Survey of London: Volume 5, St Giles-in-The-Fields, Pt II. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1914.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by English Heritage. All rights reserved.
LIII.—SITE OF THE HOSPITAL OF ST. GILES.
The Hospital of St. Giles-in-the-Fields was founded by Maud, (fn. 1) Henry I's Queen, probably in 1117 or 1118. (fn. 2) Stow (fn. 3) giving, on unknown authority, the date as "about the yeare 1117," and the Cottonian MS. Nero C.V. (fn. 4) placing the event in 1118. The number of lepers to be maintained in the Hospital was stated, in the course of the suit between the Abbot of St. Mary Graces and the Master of Burton Lazars in the fourth year of Henry IV's reign, to be fourteen, (fn. 5) and this is to a certain extent confirmed by a petition (fn. 6) from the brethren of the Hospital, dating from the end of Edward I.'s reign, which gives the number as "xiij," apparently a clerical error. On the other hand, the jury who were sworn to give evidence at the above-mentioned suit, declared that from time immemorial it had not been the custom to maintain fourteen, but that sometimes there had been only three, four or five.
Maud had assigned 60s. rent, issuing from Queenhithe, for the support of the lepers, and had afterwards granted the ward of the Hospital to the citizens of London, (fn. 7) who appointed two persons to supervise the Hospital. Certain of the citizens had given rents, etc., amounting to upwards of £80 a year towards the maintenance of lepers of the City and suburbs, (fn. 8) and an arrangement come to (fn. 9) in the reign of Edward III. between the City and the Warden of the Hospital provided that, apparently in accordance with the ancient custom, the whole of the fourteen lepers should be taken from the City and suburbs and presented by the Mayor and Commonalty, or that if there were not so many within those limits, the County of Middlesex should be included, and that in the event of further gifts to the Hospital by good men of the City, the number of lepers should be increased in proportion. It will be seen, therefore, that the Hospital of St. Giles was, in early times, a peculiarly London institution, and very closely connected with the governing body of the City.
On 4th April, 1299, (fn. 10) it was granted to the Hospital of Burton Lazars in Leicestershire. It thus became a cell to that house, and a member of the order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem. Except for a short intermission, it remained under the control of the house of Burton Lazars until the dissolution in 1539, but it must long before have ceased to serve its original purpose. Its constitution during the later period of its existence is obscure, but the place of the lepers was probably taken by infirm persons, when leprosy became extinct. The hospital appears to have been governed by a Warden, who was subordinate to the Master of Burton Lazars.
The Precinct of the Hospital probably included the whole of the island site now bounded by High Street, Charing Cross Road (fn. 11) and Shaftesbury Avenue; it was entered by a Gatehouse in High Street. The Hospital church is sufficiently represented by the present parish church, while the other buildings of the hospital included the Master's House (subsequently called the Mansion House) to the west of the church, and the Spittle Houses, which probably stood in the High Street to the east of the church. There is no evidence of the internal arrangement of these buildings, with the exception of the church, which survived till 1623, and will be described below.
The position of The Gatehouse may be roughly gathered from a deed of 1618 (fn. 12), which refers to "all that old decayed building or house commonly called the Gatehouse, adjoyning next unto one small old tenement or building set and being att or neare unto or uppon the north-west corner of the brickwall inclosing the north and west parte of the churchyard."
Mansion House and Adjacent Buildings.
A few years after the dissolution in 1539, the property of the Hospital was divided between Lord Lisle and Katherine Legh (fn. 13), when there fell to the share of the former the mansion place or captial house of the Hospital; a messuage, part of the Hospital, with orchards and gardens, in the tenure of Doctor Borde; and a messuage, part of the Hospital, with orchard and garden, in the tenure of Master Densyle, formerly of Master Wynter. Lisle transferred the property to Sir Wymonde Carew, who at his death was found to be seized of and in "the capital mansion of the Hospital of St. Giles in the Fields and of and in certain parcels of land with appurtenances in the parish of St. Giles in the Fields." (fn. 14) Thomas Carew, his son, seems to have disposed of the whole of the property, and in 1563 the abovementioned, described as four messuages, were in the possession of Francis Downes.
