de-lis horizontally placed, rising from a stem which
divides at the base in two curves. Further, each bell bears after
the word Nobis a shield with the trade mark of the founder, a bell
dependent from a transverse beam or stock, with the letters T b
in the field.
These letters have been by general consent identified as the initials
of Thomas Bullisdon, a founder of Aldgate, London, whose date is
about 1500–1520. In the Churchwardens' Accounts of St. Mary-atHill (fn. 25) we find that in 1509–1510, 29s. 4d. was given in part payment
for the 'grete bell' to one Bullisdon; and there are also items 'for
wyn at the son when we comond wt bollisdo' tochyng the bell'
and 'for a soper for the arbetryng betwene the parish and Bullisdon
for ye bells'. It will be noted that his Christian name is not given;
but inasmuch as two or three existing bells in Essex bearing the
T. B. trade-mark can be dated on other grounds about 1505–1510,
the presumption is that they are the work of Bullisdon, and that
his Christian name was Thomas. We may therefore assume that
the St. Bartholomew's bells were put up about the year 1510.
This Bullisdon was one of a long line of London bell-founders,
working in Aldgate, who can be linked together by the use of certain
stamps during a period of nearly 100 years. Among these stamps
are the two initial crosses which have already been described. The
cross-fleury occurs on a large number of bells usually assigned to
Henry Jordan (1450–1465), and the other cross was introduced by
a contemporary founder, who also uses the cross-fleury in conjunction
with it. This founder may have been John Danyell, who cast the
bells of King's College, Cambridge, in 1460, but was more likely
a successor, whose name we do not know. The letters used by
Bullisdon were also used by these earlier founders.
It is interesting to note that the treble bell is dedicated to the
patron saint of the church. It is by no means the rule that medieval
bells were thus dedicated, and more often the choice of a saint was
determined by the dedication of a chantry or altar in the church.
Where the patron saint was honoured, the tenor bell is usually the one
chosen, but exceptions as here, are by no means infrequent. (fn. 26)
The dimensions of the five bells are as follows:
Circumference of crown.
Circumference of waist.
Thickness of sound bow.
Before the Reformation St. Bartholomew's Priory apparently had
two rings, a larger one of six, (fn. 27) which was sold to St. Sepulchre's, and
this one of five bells. Two rings of bells were not an unknown
feature in monastic churches; for instance, Shrewsbury Abbey (fn. 28) had
'five bells in the great steeple and five in the new steeple', described
as 'of one accord'. The weights of the five in the new steeple were
11 cwt., 8 cwt., 6 cwt., 5 cwt. and 3 cwt. respectively and these
approximate to the five bells at St. Bartholomew's; whilst the
five in the great steeple weighed 30 cwt., 25 cwt., 22 cwt., 20 cwt.
and 15 cwt. respectively, which may correspond to those sold to
St. Sepulchre's. (fn. 29)
North and South Sides of the Church and of the Lady Chapel (in brief).
Of the three western bays of the nave wall nothing exists. Of the
next six bays the wall remains up to the graveyard level only. The
exterior of the north side of the church therefore now consists only of:
The Eastern bay of the nave uncovered in 1914.
The North transept built in 1893, with a large porch built at the
Five bays of the quire, of which the ground story is in a sunk area
which formed part of the Walden Chapel. The wall contains
windows, and buttresses inserted in 1865 to support this quire
wall. The triforium above is faced with brickwork of the
late sixteenth or early seventeenth century, with five windows,
and formed the parochial schoolroom until 1889. The clerestory above dates from about 1405, but the tracery of the
windows was inserted in 1865. East of the five bays of the
quire is the brick stair turret of the early seventeenth century
which gave access to the schoolmaster's house.
East of this is the large window of the north ambulatory and the
apse built in 1886.
East of this again is the Lady Chapel of four bays each with a window and a buttress, but of the western buttress only the base
remains. Portions of the wall date from 1335; the tracery
of the windows dates from 1897.
