Survey of London: Volume 12, the Parish of All Hallows Barking, Part I: the Church of All Hallows. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1929.
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I.—HISTORY OF THE CHURCH
The origin of All Hallows Barking by the Tower is enshrouded in the mists of the Saxon past. (fn. 1) No records exist to indicate when or by whom the church was founded, and the only clue to its origin which we possess consists in its title of "Barking." This it had at least as early as the 12th century, for it is referred to by Walter, Bishop of Rochester from 1147 to 1182, as "Berkyncherche." (fn. 2)
The title more than suggests an original connection with the Abbey of Barking, which later owned it intermittently for two and a half centuries; and though proof unfortunately is wanting, we are probably justified in assuming that in its origin the church was an appanage of the Abbey. (fn. 3) If so, it had passed out of the hands of the nuns by the reign of Stephen, for the Registrum Roffense (fn. 4) records the gift of it ("Berchinchechirche in Londoniis") at some date after the Norman Conquest to the Cathedral Church of Rochester by a "worthy man" (probus homo) named Riculf and his wife Brichtwen. How they had acquired it, and in whose hands it had been before it came to theirs, history does not record. (fn. 5)
The possession of the church "called Berchingchireche, with all its appurtenances" was confirmed to Rochester by Henry II, probably in 1181. (fn. 6) It was assigned to the sacrist of Rochester, and thus the 40d. which it paid at Michaelmas, Christmas, Easter and Midsummer, went for some generations towards the upkeep of vestments, relics and holy vessels at Rochester. (fn. 7)
2.—Barking Abbey and the Church
The nuns of Barking eventually recovered the church; how or when is not known. Possibly they had regained it before 1285, for in that year and the year following socage, or quitrent, was being paid to the Abbey from certain houses in the parish, (fn. 8) including "Stapledehall." Indeed, early in 1321, the Abbess tried to get still more rent, and sent her collector into the very refectory of the Crutched Friars, outside the northern limits of the parish, to distrain for rent. The friars took back by force the small bell which the collector seized, and brought an action against the Abbess, who lost the day, for the jurors swore that no rent was due to her from the site of that House. (fn. 9) In 1291 the Abbess was receiving a pension of 6s. 8d. out of the church, (fn. 10) and her right of presentation was certainly established by 1303, when the advowsons belonging to Barking Abbey in the city were returned as those of St. Margaret Lothbury and All Saints of Berkyngechirche. (fn. 11)
The profits of the church were allocated to the chambress of the Abbey. For many years she can scarcely have relied with any sense of security upon the moneys from All Hallows. The near neighbourhood of the royal residence in the Tower and the popularity of the free chapel of St. Mary annexed to the church, made successive kings of England cast an envious eye upon it. Edward III got from the Abbey a grant of the advowson of All Hallows with a view to appropriating the church to a college of chaplains which he was projecting in the chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula within the Tower. He obtained from Pope Innocent VI a licence to this effect in 1355, (fn. 12) and compensated the Abbess by arranging for her a similar licence to appropriate the church of Tollesbury. (fn. 13) Edward III appointed Thomas de Broke as chaplain of St. Peter's and rector of All Hallows, (fn. 14) but the college of St. Peter's was never founded, and some thirty years later (1385) Richard II restored All Hallows church to Barking Abbey. At the same time, he gave the Abbess licence to appropriate the issues of the living (fn. 15); accordingly succeeding incumbents were styled vicars, and the Abbey thenceforward took a larger proportion of the church profits. This recovery of the church cost the Abbey 20 marks (£13.6.8.), and was almost overthrown by Henry IV in 1402. He then appointed a warden to the chapel of St. Peter in the Tower, and granted him the parish church and chapel of Berkyng by the Tower. Whereupon the Abbess appeared in Chancery and, after long discussion, proved her contention that the church with its chapel was hers by Richard II's grant. (fn. 16) Once more, in 1485, the King compelled the Abbey to give up the church. The free chapel of St. Mary had by that date become the royal chantry of Edward IV, and Richard III set about erecting it into a deanery, to which the advowson of All Hallows should be appropriated. Richard's death put an end to this scheme for handing over the mother church to her daughter chapel shortly after the Abbess had made an (incomplete) surrender of the church, and Richard's nominee, Dr. William Talbot, had obtained a licence as "rector" to settle an annuity of £15 out of the church upon the Abbess and her successors. (fn. 17) Richard being dead, and Henry VII safely seated on the throne, the Abbey petitioned for the restoration of the church, and regained it, (fn. 18) holding it undisturbed until the Reformation. Then, in 1539, the Abbey of Barking with all its property was surrendered to the commissioners of Henry VIII. (fn. 19) In 1542 Hugh Fuller, an auditor of the Court of Augmentations, and William Pownsett presented a vicar, (fn. 20) possibly on behalf of the Crown. The next presentation was made by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1565. (fn. 21) He had evidently acquired the advowson by exchange with the Crown, (fn. 22) and the Archbishop again presented in 1585. Since then the patronage has remained with the Archbishops of Canterbury.
3.—The Dedication of the Church
The old name of "Berkingchurch" clung to the building down to the beginning of the 16th century, when the present style of "All Hallows Barking" began to come into more general use. The church had a double dedication, to the Virgin Mary and to All Saints. Husband and wife would call their parish church by either name, indiscriminately. Thus Aleyn Johnson (a citizen and grocer, who for his soul's sake bequeathed all his wearing apparel to be sold, for the needy poor) desired to be buried in the "church of Alhalowen of Berkyngcherch" (1456), (fn. 23) while his widow Elizabeth was buried in the same grave in the "parish church of Our Lady of Berkyng." (fn. 24) There is record of the dedication to Our Lady in 1281 (fn. 25); and this was possibly the older invocation of the two and may have fallen into disuse later, to avoid confusion with the chapel of Our Lady in the church yard, or "Berkingshaa." Reference has been found in one instance to "the parish of St. Mary le Chapel in All Hallows Barking." (fn. 26)
All Hallows was a favourite dedication with Londoners, who had ten or a dozen churches of this dedication. The parishioners of All Hallows Barking kept up the customs of their patronal feast even after the Reformation. Among the letters in the church chest is one written by John Godfrey of Crawley in Witney, co. Oxon., on 29th October, 1615, to his very loving sister Elizabeth Goddard at the lower end of Tower Street against Barking church, accompanying a cake for her and her friend "to tast of this Alhollen Day." This was probably one of the triangular "soul cakes," made either of aniseed or oats, which were generally given by the rich to the poor on the eve of All Souls' Day to encourage prayers for the departed.
