Survey of London Monograph 15, St Bride's Church, Fleet Street. Originally published by Guild & School of Handicraft, London, 1944.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by English Heritage. All rights reserved.
2. THE THIRTEENTH AND FOURTEENTH CENTURIES
There are several references to the church in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. In 1205, the third week of Easter in that year, the curia regis sat in St Bride's Church and gave judgement in legal issues affecting several English counties. (fn. 1) In 1210 King John granted a charter in St Bride's Church to Rogarde Mari and Isabell his wife to hold a market on Tuesdays and a fair on the eve, day, and morrow of St Lawrence at Lechlade, Co. Gloucester. (fn. 2) In 1310 the King's Escheator on this side Trent was ordered 'to empanel a jury of eighteen good and lawful men of the venue of Scholane (Shoe Lane)' at the church of St Brigide to inquire on oath concerning a tenement of Maud de Caumpeville in Shoe Lane which the Abbot of Rievaulx was said to have appropriated without the King's licence in mortmain. (fn. 3)
Three cases of sanctuary in the Church occur—in 1234, 1321 and 1325. The first concerned Henry de Battle, who had slain Thomas de Hall on the King's Highway and came to the Church by night. (fn. 4) In the second a certain Stephen de Thirsk fled from Newgate Prison and took sanctuary in St Bride's and was apparently forcibly taken back to prison. The King thereupon, informed by the Bishop of London, commanded the Sheriff to restore him to the Church. (fn. 5) In the third case Henry Seward of Chippenham, Co. Wilts, took sanctuary here and, confessing himself a thief, undertook to abjure the realm. (fn. 6)
Convocation of the Province of Canterbury met here on 1 October 1337 to grant a tenth on ecclesiastical goods and benefices to the King. (fn. 7) Similar meetings (fn. 1a) took place in 1338 (fn. 8) and 1357. (fn. 9) In the Letter Books of Guildhall under the dates 1370, 1376 and 1391 we find the curfew was to be rung from the tower of St Bride, which was one of the four churches appointed for this in the City. (fn. 10) 'No man shall be so daring', says the proclamation of Mayor John de Bernes (1370) 'on pain of imprisonment, as to go wandering about the city after the hour of curfew rung out at St Mary-le-Bow, Barking Church in Tower Ward, St Bride's and St Giles without Cripplegate', unless he be some man of the city of good repute or his servant, and then with reasonable cause and with light.
The first rector of St Bride's whose name is known to us is Robert Bat, who on his relinquishment of the rectory in 1255 was granted by Henry III the Hermitage within the City Wall near Cripplegate (fn. 11) that was later known as St James on the Wall. (fn. 2a) This ankerhold had been tenanted by Warin, Chaplain to Richard I, and Robert Bat followed him there as a recluse. We have records of the endowment by William de Ware (1274) and John de Fleet (1280) of chantries in the Church but they apparently had no permanence. The next reference to a rector of St Bride's, John de Pelham, is found in a document witnessed by him in 1289, (fn. 12) and three years later (1292) John Uggeley endowed the first of the five major chantries in St Bride's Church, the one supposed to be at the altar of St John the Baptist. In 1302 William de Aula, rector and acolyte, had a dispensation from Richard de Gravesend, Bishop of London, to absent himself for study at a university in preparation for higher orders. (fn. 13) It appears that the rectory had been granted to the young man to pay for his education. In 1307 Nicholas Beaubelot left property to endow a chantry, and this was still yielding rent in 1545. During the vacancy between Abbots Hydington and Curtlington the Crown presented John de Wodeford (fn. 14) (1308) and Thomas de Shoreham (fn. 15) (1309) to the rectory. Thomas de Loppedelle, rector, is found in 1313 joining with William de Loppedelle, vicar of Bexhill (Byxle), Sussex, in acknowledging a debt to Nicholas de Langton of £20, secured on their property in Sussex. (fn. 16) The year 1316 is the date of the wills of three parishioners who were benefactors to the Church: John de Merlaw, whose bequest seems to have been connected with Uggeley's chantry; William de Graham, whose provision for prayers at the altar of Our Lady for the soul of Adam Mason is the earliest reference to the Lady Chapel; and Hugh de Strobi, whose bequest for two chantry priests was made without licence and was the subject of a royal pardon.