The east end of the Lady Chapel dates from the same time, with
the exception of about one square yard of wall, and the
bases of a central and north-east buttress.
The south side of the Lady Chapel is similar to the north side,
with the exception of an entrance door to the crypt in the second bay,
and one to the Lady Chapel in the fourth bay. The buttresses, with
the exception of the upper part of that of the fourth bay, which has
been rebuilt, date from 1335; all between the buttresses is a restoration of 1897.
The east end of the south aisle of the quire consists below of sixteenth-century brickwork by Prior Bolton, with a window of the year
In the first bay of the quire wall is Prior Bolton's door, inserted
in a red brick wall of the same date, but now faced with flint work;
in the corner is a fourteenth-century latrine from Dr. Mirfield's
chamber. The next two bays are occupied by Rahere's South Chapel;
the lower part of the walls only are of his time; the upper part was
built in 1914 to form a choir vestry. The fourth and fifth bays
contain remains of twelfth - century buttresses; the walls were
covered with rough bricks; a consequence of the fire of 1830. The
triforium above is a restoration of 1891. The clerestory is similar to
that on the north side.
The south transept and porch are by Sir Aston Webb in the latter
The bay of the nave is occupied on the ground level by the cloister
and above by the seventeenth-century brick tower. Any remains
there may be of the rest of the south wall of the nave are hidden by
the 'Coach and Horses' public-house and by stables.
A detailed description of the exterior follows below.
North Wall of the Nave (in detail).
The easternmost bay of the nave, i.e. the westernmost bay of the
monastic quire, is still standing. It was exposed to view when the
house, No. 9 Cloth Fair, which had covered it for 320 years, was taken
down in 1914 (pl. LIV, p. 106). The wall consists of an arch of the
ground arcade and an arch of the triforium above, both dating from
the twelfth century and both filled in with rubble and stones from the
nave. The outer wall of the aisle and its vault, and of the triforium
and its roof, were pulled down with the transept and nave at the time
of the suppression: the clerestory remains intact, though greatly
weather-worn. The ground arcade is six feet below the churchyard
level. The thirteenth-century rib of the vault of the aisle, which
protruded through the floor of the twelfth-century triforium, is
visible. (fn. 30) In the clerestory the thirteenth-century window, which has
already been described, (fn. 31) still remains, though the central mullions
and jambs have perished and disappeared as to half their thickness.
On the level of the upper part of this window, on its eastern side, is
the small thirteenth-century window described previously. (fn. 32)
The North Transept.
This extended northward probably to the middle of the road-way.
As it was entirely destroyed at the time of the suppression, the north
arch of the crossing had to be walled up at that time and a
window inserted in the filling. This wall, with the arch of the
crossing and its supporting piers, formed the outside wall of the
church at this point for a period of 350 years (plan, pl. LXII, p. 120). (fn. 33)
This patched ruin which served for a north wall until 1893, when
the present shallow transept and porch were built, was only partly
visible until then, because a small house, No. 9½ Cloth Fair, abutted
on to the western pier of the transept arch; a shop and smithy,
No. 10 Cloth Fair, obscured the lower part of the centre, and a third
house, No. 11, obscured the eastern side.
A narrow passage—5 ft. wide—with Nos. 9½ and 10 Cloth Fair on the
left side and with No. 9 on the right, gave access to the church after
the suppression by a small narrow door (fig. 5, p. 128). No. 9 had
thrown out a projecting window into this passage which at that
point reduced the width to 4 ft.
The doorway itself only measured 3 ft. 10 in. It still remains
inside the church and is referred to in Lord Holland's Rental of the
year 1616 as the 'New Door'. Apparently it had a porch of some
kind, for in the year 1713 the Vestry ordered 'the porch to be pulled
down and rebuilt' (fn. 34) When the church floor was lowered, in the
year 1865, this doorway was lowered to the church floor level and
approached by a flight of nine steps, at the top of which was a gate
(fig. 5, p. 128).
