Survey of London: Volume 9, the Parish of St Helen, Bishopsgate, Part I. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1924.
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Full-length effigies, 35½ inches, of a man in civil dress, feet lost, with short curly hair, gown with fur cuffs and edging, and fur-lined mantle buttoned on the right shoulder, and wife in mitre head-dress, kirtle, and high-waisted close-fitting gown with fur edging and cuffs. Inscription lost.
Relaid in a new stone with the feet of the man, the outline of the inscription plate, and six shields indicated on the stone. An old drawing in the possession of the Merchant Taylors' Company shows the brass in its original slab, 8 feet 5 inches by 3 feet 8 inches, with indents for the inscription, four children, each separately inlaid, and six shields. The feet of the man then missing.
Orate p[ro] a[nim]a d[omi]ni Nich'i Wotton' quo[n]d[a]m Rector istius eccl'ie Et Baccallarii legis qui obiit Septimo die mensis Aprilis Anno d[omi]ni mill[es]imo cccco lxxxijo Cuius Anime p[ro]picietur deus Amen
(4) Thomas Wylliams, gentleman, 1495, and his wife Margaret. Full-length effigies, 29½ inches, both side-face, of a man in civil dress with long hair, gown with large fur cuffs, pouch and rosary at girdle, and broad round-toed shoes, and wife in pedimental head-dress with broad lappets, low-necked close-fitting gown with turned-back fur cuffs, and narrow girdle with large buckle and long pendant end terminating in a metal tag.
Usually attributed to John Breux, D.D., rector of St. Martin Outwich, died 1459, whose inscription is given by Weever, but the style of the figure is much later, about 1500, and it may possibly represent Edmund Crome, D.D., rector of St. Martin Outwich, who died in 1495, or William Robson, D.D., who died in 1514.
All that now remains of this brass is a broken plate, 8x6½ inches, with the figures of seven sons, a portion of a group of ten sons, all kneeling, and all with long hair and fur-trimmed gowns; a scroll from the mouth of the lost figure of the eldest son, 11x1¼ inches, inscribed: "Pater de celis deus miserere nobis" in raised black letter, and two shields, the dexter bearing . . . a cheveron . . . between three buckets . . . for Pemberton, impaling checky . . . and . . . on a fess . . . three martlets . . ., for Thorpe(?), and the sinister the arms of the Merchant Taylors' Company, with the Holy Lamb on the chief as granted in 1486.
The indents show that the brass originally consisted of the kneeling figures of Hugh Pemberton and his wife Katherine with their children kneeling behind them, scrolls from their mouths addressed to a figure of the Trinity, alongside which was another small kneeling figure. The indent for the wife and daughters has been partly destroyed by the insertion of a tablet now removed. The inscription-fillet is modern, inserted when the tomb was removed from St. Martin Outwich.
Full-length effigy of a man in armour, 31½ inches, bare-headed with long hair, head resting on helmet with crest of a man's head, feet on dog, wearing a standard of mail, breastplate with projecting ridge and lance-rest, shoulder and elbow-pieces alike in size and shape, short skirt of taces with longer skirt of mail, over which are strapped two tuiles. The usual kneeand shin-pieces with large round-toed sabbatons and rowel spurs. The sword is suspended from a narrow belt crossing the taces diagonally, and a long dagger hangs behind the body, but with no visible means of support.
Full-length effigy, 26 inches, in armour, bare-headed with long hair, wearing a collar of SS. His armour much resembles that of John Leventhorp, but is without a lance-rest, the skirt of mail is longer, and the feet rest on a mound. The figure is now much worn.
[Humbly to crave you of yor charite to p'y for the soule of me] Robt' Rochester esqier late s'geant of the pantry of or sov'ain lord king henry the viii which deptid this p'sent lyff the first day of may the yere of oure lord god a thousand five hundrith & xiiii on [whose soule Ibu of his ifinyte grace have mercy Amen]
In original slab. An old drawing in the possession of the Merchant Taylors' Company, made about 1810, shows that originally there were four shields, of which the lower dexter still remained in position. It bore the arms of Rochester of Terling, Essex, . . . a fess between three crescents . . ., the fess charged with another crescent for difference, impaling quarterly 1 and 4 . . . three cocks . . . 2 and 3 . . . 3 bars . . . with an anulet for difference. Possibly for Cockayne quartering Harthull.
