The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 11. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1800.
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Present state of the precinct
How the scite and buildings of it were afterwards disposed of, among the members of the new establishment, and the new form they then took, as well as their alterations, which brought them forward, to their present state, cannot be so well described, as it is in a manuscript treatise, now in the possession of the dean of Canterbury, containing the orders of the chapter, made in 1546, for the allotment of them among those members, with Mr. Somner's explanation and observations on them. In this treatise are many curious particulars relating to the converting of the different buildings of the monastery into dwellings for this new society; and the new modelling of the whole precincts, in a great measure, into its present form, may be known from it; but the frequent changes which appear by it to have been made between some of the prebendaries of those lodgings, at first allotted to them, and then again to others on the demise of any of their brethren, some with the consent of the chapter, and others by order of the visitor, make it very difficult to ascertain to which stall they in reality belonged, and these changes seem to have continued till some time after queen Elizabeth's accession; since which the lodgings have remained fixed to the prebendaries, according to their respective stalls, as above-mentioned.
The DEAN'S LODGINGS.—First, from the chapel door next the dorter; to have the chapel with the closet, the old chequer, with all manner of chambers thereunto belonging, both new and old, lately appertaining to the prior there, with the corn-losts and cellars under them, adjoining to the west 'end of his great gardens, and also all the brewhouse, separate now from Mr. Parkhurst's lodging, (fn. 1) and the bakehouse and all other houses, as the whole lodging lately ordained for the master of the choristers, unto the dean's stables; also the great barn next the stables, and the two stables, lately called the prior's stables, and the sumptery stable and the carter's hall; and a division to be made between Dr. Ridley's garden (fn. 2) directly from Mr. Dean's gate, and to stop up the walk upon the wall, and Mr. Dean to have the whole room from the barn, with the town wall and tower, unto Dr Ridley's orchard pale, and a way to be reserved for Mr. Dean to the postern gate, and the garden before his hall door, with the wine cellar.
The first prebendary's lodgings. (fn. 3) —To have the vault called bishop Becket's tomb, under our Lady's chapel; the house called his bake-house, his kitchen, hall, parlour, buttery, and the south side of the old chapel there, the chancel there, with all manner of buildings by him there made, his courts before his hall door and kitchen, with the garden before his gallery, and his old garden in the sanctuary, with his orchard and tower therein; and his stable next to the middle gate, and the hay house next to Mr. Seenleger's stable, along the dean's garden.
The second prebendary's lodgings. (fn. 4) —First, he to have the north side or isle of the firmary chapel, with the garden on the north side; the old table hall, with the kitchen, buttery, the chamber, called commission chamber, and the lodging at the upper end of the hall, the little garden there, and the stable next Mr. Dean's stable, with the little barn.
The third prebendary's lodgings. (fn. 5) — He to have two lodgings, late Mr. Searle's and Mr. Brooke's, with the rooms squared to the tenements; and to have the stable which Mr. Devenish lately had.
The fourth prebendary's lodgings. (fn. 6) — He to have the kitchen, with his larder next the court, with all the wall room, tower, town wall, garden to the stables, the whole lodging from Mr.Dean's wall against the wall late made in the brewhouse, the kitchen before made, pertaining to his lodging, the stable next the garden, with the hay-house thereto belonging.
The fifth's prebendary's lodgings. (fn. 7) — He to have all the chambers and house, from the chamber now William Wincheap's, being annexed unto the lodgings named the honnours, with all manner of houses, there above and under, joining to his garden, and so far cross the great chamber, as his garden wall directly departeth, and a division thereto be made cross the chamber, as the garden wall lieth, and all the back garden to Mr. Dean's garden, with the town wall, the tower lately in the tenure of Mr. Daniel, and also the stable next the bake-house.
The sixth prebendary's lodgings. (fn. 8) —He to have the other part of the aforesaid great chamber, in the honnours, the rooms underneath, with the gallery and garden, and his old chamber, with all manner of chambers, cellars and rooms there inclosed, and the stable next the forge barn, and the hay-house betwixt the barn and the bishop of Dover. (fn. 9)
The seventh prebendary's lodgings. (fn. 10) —He to have the whole lodging, from the larder gate to the pentise gate, with the chambers there, called Heaven and Paradise, and so through the fruyter and to the cloyster, and all the fruyter to the dorter wall, the common kitchen with all manner of houses, cellars, and lofts, (the lead, timber, and freestone of the fruyter, taken down for the treasure of the church), and the stable next to Dr. Ridley's.
The eighth prebendary's lodgings. (fn. 11) —He to have Mr. Cok's lodging, with the plumbery and close, and garden impaled upon the hill to the school garden.
The ninth prebendary's lodgings. (fn. 12) —He to have the whole lodging, that Mr.Cross had beneath and above, with all manner of rooms within the gate, called the Hogg-hall; the whole garden with the vaults and town wall, provided Mr.Milles have a wood-house so convenient for him, as he now has, else to keep the same. (fn. 13)
The tenth prebendary's lodgings. (fn. 14) —He to have the whole lodging, with the garden next the pentise in the court, with the whole lodging over the court gate, the stable with the hay-house, lately the treasurer's storehouse, adjoining near the bakehouse.
