Historical Gazetteer of London Before the Great Fire Cheapside; Parishes of All Hallows Honey Lane, St Martin Pomary, St Mary Le Bow, St Mary Colechurch and St Pancras Soper Lane. Originally published by Centre for Metropolitan History, London, 1987.
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In the 14th century this property appears to have lain between 145/1A on the S. and the entry leading from Soper Lane into 145/10 on the N. It was probably bounded on the W. by 145/10. The E. part of the property was probably taken into Soper Lane during the 15th century, when the row of shops represented by 3-7 was pulled down, but the W. part is identifiable in records of the 16th and 17th centuries. On the street frontage the property corresponded to no. 5 Queen Street in 1858.
In the late 13th and early 14th centuries the entry to Broad Seld (145/10) lay on the S. side of 145/3 in Soper Lane. 1A, on the Soper Lane frontage, was bounded on the N. by a vacant plot in Soper Lane which was probably part of 2. 1B, which lay to the W. of 1A, was bounded in the N. by Broad Seld. In the 13th century 2 may have been part of Broad Seld (145/10). 2 appears first to be recorded independently in 1323, when it was a vacant plot on the N. side of 1A. Later the property was in the possession of William de Causton, mercer, who in his will, dated and enrolled in 1354, described it as 2 vacant plots next to the door of Broad Seld (magna selda) with a stall near the door standing forward towards Soper Lane (stallum prope dictum hostium astante versus venellam de Soperlane), together with a solar over the door and all the chests and cupboards (ciste et almarioli) within the plots and solar. Causton also owned a plot within Broad Seld which may have been near by and could subsequently have been included in 2. De Causton left this and other property in the parish of St. Pancras (see 145/10, 14, 15) to his wife Cristina for life, and on her death or remarriage his executors were to sell the properties and give the money to the poor. He also left a quit-rent of £6. 13s. 4d. from these properties for the maintenance of a chaplain in the church of St. Pancras celebrating for the souls of himself, his wife, his parents, and Edith Palmer. (fn. 1)
In May 1355 John atte Berne, one of de Causton's executors and his former apprentice, sold these properties to de Causton's widow Cristina to hold in fee and inheritance. In June the other 2 executors, Simon de Worsted and Richard de Worsted, sold the reversion of the properties on Cristina's death or marriage to Nicholas Ploket, citizen and mercer, who made a down payment and was to pay the vendors a rent of £6. 13s. 4d. Both these deeds were acknowledged in Chancery in June, and in July Ploket and Cristina each opposed the other's deed in the presence of the mayor, aldermen, and sheriffs of the city. By 18 October Cristina had married John atte Berne and so forfeited her claim on the property, and on that day Simon de Worsted and Richard de Worsted sold the properties for £266. 13s. 4d. (400 marks) to Nicholas Ploket, who was to pay the £6. 13s. 4d. rent to a chaplain in the church of St. Pancras. In November Simon and Richard quitclaimed in the property to Ploket, who immediately granted it in perpetuity to John Bernes, citizen and mercer, and his wife Cristina. (fn. 2)
2 may have been among the 2 messuages and 3 shops in London which in 1356 de Causton's executors obtained licence to alienate in mortmain to the parson of St. Pancras to find lights in the church and do other works of piety for de Causton's soul, but this seems unlikely. In 1359 Richard de Notyngham and Nicholas Ploket, citizens and mercers, quitclaimed in all those lands, tenements, and rents in London once of William de Causton to John Bernes and his wife Cristina, who thus appear to have continued in possession of 2. The £6. 13s. 4d. rent from this and other properties (145/10, 14, 15) which was to maintain the chaplain in the church of St. Pancras, however, seems to have come into the possession of the heirs of William de Causton, who were probably responsible for appointing the chaplain and paying him his income. This rent and other rents totalling £14. 6s. which de Causton had left in his will to maintain 2 chaplains in the church of St. Pancras descended by inheritance to Isabel widow of Thomas Hochous and daughter of William Robyns, who was the son of William de Causton's sister Margaret. In 1406 Isabel granted these rents to Alan Everard and Nicholas Hamme, citizens and mercers, and Richard Style, junior, citizen and fishmonger. These grantees were probably acting on behalf of the parish of St. Pancras, and by his testament, dated 1426 and enrolled in 1427, Everard left the rents totalling £14. 6s. to the rector and churchwardens for the maintenance of 2 chaplains in the church. (fn. 3)