On 10th April, 1566, Robert and Edward Downes sold (fn. 15) to John Graunge "all those messuages, tenements, houses, edyfices, barns, stables, gardens, orchards, meadows, etc., with the appurtenances, now or late in the several occupations of the Right Hon. Sir Willyam Herbert, Knyght, now Erell of Pembroke,—Byrcke, Esq., Johan Wyse, wydowe, Anthony Vuidele, Thomas More, Henrye Hye, and —Troughton,—Wylson, lyng and being in St. Gyles in the Fieldes."
There are no records by which the history of these several houses may be traced, but at the beginning of the 17th century the property, having then passed into the hands of Robert Lloyd (fn. 16) (Floyd, or Flood), seems chiefly to have comprised five large houses. (fn. 17)
On 19th March, 1617–8, Robert Lloyd (fn. 18) sold to Isaac Bringhurst the reversion of a house, formerly in the occupation of Jas. Bristowe and then in that of Thomas Whitesaunder, situated "nere unto the west end of the … parish church" and to the south of Sir Edward Cope's residence, having an enclosure on its east side 45 feet wide by 17½ and 18 feet, and gardens and ground on the west side, extending 288½ feet to Hog Lane. Assuming a depth of from 30 to 40 feet for the house itself, it will be seen that the premises stretched between the church and Hog Lane for a distance of about 340 feet, and after making due allowance for the fact that Hog Lane was much narrower than Charing Cross Road, its modern representative, it will be apparent that the only possible course taken by the above mentioned property was along the line of Little Denmark Street, formerly Lloyd's Court. Unfortunately the history of the house in question cannot be definitely traced after 1629 (fn. 19), but if the site suggested above is correct, the premises subsequently came into the possession of Elizabeth Saywell (née Lloyd) who, by will dated 5th January, 1712–3, gave all her real estate in St. Giles, after several estates for life, to Benjamin Carter for his life, and devised a fourth part of her estate to trustees for charitable purposes. Benjamin Carter on 12th March, 1727, accordingly granted to trustees all that old capital messuage or tenement wherein Mrs. Saywell had resided, "which said capital messuage had been pulled down and several messuages, houses or tenements, had been erected on the ground whereon the said capital messuage stood, situated in a certain place, commonly called Lloyd's Court." (fn. 20)
Immediately to the north of the last mentioned house was the mansion of Sir Edward Cope, described in 1612 (fn. 21) as "with twoe litle gardens before on the north side thereof impalled, and a large garden with a pumpe and a banquetting house on the south side of the same tenement, walled about with bricke, and a stable and the stable yard adjoyning to the same garden."
If the site ascribed to the previous house is correct, Sir Edward Cope's mansion must have been identical with that shown in the map in Strype's edition of Stow (Plate 5) as "Ld. Wharton's," situated between the houses on the north side of Lloyd's Court and on the south side of Denmark Street. In 1652, the house was in the tenure of John Barkstead or his assigns. (fn. 22) Philip, 4th Lord Wharton, was resident in St. Giles in 1677, (fn. 23) probably at this house, and the "garden of Lord Wharton" is in 1687 mentioned (fn. 24) as the southern boundary of premises in Denmark Street. It seems a reasonable suggestion that this house was originally the capitalis mansio, or master's house.
The same deed of 1612 mentions (1) a house in the tenure of Tristram Gibbs, with a stable towards the street on the north side, and a large garden on the south, "walled on the east side and toward a lane of the south side," abutting west on the garden of Frances Varney's house; and (ii) a house "now or latelie in the tenure of Alice, the Lady Dudley," with a paved court on the north side before the door, a stable on the north side towards the street, another paved court backwards towards the south, walled with brick, and a large walled garden on the south side.
