The Records of St. Bartholomew's Priory and St. Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield: Volume 2. Originally published by Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1921.
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CHAPTER XII - BOUNDS, GATES, AND WATCHMEN
The parish of St. Bartholomew the Great (see plan, p. 131) dates from the time of the founding of the monastery. In a list of city churches in Liber Custumarum in 1303 it is called Sanctus Bartholomaeus Magnus de Smethefeld to distinguish it from St. Bartholomew-Exchange. The hospital was made a separate parish in 1544 under the style of St. Bartholomew the Less.
The king in his grant to Rich of that year said (as we have seen) (fn. 1)
'the close of the late monastery, commonly called Great St. Bartholomew's Close, from time whereof the memory of man is not to the contrary, was universally held used and accepted as a parish and as a parish in itself distinct and separate from other parishes and the inhabitants of the same close always had their own parish church and burial place.'
There were no dwelling-houses at that time within the ' fair ground ', but in spite of the 'close' alone being specified as constituting the parish, the ground occupied by the fair was included within the parish bounds described in the same deed. Although St. Bartholomew the Great is a distinct parish in itself it would seem that the site granted by Henry I for both his church and hospital was, as to its eastern portion, in the parish of St. Botolph, Aldersgate; and in consequence, as was usual in such cases, the mother church of St. Botolph, at some time unknown, made a composition with the priory, whereby St. Botolph's received from the priory 20s. a year in compensation for the loss of the oblations of such of their parishioners as dwelt within the portion of the precincts of the priory, which had been within St. Botolph's parish. Between the years 1439 and 1441 this composition was disputed by the prior, which caused the rector of St. Botolph's to collect evidence in favour of his rights; and the answers given by some of the oldest inhabitants to interrogations made to them are preserved in the muniment room of Westminster Abbey. (fn. 2) St. Botolph's was, in 1399, appropriated by Richard II to the collegiate church of St. Martin le Grand for an anniversary of his queen, Anne, so the inquiry was held on behalf of Richard Cawdray, who was the Dean of St. Martin's from 1439, (fn. 3) and who was also rector of St. Botolph's. None of the witnesses knew the date of the composition but they knew that 20s. was regularly paid during the rectorship of Ralph de Kesteven (1374–1399) until within the last three years of the rectorship of William Leyton (or Leyghton), about 1435, and that the inhabitants of the priory precinct paid the king's taxes with the other parishioners of St. Botolph's. One of the witnesses described the bounds and liberties of their parish 'within the precinct of the priory' as (fn. 4)
' beginning at a certain stone wall in Long Lane on which wall there stood a certain stone cross which separated the bounds of St. Botolph from the bounds of St. Sepulchre ' (this point is now between Nos. 82 and 83 Long Lane) 'and so passing within the precinct of the priory from the said cross to the corner of the high altar of the church of St. Bartholomew and westward directly towards the end of a house of a certain gentleman commonly called Hotoft, standing north and south, which house or mansion was within the bounds of St. Botolph.'
(this point is south of the hospital; it used to be in the middle of the swimming bath of Christ's Hospital, and is now in the yard of the new General Post Office).
Why Prior William Coventry (1414–1436) or Prior Reginald Collier (1436–1471) should have repudiated the composition does not appear, but the matter was settled in 1441 by Prior Collier giving the Dean of St. Martin's £4 in full discharge of all arrears. (fn. 5) The annual payment continued until the suppression for it appears among the deductions in the Valor Ecclesiasticus as ' paid the Dean of St. Martin's from St. Botolph's Aldersgate 20s.' (fn. 6)
The parish of St. Bartholomew is now in the ward of Farringdonwithout, so named from William Farendon who purchased the aldermanry 156 years after St. Bartholomew's was founded. (fn. 7) What was the name of the ward in 1123 we do not know. The ward was not divided into 'within' and 'without' until 1393.
The Parish Bounds.