The eleventh prebendary's lodgings. (fn. 15) —He to have the other lodging called honnours, with the gallery at the door above and beneath, and the chapel above and under, and the orchard, inclosed with stone walls, next the street, square with his lodgings and the stable, with the hay-house, late Mr. Daniel's, and licence to build a gallery ten yards long, upon the bishop of Dover's garden wall there.
The twelfth prebendary's lodgings. (fn. 16) —He to have the lodging in the late long hall, from Mr. Dean's lodging to the bishop of Dover's lodging, with all manner of houses and vaults, late in the tenure of Mr. Arthur St. Leger, and a way through the Gimew to bring in wood, and the stable between Mr. Ponet's and Mr. Parkhurst's.
The greater buildings of the priory, such as the great dorter or dormitory, the resectory, the convent kitchen and the long hall of the sub-prior's lodgings, which though necessary for so large a community, living all together as one family, could be of no use to the new foundation, were all taken down, and the scites of most of them allotted to the several prebendaries, as before mentioned.
The ANTIENT AND PRESENT STATE OF THE PRECINCTS of the late priory, and of the dean and chapter.
The SCITES of monasteries were in general encompassed with a strong and high wall, partly to form an inclosure, in which the monks should be kept within bounds from wandering abroad at large, without leave of the superior, and partly as a means by which the rich treasures of them might be secured from thieves and robbers, and their persons guarded from the tumultuous insurrections of the rabble.
This church and monastery had such a wall; some remains of which, built of stone, appear at this day; the whole of which is said to have been made by archbishop Lanfranc, soon after the Norman conquest; for this, we have the authorities of Eadmer, (fn. 17) Ralph de Diceto, (fn. 18) and the monk Gervas, (fn. 19) who all agree, that Lanfranc built the edifices within the precinct, together with the wall. The same is recorded in the obituary, and mentioned in a charter of archbishop Theobald, with the three courts that it inclosed; that is, the court of the church, the court of the convent, and the court of the archbishop; the circuits of which were at different times enlarged afterwards, by several grants, purchases and exchanges; the particulars of which may be seen in Thorn's Chronicle, and in both Somner and Battely. (fn. 20) By some of these, the court, the cemetery, and the convent garden, were all enlarged towards the south; and most part of the south wall seems to have been new built, taking in a larger compass than at first it did, and comprehending the same bounds that it does at this day. (fn. 21)
Towards the east wall, the convent garden was much enlarged by the addition of houses and lands, which the monks had likewise acquired, by purchase and exchange, near Queningate and Queningate-lane; by which acquisitions that wall, towards the south end of it, was extended probably to the same limits that it has at this day. (fn. 22)
As to the remaining part of the east, and part of the north wall, it is to be observed, that there was a small space between the wall of the convent and the wall of the city, reaching from Queningate to Northgate, called Queningate-lane; this piece of ground king Henry II. by his charter, gave to this church for the use of their almonry. (fn. 23) In the year 1305, the monks were presented by the citizens, for having stopped or made up this way, leading from one of these gates to the other; this the monks acknowledged, but alledged their right by the above charter, upon which they were acquitted; but for their more certain surety in it, they obtained of king Henry IV. as appears by the church records, a further grant of this way. (fn. 24)
But the remainder of Queningate-lane, lying between Queningate and Burgate, did not for some time afterwards become the property of the church, for it may be seen in the act of parliament passed in the first year of king Richard III. by which the aldermanry of Westgate was granted to the city, that this slip of ground was then by it granted to the church, together with the postern and bridge; but in case of eviction of the aldermanry from the city, this ground and premises were to return to the city, a part of whose demesnes it was in fee farm; and it certainly did so, for in the first year of king Henry VII. the same aldermanry, by another act of parliament, was restored to Sir George Brown's heirs, who by the former act were made incapable of it, on account of their father's taking part with the former of those princes.
But this part of the city wall being much neglected, and in a ruinous condition, the monks petitioned the king, for the preventing of such dangers as might besal their monastery on that account, that they might repair that part of it at their own cost, and might take in that part of the lane within the inclosure of their own monastery; which desire they obtained, and a composition was entered into between them and the citizens, in the 7th year of king Henry VII. (fn. 25) by which, among many other things agreed on between them, the church became possessed of this space of ground, with the wall, towers, postern and bridge; after which, prior Selling (who died 1494) new built that part of this wall, which reached from St. Michael's church to the old one that inclosed the garden of the convent; (fn. 26) the remaining parts of the walls of this monastery retain their first bounds, and therefore require no further observation to be made on them.
The STATE of the precincts of this church, at the time of the dissolution of the monastery, was this: On the north side of the church was the court of the priory, encompassed with the buildings, lodgings and offices of the prior and of the convent, now called the greencourt and brick-passage; adjoining to this court, northwestward, was the almonry, now called the Mint yard; on the west part was the court of the palace, or of the archbishop, where his palace was; and on the south side was the court of the church, now called the churchyard, in which was the outward and inward cemetery; and beyond that eastward, the convent-garden, now called the Oaks.
There were formerly five gates belonging to these precincts, viz. the grand gate on the south side of the church, in the church-yard; the gate in the court of the priory, leading from thence to Stablegate, through which all the provisions and necessaries for the convent were brought; the gate in the almonry; the gate leading to the Foreigns, and the postern in the city wall, leading towards St. Augustine's monastery, all which will be taken notice of hereafter; and there has been one added in later times, being the postern-gate at the north-west corner of the church, leading to the precincts of the Archbishop's palace.