It is not known what happened to the rent of £6. 13s. 4d., but by the 16th century the parish of St. Pancras was certainly in possession of 2, which in 1548 was described as a void piece of ground given to the church by an unknown donor. In 1530 the rector and churchwardens leased this piece of ground for a term of 40 years at 10s. rent to Richard Collyer, citizen and mercer, who at that time occupied the dwelling house known as the 'great seild' (i.e. 145/10) lying to the W. The ground measured 23 ft. 2 in. (7.06 m.) E./W. and 32 ft. 9 in. (9.98 m.) from a stone wall on the S. towards the N. Any building which the tenant erected on the ground was to revert to the landlord at the end of the term and the landlord was not to build on the ground, presumably now part of Soper Lane, which lay to the E. of the property. The latter stipulation may reflect an earlier state of affairs when the land to the E. was part of 2 rather than Soper Lane. It seems likely that earlier occupants of the adjacent dwelling house (145/10) had also held the ground. In March 1547, after Henry VIII's commission to investigate the chantries had lapsed by virtue of the king's death and before the matter had again been raised in parliament, the rector and parishioners leased the piece of ground to Dame Katharine Dormer, widow, who inhabited the adjoining house, for a term of 99 years at 10s. rent commencing in 1569, when the existing lease expired. As a result of the Chantry Act of 1547 the ground was taken into the king's possession as part of the endowment of John de Cawston's chantry, although the enrolled version of the 1548 chantry certificate does not identify the ground as part of that endowment. In 1548, in return for a payment of £20, the king granted the parcel of ground to Sir Roger Cholmeley, kt. and Chief Baron of the Exchequer, in free burgage, and later that year Cholmeley granted it to Lady Katharine Dormer. By the latter transaction the ground thus came into the full possession of the tenant of 145/9-10. (fn. 4)
Katharine Dormer died at the beginning of 1563, leaving her lands and tenements to be sold, and in that year Valentine Dale, acting as her executor, sold the piece of ground for £30 to Richard Malory, alderman, tenant of 145/9-10. Malory died in 1567 and the property passed to his son and heir Andrew Malory, who probably let it to the tenants of 145/9-10. In 1589 a lease of the property granted to Francis Smythe, mercer, was still in force; Smythe had held 145/9-10 between 1584-5 and his death in 1586. By April 1589 the Mercers' Company, as landlord of 145/9-10, was interested in acquiring possession of 145/2, and sought counsel's opinion on the title. The company may already have been interested in March 1588, when the wardens were appointed to talk to Mr. Freeke, who appears to have been undertenant of 145/2 and part of 145/9-10, about the new house in Soper Lane next to 145/9-10A and the possibility of buying in the lease. This new house may have extended over 2 and that part of 10 which adjoined the lane. Andrew Malory, esquire, of Middle Temple bargained and sold the tenement with cellars, solars, and chambers to Thomas Egerton and William Leveson, both citizens and mercers, and on 3 June 1589 enfeoffed them of the property. No sooner had it been announced, on 1 July 1589, that Egerton and Leveson were acting on behalf of a company, to which they would devise the property, than the company received suits for the lease of the house. In December Malory's title was conveyed by fine to Egerton and Leveson, and at about that time Leveson quitclaimed to Egerton, who by his will, dated 1590 and enrolled in 1597, left the tenement to the Mercers' Company. In the bargain and sale of 1589 and later records the N./S. dimension of the property was given as 22 ft. 9 in. (6.93 m.), instead of 32 ft. 9 in. (9.98 m.) as in earlier conveyances. (fn. 5)
The company received further suits for the lease of the house in 1591, but it was decided for the time being not to separate it from 145/9-10, with which it continued to be occupied. In 1595 Hugh Hulme, one of the suitors in 1591, claimed to have a grant of the 'void house in Soper Lane' (2), but having heard his case the company decided that this was untrue and soon afterwards let the tenement 'in the voide place in Soper Lane' (2) under the same lease as a substantial part of 145/9-10 (145/9-10A). In 1602 the property corresponding to 2 was divided from 9-10 and let under a separate lease to Richard Hethe or Heath, citizen and mercer, for a term of 21 years from Christmas 1601 at £5 rent and for a fine of £50. In spite of the terms of this lease, the rent paid was actually £6. The property leased was described as 'the tenement or new building sometime called the little seald' formerly occupied by Francis Smyth and now occupied by Hethe. This building adjoined the 'great mansion place called the Key' (145/9-10A). Also included in the lease were 2 rooms occupied by Hethe and formerly part of the great mansion place: one adjoined the W. side of the great chamber in the new building and measured 11 ft. (3.35 m.) E./W. with 3 ft. (914 mm.) jettying over a passage or gallery belonging to 145/9-10A, by 9 ft. 6 in. (2.90 m.) N./S.; the other was a chamber with a house of office over a warehouse towards Soper Lane and belonging to the great mansion, and measured 17 ft. 6 in. (5.33 m.) E./W. by 17 ft. (5.18 m.) N./S. A schedule of fixtures attached to the lease mentions wainscot in the new parlour, a cupboard in the buttery by the parlour, a wainscot portal in the chamber over the parlour, and a lead cistern at the foot of the stair in the yard. From the rent accounts it is clear that Hethe lived in the house. (fn. 6)