The shop, No. 10 Cloth Fair, was on the north side of No. 9½ and
projected in that direction some 15 ft. beyond the front of No. 9.
The shop front, being at the corner, looked down the Fair to Smithfield,
as well as facing the Fair on the north side (pl. LXXXVIII b, p. 238).
Next to the shop window eastward was the entrance to the blacksmith's
forge, which extended past the back of No. 9½ to the arcading under
the north transept arch, (fn. 35) at that time the external wall of the church.
This house occupied part of the site of the north transept. It was
purchased of Mr. F. G. Debenham in the year 1884 by the churchwardens and overseers of the parish for the sum of £1,120 (fn. 36) and
conveyed to the rector and others for the restoration in 1887. (fn. 37)
No. 11 Cloth Fair stood upon a portion of the eastern side of the
transept. Between it and No. 10 there was another narrow
passage, only 5 ft. wide, at the end of which a flight of nineteen steps (fn. 38)
led up to the west end of the north triforium and so through a door (fn. 39)
into the boys' school. In the year 1865 the approach to the school
was removed to the east end of the triforium to enable the arch at
the west end of the north ambulatory of the quire to be opened. (fn. 40)
Although the site of No. 11 Cloth Fair was not required for the new
transept the house projected so close to the church that the transept
could not be built without acquiring the rights of light. This was
therefore done in 1892, (fn. 41) and subsequently, the house being pulled
down, the site was bought by the Corporation, together with such
portion of the site of No. 10 as was not required for the new transept,
and both were thrown into the public footway. (fn. 42)
The new transept (which is the work of Sir Aston Webb) was built
in the year 1893, as already mentioned. It is in flint and stone in
three stories. The ground story corresponds with the ground arcade
of the church and projects 5 ft. to form a recess for the altar within.
It has in front one short two-light window with cuspings.
The middle story corresponds with the triforium. The lower half
is of flint and stone checker work; the upper is of plain split flints
and does not project. It has two narrow one-light windows which
light the triforium passage of the transept within. Both these stories
are covered, as to their northern half, by the porch.
The third story corresponds with the clerestory and terminates in
a gable on its north side. It has three lancet windows, with cuspings
in the heads, and heavy hood mouldings which rise from floreated
corbels. The centre window is longer than the others. The coping
of the gable terminates at the apex in a Greek cross. Between the
coping and the heads of the windows is a flat mural arcade declining
on either side from the centre. It is built in Portland stone with
a filling of split flints, and a similar but narrower band of arcading
extends across the wall below the eaves.
The North Porch.
The porch, which projects 13 ft. 6 in., is in two stories (pl. LVIII).
The portal is a slightly pointed arch, recessed into three orders, of
which the two inner members spring from shafts on the jamb; the
plinths of the shafts die into the main plinth of the doorway. The
style of architecture generally follows that already described inside
the transept. The hood moulding, or label of the arch, is carried
through the string-course above and then expands laterally and
overlaps the base of a canopied niche.
The upper story of the porch is faced with stone and flint in a
chequer pattern: within is a chamber with a fireplace. The north
face terminates in a gable and has, at the angles, low octagonal
turrets which, with the sides and gable, are battlemented. There are
two square-headed windows in the face of the wall on either side of
the canopied niche just referred to. The niche contains a figure of
St. Bartholomew with the right hand raised in benediction, whilst
in the left is the flaying knife. On a scroll is the promise spoken to
Rahere in his vision, 'This spiritual house Almighty God shall ynhabite
and hallowe yt'. (fn. 43)
A slender shaft is carried from the rectangular hood mould of the
canopy through the coping and battlement of the gable and terminates
in a foliated cross for a finial.
Adjoining the west side of the transept is an octagonal turret containing a newel stair giving access to the transept roof. It has battlements, immediately below which are square-headed windows. On
the east side of the turret is a slender stone octagonal chimney rising
from the room over the porch, which forms a distinctive feature.