Before the Reformation there were in the church various symbols of its dedication. In 1506 the church goods included "j awtyr cloythe for abovfe and beneythe of gren bavdkyne wt Allhallowe there on." Moreover, the accounts for pulling down the rood in 1559–60 include 20d. "to a Carpenter for takinge downe of the Crucyfix, the Marye and John and alhallowes the patrone." (fn. 27) This was doubtless some symbolical figure resembling one still in existence in Westminster Abbey, which shows a bearded man in armour, wearing over it mass vestments representing all orders of clergy, and over them again the monastic hood and scapular. This figure with its beard symbolising the agricultural class, its armour the knight, and its garments the clergy, denotes that saintliness is found in every walk of life. At its feet is a dragon tied round the neck with a stole, a symbol of spiritual life overcoming sin. (fn. 28)
4.—The Church and the City
All Hallows played an important part in the medieval life of the city. At nightfall common citizens, below the rank of the great lord or "substantial person of good reputation," hastened home to lay down their arms, when curfew rang out from St. Martin's le Grand, St. Lawrence Jewry or All Hallows "of Berkyngchirche." If they were found armed in the streets after the bell had rung, they were seized and thrown into the "Tun" in Cornhill, there to await with other "night-walkers" the Mayor's judgment on the following day. (fn. 29)
The position of the church close to the city boundary next the Tower gave it especial prominence, particularly when the King's justices visited the Tower to hold pleas of the crown for the city. Then, in the morning, upon warning given, all the citizens were bound to gather at "Berkingecherche," clad well and respectably, fresh from the barber's hands, and with their hair newly trimmed. Whilst they waited at the church, a deputation of about half a dozen of the most respected citizens bearing gifts in their hands went forward to the Tower to welcome the King, his Council and the Justices, and to make it clear that in appearing before the royal justices they were not prejudicing their ancient liberties. This being allowed, and the judges' commission read, proclamation was made for the sheriffs of London. Whereupon, the Mayor, Aldermen and Sheriffs with a great crowd of citizens would enter the Tower from the church. On one occasion, probably in 1285, the Mayor, Gregory de Rokesley, took offence at some failure to give due respect to these ancient rights, and as a protest, he went to All Hallows church with all the city insignia, and there in the presence of between eighty and ninety citizens deposed himself, laying aside the symbols of his mayoralty and handing over the common seal to one of the aldermen, Stephen Aswey [Eswy]. Then with the rest he entered the Tower as a simple alderman. Edward I was quick to punish such disrespect. The citizens who were present at the Mayor's resignation in All Hallows were for a few days imprisoned in the Tower; Aswey was carried off to Windsor for a longer term; the King, finding London without a mayor, seized the city into his own hands (fn. 30) and kept it for thirteen years, until, faced by a combination of the barons and the Londoners, and gratified by the citizens' generous grant towards his Scottish wars, he restored the city's franchises in 1298. Upon another occasion in 1321, the judges at the Tower took umbrage at the delay in the arrival of the sheriffs, although it was in accordance with ancient custom that they had waited at the church to hear the answer to the first deputation of citizens. Again the King seized the city; but this time it was restored in a few months in view of an insurrection in Wales. (fn. 31)
5.—Sanctuary (fn. 32)
Knives were often out in the city during the Middle Ages, and on several occasions men flying from the hue and cry took refuge in All Hallows church. On Sunday, 7th September, 1325, two Flemings, Nicholas Crabbe and John Paling, started quarrelling on the Wool Wharf, within the parish. Nicholas first drew his knife, wounding John four times in the throat and forcing him towards the water's edge with intent to kill. At length, John got out his knife, called a "trenchour," and struck Nicholas to the heart so that he died. John the Waterbearer and John Whitehead standing by raised the alarm, and John Paling fled to the church for sanctuary. Next day the coroner and sheriffs came and parleyed with him in the church. He confessed that he had killed Nicholas, but refused to come out and take his trial. A fortnight later he died in the church of his wounds, whilst the sheriffs' officers watched the building to prevent his escape. Possibly his death was hastened by starvation, for the jurors returned that Nicholas had no goods at all, while John had only a surcoat and a shirt, which they valued at 6d.
Nicholas Motoun of Bristol, a porter, who killed John Croucheman, another porter, in Chickenlane just after curfew on Friday, 16th June, 1338, was more fortunate. He took refuge in the church close by, and there, about a week later, confessed the murder before the coroner and sheriffs; but they could not touch him while he remained in sanctuary, and afterwards he escaped by night.
Little more than a year later, Peter Tremenel, a servant of the household of Queen Philippa, took refuge in the church. On Friday, 23rd August, 1340, he had been quarrelling in the Tower with one of the Queen's grooms of the kitchen, John Gremet. At the hour of Vespers they were outside the Tower Postern on the river bank, when John drew a long knife and wounded Peter in three places. Thereupon Peter struck John in the throat with a short knife, so that he died that same day. Peter took sanctuary in All Hallows church, and next day confessed to the coroner and sheriffs what he had done, saying that he was so badly wounded that he could not leave the church except at risk of death, and that upon recovery he would submit and take his trial. His fate is unknown; but the jurors returned that he did appear to be very badly wounded. His adversary was buried in the church.