Besides these, there was in antient times another gate, called St. Michael's gate (from its being opposite to a large stone image of St. Michael, set up on the roof of the church over the door into the south cross isle) and in the old charters of the church, the old gate of the cemetery, from its leading into the common cemetery of the church in the court of it. To this gate there was a direct passage or street, open from the east end of the late St. Andrew's church, through the place where the Corn-market and Butter-market now is, called from the above image, Angel-lane; some part of this gate is yet remaining; but it is, as well as the passage itself, built upon and converted to private use. (fn. 27)
The present gate of the cemetery, usually called the Church-gate, is built at some distance westward from the other, above-mentioned, in the same south wall of the precincts of the church. There is a passage to it from the High-street through Mercery-lane, and thence to the south porch of the church. The use of this gate was to open a more direct and commodious way to all those, who through devotion, continually resorted to this church; and there is a charter among the records of the hospital of Eastbridge, which mentions a house built at the east corner of the lane, called le Mercerie, over against the gate of the church of the Holy. Trinity; it is dated anno 41 Henry III. (fn. 28)
The present gate succeeding the former one, beforementioned, on the same spot, is a strong and beautiful building of elegant gothic architecture, built by prior Goldstone, in the year 1517, as appears by a legend along the whole front of it, (fn. 29) though now scarcely legible, for that, as well as the rich ornamental carve work, which covers almost the whole of it; among which are the several coats of arms of the nobility and gentry of that time, is now in great measure decayed and mouldered away through length of time. (fn. 30) In the middle was a large statue of our Saviour, which, in derision, was shot to pieces by the parliamentary soldiers in the great rebellion of the last century.
Within this gate, along the greatest part of the south side of the church, formerly called the court of it, was the common cemetery, or burying place, not only for those of the convent, but for such of the city as chose to be buried in it, which were no small number, as appears by the wills in the prerogative-office here; the place in general preferred for such purpose, being on each side the path, between the above gate and the south porch of the church, near which was, within memory, one antient tomb stone remaining; but there is nothing left now; the whole, though still called the church-yard, being a plain surface covered over with gravel, and undisturbed by burials for a great number of years past; (fn. 31) on the middle of the south side of it (where the high mount is now in the 8th prebendal garden) was once a large steeple, called the Campanile, or Clock-house, which was taken down at the dissolution of the priory. (fn. 32)
At the east end of the common or outward cemetery, is an antient stone arch, being circular and much ornamented with carve-work, coeval at least with this part of the church. This was the gateway, which opened into the inward cemetery, and is still known by the name of the cemetery gate. (fn. 33) This cemetery or burial place extended, though seemingly for no great breadth, by the remaining part of the south side of the church round by the east end, and so on to a small part of the north side of it. This appears from some inscriptions on both sides, upon the stones of the church wall, two of which being the inscriptions, as has been supposed by some, for two of the priors who lie buried here, have been mentioned before; and there is a third still remaining on a stone on the north side, towards the east end of the church, which is legible as follows, in the same odd fashioned characters.
Hic jacet Ymbertus, cujus Deus esto misertus:
Vivat cum christo mundo substractus ab isto:
Cujus in ore Dei laus vespere mane diei:
Quod bene cantavit vivens mors ipsa probavit. (fn. 34)
Further on beyond this inner cemetery, was the common garden of the convent, which extended to the east and south walls of the precincts, in the middle of which was a large fish-pond; this, at the dissolution, was filled up, and the space of it, with the rest of the garden, was parted off and allotted in small spots, as gardens for the members of the church; but this did not continue long, before the whole was again laid open for public use. Just within the above gate, at a small distance southward, there is yet standing the old schoolhouse, though for many years past put to other uses; (fn. 35) yet that it was such, before a school-house in the Mintyard was used for this purpose, is certain. In Mr. Somner's time, there were some who remembered it kept by one Mr. Twyne, sometime a magistrate of this city, it being a free school, chiefly for the city, and so called, and antiently of the liberty of it, having a passage to it from some part of Burgate-street. Of what antiquity this free school was, is uncertain; indeed archbishop Theodore, the 7th after Augustine, erected at Canterbury, by licence of pope Vitellianus, a school or college (a kind of academical foundation) wherein he placed professors of all the liberal sciences; which, says Lambarde, was the very pattern of that school, which Sigebert, the king of the East Angles, afterwards built; but this latter school must have long since vanished. The face or this city having been so often wasted by the Danes, and by other accidents and casualties, that it would be a folly to seek or hope to find out the place of it, for there are no footsteps left to trace out even the ruins of it.