The North Side of the Quire.
The wall of the clerestory, though rough, is probably that of the
early fifteenth century; the tracery of the four windows, as already
seen, was inserted in 1887, the old work having entirely disappeared.
The parapet above is of brick (pl. LXII, p. 120).
The triforium is faced with old brickwork of the sixteenth or early
seventeenth century, in tiers alternately of all 'headers' or all
'stretchers'. In the two western bays are windows of three
lights of Tudor character which lighted the schools. The next
bay eastward is similar, but the window is narrower and has two
lights only. Each bay has its own small hipped roof covered with
tiles: between the second and third bays was a brick chimney-stack,
with the flue from the schoolroom, since removed. Beyond, and
adjoining the third bay, is the gabled house, known as the schoolhouse, with a stair turret built in brick of the same period. It is
built over the fourth and fifth bays of the triforium and consists of
a first, a second, and a gable story; the last obscures the easternmost
window of the clerestory. The roof of the gable is hipped back in
the same way as that over the triforium.
Of the exterior of the twelfth-century north wall of the quire
nothing remains; it was probably quite plain with pilaster buttresses,
as on the south wall. At the eastern end St. Bartholomew's Chapel
projected some 18 ft. northwards. The eastern apse of the chapel,
a portion of the foundation of which can still be seen, extended under
the site of what is now the turret stair to the school-house.
In the fourteenth century Roger Walden built his parish chapel
against the north wall of the church. It probably occupied three
bays in length; (fn. 44) of its breadth we have at present no record. Excavations made on the southern portion of the site in 1911 revealed nothing.
East of this chapel was, we assume, the chapel of St. Anne, (fn. 45) possibly
on the site of the twelfth-century chapel of St. Bartholomew. The
latter, we have already suggested, (fn. 46) was rebuilt to the east, and further
excavations may discover some foundations of which no traces were
found in 1911.
In the fifteenth century, if our theory is correct, (fn. 47) the bell tower was
built somewhere on the north side of the quire, but no foundations
have been found.
In the sixteenth century, some time between the first year of Queen
Elizabeth (1558) and the time when Stow wrote (1598), the Walden
chapel was demolished; (fn. 48) the floor was levelled up and the site of
the chapel was built upon. On the southern portion, against the
church, were erected ten tenements or sheds; (fn. 49) on the northern
portion were built the Cloth Fair houses, Nos. 12–16, or the backs
of them, which overhung the narrow passage (only 3 ft. 6 in. wide)
which gave access to the back doors on the one side and to the sheds
against the church on the other (pl. LIX, p. 119).
In the seventeenth or early eighteenth century these sheds were
taken down and the site used as a burial-ground, at first for the
Quakers and later for the poor. In the years 1704–1706 the parish
registers record burials in 'the Quakers' ground Cloth Fair'; in
1722 the Vestry ordered 'that the wall about the little churchyard
adjoining to the Revd. Mr. Chas. Smith's house be repaired'; (fn. 50)
Mr. Smith was then living in the school-house. In 1788 the Vestry
ordered the wall of the little churchyard to be repaired and railings
placed on the top, (fn. 51) and again to be 'repaired' in 1842; (fn. 52) and further,
Wilkinson, in his plan of the parish, in 1821 marks this site as 'The
poor's churchyard' (pl. LVII, p. III). It was the retaining wall of
this graveyard that was used as a support for the overhanging stories
of the Cloth Fair houses; its average distance from the church wall was
only 8 ft. When the houses were rebuilt in 1893 their overhanging of
the public footway was not allowed to be perpetuated, though a claim
thereto was set up by one of the builders. In 1791 an attempt was
made to close this alley, (fn. 53) but it was not accomplished until 1916,
after the Corporation had bought the houses in Cloth Fair.