Full-length effigy, 32 inches, of a lady in pedimental head-dress, partlet, gown with striped sleeves and frilled cuffs, confined round the waist by a girdle with three rosettes as a buckle, and mantle charged with heraldic bearings: a lion rampant with three wounds on the shoulder. Round her neck is a chain, from which hangs a large Tau cross. The arms may be either Bolbec or Robsart, both families bearing the wounded lion.
Relaid in a new slab. An old drawing in the possession of the Merchant Taylors' Company shows this figure in its original slab, 6 feet 3 inches by 3 feet 2 inches, with indent for a large shield above the head, but with no indication of any inscription.
Shield, 5½x4½ inches, inscription, 25½x12 inches, and text, 21x7 inches, for Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Richard Rogers of Brianston, Dorset, knt., wife of John Robinson, 1600, had issue one son and one daughter.
Here vnder lyeth the bodie of Elizabeth
Robinson the wife of John Robinson, sonne
and heire of John Robinson Late Cittizen
and Marchantailer of London & Marchant
of the Staple of England, and davghter of
Sr Richard Rogers of Brianston in the
coventie of Dorscet Knight, Who had issve
by the said John Robinson her Hvsband
one sonne and a davghter and died on
the 23th day of October Anno domini 1600
Christ is my life Deathe is my Gaine
My body sleepes In hope to Raigne
Thrice happie Change Is it for mee
From earthe to heaven Remov'd to bee
Resvrgendi fide Reqviescit
Ivvenis, pariter ac senex
Coelebs & desponsatvs;
Ætate ivvenis Sapientia senex
Mundo coelebs Christo Desponsatvs
Familiam Virtvte claram
Vera pietate exornavit
Post exteras regiones perlvstratas
(Spreta sæcvli & locorvm vanitate)
SVVMQ protinvs anhelans IESVM
tandem pro voto
positis Mortalitatis svæ exuviis
Matvra licet festina
Die 16° ian: Anno Salvtis.
Reader: thov mayst forbeare to pvt thine eyes To charge for teares, to movrne these obseqvies Svch charitable drops wovld best be given To those wch late or never come to heaven But there yov wovld in weeping on this dvst Allay his happinesse with thy mistrvst Whose piovs closinge of his yovthfull yeares Deserves thy imitation not thy teares.
(1) In the Craven Ord collection (Brit. Mus. Add. MS. 32478, fol. 31) and in other collections are reversed impressions from the brass of a lady, c. 1420, in veil head-dress, kirtle and mantle, with the words "Ih'u m'cy" in black letter on her breast. Height 20 inches. This brass probably represents Joan, daughter of Henry Seamer, first wife of Richard, son and heir of Robert, Lord Poynings, who died in 1420. An old drawing in the possession of the Merchant Taylors' Company shows the figure in its original slab, 3 feet 2 inches by 2 feet 8 inches, with indents for a foot inscription, two shields, one on each side of the figure, and two large roundels in the upper part of the slab. Hatton, in his New View of London (1708), I, 282, gives one of the shields as bearing "two bars surmounted by a bend quartered with a bend and impaled with a fess indented." The quartered coat is no doubt Poynings and Fitzpain. The impalement is doubtful. The arms of Seamer or Seymour were two cheverons, which Hatton may have misread and called "a fess indented."
(2) Amongst the collections of the Society of Antiquaries is a sketch of the brass to Thomas Benolt, Clarenceux King of Arms, 1534, and his two wives. The sketch shows Benolt in his official robes with crown on head and sceptre in hand, standing between his two wives, two of the corner shields and the greater part of the marginal inscription. A foot inscription, three groups of children, and two other shields were then lost. The slab, 7 feet 4 inches by 3 feet 5 inches, with indents for this brass was in existence in 1889 on the floor of the north aisle. It has since disappeared.