As to this free-school here, mention is made in the archives of this church of one Kobert, rector of the church of the scholars of Canterbury, who was present as a witness, on an appeal of the prior and convent, in cause of theirs, then, in 1259, depending before the official of Canterbury, Robert Winchelsea, who some time after this came to be archbishop of Canterbury, in king Edward I.'s time, and was a scholar at Canterbury, says Harpsfield, and therefore, I suppose here. In whose immediate successor's time, anno 1321, there arose a great controversy between Master Ralph de Waltham, rector of this school, and Robert Henney, parson of St. Martin's, who, it seems by the right and custom of his church, held and kept a kind of petty free-school there, about the rights and liberties of either school. (fn. 36) Of this school the archbishop, the see being full, and the church, the see being void, were patrons. (fn. 37)
On the north side of the church was the priory itself, situated close to it, the gate of which opened into the court of it, now called the Green-court, being a quadrangle or square, having two gates of entrance to it; one of which, the most antient of any, situated at the north-west corner of the court, was called the porters gate, and in some antient records the gate of the priory, or the old priory gate. It seems a very antient structure, probably made by archbishop Lanfranc, and there is not found mention in any record of its being rebuilt since the first foundation of it. Through this gate all sorts of provisions and necessaries were brought for the use of the convent. The other gate, at the north-east corner of the court, led from the court which was within the jurisdiction of the church, to the space of ground without or foreign to it, called the Foreigns, now vulgarly the Follings, as mentioned before, where the barns and some out-offices of the convent were built, once a part of Queningate-lane, and within the liberties of the city. On the south side of this court, towards the west part of it, stood the back gate into the priory itself (the front entrance being from the cloysters) the greatest part of which was situated between it and the church.
This gate was usually called the larder-gate, close on the left or east side of which, was the larder, kitchen, and then adjoining the lesser dorter or dormitory, there being two of them; the other being the more antient and greater one, (fn. 38) standing in that space or area, across which there is now a brick causeway, over vaults leading from the above gate to the church; they were both built on vaulted arches, and in these dormitories the monks slept. On the right hand, or westward of this gate, was the domus hospitum, or strangers-hall, allotted for the entertainment of strangers, and called antiently in the Latin records of this church, both Aula Hospitum and Camera Hospitum, i. e. the hall or chamber of the guests; (fn. 39) adjoining to which was an arched gateway which led to the convent kitchen, which stood near it on the left side, and then the locutorium; beyond which, adjoining to the cloysters, was the freyter or refectory, (fn. 40) being the common dining room of the monks, built, as well as the other buildings of the priory, on ranges of vaulted arches, and were composed, as appears by the remains of them, of rubble stones and slints; the windows and doors and quoins of squared ashler stone.
The lesser dormitory, the larder gateway, the stranger's hall, and a remnant of the arch of the kitchen, with some high strong walls, in which are several large circular arched windows in different parts of them, belonging to those large and spacious rooms of the priory, pulled down soon after its dissolution, and several ranges of the vaulted arches on which they stood, are all that are at this time remaining of them. One of these walls, which is richly ornamented with carve work, and a range of small marble pillars, seems to have been the east end of the resectory, which adjoined the cloysters; on the north side of them there are two handsome arched doorways, the one opening into the cloysters from those vaults which were under the east part of the resectory, and the other from near the western part of it, being the approach to them and the cellarer's lodgings, from the strangers-hall likewise.
I shall next proceed to the cloysters, which are remaining pretty entire; they seem to be much of the same age as the body of the church, and by the remains of the iron bars in the windows, the whole seems to have been once glazed. The roos throughout is curiously ribbed with stone-work, knotted with many hundreds of shields of coats of arms, probably those of the principal nobility and gentry, especially those who were benefactors to this fabric. (fn. 41) The south walk or quarter, was built by archbishop Courtney, and his executors, who laid out 300l. on it; and prior Selling, who died in 1494, caused it to be glazed and beautified. (fn. 42) At the west end of it, is an arched door-way, at present leading towards the archbishop's palace, once the principal entrance and place of approach into the monastery, for all comers and goers; on the west side or walk was the door into the cellarer's lodgings, adjoining to it. (fn. 43) The north side or walk is decorated superior to the others, with small pillars and arches of stone work, which, as well as two arched door ways leading into the resectory, &c. as mentioned before, are richly carved and ornamented. Opposite to the door which led to the resectory, are the remains of stone work, in which formerly stood a double cistern or lavatory, for the use of the hall, and for the convent to wash in. The middle space or area within the cloysters has, since the dissolution, been made use of, as well as the cloysters themselves, for a place of burial for the inhabitants of the precincts and others, who have thought sit to chuse it as such. (fn. 44)
In the east walk near the north end of the east wall, is a small circular arched door-way, with zig-zag ornaments, long since stopped up. This led into some vaults, rather more elegant than most of the others under the buildings of the priory. Against the same wall, a little southward, is another door-way, but larger and pointed, formerly leading to the prior's chapel, but now into the dark entry, formerly the scite of it, towards the Green-court; in the middle of this walk is the entrance to the chapter house, (fn. 45) a spacious and beautiful structure, the roof of which, made of Irish oak, is remarkably curious and elegant. It is of the same age with the cloysters and nave of the church, built in the room of a former one which stood close on the north side of it, chiefly by the benefactions of the archbishops Arundel and Courtney, and prior Chillenden; the name of the latter being on the stone-work of the great west window, and the arms of the archbishops Sudbury, Courtney and Arundel, on the other parts of the building in the glass of the windows, (fn. 46) as well as on the ceiling itself. It is about ninety-two feet long and thirty-seven broad, and fifty-four high, having a circular span roof, so judiciously contrived, that there are no girders to prevent a fair open view of it, and it is without any other incumbrance.
This room is almost surrounded with a stone seat, above which are arches or stalls, divided by small pillars of Bethersden marble; thirteen of these take up the whole breadth at the east end, and have gothic pyramids of stone above them, adorned with pinnacles carved and gilt; the middle stall being that of the prior, is distinguished superior to the others. The stalls on each side are thirty-five in number, five of which, next to the east corners, have had their capitals and spandrils between the arches gilt, probably appropriated to the chief officers of the convent; the rest in other respects are much the same.