In the nineteenth century, in the year 1864, in order to make a dry
area round the church, the burial-ground was removed, and in the
following year the arches of Walden's chapel were opened out into the
church and the wall of the church was supported by buttresses. The
present small robing-room, 10 ft. by 9 ft., was erected at the eastern
end at the same time. Beyond the entrance to the turret stair to
the old school-house is the large window, the tracery of which was
inserted in 1865 (already referred to). The wall here is faced with
brick; below the window it consists of a rough filling without a plinth
at the base. All this suggests that the twelfth-century window had
been altered into a large opening leading into a chapel such as we should
expect the refounded St. Bartholomew's chapel to have been. Beyond
the window is a buttress, also faced with brick, between which and the
Lady Chapel is the narrow arched opening to the church referred to
in the description of the east ambulatory (fn. 54) (pl. XXXIV p. 28).
There was above this window and narrow opening, up to the year
1886, a small two-storied projecting building, erected probably when
the Lady Chapel was changed from a dwelling-house to a factory;
for it was entered from the Lady Chapel and not from the school-house
(pl. LXI, p. 120). The angle of the building projected slightly beyond
the outer wall of the ambulatory below, and was corbelled back,
terminating in a wooden pendant (pl. LXXXVIa, p. 215). The window
of the upper room faced east, that of the lower room faced north; (fn. 55)
both rooms were taken down in 1886 for the completion of the apse.
The East End of the Quire.
Of the east end of the quire nothing is left of Rahere's work excepting the block of masonry on the floor at the north-west corner of the
Lady Chapel, but there is evidence that it was apsidal. It must
have been altered in appearance when the fourteenth-century Lady
Chapel was built because of the greater height and width of that
chapel. Rahere, too, may have built eastern turrets, as we have
already suggested; (fn. 56) these would have been taken down when the
chapel was rebuilt and not re-erected; but of this there is no record.
The appearance must have been entirely changed again when the
apsidal end of the church was taken down and replaced by a straight
wall with two large windows. All that remains visible externally of
the fifteenth-century square east wall are small portions of the north
and south ends on either side of the new apse. They can be seen
above the lower roofs and beneath the string that runs under the
clerestory windows of the apse. Internally the south-east angle of
the wall can be seen in the south triforium within the triforium roof. (fn. 57)
There is the corresponding angle on the north side, but it is not
The present apse, rebuilt in the year 1886, consists of five bays,
in each of which is a clerestory window with double traceried lights
set in a stone wall faced with split flints (pl. LXIV). Above is a battlemented cornice at each end of which rises an octagonal battlemented
stone turret with a conical stone cap terminating in a stone cross.
Each face of the turrets forms a panel with tracery in the head. (fn. 58)
Exterior of the Lady Chapel.
Of the appearance of the exterior of Rahere's Lady Chapel we know
nothing. The excavations of the year 1911 show that it was rectangular like the present one, with indications, as we have said, (fn. 59) of an
apsidal end, but much smaller both in length and breadth, for it only
measured (externally) about 27 ft. by 18 ft. as compared with 64 ft.
by 29 ft. of the later chapel.
The exterior of the fourteenth-century chapel must have been very
much as we see it to-day, excepting that there probably were turrets
at the north-east and south-east corners. (fn. 60)
On the north side the western buttress, and at the east end the
central buttress only are lost. And this in spite of the fact that
between the time of the suppression in 1539 and of the restoration
in 1897 the character of the exterior was so much transformed that
it was difficult to recognize the building as part of the church. The
traceried windows were replaced by common ones of a domestic
character; the walls and buttresses were thickly plastered; houses
were built against the north and east walls and an additional story
was placed on the top of the old walls for the factory (pl. L, p. 78).
Against the north wall westward three almshouses were built about
the year 1632 (pl. LXII, p. 120). (fn. 61) The westernmost, which stood in
the angle between the Lady Chapel and quire aisle, fell in the year 1763
and was not rebuilt, but the site was subsequently used as a burialground for the poor.