The position of Tristram Gibbs's house can be roughly identified by the fact that a parcel of ground abutting north on Denmark Street and south on Lord Wharton's garden and ground is stated (fn. 25) to have been formerly "part of the garden belonging to the messuage in tenure of Tristram Gibbs, Esq." The house was therefore to the north of Lord Wharton's house, and its site probably extended over part of Denmark Street.
The position of Lady Dudley's house may be roughly ascertained from the particulars given in the deed of 1618, (fn. 26) which mentions the Gatehouse. Therein reference is made to the site of a certain house formerly adjoining the north part of the Gatehouse, "conteyninge in length from the north part to the south part, viz., from the end or corner of a certain stone wall, being the wall of the house or stable there of the Lady Dudley unto the south-east corner post or utmost lymittes of the said Gatehouse 39½ feet, and in breadth att the north end, viz., from the uttermost side of the said stone wall att the south east corner thereof to a certen little shed or building there called a coach house of the said Lady Dudley, 19 feet; and in length from south to north, viz., from the uttermost lymittes or south-west corner post of the said Gatehouse to a certen old foundacion of a wall lying neare unto the south side of the said coache house 28 feet, and in breadth from east to west att the south end and so throughe all the full length of the said 28 feet of the said soile or ground 28½ feet." The above is not as clear as it might be, but it certainly shows that Lady Dudley's stable was to the north of the Gatehouse, which, as has been shown, was near the north-west angle of the churchyard. Lady Dudley's house, therefore, probably occupied a site to the north of Denmark Street.
The most northerly of the five large houses existing here at the beginning of the 17th century was the White House. This was, in 1618, when it was sold by Robert Lloyd to Isaac Bringhurst, (fn. 27) in the occupation of Edmund Verney, and was then described as "all that one messuage or tenement, with appurtenances, commonly known by the name of the White House, and one yard, one garden and one long walke, and one stable with a hay lofte over the same." In 1631 it was purchased by Lady Dudley, (fn. 28) who three years later transferred (fn. 29) it to trustees to be used for the purposes of a parsonage. At the time a lease of the premises for three lives was held by Edward Smith. and this was not determined until 1681, when the house had become "very ruinous and scarcely habitable." (fn. 30) The Rector at once entered into an agreement with John Boswell, a hatmaker of St. Dunstan's West, for rebuilding, and it was arranged that the houses to be erected on the site should be built "with all materials and scantlings conformable to the third rate buildings prescribed by the Act of Parliament for rebuilding the City of London." The result was presumably Dudley Court, now Denmark Place.
The Spittle Houses.
Among the properties which fell to the portion of Katherine Legh, after the dissolution of the Hospital were "all those messuages, houses and buyldinges, landes and tenements callyd the Spyttell howses, with all the orchards and gardens thereunto adjoyning." The only property situated within the Precinct that can be traced as belonging to Katherine, consists of (i.) four houses and gardens, immediately to the east of the churchyard (fn. 31) and, between these and what is now Shaftesbury Avenue, (ii.) a house, garden and orchard. (fn. 32) The westernmost house of (i.) was probably The Angel, which is definitely mentioned as having been transferred to Katherine, but the remaining houses, etc., almost certainly were the Spittle houses, with their orchards and gardens. They are shown distinctly on Agas's Map (Plate 1).
The whole of the remainder of the Precinct to the south of the Hospital was, in the days of Elizabeth, pasture ground, and is probably to be identified with the close lying within the Precinct, commonly called the Pale Close, which is stated (fn. 33) to have formed part of the property transferred to Lord Lisle. The first specific mention of the ground occurs in 1564, when the jurors holding the Inquisitionem Post Mortem on Francis Downes found (fn. 34) that he was seized, inter alia, of and in four messuages and four acres of pasture in the parish of St. Giles in the Fields. Downes, it is stated, purchased the property from Thomas Carew, son and heir of Sir Wymonde Carew, to whom it had been sold by Lord Lisle.