Here und' lieth ye bodi of Thom's Benolt esquyer Somt'ye Saua't & Offycer of Armes by ye name of Wide'sore herault unto the right high & mighty Prince of . . . most drade sou'aye lord ky[n]g he'ry ye viii which Thom's benolt otherwyse namyd Clarenceux ky'g of armes decesid the viii daye of May in the yere of our lord God M° Vc xxxiiij in the xxvi yere of or said souerāye lord . . . A.
(5) Figure of a lady in pedimental head-dress and gown, c. 1540, standing on shield charged parted fesse-wise a crowned eagle displayed, with indents for a foot inscription and for a marginal inscription. Size of slab 47 by 24 inches. Into this slab has been inserted a later inscription with four verses to James Lomeley, 1592, and wife Joan, the date for whose death is left blank:
And allso here lyeth buryed ye bodies
of James Lomley the sonne of ould
Dominick Lomley and Jone his wyfe
the said James deceased the vith of
January Anno domini 1592
hee beinge of the age of lxxxviii
yeares and the said Jone deceased
the [25th] day of [September] Ano 1
The register records the burial of James Lomely, gent. on 6th January, 1592, under the stone next before the pulpit, also of Johane Lomelyn on 25th September, 1613, in her husband's grave, right under the pulpit.
here under this stone resteth ye bodies
of ffrauncis Notyngham citizen & skinner
of London and Mary his wyf doughter
to Clement (?) . . . ell which ffrauncis dyed
ye sixthe day of January ao 1563 and
Mary dyed before hym vz ye last day of
Decembre ao d'ni 1563.
In the Chapel of the Holy Ghost is the old Communion Table from St. Martin Outwich. The top is inlaid with geometrical pattern and an eight-pointed star in the centre, the edges moulded. The four twisted legs are secured at the feet by moulded and shaped rails meeting in centre. Early 18th century.
The massive South Door is of two leaves: the semicircular head is separated from the panels below by a continuation of the impost mouldings of the jambs; in the centre is a diminishing pilaster with an Ionic capital. The main divisions of each leaf of the door are divided into four L-shaped panels enclosing a central panel with raised moulding and a design representing an archway in perspective. The central style of the door has cut and shaped pattern and half-turned spindle ornaments.
The Doorcase, or lobby, within the south doorway. The doors are in two leaves, each with two raised and elaborately moulded panels. Above the door is a small moulding and an elliptical-headed panel filled inside and outside with a conventionalised shell ornament. In the spandrels are carvings of angels with outspread wings holding cartouches. The doors are flanked by pilasters with moulded bases and Ionic capitals, and standing on panelled pedestals; the upper portion of each pilaster is ornamented with a strap-work design and spindle ornament. The pilasters carry an entablature consisting of an archtrave and dentilled cornice with a broken segmental pediment with volutes; in the middle is a large cartouche of the Royal Stuart arms supported by two reclining angels. This pediment is said to have formed part of the old reredos. The sides and soffit of the doorcase are panelled.
West Door. The door is of two leaves with a two-centred head. On the outside there is a shaped panel on each leaf of the door, and below it on the middle-rails are raised cut and shaped designs. Above the upper rails are scrolls and other ornaments enclosing a small niche with round, scalloped head. The bottom panels are modern.
The Doorcase has doors in the three sides. The central door is of two panelled leaves; on the east face the upper panels are carved with perspective arches enriched with scale ornament, and the spandrels with arabesques. Upon each of the middle rails is a lion-head mask, and the lower panels have eared mouldings. Flanking the doorway are fluted Corinthian columns standing on panelled pedestals and supporting an entablature and a broken scrolled pediment with a carved swag; above each column is a rampant lion holding a shaped shield, and from the middle of the pediment rises a square panel with carved drapery, and a raised inscription: "This is none other but the house of God, this is the gate of Heaven." The panel is finished with a cornice and pierced cresting, carved with a cartouche, two perspective arches and swags. Below the main entablature is a cornice supporting two cherubs with a cartouche and swags. The sides of the doorcase have each two Corinthian pilasters, corresponding to the columns on the front; the side doors have plain raised panels. The inner sides of the central doors have two raised panels, moulded architrave, and strap work ornament over.