6.—The Trial of the Templars
Some of the most dramatic scenes in the suppression of the Order of the Knights' Templars took place within All Hallows church. The fall of Acre had set an end to the hopes of recovering the Holy Land, and therefore to the prime reason for the existence of a body of knights pledged to fight for the Holy Sepulchre. Their pride, the wealth of their Order and their growing intervention in the politics of their own countries brought upon them general jealousy and hatred. Urged by the Pope, and following the example of Philip of France, Edward II first arrested the Templars all over England (January, 1308) and seized their lands, and then tried to get evidence of the charges of blasphemy and heresy, which had been trumped up against them. Brother William de la More, Grand Preceptor of England, and many others were imprisoned in the Tower. The first connection of All Hallows parish with the proceedings against them occurred when all the English brethren were still maintaining their innocence after nearly two years' imprisonment. From October, 1309, onwards they were closely examined, generally in Holy Trinity Priory, but on one day in November four brethren, Robert de la Wolde, William de Cestreton, Alexander de Bulbecke and William de Welles, made their depositions in the chapel of the Blessed Mary of Berkyngecherche, before a number of friars. (fn. 33) They admitted none of the charges against the Order, to which they had belonged for periods ranging from 18 to 32 years. Again on 27th January, 1310, three others were examined in the same chapel, including a chaplain of the Order, John de Stoke, who was particularly examined as to a charge that Walter le Bacheler, Grand Preceptor of Ireland, had been starved to death. (fn. 34) John de Stoke described how he had helped to bury the Preceptor at dawn in a grave outside the graveyard of the Temple, since he was considered excommunicate for taking the goods of his house without acknowledging his fault. Many such examinations produced no English evidence against the Templars until Edward II gave way to papal admonitions, and in 1310 sent orders to the Tower to allow a restricted use of torture in order to extort confession from the Templars imprisoned there. Meantime, much hearsay evidence was gathered from the knights' enemies and read before them (22nd April, 1311). A week later the Grand Master, with two other prisoners in the Tower, was brought before the papal inquisitors and the bishops of London and Chichester in All Hallows church. There they formally presented their written answer to these allegations, ratifying what they had already declared to the officers of the Tower. They pleaded that they were all Christians, believing as Holy Church taught; that their religion was founded on vows of obedience, chastity and poverty, and of aiding in the conquest of the Holy Land; and that they were innocent of heresy and evil doing. For the love of God, and for charity, they besought their judges for trial as true children of the Church, and in accordance with the privileges granted by the court of Rome to their Order, so that they might bring forward Christian witnesses to speak to the manner of their lives. They ended by declaring their belief in the sacraments, and praying their judges to judge them as they themselves would answer before God; desiring that their examinations should be held in public and recorded in the very language and words in which they were given. (fn. 35)
The only answer to this dignified petition was a fresh order for the separate confinement of the prisoners and the application of unrestricted torture. At length, in July 1311, three of their number admitted the charges against them, and many others (with the notable exception of the Grand Preceptor) made public confession and were reconciled to the Church at high mass in St. Paul's. But five were too aged and impotent to make the journey, and these were reconciled to the Church in the chapel of St. Mary in All Hallows churchyard. Soon after sunrise on Tuesday, 5th July, 1311, the bishops of London, Chichester and Winchester came to the chapel, accompanied by a great crowd of citizens. The five old men were brought before them by officers of the Tower, abjured the heresies laid to their charge, and begged with tears to be admitted to Holy Church. Some spoke in French, others in English, the only tongue they knew. Then they made private confession to two masters of theology, and were absolved outside the west door of the chapel by the bishop of Chichester. Whereupon, the bishop led them into the chapel and up to the altar, where they knelt and prayed, devoutly kissing the altar, and weeping the while. Afterwards they were sent to do penance among their enemies in various monasteries throughout the kingdom. (fn. 36)
7.—The Church and Chancery
In December 1323, another inquisition was held in the church of "All Hallows in Berkyngecherche." The city had wavered between Edward II and the Earl of Lancaster, until, deciding for the King, they sent an armed force which helped to decide the Earl's defeat at Boroughbridge. Nevertheless they were suspected of aiding Jacominus Darynoun and other adherents of the rebels. A commission out of Chancery was issued to the Mayor, Hamon de Chigwell, and another. They inquired into the matter by a London jury on Friday before the Circumcision, 1323, in All Hallows church. The jurors declared that no help had been given by the city for Jacominus and the rest, but that they had been received south of the river by the alien Prior of Bermondsey, who was accordingly committed to the Tower. (fn. 37)
At this period, the court of Chancery was held in no fixed place, and upon more than one occasion its routine business was conducted at the chapel in All Hallows churchyard. For instance, on 15th April, 1337, Margaret de Bacheworth came into Chancery at "Berkyng chapel" and acknowledged a deed which she had made touching a certain manor near St. Albans. (fn. 38) The church and chapel seem to have been used indiscriminately for such purposes. At midnight 30th November, 1340, Edward III returned unexpectedly to the Tower, angry with the Lord Chancellor for failing to send him those supplies which should have enabled him to follow up his victory at Sluys in the previous summer. Arriving in no good humour after a stormy three days' passage, the King received the chancellor, Robert bishop of Chichester, in his chamber at the Tower and took from him the great seal which had been in use in England, handing it to William de Kildesby. Much business was left to be transacted both with this seal, and with another which the King had had with him in France and had placed in a bag sealed with his own (privy) seal. Accordingly, on the following Saturday, at the hour of evensong, Kildesby took both of the great seals to the "church of Berkyng near the Tower" and caused the bags containing them to be opened there before the chief barons of the Exchequer and certain clerks in Chancery. The writs already dated in England were sealed with the one seal; charters made by the King beyond the sea were sealed with the other. Then the seals were replaced in their bags and taken back to the King at the Tower. On Thursday, 14th December, Edward gave the seal to Sir Robert Bourchier, the first layman to hold office as chancellor. On the Friday the new chancellor took the seal to "Berkyngchapel next the Tower," opened the bag in which it was and sealed writs there, receiving also the acknowledgment of the Prior of St. John of Jerusalem who came in person to make recognisance of a deed granting certain yearly pensions. Next day (Saturday, 16th December) Bourchier was setting out on a journey on his own affairs, and accordingly sent the great seal to the King, who was sitting at dinner in his chamber at the Tower, when a clerk of chancery brought it to him. This clerk, Sir Edmund de Grymesby, and another, Thomas de Brayton, were ordered to deliver it to Thomas de Evesham. Again they did so at "Berkyngchapel," delivering it to Evesham, who carried it thence to his house in Fetter Lane. (fn. 39)
8.—The Royal Lady Chapel
There stood within the churchyard of All Hallows the chapel of Our Lady (see p. 2), which is said to have been founded by Richard Cœur de Lion, and was certainly erected into a royal chantry-chapel by Edward IV.