Several persons have been in antient times buried here, and some very antient gravestones, the inscriptions on which were obliterated, remained on the pavement, till a few years ago the graves of which lay close to the surface of it; these stones were all removed, when the pavement was new laid with the most antient and largest gravestones, brought from the nave of the church for this purpose.
In this room the prior and chapter met to consult on the affairs of the convent. Here the elections of archbishops, priors, and other officers were made; here censures, penances and corporal chastisements were imposed and inslicted on delinquents, and in some cases even with rods; but the most remarkable one that ever was inflicted in this house was, that which was submitted to by king Henry II. to atone for the murder of archbishop Thomas Becket. (fn. 47)
When, instead of a numerous fraternity of monks, the chapter was reduced to a dean and twelve prebendaries, such a large room not being required for chapter business, it was fitted up for a sermon house, with a pulpit, pews and galleries, and this was done so soon after the dissolution of the priory, that the chief gallery, with latticed casements (the royal closet, when the king and queen should be there) is dated 1545, the 36th of king Henry VIII. To this use it was put for many years; (fn. 48) but the inconvenience arising from this removal of the congregation in the midst of divine service, was a very sufficient reason for having the whole performed in one place; accordingly, soon after the restoration the sermons were constantly, as they are at this time, preached in the choir; though this still retains the name of the sermon-house. (fn. 49)
Notwithstanding the above, for form's sake, the capitular business is still begun here; the archbishop's visitation of the cathedral is still held, and the statutes are publicly read here yearly, on June 22, when all the members of the church are summoned to attend, and the other chapters are opened here, and then immediately adjourned to the modern audit-room.
To return again to the court and priory, (fn. 50) (now the Green-court), the whole east side of which was taken up by the prior's lodgings. Time has made such alterations in the ruins of the old lodgings formerly belonging to the prior, that it is impossible to mark and describe all the particulars of them. The present deanry, which takes up all the east side of the court, was certainly part of the prior's lodgings, the entrance to which was by the gate at the south-west corner of the court, which was then called the prior's gate.— The first part of these lodgings that we can gain any knowledge of, seems to be the repairs and additions made to them, by prior Henry de Estria, about and after the year 1317, who besides other beneficent acts to the church and convent, mentioned in the course of this work, repaired the greater and lesser chambers of the prior, the long chamber and that by the treasury and his study. The new chamber of the prior was likewise leaded, together with the wardrobe, the new pantry and his kitchen; the great hall near the gate of the court, was likewise repaired; the before mentioned great or stone hall, afterwards commonly called the master's table, where the chief master or steward of the prior's houshold, with the other officers of his immediate retinue, had their table, was rebuilt by prior Hathbrand, who died in 1370. There is no doubt but this was the same building, which is now the parlour of the deanry, lately fitted up as such; out of this apartment there was a passage and an entrance by some stone steps into a stone chamber, called the paved chamber; and the prior's bedchamber, study, and some other rooms, for his private apartment seem to have been contiguous to this paved chamber, as may be conjectured from the account which the obituary gives of the repairing and beautifying of them by prior Chillenden. (fn. 51) The building, rebuilding, repairing and adorning of several other chambers, apartments and offices belonging to the prior, the particular scite of which is now unknown, may be found mentioned in the obituary of this church. The stable, granaries, &c. are likewise taken notice of in it. (fn. 52)
When, upon the new foundation of this church by king Henry VIII. and the several buildings of the monastery which were not utterly demolished, were divided among the dean and prebendaries, these lodgings or apartments of the prior are thus recorded to have been allotted. To the dean was assigned, the chapel with the closet, the old chequer, with the chambers belonging to it, with the corn losts and cellars adjoining to the west end of his garden; the brew-house and bake-house, and gate-house next to his stables, (which latter buildings are situated on the north side of the court, now called the Green-court, the great barn, the livery stables, called the prior's stables, the sumptery stable and the carter's hall, all situated in and adjoining to the Foreigns; the garden before his halldoor and the wine cellars; the commission chamber, on the north side of the hall of the infirmary, (now Dr. Storer's two parlours) were allotted to the second prebendary; part of the long chamber, since pulled down, being part of the scite of Mr. Archdeacon Lynch's house, was allotted to the fifth prebendary; the other part of the long chamber, contiguous to the lodgings called the honnours (now part of Mr. Moore's house) was allotted to the sixth prebendary; those lodgings, called the honnours, were the state apartment, where the prior appeared at times in state, and where he lodged and entertained all guests and visitors of rank and consequence; and such there were, who continually visited this priory, as well through business, as ceremony, convenience, and even curiosity, and were sumptuously entertained here with becoming dignity, both of the prior and his noble guests. This building, which is called in old writings, the master honnours, and in others, the great chamber of the prior, which fronts the north end of the convent garden, has a grand and noble appearance, much superior to the other buildings of the priory, and suitable to the purpose it was intended for. (fn. 53) This building was allotted on the new foundation to the eleventh prebendary, and is now the dwelling-house of Mr. Norris.