The following particulars of the parish bounds in 1544 are translated
from 'Particulars for Grants' in the Record Office. (fn. 8)
'Bounds and limits of the circuit and precinct of the Close called Greate Seynt Bartilmewe's Close, late belonging to the monastery or priory of St. Bartholomew in West Smythfelde in the suburbs to wit:
'Beginning at the great gate called "le southgate" of the close aforesaid on the farther side of the same gate, at the southern end of the lane called Duck Lane' (Duck Lane, afterwards Duke Street, is now named Little Britain) 'and thence tending northward along the middle of that lane, to wit, along "le cannell" as it leads up to a certain place called "le Cheyne", belonging to the said late monastery' (plan, p. 131).
All we know of this place called 'le Cheyne' is from Agas's map, where it is shown as an oblong space bounded by a low wall, presumably about 4 ft. high (p. 110). It extended from the south side of the Smithfield gate past the west front of the church, to the Cloth Fair gate. The width of the enclosure is shown as about half that of Duck Lane. It was probably 10 ft. wide as the parish boundary now is 10 ft. westward of the Smithfield gate. (fn. 9) In the centre of the west side of this low wall an opening is shown of about 6 ft. in width, which we assume was on market days enclosed by a chain to prevent cattle from entering the church. (fn. 10) After 'le cheyne' had been removed, even as late as the year 1774, one of the duties of the parish beadle was 'to keep horses out of the close on Fridays', (fn. 11) which was the market day, (fn. 12) as already stated. It was also the market day when Fitz Stephen wrote, 600 years before, for he says: (fn. 13)
'There is also, without one of the city gates, and even in the very suburbs, a certain plain field, such both in reality and name; here every Friday, unless it should happen to be one of the more solemn festivals, there is a celebrated rendezvous of fine horses brought thither to be sold.'
In the seventeenth century strong wooden fencing was placed round the whole of Smithfield as a protection from cattle. The 'particulars' continue:
'And thence proceeding northward along the outer side of the west side of "le cheyne" as far as the north end of "le cheyne",' by which we see that the boundary which ran up the middle of Duck Lane made no turn on reaching 'le cheyne'. At the north end of the enclosure the bound is described as
'then turning away eastward along the outer side of the northern end of "le cheyne" and then turning and thence proceeding northward along the outer side of the west gate of the fair of St. Bartholomew.'
This implies that 'le cheyne' did not extend to the north side of the Cloth Fair gate as shown in Agas's map: on the other hand, John Chesewyk's house, though on the north side of the Cloth Fair gate, is described as 'next to le cheyne', so there is some confusion. Neither the Ordnance map nor 'the book of the perambulation of the parish' shows the turn to the eastward mentioned above. As the king's bounds do not, up to this point, follow the building front, as they do beyond it, we do not know whether the site of the west front of the church was occupied by houses in the year 1544, as Agas's map shows was the case some twenty years later.
The boundary then proceeded, not in the street as described in the
later perambulation of the parish bounds, but
along the outer sides and walls of houses and tenements parcel of the possessions of the said late monastery towards Smythfeld market' (these houses were called Le Ramyge in the grant) 'up to a certain lane called Long Lane,'
taking no notice of the two houses 62 and 63 West Smithfield which belonged to St. Sepulchre's parish,
'and then turning away eastward along the outer side of the stone wall of the close of the monastery abutting on Longlane up to the stone wall at the eastern end of the same stone wall towards Longlane,'
no mention is made of the gate in this north wall of the monastery shown in Agas's map,
'and then turning southward away from Longlane along the outer side of the stone wall,'
that would be through the centre of the present Manchester Hotel,
'as it leads up to houses and buildings late parcel of the possessions for a time belonging to the late house of the brethren of Houneslowe,' (fn. 14)
that is the Priory of Trinitarian or Maturine Friars in Hounslow. These houses were apparently the limit of the stone wall; further references are to one of brick.