The earliest known record of such a chapel is the will (fn. 40) of Edward Grobbe who, about 1278, left his ship, the Blewebolle, to be sold for the maintenance of a chantry in the chapel of St. Mary de Berkinggechirch; but it is just possible that he intended the Lady Chapel, which is known to have existed in the south aisle of the church and was quite distinct from the Lady Chapel in the churchyard. In 1297 Richard de Glamuile broke into the chapel of "Berkyngchirch" and stole a "coronele" of pearls, three gold rings, a linen cloth, an embroidered frontal and certain ornaments of the church; for which deed he was hanged, while one of the parishioners, Geoffrey le Hurer, who had prosecuted, recovered the goods for the use of the church. (fn. 41) Peter Blakeney of Mark Lane, who in 1310 desired to be buried in All Hallows church, left money to the chapel of St. Mary by that church. (fn. 42) The trial and submission of the Templars in the chapel in 1309 and 1311 has been noted. The rector of All Hallows, Walter Grapenel, who had been presented to the living by Edward II during a voidance of Barking Abbey, was styled "warden of Berkyngchapel, London" when in 1328 he was charged with aiding in the breaking of a close at Wratting, co. Suffolk, and in assaulting servants and carrying away goods. (fn. 43) The use of this chapel for purposes of state is recorded in 1336 and again in 1337, when deeds were acknowledged in Chancery "at Berkyngchapel, London," and it has already been related how Sir Robert Bourchier sealed certain writs with the great seal there upon his appointment as Chancellor in 1340. The style used in naming the church shows how highly the chapel stood in men's minds. Thus, the Controller of the Household of Edward III's children, in paying for the funeral of John Gremet, groom of the kitchen, who had been slain in 1340 by Peter Tremenel, speaks of him as buried in ecclesia de Berkyng Chapelle. (fn. 44) Thomas Pilkes, founder of a chantry in the church of All Hallows, desired in 1348 to be buried within the churchyard near the chapel of St. Mary de Berkinge near the Tower. (fn. 45) In 1359, Denys de Morbek, a knight who had been concerned in the capture of the French king at Poitiers, was lying like to die at his lodging in a street by the church called Berkyng Chapelle. (fn. 46) Richard Amuresden, a chaplain, on his death-bed in May 1385 desired to be buried in the chapel of the Blessed Mary of Berkyng, London; (fn. 47) and in the same year certain houses in Chickenlane were said to abut upon the chapel called Berkyngchapel on the west. (fn. 48) It has already been seen how Henry IV tried to annex the chapel, as well as the church, to S. Peter's in the Tower.
Attached to the chapel was a gild or brotherhood "in worship of the Blessed Virgin Mary," which is said to have been founded by Thomas Chichele, probably the father of Henry Chichele, Archbishop of Canterbury, who founded All Souls' College, Oxford, and of Sir Robert Chichele, friend of Richard Whittington and twice Mayor of London. Thomas Chichele was buried at Higham Ferrers, co. Northants, in 1400; and the Chichele rents with which he apparently endowed the fraternity were with other properties subject to a yearly payment to All Souls' College towards an obit for Sir Robert Chichele. (fn. 49) The earliest record found of this brotherhood is the will of one of the shipwrights of Pety Wales, John Rolff, a citizen of London. In May 1432 he desired that his lighter le John should be sold to perform his will, which included a bequest of 6s. 8d. to the brotherhood of the Blessed Mary in the chapel of the Blessed Mary by (iuxta) the church of All Hallows. (fn. 50) About this time, the chapel, like the church itself, seems to have been undergoing considerable repair, for in 1410, Simon Hugh, citizen and woolman, bequeathed 40s. to the fabric of the chapel, where it was most needed. This was one of numerous bequests for the good of his soul, for which his executors were to hasten to have 3000 masses celebrated immediately after his death. He also endowed a chaplain to celebrate for seven years both in the church and the chapel, and to be in the church at all canonical hours, also celebrating a trental (thirty masses) of St. Gregory during the first year after Hugh's death. (fn. 51) John Cok, a citizen and clothier, who was buried in the churchyard at the east end of the church in 1440, also gave 40s. to the fraternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the chapel of the Blessed Virgin in the churchyard to pray for his soul. (fn. 52) Another chaplain, William Heth, was buried in the chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary near the church in 1452, and gave 6s. 8d. to the works of the chapel. (fn. 53) Sibyl Salueyn, who was buried there in 1453, provided for a chaplain to celebrate there, and for the good friendship shown her by the vicar bequeathed him a silver cup with a cover. (fn. 54) Sir John Vale, one of the chaplains of Pilkes' chantry in All Hallows church, desired in 1458 that two of the great waxlights of 4 lbs. each, which stood about his body during his exequies, should afterwards remain in the chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the churchyard of the said church. (fn. 55)
By the middle of the 15th century, many generations of parishioners had thus contributed to the beautifying of the chapel, and there can be no doubt that there was already set up in it a somewhat extraordinary image of Our Lady. It may have been identical with "our lady Image of Barkyng," which in 1506 showed "a gracious miracle . . . by a mayeden child that a cart Ladyn wt stone yood over." (fn. 56) It was probably this same image which stood on the north side of the chapel some fifty years later, when Robert Tate founded his chantry there. The chapel was evidently gaining in popularity when there were enrolled in the register of bishop Gilbert of London (1436–48) certain letters (fn. 57) which purported to be an indulgence of forty days granted on 20th May, 1291, by three papal legates to all who should visit the chapel in the churchyard of Berking-Church, London, contribute to its lights, repairs or ornaments, and pray for the soul of Richard, king of England, whose heart this supposed indulgence stated to have been buried in the chapel beneath the high altar. These letters bear many signs of such forgery as even the highest ecclesiastics of the Middle Ages were wont to perpetrate. They may, however, contain a grain of truth, for it is possible that (as the letters assert) the chapel had been founded by Richard Cœur de Lion, (fn. 58) although his heart was not buried there, and that the image was the gift of Edward I, who was as greatly devoted to works of piety as he was to just administration and statesmanship. No contemporary record of the connexion of either king with the chapel has, however, yet been found.