In the eastern wall of the precincts, almost in a line with the front of these lodgings, and exactly opposite the east end of the church, is a postern gate, having a causeway over the city ditch, leading to the green opposite the chief gate of St Augustine's monastery, now reserved for the use of the dean and prebendaries. (fn. 54)
There is yet to be noticed, an apartment belonging to the prior, called la gloriette, the scite of which is not now known. The obituary mentions, that prior Hathbrand repaired the chamber that was covered with lead next the gloriette; that prior Selling built from the ground contiguous to the apartment called la gloriette, a stone tower, which was covered with lead, and had fair glass windows; that he decently adorned it in the inside, and that this was called the prior's study: and that prior Goldstone reared up a new edifice near the prior's old apartment, called la gloriette, which was called the new lodging, with several rooms, and a new fair porch towards the convent. This, no doubt, is the gate now standing at the south-west corner of the Greencourt, afterwards called the prior's gate, as abovementioned; the gloriette and buildings above-mentioned adjoining to it, stood most probably on the left, or east side of the dark entry, leading from it between the present deanry and the house granted to one of the six preachers (Mr. Hearne) (fn. 55) which might be a part of them, where some ruins are still to be seen. The lucre of the lead, which covered these buildings, was most likely the cause of their being demolished: a spoil. which caused the demolition of many beautiful and magnificent buildings and churches belonging to the late dissolved religious houses throughout the kingdom. This was the cause too here of the demolition of the building, called the long hall, where the inferior officers of the prior used to eat. It was situated at the west end of what is now called the brick passage, extending as far as the first and second prebendal houses, where a wall reached across this passage, pulled down many years since, to make this thoroughsare more convenient.
On the south side and contiguous to the long hall, was the sub-prior's lodgings, or apartment, which seems to have extended from the prior's chapel to the infirmary; it was formerly allotted to the eleventh prebendary, but is now assigned as a dwelling house for one of the minor canons (Mr. Gregory) and part of the first prebendal house (Dr. Benson's).
The prior's chapel mentioned before, was situated adjoining to the sub-prior's lodgings, westward, near the dormitory. It was appropriated to the use of the prior and his family, and was dedicated to the blessed Virgin Mary, and was called the chapel of the blessed Mary within the priory, as appears from some antient charters, in which it is so called. Archbishop Winchelsea, by his letters, May 27, 129, granted an indulgence of forty days to all, who should visit this chapel within the priory, and confirming all former and future ones to the benefactors and visitors of it. This oratory or chapel was beautified and richly furnished with tapestry, copes, &c. by prior Thomas Goldstone; upon the dissolution of the priory, it was assigned to the use of the dean and his family, whence it acquired the name of the dean's chapel. Over it was the church library, built in the room of a former one, (fn. 56) by archbishop Chicheley, who with others, well furnished it with books, most of which were plundered in the time of the great rebellion, and the building itself was, with the chapel underneath, destroyed by fire several years afterwards. (fn. 57) Since which, the chapel has never been restored; the space it filled being open as the common place of passage to the church and cloysters. Over it was rebuilt the present library, which has a good collection of books. Besides the printed books, there is a collection of manuscripts, some of which were given by Isaac Casaubon, among which are the annals of his life, those of Mr. Somner, and several others; and there is a collection of coins, both Greek and Roman, made abroad and given by Dr. John Bargrave, nephew of dean Bargrave, and a prebendary of this church, and Dr. Meric Casaubon.
Of late years the collection has been greatly encreased, and is daily encreasing. Newshelves have been erected; the books have been new numbered; and a new catalogue has been made. Some of the MSS. in this library are very valuable.
Prior Sellyng beautified the former library over the prior's chapel, and gave many books to it, and several of the archbishops and priors are recorded as having been benefactors to it, as have several of the prebendaries, both to that and the present one, as appears by their wills; among which were, besides those before-mentioned, the Drs. Peter du Moulin and James Jeffrys; to these must be added, Stephen Hunt, of these precincts, gent. who gave to it by his will in 1721, all his Greek, Latin and Italian books, all Mr. Boyle's philosophical works, and all such other books, in whatever language they were, which treated expressly of physic, natural philosophy or mathematics, if there were none of the same sort in the library.— These amounted to a very considerable collection.
Hubert, archbishop of Canterbury, appropriated the church of Halstow to the reparation of the books in this library, saving five marcs to the vicar. At the suppression of the priory, this parsonage, among the rest of its possessions, came into the king's hands, who, in his 33d year, settled it on the dean and chapter; but without any reservation of the former use of it.
In the room of this library is a curious octagon table of black marble, inlaid with figures in white; representing in the centre, Orpheus playing, with the listening beasts; and all round, a representation of various kinds of hunting; the whole being well executed. It was the gift of Dr. Bargrave, prebendary of this church in 1680. A large brass eagle, the feet of which are three brass lions, and which formerly was placed in the choir, and served to support the bible, on which the lessons were read, was till lately, at the end of this library; round it is engraved in capitals, Gulielmus Burroughes Londini me fecit anno D. 1663. (fn. 58) At the upper end of the room, over the door, is a very antient painting of queen Edyve, in her robes, with her crown and sceptre. In the back ground is a view of Birchington, in the Isle of Thanet, and at the bottom, some verses in antique characters. On this staircase is likewise a drawing, representing, on a large scale, the ichnography, or plat of the precincts of Christ-church, together with the archbishop's palace, and the houses circumjacent, &c. and the vaults and water works, measured and delineated by Thomas Hill, A. D. 1680.