Adjoining the almshouses eastward was an old cottage already
referred to (pl. XC, p. 240), (fn. 62) known as '2 Back Court'. This house
occupied the third bay; whilst the closet of an adjoining house
was built against the wall of the fourth or easternmost bay.
When the restoration of the Lady Chapel was undertaken in 1896
the site of the third almshouse was considered to be church property,
but that of the two remaining almshouses—though they had been
twice rebuilt at the parish's expense—had to be purchased (fn. 63) at a cost
of £150 from the trustees under the City of London Parochial Charities'
Act of 1883, by order of the Charity Commissioners.
As it was desirable to have complete access round the whole of the
Lady Chapel building, a narrow strip of land outside the easternmost
bay was purchased in the year 1896 of the trustees of Sir Daniel Gooch.
Besides giving access from the north to the east side of the building,
this purchase, which was facilitated in every way by the trustees,
gave possession of the original north-west buttress of the church,
which, unlike the other buttresses, had never been covered with
cement. It also enabled a sunken area to be formed, which, covered
with pavement lights, opened up two original windows of the crypt,
and it enabled the closet referred to to be removed from the chapel wall
When these properties were acquired in 1896 the almshouses were
demolished, since the Charity Commissioners had decreed their
disuse as such, and the earth was removed down to the church level,
exposing the lower part of the wall, in which the original flint and
stone work remains, together with the base of the westernmost buttress. The site of the third almshouse in the angle adjoining had
already been excavated in the year 1865 in the process of forming
a dry area outside the church.
The walls of the chapel above the present ground level were then
restored and tracery inserted in the windows. The top story of the
fringe factory having been removed, the parapet of the portion
projecting over the east aisle of the church was replaced in stone,
but over the remaining length the parapet had to be rendered in
brick as funds had run short.
As the owner of No. 2 Back Court was not a willing seller at this
time, the old tenement building had to remain. It fell in 1904, and
in 1906 the site was purchased as already stated. (fn. 64) This enabled the
window in the third bay of the chapel to be opened out, (fn. 65) the tracery
of which had been inserted from the other side in 1896. The removal
of the house also disclosed the eastern half of the second buttress and
the westernmost window in the crypt.
As now seen, the north wall of the Lady Chapel is of flint and stone
with a broad frieze of chequer pattern of the same materials. Of the
four windows, the eastern one has a single light, but the others have
three, with tracery and hood mouldings rising from corbels, still
uncarved. In the westernmost bay is the small window already
described. (fn. 66)
There are four buttresses: of the first the base only remains; all
above-ground was taken down in 1823 when the almshouses were
rebuilt; the second has lost its two upper divisions and its western
side is a restoration, the original work having been hacked off, apparently for the building or rebuilding of the almshouses. (fn. 67) The third
and fourth buttresses are original throughout.
The east end of the Lady Chapel was also originally faced with
flint, as shown by the small portion of the face on the east wall which
still remains, and also by the faces of the two buttresses which are in
line with the east front of the chapel, and by the wall of the crypt now
below the ground level. There were also originally three buttresses
against this east wall, the bases of two only of which now remain.
The present open space (29 ft. by 19 ft.) which formed the eastern
part of 'Our Lady's Green' (fn. 68) was built upon probably for the first
time by John James, the letter-founder, in the year 1772. (fn. 69) The
building was incorporated with that of the Lady Chapel, with which it
was purchased in 1885 and demolished in 1896. A monastic well,
walled with stone 3 ft. wide, 20 ft. deep from the street level, was
found here in 1921.
The east wall of the Lady Chapel, as now seen, is faced with flint
with a band of chequer pattern in the upper half, through the centre
of which a flat stone cross rises and is carried into the gable. Below
the cross is a plain band of stone. The gable, which is depressed,
has a broad stone cornice, from the apex of which springs a foliated
Greek cross. There are no windows; but in the crypt wall, below the
present ground level, there is a crypt window on the south side of the
base of the central buttress and on the north side of the buttress a doorway, with a hood moulding, now built up in stone with a small light.