The story of the image of St. Mary, as it was accepted in the 15th century, ran as follows: In the time of Henry III the hostile Welsh overran England, slaughtering men, women and even babes in the cradle. At length they took the Isle of Ely and held it for a year, withdrawing to Wales when it pleased them so to do. The young prince Edward was so grieved at the disinheritance of his father and the ruin of his country, that he took to his bed and thought never to recover. One night he prayed earnestly to the Virgin Mary to show him how England could be speedily delivered from the Welsh, whereupon as he slept the Virgin appeared to him in a vision, saying, "O Edward, the friend of God, behold I am here. Know that during thy father's life, the Welsh cannot be altogether overcome by the English, because of thy father's great sin, and excessive extortions; but go to-morrow morn to a certain Jew, Marlibrun by name, who is more skilled in the making of pictures than anyone in the whole world, and lives at Billinsgate in London. Cause him to make for thee an image in such shape as thou now seest me, and he by divine inspiration shall make two aspects in the one image, (duas facies in una imagine), one like unto my Son Jesus, the other he shall make beautiful like unto myself in all things, so that none can truthfully point out any defect. This image thou shalt have set up in the chapel in the churchyard of Berkyngchirche by the Tower of London and shalt cause to be beautified there on the north side." She went on to tell the prince that Marlibrun himself and his wife, upon seeing the double aspect of the image in the chapel, should be turned to the Catholic faith and should reveal many secrets for which the Jews ought to be punished; that Edward himself should take a vow when he was in England to visit the image five times each year; that when his father was dead and he had become king he should overcome the Welsh, and should subjugate Scotland; and that every good king of England who should make a like vow and keep it to the best of his ability should be victorious over the Welsh and Scots and should be invincible.
The letters then declare that Edward I had of his own accord taken his oath before the magnates of England and Scotland; that everything which had been thus revealed to him in his sleep, had come to pass; and that accordingly the legates, wishing that the chapel should be frequented and revered, remit forty days of purgatory to those penitents who should visit it and aid it as described above, subject to confirmation by the Diocesan.
The alleged burial of Richard Cœur de Lion's heart beneath the chapel altar has no historic truth. When Richard died at Chaluz, his heart was carried to Rouen for burial, and was found in an inscribed casket there as recently as 1838. (fn. 59)
The letters of indulgence purport to have been dated at Norham, at the conference of the English and Scottish magnates touching the Scottish succession, 20th May, 1291. The declaration which they ascribe to Edward would have been in keeping with the claims to the overlordship of Scotland, which he then put forward. The story of the vision applies to the years 1267–69, when, after aiding his father to put down the Welsh and to reduce the disinherited magnates in the Isle of Ely in July 1267, Edward took an active part in promoting the statute of 1269, forbidding Jews to acquire the lands of Christians by means of pledges. Between these two events, in the spring of 1268, he had been appointed warden of London and custodian of all English castles, including the Tower. There may have been some basis of truth, therefore, in this account of his setting up an image in the chapel near the Tower; but it is impossible not to connect this picturesque document with the ingenious vicar, Thomas Virby, who was presented to All Hallows Church in 1434, and whose brass is still in the church.
Virby encouraged the people who thronged Tower Hill in the summer of 1440 to do honour to Richard Wyche, a Lollard vicar of Deptford, who had been burned on Tower Hill. Many men and women went to the hill by night, and offered at the place where Wyche had been burned money and images of wax, kneeling and making their prayers "as they would have done to a saint." Virby, as the parish priest, received their offerings and afterwards confessed in prison that to increase the people's fervour he had strewn ashes mingled with spice on the place of execution, so that the simple people were deceived "wenyng that the swete flauour hadde comme of the asshis of the ded heretic;" (fn. 60) for it was widely held that a sweet smell was among the many properties connected with relics of saints that were evidence of sanctity. (fn. 61) His servant also drew up a list of imaginary miracles which had been performed at the place. It therefore seems quite possible that the same servant was responsible for the curiously-worded indulgence which recites the legend of Our Lady's chapel; and that the Bishop was ready to countenance a diversion of popularity from the site of a Lollard's martyrdom to the neighbouring chapel of St. Mary.
9.—Royal Charters and Statutes of the Fraternity of the Chapel.