The four acres subsequently passed to John Graunge, in 1566, whose son sold them in 1611 to Robert Lloyd (otherwise called Floyd or Flood). On the latter's death in 1617, he was found to be seized of and in a house with a garden on the east side, a barn and garden on the south of the house, and a stable and two closes of pasture, containing four acres, adjoining the barn and garden. (fn. 35) The next reference to the ground is in 1622, when it is referred to (fn. 36) as "two closes, formerly pasture, late converted into gardens and purchased … by Abraham Speckard and Dorothy his wife." It next passed to Sir Richard Stydolph, for Charles Tryon, his grandson, refers in his will, (fn. 37) signed 2nd November, 1705, to "a piece or parcell of ground containing about four acres lying in the parish of St. Giles in the Fields … near the church … on which said ground are now standing … severall houses and other buildings held by severall leases thereof granted by Sir Richard Stydolphe … all or most whereof will in few years expire." With this fact is undoubtedly to be connected the licence granted in July, 1671, to Sir Richard Stydolph to continue building at the back of St. Giles's church. The licence (fn. 38) sets forth that Stydolph had let ground "on the backside of St. Giles' Church in the way to Pickadilly to severall poore men who build hansome and uniforme houses, some whereof were quite covered and the fundacions of the rest laid," before the proclamation prohibiting building on new foundations had been issued. In due course, "Christopher Wren, Esq.," viewed the place and made a report, approving generally of the scheme and suggesting that it might "tend in some measure to cure the noisomnesse of that part," provided that the building was carried out in accordance with a settled design. On this condition the necessary permission was given, and it was provided that two copies of the "designe, mapp or charte" should be made, neither of which, unfortunately, is available at the present day. Stidwell Street preserved for some time, in garbled form, the name of the owner of these lands.
The Manor and Possessions of St. Giles' Hospital.
Up to within a few years of its dissolution, the Hospital of St. Giles, or rather that of Burton Lazars, in whose custody it was, owned the greater portion of the present Parish of St. Giles, together with large estates in other parishes.
On 2nd June, 1536, however, Henry VIII. effected an exchange (fn. 39) with the Master
of Burton Lazars, whereby the latter received certain property in Leicestershire and
transferred to the King the undermentioned:—
Manors of Feltham and Heston.
Messuages, etc., in Feltham and Heston.
2 acres of meadow in the Fields of St. Martins.
25 acres of pasture lying in the village of St. Giles. (fn. 40)
5 acres of pasture near Colman's Hedge. (fn. 40)
5 acres of pasture in Colmanhedge Field (fn. 40)
A close called Conduit Close, of five acres.
A close called Marshland.
A messuage called The White Hart, and 18 acres of pasture thereto belonging.
A messuage called The Rose, and a pasture thereto belonging.
A messuage called The Vine.
Of the lands and houses above-mentioned, only the last four were in the parish of St. Giles, and three of them have already been dealt with. The Vine was on the north side of High Holborn, and its site, with that of the close behind, is now marked by Grape Street, formerly Vine Street.
Very shortly afterwards, Sir Thomas Legh, the notorious visitor of the monasteries, made a determined effort to gain possession of the Hospital of Burton Lazars, (fn. 41) and obtained from Thomas Radclyff, then master, the next advowson of the Hospital for his life. This was confirmed in March, 1536–7, by Letters Patent. (fn. 42) In 1539 the Hospital was dissolved, and its possessions reverted to the Crown. Legh, however, for several years continued to hold the property, and enjoy the profits, spiritual and temporal, until on 6th May, 1544, the King granted to Sir John Dudley, Viscount Lisle, the Hospital with all its possessions in Leicestershire, St. Giles-in-the-Fields, and elsewhere. Very naturally, this resulted in "contencion, varyence and stryfe" being "reysed, stirred and dependyng betweene the said Viscount Lisle … and the said Sir Thomas Legh … of for and aboute the right, tytle, interest, occupacion and possession of the seyd late Hospytall," and the Lord Chancellor, Lord Wriothesley, was appointed arbitrator to settle the matter.