In 1324 the Bishop of London commissioned Henry de London, rector of St Bride, together with the rectors of Chelsea and St Martin Ludgate, to act for him in claiming such clerks as were convicted in the King's Courts. (fn. 17) Two bequests for chaplains to celebrate within the Church occur, in 1328, by Joan, daughter of Eleanor de Kent, and in 1337 by Thomas de Chetyndon, by direction to his godson, Thomas, son of Walter de Mordon. In 1340 Adam de Tange, rector of St Bride, together with Perceval Simeon, acknowledged a debt of fourteen marks due to Henry Palmer, vintner, (fn. 18) and in 1349 the King presented Peter Grevet during the vacancy of the Abbey. (fn. 19) In the latter year Robert de Asshe left ten marks for the service of two chaplains. The name of Thomas de Hayton, rector of St Bride, occurs as one of the collectors of the clerical subsidy in 1350, (fn. 20) twelve years before the presentation of his namesake who was rector for thirty-four years. In 1351 the King presented Thomas de Holborn, (fn. 21) who in 1356 exchanged with Giles de Bolumbla. (fn. 22)
In the former year William Evesham left a benefaction that greatly augmented Uggeley's chantry, and ten years later (1361) John Wygan bequeathed property in Fleet Street, on both sides of Shoe Lane, to found the second of the major chantries in the Church. He was buried in the Lady Chapel and his bequests assisted in maintaining the important Brotherhood of Our Lady, the guild that had charge of the chapel since it was built. In the same year Elena Brix was buried in this chapel by the side of her former husband, Thomas de Banham, and their property went to provide another Chaplain there, as we shall see under Nicholas Spurier's will. Elena Brix held the Abbot of Tewkesbury's Inn on lease, on the site of which the Parsonage House was built. Her first husband's name appears also as Thomas de Fletestrete. This year is also the date of the will of John Gilbert, who had given an image of St Katherine to stand in the Lady Chapel, who wished to be buried before it, and who left money for the maintenance of chantries in the Church.
These important bequests were made in the year preceding the presentation of Thomas de Hayton to the rectory and heralded a period of prosperity during which plans were probably laid for the rebuilding of the Church. Hayton was rector from 1362 (fn. 23) until his death in 1396, and it was to him that Sir John Knyvet and Eleanor his wife granted the land to the south of the churchyard on which he built a rectory house. The actual building probably took place between 1380, the date of the gift, and the grant of an extra strip of land on the west side in 1385 by Ralph Ergham, Bishop of Salisbury. In 1389 detailed returns concerning the Guilds of St Bridget and St Mary were made. While Hayton was rector there were a number of bequests to the guilds and also to the chantry priests. William de Bath in 1375 and Matilda Chobham in 1379 left money for these purposes, and in 1383 Nicholas Spuryer, acting apparently as trustee for Thomas Brix and Elena his wife, founded a chantry which functioned for twenty-five years at least. In 1391 Simon Pettigru alias atte Nax endowed two Chaplains, who were probably those who served St Mary's Guild in the Lady Chapel, these foundations figuring as the fourth and fifth chantries in the Return of 1545. Lastly, John Walworth, one of the wardens of St Mary's Guild, left an endowment for a chantry in 1396. In his will, (fn. 24) dated 6 May 1396, Thomas de Hayton desires to be buried in Ewell Church by the tomb of his parents. He left all his 'Church books' to St Bride's.
No time was lost in instituting his successor, William Waltham, on 8 May following, (fn. 25) but he lived only a few months, and on 11 October, the same year (1396), John Skarle was instituted rector. (fn. 26) He was Master of the Rolls and Archdeacon of Lincoln. In his will, dated 1405, (fn. 27) he expressed his desire to be buried in the Church, to which he left a silver thurible and incense boat.