'and then proceeding southward along the western side of the same houses and buildings up to a certain place called Pety Wales'
that is to the back portion of Collingridge's printing establishment entered at the south-east corner of Newbury Street and at 148 Aldersgate Street,
'and then turning eastward away from Pety Wales along the outer side of the northern side of a certain place called Paradyse, next Pety Wales, up to the further side on the east of Paradyse, and then turning away southward along the outer side of the east side of Paradyse (as far as) the further side on the south side of Paradyse and then turning away westward along the outer side of the southern side of Paradyse,'
that is the northern side of Half Moon Court,
'up to Pety Wales and then proceeding westward along the outer side of Pety Wales'
because Petty Wales extended from the north-west to the south-west of Paradise,
'along and next houses, buildings and vacant land parcel of Blackhorse alley'
that is Bowman's Buildings leading to Queen's Square belonging to the Company of Fishmongers, (fn. 15)
'up to the western end of the vacant land, parcel of the Blackhorse alley, and then turning away southward along the western end of the said vacant land'
that is at the east end of Queen's Square,
'and along the outer side of a garden and messuage in the tenure of Robert Burgoyne Esquire towards the east up to a wall of brick at the south end of the same messuage,'
that is from the back portion of William Potter and Sons' premises, 160–162 Aldersgate Street, southward past Manchester Avenue to the north wall of what was the Albion Tavern, 173 Aldersgate Street,
'and then turning away westward along the outer side of the said wall of brick at the southern end of the messuage of Robert Burgoyne'
that is the length of the western half of the north wall of the late Albion Tavern,
'up to a wall of brick next a messuage in the tenure of Thomas Burgoyne Esq. and then turning away southward along the outer side towards the east of the same wall of brick next the same messuage and garden in the tenure of Thomas Burgoyne, as the same wall of brick extends up to a garden in the tenure of Thomas Andrews gentleman'
that is along the western side of the late Albion Tavern to and perhaps across Westmoreland Buildings,
'and turning away eastwards'
as Andrewes' and Mody's houses and gardens, as we shall see presently, were lost to the parish, the parish bound now turns to the west instead of to the east,
'along the outer side of the same garden of Thomas Andrewes towards the north up to the eastern end of the same garden, and then turning away southward along the outer side of the eastern boundary of the same garden towards the east up to a messuage of Richard Mody Esquire'
that is to say the eastern portion of the Aldersgate and Farringdonwithin ward school, formerly part of the Earl of Westmorland's (fn. 16) house, and the western end of the National Provincial Bank, 185 Aldersgate Street.
'And so thence proceeding southward along the outer side of the messuage of Richard Mody towards the east up to a wall of brick at the southern boundary of the same messuage of Richard Mody and then turning away westward along the outer side of a wall of brick at the southern end of the messuage and garden of Richard Mody towards the south and at the southern end of a garden in the tenure of Richard Bartlett Doctor of Medicine towards the south up to a wall of brick at the western boundary of the said garden of Richard Bartlett toward the west up to the southern side of a messuage in the tenure of the said Richard Bartlett and then turning away westward along the outer side of the same messuage of Richard Bartlett towards the south,'
evidently Dr. Bartlett's garden occupied the whole of Albion Buildings and his house probably occupied Nos. 9 to 11 Bartholomew Close,
'and so thence proceeding westward along the outsides of houses tenements and buildings parcel of the possessions of the said late monastery or priory towards the south up to the said south gate.'
We learn by 'a Perambulation of the Parish Bounds' (fn. 17) preserved in the safe in the church, written in the year 1828 as a guide to the boundary marks when beating the bounds on Ascension Day, that the boundary up Duke Street is not in the middle of the road, but that it varies in distance; the houses on the east side of the road in some cases being 10 ft. 6 in., in others 18 ft. 8 in. distant from the bound: the street itself varies in width from 25 ft. to 22 ft. 2 in. At the site of 'le cheyne' the bound varies from 10 ft. 1 in. to 9 ft. 5 in. in front of the houses, and so continues to the corner of Long Lane; it does not set back to the houses at the entrance to Cloth Fair as was the case in 1544.