The font at the west end is octagonal, of the baluster type, with a red marble shaft, cream-coloured necking and base and black marble pedestal and bowl of ovolo section. The font cover is of wood gilt. It is octagonal with upright panelled sides and slender dentilled cornice, ogee top with angle ribs enriched with bead ornament and terminating in a ball finial. This is probably the font and cover bought in 1632 for £20.
Of the ancient painted glass now in this church the only parts which can be said to have been there before the dissolution are the roundels commemorative of Sir John Crosby, in the north-east window of the south chapel, and a few fragments used for repairing the 17th-century heraldic glass in the windows of the nuns' quire.
The glass in the Crosby window is all modern with the exception of these seven large roundels in the main lights containing heraldry proper to Sir John and his first wife, and even they are much restored. The design of all the roundels is the same, though the arms on each shield necessarily differ and the colouring, too, is varied.
The shield is set in a coloured and diapered quatrefoil, the spaces between the foils being filled with grisaille and coloured leafage, and the whole enclosed within a circular border made up of small rectangular pieces of white glass, each alternate piece bearing Sir John Crosby's merchant's mark. This mark, it will be observed, appears on the shield in one of the roundels. All the coloured parts of this Crosby glass are pot-metal, for enamel-painting in colours on glass was not practised until well on in the 16th century. The diapering of the coloured glass is of a simple character, either conventional roses or dots.
The arms shown on the shields are those of Crosby (sable, a cheveron ermine between three rams argent), the same impaling the arms of his first wife Agnes (azure, a fess cotised argent), the arms of the City of London, the merchant's mark of Sir John Crosby, the arms of the Grocers' Company, of which company Sir John was Warden in 1463, and the arms of Sir Ralph Astry (barry wavy argent and azure, a chief gules with three bezants therein). Sir Ralph was Mayor in 1493, and one may assume that his arms appear among the Crosby heraldry by way of compliment.
The remainder of the pre-dissolution glass in the church may be dealt with in a few words. It consists only of fragments—a piece of grisaille foliation in the base of the shield in the central main light of the easternmost window in the north wall of the nuns' quire, in the third window from the east in the same wall some fragments of 15th and early 16th-century tabernacle work, drapery, hatched grisaille made up into roundels and set in modern green glass; in the middle of the western light of the same window fragments of 15th-century ivy-leaf design on a hatched ground, and, in the middle light of the same window, pieces of early 16th-century tabernacle work surrounding a 17th-century cherub's head.
The glass in the north wall of the nuns' quire to which these fragments serve as repairs, is all of 17th-century date, and consists of roundels containing cherub-heads on a yellow ground and heraldry: in the first window from the east a shield, supported by an angel, bearing: or, a saltire ermine (perhaps the arms of Backhouse), a similar design to the last with the arms of the Leathersellers' Company, a cartouche with: sable, a cheveron between three couple-closes and three cinqfoils or, and another cartouche bearing the City arms.
The old glass in the three clerestory windows of the south transept consists of eleven shields of arms not easy to identify from the floor level. They are, mostly, in the style common to the 17th century, with the crest on a mantled helm. Some are single coats, others are impaled or quartered coats, set in circular or rectangular panels of scroll work. One is dated 1483, but the panel itself is not earlier than the 17th century.
The families commemorated comprise, among others, Green impaling Wilmot, Ward impaling Bolton (?), Naylor (?) impaling Nevill of Abergavenny, Freeman impaling Wolf (?), Joliffe impaling Boothby, Churchman, Barnardiston (?) impaling Reynardson, Reynardson alone, and Chesham. The greater part of the colour is enamel work, and the glass of which they are made is, for the most part, thin and characterless.
A. The skull (of poor outline).
B. The beevor, adapted of thin metal.
C. Visor, adapted of thin metal.
D. The chin-piece in two portions is of good work and has belonged possibly to an early 16thcentury armet.
E. The front plate of the gorget.
F. The back plate.
This headpiece as a whole is of the class made for funeral purposes only, and never intended to have been worn. The thin visor and beevor work on separate pins, which would not have been the case if intended for use. The only good piece of work is the chin, which opened originally at the sides; the holes for fixing the hinges remain. The square notch in front of chin is found in armets. The edges of the opening in the chin-pieces are turned outwards, which is the case in early pieces.