Contiguous to the sub-prior's lodgings and the long hall above-mentioned, towards the east, was the infirmary, in which all due provision was made for the sick monks, and the care of it was committed to a particular officer, named the infirmarer. In this building there were separate chambers for the sick; these reached as far as the prior's stone-hall. Prior Hathbrand built seven new rooms for the infirm; here were likewise a kitchen and other necessary offices, (fn. 59) which with the great hall of the infirmary, built anno 1342, make a great part of the second prebendal house (Dr. Storer's); the latter still made use of as a hall, remains at this day. (fn. 60)
On the south side of the infirmary was the chapel for the use of it. It has been long since pulled down, and the scite of it, used as a public way, called the brick passage, from its being paved with such materials, towards the Oaks; but there are some remains of the walls of it left, viz. part of the wall of it on the north side towards the west end (being the corner of Dr. Storer's house) the whole south wall, with wide circular arches and pillars of small squared stones, (being now the north side of the second prebendal house, (Dr. Benson's) and the two large arches of the chancel at the east end, being pointed and seemingly of a much later date than the others.
This chapel then, consisting of a body and chancel, could not therefore be built at the same time. By the appearance of the remains of it, it was far from small; there were in it, besides the principal altar of the Virgin Mary, before which a wax taper was continually burning, and to whom this chapel was dedicated, others dedicated to St. Benedict and St. Agnes. By the register of this chapel there appear to have been many persons buried in it, most probably all who died in the infirmary had their sepulture here. (fn. 61)
When archbishop Cuthbert, who came to the see about the year 741, had procured, both from the king and the pope, a right of sepulture of the archbishops and others within this church, which the neighbouring monastery of St. Augustine had enjoyed, as appropriated to itself ever since its first foundation, he erected a church or chapel, almost contiguous to this cathedral church, which he dedicated to St. John the Baptist; among other uses for which it was founded, one was, that it might be a place of sepulture for the archbishops, in which he was the first who was buried.
Much enquiry has been made where this church was built, but it is allowed by all to have stood near the east end of the cathedral, and not far distant from it; the greatest probability is, that it stood in the same place where this chapel of the infirmary was afterwards built. If it had escaped the former fires, which is almost impossible, it was certainly destroyed by those flames which burnt the choir of Conrad; for we are told, that the infirmary, together with the chapel of it, perished at the same time. It should seem, when this chapel was then rebuilt and annexed to the infirmary, it lost the antient name and patronage of St. John Baptist, and was dedicated to the blessed Virgin Mary. There was a door in the south wall of it towards the east end, which opened into the convent garden, by which was the before-mentioned altar of St. Benedict. It was convenient for the sick monks to resort to the garden for air; on the outside, at the south-east corner of the wall, a small figure of St. John Baptist, carved in stone, is still to be seen.
To return now again to the court of the priory, or Green-court, as it is called, the south and east sides of which have been already described.—On the north side stood the brewhouse, the bakehouse and the malthouse of the priory, all large and spacious buildings; the former, which was allotted to the dean (fn. 62) at the dissolution, and continues now the greatest part used for the like purpose, the others to the fourth prebendary (now Dr. Ratcliffe's).
The gate of the priory, at the north-west corner of this court, has been already mentioned; I shall only observe further, that the room over it, as well as the house adjoining on the south side of it, was, at the dissolution, allotted to the tenth prebend, (now Dr. Vyner's).
The stranger's hall, (fn. 63) at the south-west corner of this court, now allotted for a residence to the seventh prebendary, has been already mentioned before; hither the pentice or covered way, now belonging to the tenth prebendary, Dr. Vyner, led along the whole west side of this court, from the almonry at the northwest corner of it, and so on through the vaulted arch, now under the seventh prebendal house, close by the convent kitchen and refectory, into the cloysters and cellarer's lodgings; by which means an inclosed and convenient communication might be had, in all weathers, from one to the other of them.
There was before the dissolution, (as by the rule of St. Benet there ought to be) hospitality kept, and entertainment afforded and allowed, both board and lodging, to such strangers, travellers and pilgrims especially, as resorting to the monastery should crave it of the monks; and, consequently, there was a place in it set apart for that purpose. The cellarer had charge of this place, under whom this hall, which was situated not far from his lodgings, had its proper and peculiar steward, to see after the accommodation of the guests with all necessaries, according to the statutes and customs of the monastery. He was called the steward of the stranger's hall; here was entertainment to be had, of charity for religious and secular guests, and that by the statutes of archbishop Winchelsea, for the space of at least a day and a night, for both horse and man.