There are two houses—as mentioned above (fn. 18) —Nos. 62 and 63 West Smithfield, between the Cloth Fair entrance and Long Lane, which are in St. Sepulchre's parish. (fn. 19) The king's grant to Rich in 1544 says that all the houses from the Cloth Fair gate to Long Lane were in St. Sepulchre's parish (called St. Stephen's in error). It is clear, however, that the two houses, Nos. 62 and 63, are the only ones now belonging to St. Sepulchre's and probably it was always so. The bounds we have seen as described in 1544 take no notice of these intruding houses, but they are minutely described in the 'Perambulation of the Parish Bounds' we are now considering, and are clearly shown as two houses only in the Ordnance Survey map. The king sold these St. Sepulchre houses separately and not to Rich, as 'part of the possessions of the late monastery', showing that, although they belonged to the monastery, they were not within the precincts. We assume that it was No. 62 that was leased to John Cheswyke, the launder, in 1542, and that it was No. 63 that was occupied by a farrier in 1544; (fn. 20) although the king's grant says that Cheswyke's house was 'next the west gate of the market' (i. e. No. 61) and that the other four houses and a stable (Nos. 62–66) were in the tenure of Cheswyke and were all in St. Sepulchre's parish. In 1572 the two houses (Nos. 62 and 63) were bequeathed by one John Saul for the use of the parish of St. Sepulchre, after his wife's death, but how they came originally to be in the possession of the monastery and yet not within the monastic bounds does not appear.
Up Long Lane the boundary runs at a distance of 14 ft. 6 in. from the houses in front of Barley Mow Passage, to 8 ft. 5 in. at its termination eastward. At a point 93 ft. 9 in. westward of what was the corner of Long Lane and Aldersgate Street the three parishes meet: St. Sepulchre's, St. Botolph's Aldersgate, and St. Bartholomew's the Great.
The boundary, which from this point threads an irregular and intricate way at the backs of and often through houses of Aldersgate Street, is very little, if at all, altered in spite of the monastic brick wall having been pulled down or built upon. There were many disputes from this cause where the bounds crossed Halfmoon Passage and passed at the back of London House; but the parish generally was able to hold its own against St. Botolph's. A give-and-take arrangement, when Westmoreland Buildings were built in the year 1764, necessitated a modification of the boundary there to the detriment of St. Bartholomew's, because in one or two instances it would have extended the privilege of St. Bartholomew's of trading without being free of the city (fn. 21) to persons beyond the ancient boundary, and this the Corporation resisted. (fn. 22)
The main alteration in the boundary occurs on the east side of
Albion Buildings and south of Westmoreland Buildings. The boundary
here now turns to the west (as seen above), whereas in the Bounds of
1544 it turned to the east, to include in the parish Thomas Andrewes's
and Richard Mody's property. It is shown later (fn. 23) how Mody had
acquired his house in the south-east corner of the parish (where the
Aldersgate ward schools now stand) from Sir John Williams and
Sir Edward North, to whom the king had given the house in 1543, so
that it was not sold to Rich with the rest of the parish. And this may
be the cause why, after Rich purchased it in 1544, the house was
absorbed by St. Botolph's parish. As Mr. Illidge, a member of the
vestry, wrote (25th October 1824) (fn. 24) when the question of the Bounds
was being considered:
'Take that house and garden (Mody's) out and it leaves you such a boundary as you now have: but include his house and garden and you have such a boundary as the Charter describes and such as you now have not but ought to have.' (fn. 25)
The main cause of the disputes with the parish of St. Botolph, Aldersgate, arose from the extension westward of premises in the latter parish on to or beyond the ancient monastic wall and the disinclination of the owners to pay rates to both parishes. This is well exemplified in the first case recorded, in the year 1676. (fn. 26)
The Half Moon Tavern, to which the wits in the reign of Charles II resorted on account of its proximity to Lauderdale House (which was on the opposite side of Aldersgate Street where Lauderdale Buildings now are), was in St. Botolph's parish. It was the property of Sir John Deane, the first rector of St. Bartholomew's, at the time of his death in 1563, for in his will he bequeathed to Margerie Storke his 'tennant's daughter of the Halfe Mone £3' and to Brian Storke and his wife all his 'tenements called the halfe Moune, together with the parloure chambers and shoppe adjoining whiche were three little tenements in the parishe of St. Buttolpe, on the north side of the halfe moune'. The owner in 1676 was Tyde Roberts: he purchased some small houses in Petty Wales and Paradise, in St. Bartholomew's parish, which were at the back of the Half Moon. These he pulled down and built upon the front portion a new Half Moon Tavern; the back portion he kept as a yard. The old tavern in Aldersgate Street he sold, except a portion of its cellar and the passage leading into Aldersgate Street. He then proceeded to pull down a piece of the ancient monastic wall, whereby he obtained access from his backyard into the passage from Aldersgate Street. He then claimed to be in St. Botolph's parish where he was not taxed, and not to be in St. Bartholomew's parish where he was not taxed. A similar claim was made in the year 1705, when counsel's opinion was again in favour of St. Bartholomew's.