It was within two years of Wyche's death, viz. on 9th January, 1442, that the fraternity of the Blessed Virgin in the chapel of the Blessed Mary within the churchyard of Berkyngechirche received from Henry VI a charter of incorporation. The King gave licence to his beloved lieges, Master John Somerset, Chancellor of the Exchequer; Henry Frowik; John Olney, Alderman of the City of London; John Merston, Clerk of the King's Jewels; Master William Clif, clerk; Thomas Walsingham, one of the customers of the Port of London; and to three city merchants, viz., Richard Riche, Thomas Canynges (fn. 62) and Hugh Withe, to establish such a fraternity and to admit therein brothers and sisters and to receive goods for it. Each year the fraternity might choose a master and four wardens. It was to be one commonalty and body in thing and in name, and to have a common seal and power to plead and be impleaded.
We know that a fraternity had already existed in the chapel, and it is clear that this royal charter of incorporation is closely connected with Bishop Gilbert's enrolment in his register of the alleged letters of indulgence. The royal charter continues to summarise the contents of that document. The King recites that he has learned of late that the chapel was wonderfully founded, built and established by the zeal of King Richard the First, out of his pure devotion; and that a certain image still existing in the chapel was miraculously and honourably placed there by the illustrious King Edward, son of Henry the First (Primi) [sic, an obvious error], by reason of a divine revelation shown to that King in his sleep. Therefore, to secure the continuance of his predecessors' intent, Henry VI gave to the Master and Wardens and brothers and sisters of the fraternity the custody of the chapel, and the goods given for its use and adornment, but they were to keep the building in repair, and the parish church was still to receive the oblations made in the chapel. (fn. 63)
Edward III and Henry IV had both attempted to join All Hallows church with its Lady Chapel to their chapel of St. Peter within the Tower. Henry VI by this charter gave the chapel to the fraternity which was governed by officers of his own Court, headed by John Somerset, the physician and mathematician, who served as Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1441 to 1446. Edward IV followed yet another course, and in 1465 raised the Lady Chapel into the status of a royal chantry. The master of the fraternity, which governed the chapel, was then the King's own kinsman, John Tiptoft, earl of Worcester, a notable soldier and scholar, who in his travels had imbibed much of the new Italian learning and was connected with the neighbourhood as Constable of the Tower. Edward IV granted to Tiptoft, as master of the fraternity, and to its wardens Sir John Scot, Knt., Thomas Colt, John Tate and John Croke, the manor of Tooting Bec in Surrey, which had been seized by the Crown as the property of an alien priory. The fraternity was to use the profits of this manor for maintaining two chaplains, who should celebrate perpetually in the chapel for the welfare of Edward IV and his Queen, his mother Cecily, duchess of York, his brothers the dukes of Clarence and Gloucester, then still living, and for their souls after death, and for the souls of the King's father (Richard, late duke of York) and his dead brother the late earl of Rutland and of all the faithful departed, especially those Yorkists who had shed their blood in bringing Edward to the throne. The Master and Wardens were also to keep the building itself in repair out of the profits of the manor, and they and the brothers and sisters of the fraternity were to have the custody of the chapel for ever. (fn. 64)
The Statutes for this chantry, which were drawn up by the Master and Wardens in accordance with the King's instructions, are still in existence. (fn. 65) The chantry was to be called "King Edward's Chauntry." It was to consist of two chaplains, secular (i.e. not monastic), well-read and of good life and conduct, and not beneficed elsewhere nor having more than £3. 6s. 8d. a year of their own patrimony. They should be replaced, upon resignation or deprivation, by the unanimous choice of the fraternity who (if possible) should appoint graduates in sacred theology. They were to be admitted by the bishop and inducted by the archdeacon, and if the fraternity could not come to a unanimous choice within two months, the Master and two of the Wardens should appoint.
The chaplains, if they were graduates and able to preach, should preach four times in the year on different days in the parish church. At these sermons, and at their masses and all other divine offices they were to remember in silence the founders who were still living, and after their death to make more particular, and public commendations for their souls. They were to say matins, evensong and the other canonical hours daily in the chapel, except upon Sundays and feast-days, when they were to take part in divine worship in the parish church, being present there in their surplices at the canonical hours, and at high mass to sing and take part in the celebration with the rest of the choir. On such days, they were to celebrate their own masses in the chapel one after the other at such convenient times as the vicar should choose; but he was not to prevent them from celebrating their masses directly after the singing of the gospel at high mass in the parish church.
On Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays, they were to say "without note" the exequies (exequias) of the dead, lauds and commendations (comendationes) after the Sarum Use for the estate and souls of the founders. Clad in their surplices, they were to take part in every procession in the church or churchyard and in other general or solemn processions throughout the City, and in the singing of the anthem of Our Lady.
Every year the chaplains were to have a month's holiday, taken either continuously or piecemeal for their refreshment and to enable them to visit their friends or go on pilgrimage, but they were not to be away together, unless there were good reason, particularly at the great feasts, and the vicar was to arrange the date for their holiday. If one of them overstayed his leave by a fortnight, he had to show good reason for doing so before the bishop; if he overstayed it by two months, he was to lose his appointment. Otherwise his appointment was for life. If one of the chaplains became too aged or too sick to perform his office, he was to be removed, but was to enjoy his full salary in recompense for his prayers and other works of charity.