In the Chapel of St. Mary, on a carved scrolled bracket, is a seated figure of a woman in classic dress, holding a book. It probably represents one of the Muses or a Sibyl, and is of Renaissance workmanship.
In the east wall of the Chapel of St. Mary are six ogee and cinquefoilheaded niches, four of them in two tiers on the north of the east window, and two to the south of the same; all of them have moulded ogee labels and finials. The two northernmost have no pedestals, the others contain semi-octagonal and moulded pedestals. All are of late 14th-century date.
The organ case is of mahogany with three towers of organ pipes in front surmounted by pierced carvings and entablatures, and supported on semicircular brackets with cherub-heads and acanthus leaves. Between the brackets is a frieze of carved and pierced work. The panels between the towers are ogee-shaped on plan, and the cornice is ramped up to the centre with an ogee curve. The pipes stand upon a panelled base enriched with swags and carvings of musical instruments. The back of the organ overhangs and is supported at each end by a finely carved oak bracket consisting of a large scroll with a half-figure of a cherub issuing from it, and holding a trumpet and scroll. The upper portion of the bracket bears two-winged cherub-heads, and the lower portion consists of a winged skull with a small carved console. This appears to be the organ and case built by Thomas Griffin in 1742. (fn. 1) The carved brackets at the back are of mid 17th-century date re-used. The organ was formerly at the west end of the church.
In the east wall of the south transept chapels are two piscinæ of late 14th-century date with cinquefoiled arches in square heads with embattled cornices; both have shelves, and the northern retains the original drain with moulded underside.
A cup and cover paten, silver-gilt, inscribed, "Given with a Cover to the Church of St Helen's by D. W. Anō Dom. 1634." Daniel Williams, Merchant (died 1636), was otherwise a benefactor to the church. (fn. 2) Maker's mark: a scallop shell.
A large silver bason with date mark for 1647 and maker's mark W.N. with a seed rose and three pellets below in a plain shield, and inscribed, "The Gift of Francis Bancroft Esqre—To Ye Parish Church of Saint Hellens 1728."
An alms-dish of 1728, maker's mark W.D., inscribed "Pursuant to the last will of Mrs. Mary Parsons this plate is given to ye parish church of S. Hellen for ye use of ye Communion Service and to remain there so long as ye parish shall suffer ye stone that lyes over Mr. Giles Dean to remain, if removed or taken away to goe to the parish Church of S. Mary le Bow for ever."
A secular cup of 1778 of urn shape with two handles and a conical cover; inscribed, "The Gift of John Smith Esqr to the Parish Church of St. Helen London for the Use of the Communion Service 1778," with a shield of arms—a saltire between four martlets, and for crest an arm in armour holding a seaxe. Maker's mark: W.H. (?).
The late-18th-century Poor Box is supported upon a 17th-century terminal figure of a bearded man with right arm and breast bare, holding a tall hat to receive alms. The figure grows out of an inverted square baluster with leathern ring ornament at the sides.
The Jacobean Pulpit is hexagonal and stands against the south wall, just west of the Quire Screen. It is of two stages, the upper with enriched diminishing pilasters at the angles supported on trusses in the lower stage. The upper panel on each side has an architectural composition consisting of an ellipse with a keyed architrave supported by scrolls and flanked by a pair of diminishing pilasters with entablature and cresting; the lower panel in each side has a shaped inner panel. The cornice of quadrant section is carved with strap work and has in the middle of each side a cartouche with the symbols of the Evangelists and the Agnus Dei. The plain stem is of ogee form and rests on a short modern shaft. The sounding board is hexagonal, and the under side is panelled with raised mouldings, the middle panel being of circular form with keyblocks; the sides of the sounding board are treated as an entablature with the frieze enriched with bay leaves and slight scroll-like projections at the angles, bearing lion-head masks, swags, and fluting, and finished with a ball pendant at each angle. The date of the sounding board is probably circa 1640. The support of the sounding board forms an upright panel against the wall flanked by fluted pilasters each supporting a pair of brackets; in the middle is a panel with bolection mouldings flanked by an inner pair of fluted pilasters supporting an entablature and segmental pediment. This portion is probably of the 18th century, except the raised and mitred panel, which is of early 17th-century character.