At the north-west corner of the court was a large building, which was antiently called the north hall, and sometimes hog-hall; in Edwyn's drawing, Aula nova. It appears to have been a large handsome structure, very losty, much like some of our parish churches, with a body and side isle, having a row of pillars to part them from one end to the other; it was forty feet wide and not less than 150 feet long, being built on ranges of circular arches, vaulted over, and well ornamented; and being like those in the undercroft, only with plainer pillars, may be well supposed to be as antient as the time of Lanfranc. It stood entire till the year 1730, when one-third of it, towards the north, was taken down, as well as the vaults under it; the rest is still remaining, and is converted into various apartments (fn. 64) and dwellings. The ascent to the hall by several steps, is still remaining, with several small marble pillars, joined by arches of an antique form on each side. (fn. 65) This building, which stood in a situation least likely to interfere with the privacy of the monks, or the business of their servants, and was of a size sufficient to contain a number of those people who might have occasion to resort at all times to it, was allotted to the steward of the liberties of the priory, for the keeping of his courts, which had been holden for a great length of time. This appears from the charter of king Henry VI. in which are these words, concerning the holding of a court; Know ye, that we considering that the prior and convent of the church and their predecessors, have been used time out of mind to bold a court at the north-hall, within the precincts of the said church or priory, before their bailiff for the time being, from three weeks to three weeks, which court was called the high court, and in the same court to bear and determine pleas, &c. (fn. 66)
The dissolution diminishing the revenues of the church, and the profits of this court diminishing likewise from time to time, it grew less and less resorted to, and was at last totally disused, insomuch that the memory of its ever having been, has been for many years forgotten. (fn. 67)
Almost adjoining to the back part of the above building, stood the eleemosinary or almnery of the church, vulgarly called the ambry, which had a gate opening towards Northgate street; this place was under the care of a monk, called the dean of the almonry, or the church almoner. Here the poor, who continually waited at this gate in great numbers for the distribution of alms, were daily fed with the remains of such fare as came from the refectory and other tables kept within the monastery. The private statutes of this church, made by archbishop Winchelsea, say; Let all the fragments and relics of meat and drink, left at the tables of the refectory, of the prior's lodgings, of the master, (perhaps cellarer) of the infirmary, and of the stranger's hall, be gathered together into dishes or vessels, fit for that purpose, and be carried all of them to the almonry, and there be disposed of to no other use, but of pure alms only. This was agreeable to that ordinance of the provincial constitutions, that the full portion of victuals should constantly be provided and set before the monks in the refectory, and whatsoever was lest, should be given wholly and entirely in alms to the needy; and that no abbot, prior, or almoner might dispense with this rule. Hence we may learn, how great and extensive the alms and charity of these great monasteries were, and how much the poor and needy must have felt the want of them, occasioned by their dissolution; for though the king in his grants of the scite and demesnes of these houses, as well to private persons as ecclesiastical and other corporate bodies, enjoined and ordered certain portions of charity and alms to be continued to the poor, yet the custom was continued but for a very few years, and by many, not at all, and the whole was soon laid aside and forgotten. This almonry had several benefactors to it; king Henry II. by his charter, gave to the monks towards the augmenting of their almonry, the ground between Northgate and Queningate, as has been already mentioned; and archbishop Richard, (Becket's immediate successor) appropriated to the use of this priory, for an augmentation to this almonry, the churches of Monkton and Eastry, with their chapels, and the churches of Meopham and Eynsford, and afterwards the churches, St. Thomas of Fairfield, Seasalter and Farningham, were appropriated to the like use; all which were confirmed by the bulls of pope Lucius and Alexander III. (fn. 68) and archbishop Courtney, who came to the see in 1381, re annexed the church of Meopham to it, at his own proper cost. (fn. 69)
In the year 1319, anno 11 Edward II. Henry de Eastry, then prior of this church, erected within this almnery, a chapel, which he dedicated to St. Thomas the Martyr, and founded in it a chantry of six priests or chaplains, to celebrate for the souls of king Edward I. and II archbishops Lanfranc and Winchelsea, the founder himself and some others, and contiguous to it he built lodgings for these priests; which foundation was confirmed by archbishop Walter in 1321, and by king Edward II. in his 19th year; (fn. 70) after which in 1327, being the last year of that reign, his successor prior Richard Oxinden, with the consent of the convent, appropriated the church of Westcliff by Dover, to the almnery for ever, for the maintenance of these priests, and the repairing of the chapel and lodgings contiguous to it. In 1358, Alexander Hanekin, clerk, became a great benefactor to this chapel, by the gift of several messuages, lands and rents to it, towards the support and maintenance of seven chaplains (fn. 71) in the chapel of St. Thomas the Martyr, near the gate of the priory. (fn. 72)
This chantry was suppressed as part of the priory, and came with its revenues, as such, into the king's hands.
Soon after the dissolution of the priory, the almnery, with the above chapel and lodgings, being situated without the square of the court of the priory, and as it were apart from it, was re-conveyed back to the king, who retained it in his own hands, and converted it into an office for the minting of money; hence it has been ever since called the mint yard, (fn. 73) in which state it remained till queen Mary, by letters patent under the great seal, dated June 14, anno 3d and 4th Philip and Mary, (fn. 74) granted this almonry with all the edifices, (in which the above chapel and lodgings were included) and the ground belonging to it, to cardinal Pole, archbishop of Canterbury, who being then possessed of them in see, afterwards devised them by his will to Aloisus Priobus, his executor, who by deed indented, dated July 30, anno I Elizabeth, 1559, gave these premises to the dean and chapter, to hold to them and their successors for the term of 500 years, for the use and intention of finding and maintaining the school there for boys, during that term, to be instructed in proper learning; paying yearly for the same, one corn of pepper, &c. Since which, the whole has remained part of the possessions of the dean and chapter to this time. (fn. 75) The chapel and lodgings above-mentioned were, not long after the above period, accordingly converted to the use of the grammar school, (fn. 76) which was instituted by king Henry VIII. as part of his new foundation; from whence it is usually known by the name of the King's school.