These statutes were drawn up by Tiptoft and the wardens, and two chaplains were appointed; but before the bishop had confirmed them (10 Dec., 1476) Tiptoft had himself lost his life in the Yorkist cause, being executed on Tower Hill during the short restoration of the Lancastrian King Henry VI in 1470. Edward IV after regaining his authority confirmed the fraternity in its possessions by specifically excepting Tooting Bec Manor from the Act of Resumption of Crown Lands in 1473. (fn. 66) Some difficulty afterwards arose from the stringent regulation in the statutes that each chaplain before his admission should hear them clearly and distinctly read, and should take an oath to keep them all. Accordingly, in 1485, the wardens of the fraternity, not wishing that the chaplains should incur the penalty of perjury for every slight deviation from the statutes, and possibly hoping thereby to augment the funds of the brotherhood, ordained a system of fines for absence, viz. 2d. for evensong, 3d. for matins, 1d. for procession, 4d. for high mass on Sundays and feast days in the church, 1d. for evensong, mass, matins, commemoration of the dead or the anthem of Our Lady in the chapel, and a fine for failure to preach, should the chaplain be a graduate in theology. (fn. 67)
Richard III's attempt to establish the chapel as a deanery with the Church of All Hallows attached came to nothing, but his successor (Henry VII) did not deprive the fraternity of its endowments. They were specifically excepted from the Act of 1485 whereby Henry resumed all lands alienated by Richard III, (fn. 68) and in 1490 the King confirmed the royal chantry as established by Edward IV. Shortly after the accession of Henry VIII, the fraternity once more sought the security of a royal charter, and in 1514 obtained from the new king a confirmation of Henry VI's charter of incorporation as well as of the later charter. (fn. 69) This royal protection, however, did not serve to exempt the chapel from the common fate which swept away all chantry chapels and colleges as superstitious uses in 1547.
We can get some idea of the chapel's appearance from contemporary record. The image of Our Lady stood to the north of the High Altar, the place usually occupied by the patron saint. John Barker, a merchant of Calais Staple, desired (fn. 70) in 1500 to be buried "in the litle chapell where the ymage of our blissed lady of Barkyng in London stondeth." The description of the image as it was alleged to have been revealed to Edward I seems to apply to a statue of the Virgin carrying the Holy Child. (fn. 71) There was in addition a "pictour of Jesus" before which John Kervyle, another merchant of Calais, desired to be buried in 1521. (fn. 72) He was to be "brought to earth" with sixteen wax torches and four wax tapers, borne about his hearse by twenty poor men of the parish. After his exequies, the torches were distributed to various churches, two going to All Hallows to burn "in honour of tholy sacrament at the tymes of Levacyon." For fifteen years after Kervyle's death, an "honest" priest sang for his soul at the altar of Our Lady, taking part also in all divine service in the parish church.
Most conspicuous in the chapel were two chantry tombs, the one of Sir Robert Tate, mercer and alderman of London, and Mayor in 1488, who lived in a "great messuage" in Tower Street, (fn. 73) the other of Sir John Rysley, Kt. The tomb of Sir Robert Tate lay "on the Northside of the same chapell before thymage of Or Lady there and as nygh to the wall as convenyently may be." It may have stood within a small subsidiary chapel; for he left instructions (fn. 74) that a "fayr and sufficient arche" should be cut in the North wall from East to West with a chapel, to be named St. Thomas' chapel, "convenient from the said arch toward the North as the ground there . . . reasonably may be sparyd." In the East end of this chapel of St. Thomas was an altar, where a priest sang for the souls of Sir Robert and his relatives and benefactors. In consideration of the making of this chapel of St. Thomas, the wealthy merchant gave £20 towards the repairs of the body of the Lady Chapel. He also made provision for "a table convenyent of seynt Thomas the martyr wt his martyrdom therin conteyned to serve afore (fn. 75) the high awter" of the Lady Chapel. Apparently in addition to this altar-piece, his executors provided either over the altar of his chantry chapel of St. Thomas, or for the chantry which he established in St. Michael's, Coventry, his ancestral town, a finely-painted Flemish picture (fn. 76) of the Nativity in triptych form, the inner panels of the doors representing on the one side Sir Robert Tate kneeling, (fn. 77) on the other St. Joseph, or one of the shepherds, surmounted by the arms of Sir Robert, impaling those of his wife Margery (Wood). The outer panels of these doors represented St. Ambrose and St. Jerome. (fn. 78)
The Lady Chapel seems to have been in urgent need of repair when Tate's chantry was founded. One of the royal chaplains, Dennis Spicer, who in 1500 wished to be buried next Sir Thomas Salarse (probably a fellow-chaplain), before the entrance to the chapel choir, gave £5 to the chapel if the Fraternity took steps for its repair or rebuilding (constructionem) within three years. William Kirfote, a citizen and grocer who was to be buried on the north side of the Lady Chapel in 1514, gave 20s. for its repairs, and also left his tenements at Queenhithe to the vicar and churchwardens of All Hallows for a perpetual obit to be kept for him once a year within the chapel. (fn. 79) Sir Richard Cholmondeley, who also desired burial in the chapel, wished to lie "on thoder side agaynst where Sir John Rysley knt. lyeth buried," provided the Fraternity would agree. (fn. 80) Thus there was a knight's tomb on either side of the chapel.