In the year 1781 (fn. 27) the occupier of this tavern was indicted by the St. Botolph's parish for using the house for immoral purposes, since which time it has ceased to be a tavern. Though St. Botolph's prosecuted they admitted that the offence took place in St. Bartholomew's parish. In spite of this, in the year 1801, St. Botolph's distrained for rates on one Thomas Yates who then occupied the late tavern, but judgement in the Court of Husting was given against them. It was even then not settled, for in the year 1805 St. Bartholomew's employed Thomas Hardwick, the surveyor, in the matter, who reported that he found that one of the boundary marks was immediately over the remains of the ancient wall which formed the west springing wall to an arch of a cellar belonging to Yates, the tobacconist. He reported that the wall was about 28 ft. from the west front of the houses in Aldersgate Street, and that he had traced it running about 23 ft. in a northerly direction.
What was known as London House, on the site of which is now Manchester Avenue, was a fruitful source of trouble. (fn. 28) It was in St. Botolph's parish and had belonged to Lord Petre, who had built on the ruins of the priory wall an infirmary (afterwards called a garden house) and an audit house (as to three-quarters of its length), which were, in consequence, in St. Bartholomew's parish. This Lord Petre, who was in possession in the year 1678, was accused by Titus Oates of complicity in the fabricated popish plot, and died in the Tower. The house and garden therefore reverted to the Crown and Charles II gave it to the Bishop of London for his town house.
Disputes with St. Botolph's concerning these buildings on the ruins of the wall commenced in the year 1705, and references thereto occur in the Vestry Minute Books in the years 1717, 1725, 1747, and 1767. In 1768 the disputants began pulling down the boundary marks put up by the opposing parish. In 1771 and 1783 attempts were made to determine the matter, but in 1791 a mark put up by St. Bartholomew's parish was again pulled down. In 1814 it was still unsettled, for Mr. Illidge was requested to collect all the documents relating to the subject in dispute. This he did, but nothing resulted until 1825, when St. Botolph's Vestry expressed a desire to settle the matter by a Joint Committee, by which means an agreement was reached.
The beating of the bounds of the parish was carried out (apparently triennially) for over 200 years. The ceremony took place on Ascension Day, more generally known as Holy Thursday. The procession was headed by the parish beadle, followed by the rector, (fn. 29) churchwardens, overseers, and the schoolboys of the parish. The first record we have found is in the churchwardens' accounts of the year 1659, when occurs 'May 10 pd. for poyntz for the boys 00.6.6.' and 'allowance for ye feast on Holy Thursday 01.00.00.' In the year 1669 occurs 'four gross of points used for Ascension Day'. In 1685 occurs '28 points for ye boyes 00.12.00, nosegays and strawings 5s., wands for ye boys 00.3.6.' In 1698 we find 'June 1 Item pd. Mr. Latham for a gross of points 01.01.00. Expended at the halfe Moon Tavern on the minister, clark, masters and boys, 00.11.00., pd. Mr. Short for nosegays and strowings 00.03.00., pd. for the ringers on Holy Thursday 00.05.00.' The points were probably small bows of ribbon for the boys' clothes, for it is recorded that at the funeral of Sir John Spencer in the year 1609 each man had among other things 'a pair of gloves and a dozen of points to tie his garments with'. (fn. 30)
One of the difficulties as regards London House arose when beating the bounds in 1816, the house then being occupied by Seddon, the upholsterer. Seddon had bricked up, for his own convenience, an entrance to his yard which interfered with the perambulation by compelling the beaters to go outside their own parish; against this the parishioners protested, so Seddon had to provide a ladder to scale the wall and he had to form a new door in the wall for future use. (fn. 31)
The Parish Gates.