In the course of the same year (1544) Wriothesley gave his award, dividing the property between the two claimants, but as the arrangement was never completed it is not necessary to give details here. (fn. 43)
It appears that when the award in question was being obtained, Lord Lisle was absent from the country, "beinge occupied in the parties beyond the see in and aboute the Kynges Majesties affaires concernynge his warres," and on his return refused to carry out the decree, claiming that "the veray trewe and hoole tytle of the seyde Viscounte of and in the premysses" had not been disclosed. On 24th November, 1545, Sir Thomas Legh died, (fn. 44) leaving as his sole heir a daughter, Katherine, aged five years. His widow, Joan, pressed for the execution of the award, and eventually on 8th March, 1545–6, a further decree (fn. 45) was made modifying the former. In accordance therewith an indenture (fn. 46) was on 24th March drawn up between Lord Lisle and Dame Joan Legh, providing for the transfer to the latter during her life, with remainder to Katherine, of the undermentioned property.
A close called St. Giles' Wood. (fn. 47)
The Chequer. (fn. 48)
The Maidenhead, (fn. 48) with a garden.
The George. (fn. 48)
The King's Head. (fn. 48)
The tithe of two fields (fn. 49) in Bloomsbury.
The Round Rents (fn. 50) and other tenements and cottages in St. Andrew's, Holborn.
A close of 20 acres called The Newlands. (fn. 51)
A piece of ground called The Lane. (fn. 51)
Lisle retained the property only for a few months, selling it in the same year (fn. 52) (1546) to John Wymond Carew, (afterwards Sir Wymond). Sir Wymond died on 23rd August, 1549, when he was found (fn. 53) to be seized of "and in the capital mansion of the Hospital of St. Giles in the Fields and of and in certain parcels of land with appurtenances in the parish of St. Giles in the Fields … in his demesne as of fee."
In December, 1561, his widow, Dame Martha Carew, gave up, in return for an annuity, to his son Thomas "all those lands, tenements, rents, hereditaments, etc., lieing and being in St. Gyles and Maribone, nere London, late belonging to Burton Lazar, which she holds by way of jointure"; (fn. 54) and Thomas sold them to Francis Downes. On the latter's death in 1564 they were particularised (fn. 55) as four messuages, and four acres of pasture in St. Giles, and 20 acres of pasture in St. Marylebone.
Although the manor of St. Giles is not mentioned, it must have been included in the portion assigned to Katherine Legh, for it is found afterwards in her possession. Sir Thomas's widow died on 5th January, 1555–6 (fn. 56) (having previously remarried (fn. 57) ), leaving Katherine in her sixteenth year. Such a desirable prize was not likely to remain long in the matrimonial market, and a husband was soon found in the person of Sir James Blount, Lord Mountjoy. Blount's life seems to have been one of continual financial worry, and his mortgages and recognisances figure very prominently in the Close Rolls of the period. (fn. 58)
The date of his marriage with Katherine Legh is not known precisely, but it was certainly within 13 months of the death of her mother. (fn. 59) By degrees the greater portion of Lady Katherine's inheritance was converted into ready money, and among other transactions, the manor of St. Giles was on 18th July, 1565, mortgaged to Robert Browne, citizen and goldsmith of London, and Thomas his son. (fn. 60) The mortgage was never redeemed, (fn. 61) and on 20th June, 1579, Thomas Browne parted with the manor to Thos. Harris, who in turn sold it on 12th February, 1582–3, to John Blomeson. Blomeson retained it for nine years, and on 3rd May, 1592, sold it to "Walter Cope, of the Strand, Esq.," (fn. 62) afterwards Sir Walter Cope. (fn. 63) On his death in 1614, the manor came into the possession of his daughter and sole heiress, Isabella, who married Sir Henry Rich, and on 2nd April, 1616, it was sold to Philip Gifford and Thos. Risley, in trust for Henry, third Earl of Southampton. (fn. 64)