The south side of the Lady Chapel suffered more than the north
side after the suppression; for either then or later the wall between
the buttresses was removed almost entirely, and square-headed
domestic windows were inserted (see p. 82). The second buttress was
taken down to the ground level within four feet of its base, (fn. 70) but this
probably occurred later, for it will be seen on reference to the elevation
drawing of 1885 (fn. 71) that the windows are so disposed as to allow or
a buttress in the position that this second buttress would have occupied
(pl. LXIII, p. 120; pl. L a, p. 78). It will be seen from this drawing
also that the gable front of the house No. 2 Red Lion Passage, just
referred to, (fn. 72) is so thoroughly incorporated with the front of the
buildings occupying the Lady Chapel as to suggest that they are of
one period, and as the turrets at the east corners of the chapel,
referred to in Lord Holland's Rental, have disappeared, it is probable
that Sir Percival Hart's house was very considerably altered when the
dwelling-house, in the eighteenth century, was converted into business
premises by raising the upper story. (fn. 73)
At the restoration in 1896–1897 the domestic encroachments of brick
and stucco were removed entirely, together with the plaster facing
of the buttresses. The second buttress was rebuilt on the old base,
the walls were restored, and traceried windows were inserted. At
the eastern end the crypt wall had been uncovered in 1895, at the
time when the crypt was restored. (fn. 74) The present approach to it is
6 ft. below the present church floor level. This was necessitated by
the fact that when the new schools were built in the year 1889 it was
deemed desirable by the rector at that time, the Rev. Sir Borradaile
Savory, to build a basement for a men and boys' club (which he did
at his own cost), and there was no other approach available than the
one chosen in front of the crypt.
The south side of the quire of the church has fared as badly as the
north side, though not as regards its eastern end until a somewhat
later date, for Bolton's additions, with the walls of the transept,
remained, more or less altered or damaged, until the disastrous fire of
1830, which seems to have swept away all the buildings on the south
side, as well as the roof of the triforium. The church itself was so
much damaged that the south wall had to be shored up, (fn. 75) and breaches
were made in the ruined walls of the transept, which had to be fenced
round for safety. There is no view extant of the exterior to show the
condition before the fire, but Knight (fn. 76) has a view twelve years later,
when the site of the chapter-house and the prior's house was lying
waste. The triforium wall and the roof were destroyed, and were
replaced, as already described, (fn. 77) by a temporary lean-to roof which
lasted until 1891 when a new outer wall and roof were built, with
a small external turret and a newel stair in the angle of the quire and
transept to give access to the triforium from the church.
In 1846, four years after Knight's drawing was made, the devastated
land was covered by a row of small houses, called Cockerill's Buildings
after their builder, (fn. 78) and by two small dwellings, called Pope's Cottages
also after their builder, backing on to the quire wall.
In 1911 Mr. Abbiss' school building and Pope's Cottages were
secured for the church, so that in 1913 it was possible to free the
south side of the church from all secular buildings. The wall was then
put into a safe condition and a quire vestry erected on the ruins of
the south chapel.
In the small portion of the south quire wall which faces east is the
east window of the south aisle dating from 1864. It replaced the
entrance made by Rector Abbiss when he closed that through Bolton's
door to make room for his school-house in 1849. Below the window are
remains of Bolton's brickwork. At the corner of this and the south wall
is a flint and stone buttress erected in 1913–1914, as the wall required
strengthening at this point. In the wall between this corner and the
south chapel is Bolton's door, which led from the church into the
prior's house. The wall was built of narrow red bricks, but, being only
a thin interior wall, it had to be refaced in flint and stone when the
school-house was taken away; a small panel, however, has been left
on either side at the foot of the wall, the one to show the original
brick face, the other to show the plastered face as left by Bolton.