10.—Suppression of the Royal Chapel
In 1547 "was Barkyng chappylle at the Towre hylle pullyd down," (fn. 81) while the advanced party of the Reformation were suppressing all colleges and chantries, whether of royal foundation or no, and taking down all images, in their zeal for the prevention of "superstitious uses." The Master and Wardens of the Fraternity yielded up its goods reluctantly, and the royal commissioners were still without £29 in ready money, or the debenture for it, in November, 1557; but the suppression of the chapel was absolute. The royal chaplains, Sir John Aleyn, priest and Master of Arts, and John Wysdale, the chantry priest John Arley who sang for the soul of Sir John Rysley, and the chantry priest Richard Davyers who served in Sir Robert Tate's chapel of St. Thomas, went their ways. The royal commissioners took the three gilt chalices, which together weighed nearly 60 ounces, the parcel gilt pax, upon which the members of the Fraternity were wont to make their kiss of peace, the vestments of blue cloth of gold, red velvet, and white "satten of Bridges," the "paned" altar-cloths of red and blue and red and white, and the old altar-cloth of Baudkin. They took the chapel furniture down to the very least, the two pillows (or cushions for the books) one of red velvet the other of green damask, the pewter cruets and basons, the latten candlesticks, the ten old candlestick bowls from the rood-loft, the four "old vestments very bad," the two old chests, and the little press "with a settell [of] pewes," the little table, and—what we should rejoice to see again—a great chest, bound with iron "wherein the evidence doe lye." They valued all this at £54 odd, over and above the money, plate and ornaments; the mass books were provided by the mother church. (fn. 82) Indeed the Fraternity had sometimes been put to it to find storage for their goods, and in 1500 had rented a house in Seething Lane "for laying of Our Lady Stuff." (fn. 83)
The endowments of the chapel were also seized by the Crown. The manor of Tooting Bec with which Edward IV had endowed the Fraternity, was sold to John, earl of Warwick, for twenty-two years' purchase. (fn. 84) Chichele's Rents in Tower Street, the original endowment of the Fraternity, producing £13 odd yearly, were first rated for a lease to Richard Drewe and Roger Wignall, watermen, and afterwards purchased by John Yelde, a woodmonger, and Nicholas Michell, a beerbrewer. (fn. 85) Tate's tenements were divided, and the one with shops, cellars and solars went to Henry Polsted of Chilworth and William More of Loseley Park in Surrey at eighteen years' purchase, subject to the tenancy of Ellen "Evinger," (fn. 86) who must have been connected with John Evyngar, the brewer, who was buried in All Hallows church. Bartholomew Compayne had a bargain, when he bought part of the endowment of Sir John Rysley's chantry, being a house in Broad Street in the parish of St. Christopher Stocks, which "by the King's pleasure" he was allowed to have at ten years' purchase. (fn. 87)
And what of the chapel itself? John Stow, writing at the end of the 16th century, says that it stood to the north of the church and "was pulled downe in the yeare 1548 . . . [and] the grounde was imployed as a Garden plot during the raigns of King Edward, Queene Mary, and parte of Queene Elizabeth till at length a large strong frame of Timber and bricke was set thereon, and imployed as a storehouse of Marchantes goodes brought from the sea by Sir William Winter." (fn. 88) William Wynter in 1562, before he was knighted, was rated in Seething Lane for 2s. 6d., next to his father George Wynter rated at 12d., these being the last two assessments in the lane. About 1576 Mr. George Wynter, who had come from Dyrham, co. Gloucestershire, was assessed in the lane for 2s. Perhaps (in view of the later history of the tenement) we may take it that the 12d. for which one Thomas "Bennye" (possibly for Beamontie) was rated represents his son's property; for while George Wynter himself occupied the one tenement, William let his part which was "one great warehouse" in Sethinge Lane to Hipolitan Beamontie, a merchant stranger. Subsequently Hipolitan rented George Wynter's tenement also, and in 1585, William Wynter sold to Richard Smythe, a citizen and fishmonger dwelling in Bow Lane, both the "messuage or tenement in Sethinge Lane in the parish of All Hallows Barking" and "the one great warehouse in the said lane and parish." (fn. 89)
From the deed of sale, we can reconstruct something of the story of the site between the demolition of the chapel and its acquisition by the Wynters, father and son. According to this deed, the messuage owned and occupied by George Wynter had previously been occupied by Robert Smythe. Now the tenement in Seething Lane which had been occupied by Robert Smythe had descended by May 1553 to Grace Smythe Widow, possibly his relict. She was then paying a yearly rent of 66s. 8d. for it, and this rent with the reversion on the termination of her lease had been acquired in the previous February by Thomas Vicarie, Edward VI's surgeon. Vicarie was to pay a yearly rent or farm to the Crown and in May 1553 Thomas Reve and George Cotton applied for permission to purchase this farm. (fn. 90) The tenement was then vaguely described as parcel of lands and possessions of a foundation in the church of All Saints, Barking Church, and if Stow's statement is correct, must have represented part of the actual site of the chapel. This conclusion is supported by the fact that when in that same year James Castelyn claimed that he had taken over Grace Smythe's lease, and tried to recover occupation against John Haynnes and James Awood, one of the evidences put in was a copy (fn. 91) of the indulgence as it occurs in the register of the Bishop of London.
The petition, however, relates to "three messuages." It may therefore have referred not only to the two large buildings owned by the Wynters, but also to a very small house, separately rated at 2d. which was assessed in 1579 upon William Morris as tenant, and widow Archer owner. This small house apparently came at the corner of "Chappell Alley" where there dwelt only two paupers and a certain Robert Evers who paid 2d. in 1580. In fact, the arrangement of the rate-books here looks as though Evers had succeeded Morris. In any case this solitary allusion to "Chappell Alley" close to the Wynters' tenements again supports Stow's statement as to the site of the chapel.
The exact site of the chapel could only be determined by further research. We know from various deeds relating to tenements to the east and north-east of it, that it abutted northwards upon a considerable property which had been given to St. Paul's Cathedral by Master Thomas Northflete, one of the Canons, who endowed an obit in the Cathedral in 1317. From the very scanty deeds relating to Northflete's endowment, (fn. 92) we gather that some of his property lay in St. Olave's parish and that at least a part of it abutted westwards on the highway of Seething Lane. We know also that eastwards the chapel abutted on tenements in what was a northern extension of Chicken Lane, which was afterwards thrown into Tower Hill or "Roomland." (fn. 93) Robert Tate's instruction for his chantry chapel to be built out northwards only so far as ground could be spared shows that the Lady Chapel was on the extreme northern limits of the churchyard; but the ancient boundaries of the churchyard are difficult to define, and were probably irregular, for the Chicken Lane tenement abutting on the Chapel west abutted south on the churchyard. All the evidence, however, goes to support the considered and final conclusion of a former curate (fn. 94) that the chapel lay in the cemetery some distance to the north of the church, on a site now pierced by the Underground Railway.