The Reredos is modern. The early 18th-century reredos was removed or destroyed in one of the restorations. It is described by Hatton (1708) as follows: "The altar-piece is painted Deal, of the Composit Order. The Inter-columns are the Commandments betn. the Lord's Prayer and Creed, done in gold Letters on Black. Over the Commandments is a Glory and these Words, If ye love me keep my Commandments, Joh. chap. 14. And above the Cornish, the Queen's Arms supported by two Angels." (fn. 3)
At the south-west angle of the nuns' quire is an enclosure constructed of wood, the surface marked with channelled grooves to represent rusticated blocks of masonry. It is constructed in three stages, the lowest with plain pilasters on pedestals at the angles and a plain architrave and cornice; the middle stage is treated similarly but with rather more detail and with a three-centred arch springing from the pilasters; on the north face are two oval lunettes, the upper one having a rusticated and keyed architrave; there is one lunette upon the east face. The top stage is in the form of an attic with slender pilasters at the angles; the sides terminate against the roof. Circa 1700.
The 15th-century stalls, formerly in the nuns' quire, are now fixed in the parish chancel. There are seven stalls on the north and six on the south side, with desks in front. The moulded arms are trefoiled on plan, with the mouldings dying into the back of the seats. The edges of the divisions are moulded and have grotesque carvings above the seat level. Below the same level the divisions have in place of the moulding an attached shaft with moulded cap and base. The seats are hinged so that they may be raised, but have no misericordes. The outer faces of the backs have been fitted with early 17th-century panelling, the frieze panels having raised mouldings.
The front desks are in eight divisions to the north and six to the south, with raised moulded panels on their lower portion, while the upper frieze panels are carved and pierced with varying devices in the centre (rose, thistle, pomegranate, and fleur-de-lis). On the north side, the first three panels from the west appear to be modern, the styles have diminishing pilasters with moulded ornament upon them, and the cornice is dentilled. The standards have shaped beads finished with egg-and-tongue moulding and a semicircular fluted and pierced pediment. Mid-17th century.
A fine and elaborate sword-rest in wood is fixed against the pier on the south side of the parish chancel. It has an enriched moulded shelf with a segmental projection in front and supports two slightly twisted columns with wreaths of leaves and flowers carried round. The moulded bases and Corinthian caps are richly carved, and the entablature has a modilioned cornice and carved frieze. In front of the entablature is a cartouche bearing the City Arms, and above it is a square tablet with an enriched panel flanked by carved scrolls and a cartouche in front bearing the arms of Lawrence, Lord Mayor 1665 (for blazon see Monument 69). Above the tablet are two standing figures of angels supporting a third cartouche bearing the Royal Stuart Arms surmounted by a crown. This rest may be compared with the other examples in wood at St. Olave's, Southwark, at the Vintners' Hall, and the Clothworkers' Hall.
Upon the pier adjoining the lectern is a sword-rest of wrought-iron with scrolls and foliage. It incorporates four plates, two in the form of shields and two of oval shape, all painted with arms: (a) the Royal Hanoverian Arms surmounted by a large crown, (b) the City of London, (c) checky or and gules, on a fess argent three martlets sable, for John Thomas Thorp, Lord Mayor 1820–1821, (d) the Drapers' Company. On the back of (c) is a painting of a queen, and on the back of (d) the inscription: "Restored 1868."
On the south wall of the south transept behind the organ are fixed two architectural fragments: (a) A piece of marble with conventional design in low relief comprising a pointed scalloped shell ornament with scrolled design round it. It is late Arab (Egyptian), Moorish or Mudéjar work, and the design can be almost exactly paralleled at the Alhambra, Granada. It was found when moving the Bernard Monument to its present position. (b) A piece of Purbeck marble with a round sex-foiled panel in the middle enclosing a plain shield with three mortice holes for fastening a brass shield on the face. It was formerly part of the Clitherow Monument in St. Martin Outwich, and was used to repair the Pemberton Monument during its reconstruction in 1796.
At the west end of the nuns' quire are two cases containing various objects found from time to time during the alterations and restoration of the church. They include fragments of moulded staves, earthenware (mediæval and later), fragments of metal work, and several portions of mediæval slip-tiles.