It will be seen that the only gates mentioned in the king's 'particulars for grant' are 'le southgate' and the 'west gate of the fair of St. Bartholomew'. But Agas's map shows very clearly a small gate in the northern boundary wall near the granary, in the position of the parish gate which was removed in 1879 when the Manchester Hotel was built. This small gate was probably only a postern and for that reason was not mentioned in the 'bounds'.
But on the sale to Rich it was necessary to have more entrances to the parish than in monastic times, and these entrances had to be guarded by gates for the reason that Rich claimed the privilege of 'a liberty' (fn. 32) for the parish. Being a 'liberty' the Mayor and Sheriffs had not the right of arresting any person therein. This was naturally resented by the Corporation; but in 1597 when the king had given commandment to the City for the press or levy of 500 soldiers, and the Lord Mayor had directed the city parishes accordingly, 'the inhabitants within the liberty of Great St. Bartholomew's' having taken exception—pretending that the privilege of the liberty freed them from the commandment—the Privy Council supported the Corporation and wrote to Lord Rich, the owner of the liberty, that 'in these public services the liberty gave no such exemptions'. (fn. 33) Again in December 1598 the Council wrote to the Lord Mayor that any claiming exemption should be punished severely. (fn. 34) However, in 1624 the king had to request the Lord Mayor that the privileges of Lord Kensington within the liberty of St. Bartholomew the Great, which belonged to him and was exempted from the jurisdiction of the city, should not be encroached upon, especially during his employment on the king's service (i.e. negotiating the marriage with Henrietta Maria), and that all impeachments thereof be forborne till the right be legally determined. (fn. 35)
The City sometimes ignored the privileges and the owner of them, and indeed the orders of the Council too: thus, in 1626 one John Meredith and his wife, having been arrested within the liberty, appealed to the Earl of Holland, who sent an order for their discharge, which order was disregarded. Meredith having lain in prison a fortnight, further petitioned the earl, who was then Captain of the Guard, (fn. 36) but apparently no satisfaction was obtained, for in the next year, 1627, Meredith petitioned the Council that 'having been formerly unjustly arrested in the liberty of St. Bartholomew, belonging to the Earl of Holland, he had been discharged on the interference of the Council. Lately, since the departure of the earl, he had been re-arrested and could not obtain his discharge.' (fn. 37)
Sometimes the privileges of the 'liberty' were forcibly circumvented by other interested parties, as in 1643, when a man, having an action against his wife, wished to prevent a certain Levinus Hopper from appearing as a witness for her. He therefore repaired to Hopper's house in Great St. Bartholomew's, accompanied by four soldiers who affirmed they were of Col. Mainwaring's regiment, and, pretending they had a warrant for his arrest as a malignant, broke open his door and carried him forcibly forth into the liberty of the city. (fn. 38)
The necessity of guarding the liberty by gates was therefore apparent. There were eight gates in all. The great South Gate or Britain Gate was the monastic gate from the Close, the overhanging gatehouse of which remained until the year 1720. (fn. 39) This gate was removed in 1888 when the Commissioners of Sewers widened the entrance to the Close (pl. LXXXIII a, p. 210).
The church or Smithfield Gate was originally the south-west portal to the façade of the church and led directly into the south aisle of the nave. When the nave was destroyed in 1542 this doorway was left as a convenient place in which to hang a parish gate. The wooden gates shown in Storer and Greig's engraving of 1804 were replaced in 1856 by iron gates, the framework of which still remains (pl. LXXXIII b, p. 210).