The sill of Bolton's door is on a level with the floor of the prior's house,
a part of the east wall of which has been left running south at right
angles to the church wall. In it are the stone jambs of a doorway
with a Purbeck marble slab as a threshold, in which still remain the
rivets which fastened a brass when it was used as a tombstone.
This doorway probably dates from the time when Sir Percival Hart
used this portion of the prior's house for a kitchen. (fn. 79) At the lower level
and against the chapel wall a small portion of the brick vault of the
prior's cellars has been left; also the latrine which was connected
with Dr. Mirfield's chamber in the triforium built in 1362 (pl. LXV). (fn. 80)
The remains of the walls of the south chapel have been left as found,
showing the two apses and a straight west wall. Upon these has been
erected the choir vestry, referred to above, the walls of which, as
already said, are but little more than half the thickness of those of
Rahere's building. (fn. 81) It is built in flint and Portland stone, with a broad
band of chequer work as used in other parts of the building. The door
is placed in the eastern apse, where the old wall had been destroyed
to allow coals to be shot when the chapel was used as a boiler-house.
On the north-east side of the chapel and above the latrine is a buttress
erected in 1914 to take the thrust of the arch in the triforium, which
gives support to the new sanctuary arch built in 1895. This support
was rendered necessary by the demolition of the school-house.
Westward of the south chapel and up to the ancient sacristy door
the quire wall is badly dilapidated. It was patched with brick and
cement in 1830 in consequence of the fire. Here and there some of
the original wall is visible. By the chapel is a small fragment of
a Norman pilaster buttress; and near the sacristy door, which is
still in a very rough state, there is another and similar buttress, on
which still remains a shattered portion of a Norman moulded string
similar to those to be seen at Waltham Abbey. These and many
other stones are red from the effects of the fire. This latter buttress
does not coincide with the arch of the vault in the aisle, the thrust
of which it was intended to take, but is a little to the east of it,
thereby furnishing additional evidence of some alteration in the plan
when Prior Thomas took up the work at this point.
The south wall at the triforium level west of the chapel was built
in 1891 in place of that destroyed in 1830. The portion above the
chapel was restored in 1913–1914 when the school-house was removed.
The exterior of the clerestory is, like that on the north side, early
fifteenth-century work with tracery of 1864.
Nothing of the original south transept remains above ground, but
the jambs of the door in the south wall remain below the churchyard
level, much scorched by the fire of 1830. They can only be seen from
the basement windows of the adjoining warehouse.
The rebuilding of the transept has already been recorded; (fn. 82) externally it is built of stone faced with split flints (pl. XXIb, p. 14). Its
south front is of two stories only. The wall of the ground story projects 6ft. farther than that of the story above, and from the centre the
porch projects a further 3 ft. The arch of the doorway of the porch
is slightly pointed and has a hood moulding which rises from foliated
corbels. The gable above it is ornamented with flint and stone
chequer work. In the wall, on either side of the porch, is an oblong
square-headed window with two cusped lights. The upper story
of the transept has three long windows which were described when
dealing with the interior. (fn. 83) The wall of flint is relieved with a plain
band of stone below and a band of chequer work at the springing of
the window arches. This work is repeated in the gable as in that
of the porch. On the top of the west wall a brick chimney appears.
The explanation of this is that at some time, probably when the
vaulting of the cloister fell in 1834, (fn. 84) the owners of the rooms over,
in rebuilding, encroached some 3 ft. or more over the church wall,
then in ruins, and thereon built a fireplace and chimney. When,
in 1891, the new bay of the transept was built, possession could not
be recovered of the full thickness of the church wall; the inner wall
of the transept, therefore, had to be carried up only 12 in. in thickness
until clear of the springing of the roof of the encroaching tenement
when, by means of a small girder, the remainder of the wall was
carried up of the proper thickness. This involved encircling the
chimney as we now see it. (fn. 85)
Northern Entrance from Cloth Fair, 1865. (See p. 117.)