The Cloth Fair gate or 'the West Gate of the Fair' was at the Smithfield entrance to Cloth Fair both before and after the suppression (pl. LXXXIV b, p. 210). The gate was removed in 1908 when the overhanging building of the bank on the north side had to be taken down, owing to the way in which the house on the south side was rebuilt at that time.
Solomon's Gate, at No. 57 Long Lane, gave access indirectly to Sun Court. It was removed in 1895, when the Corporation, at the instance of Mr. Deputy Turner, a churchwarden of the parish, did not allow the rebuilding of No. 57, taken down the year before, thereby opening out not only Sun Court but also a fine vista of the new north porch of the church. The name of the gate was modern, being that of the owner of the house pulled down.
The Red Cow Gate, named, like the preceding gate, after the adjoining public-house, was at No. 72 Long Lane. Here the Corporation had placed a good iron gate with the civic arms, which also remained until 1910.
The Cloth Street Gate, the last one in Long Lane, was at the entrance to Cloth Street. It was in the position of the one referred to above as the small postern gate of the monastery. When the gate was taken down in 1879 the Corporation declined to rebuild it.
The other two gates leading from Aldersgate Street are private property and still remain. One is on the south side of the Manchester Hotel in the passage formerly known as Cox's Court. In 1772 the parish claimed a right of way through this passage and took action on the obstruction of it by Shaw and Seymour, who had closed the gate. (fn. 40) The parish, however, lost their case in the King's Bench by a flaw in the indictment. The other, the Queen's Square Gate, is in the passage from 159 Aldersgate Street, known as Bowman's Buildings. The Fishmongers' Company claim to close it yearly on Easter Monday.
On the 25th July 1910 all the gates still standing were, excepting the two private gates mentioned above, removed by agreement with the Corporation, (fn. 41) under the following circumstances:
These gates had been shut every night by the parish watchmen up to the year 1848. At that time the Corporation introduced a Bill into Parliament, subsequently known as the London Sewers Act, (fn. 42) which among other things was to take over the powers of self-government conferred on the parish by two private Acts of Parliament. (fn. 43) The parish did not wish to relinquish their powers of local selfgovernment and took steps to oppose the Bill. To stay this opposition the Corporation gave an undertaking (fn. 44) to the parish trustees to provide for the maintenance of the parish gates, under which undertaking the Corporation continued to maintain the gates (more or less) and to pay the watchmen. (fn. 45)
In the year 1908 an opportunity occurred for the parish to acquire the house over the Smithfield gateway and part of the house on the south side of it, for the sum of £1,875. Of this sum £1,600 was publicly subscribed. It was then deemed desirable that there should be a fund available for the preservation of this gateway for all time; and, inasmuch as three of the gates had already been removed, and the others were of no artistic or antiquarian importance and no longer served any useful purpose, it was decided to release the Corporation from their undertaking for a sum of £1,500. So, although the gates are no more, the safety of the Smithfield gateway is secured. (fn. 46)
The Watchmen and Gatekeepers.
In monastic times there was a janitor or gatekeeper to control those going in and out of the south gate of the monastery. We have already referred (fn. 47) to one Stephen de Clopton who in his will in 1336 described himself as the janitor, and bequeathed his shops in Aldermanbury for the maintenance of the newly-constructed Lady Chapel. Stow mentions that in monastic times the booths in the fair 'were closed in with walls and gates locked every night and watched for safety of men's goods and wares'. In the year 1590, fifty years after the suppression, the office of gatekeeper still continued, for one John Nelson in that year bequeathed to William Thomas 'porter of the gate of Great St. Bartholomew's' his 'myhte (fn. 48) gowne fared with budge which he last mended'. (fn. 49)
In fact, from the time of the suppression until 1908 there continued to be watchmen for the gates. In that year the agreement with the Corporation mentioned above was first mooted; and, by a curious coincidence, in the same year the last of the watchmen died, so there was no compensation to pay. (Their duties are set out in the Appendix. (fn. 50) )