In 1616 Heath surrendered his lease and took a new one for a term of 41 years at £6 rent. The tenement leased was identical with that leased in 1602, except for the 2 chambers there described. The chamber over the great warehouse lying towards Soper Lane belonging to 145/9-10A was now let as part of 145/9-10A (q.v.), although it was still occupied by Heath; it now contained a chimney, a house of office, and a fair glazed window. The other chamber, measuring 11 ft. by 9 ft. 6 in. (3.35 m. by 2.9 m.) was probably let to Heath at will. This arrangement caused some confusion since it was not clear who was entitled to the use of the room which in May 1623 the company leased to Heath for a term of 34 1/2 years from the previous Christmas at 6s. 8d. rent. Heath thus held his house by 2 leases due to terminate at Midsummer 1657. Mrs. Bennet, the tenant of 145/9-10A, objected to this arrangement on the grounds that the room leased to Heath was built into part of the hall of her house. Later in 1623 Heath died and was succeeded by his widow Jane Heath. By May 1624 Mrs. Bennet had granted a lease in trust of 145/9-10A and the room occupied by Heath to one Redman, who had commenced a suit against Heath. The case went to Chancery, where in 1626 it was decreed that Mrs. Bennet should set aside a room to be delivered to Mrs. Heath. This new room, lately built by Mrs. Bennet, was viewed for the Mercers' Company in November 1627 and was found to measure 15 ft. 6 in. (4.72 m.) E./W. by 9 ft. 10 in. (3 m.) N./S. The way into it from Mrs. Heath's house was by 7 steps going down from the second storey (probably meaning the first floor) and extending 4 ft. (1.22 m.) into the room, while the way into its predecessor had been by 3 or 4 steps up contained within an entry outside the chamber. The new floor level was about 8 ft. (2.44 m.) lower than the old; there were now 2 storeys above that room whereas before there were none; and the new room as a whole was set further S. than the old. Since the new room did not conform to the Chancery decree, Mrs. Bennet was ordered to hand it back to the landlord. Following a further order in Chancery in 1628, the company found that the room then occupied by Mrs. Heath (probably that over the great warehouse belonging to 145/9-10A) was better suited for use by Mrs. Bennet, to whom it had been leased since for want of it there was no convenient passage for water from her kitchen; as a result of the spillage of water on the kitchen floor timber had rotted and the kitchen itself had sunk, weighed down as it was by 'the great weight of ovens'. If Mrs. Bennet were to have this room she would be able to place her ovens in a more convenient place, while the room provided by Mrs. Bennet for Mrs. Heath was higher and larger than its predecessor and altogether more convenient for use by Mrs. Heath. Mrs. Heath and Mrs. Bennet appear to have abided by the recommendation, and it was probably as a result of this dispute that up to 1666 the 6s. 8d. rent due under a lease granted to Richard Heath in 1623 was entered in the company's accounts as being paid not by him and his successors, but by the tenants of the adjacent part of 145/9-10A. From 1623 onwards the house was said to include a shop, which presumably occupied the ground floor. (fn. 7)
Jane Heath continued to pay the £6 rent for 2 to the Mercers' Company, and lived there until her death towards the end of 1638, when she left the lease of her house to be divided between her 3 children, Thomas, Francis, and Elizabeth Heath. Earlier that year her house was valued at £30 a year. From then until 1642 the rent was paid by Mrs. Heath's executors, who possessed the property in 1641 when Humphrey Bennet threatened to cause to be overthrown the Chancery decree by which they occupied the room. The occupant of the house in 1642 was probably Henry Lloyd, whose name appears in the appropriate position in a parish assessment list. At about this time the house was converted into a tavern, a change which the Mercers' Company managed to have reversed in 1643. From then on the rent was paid by Francis Heath, gentleman, and presumably Jane Heath's son. In 1652 a new lease of the tenement and room for a term of 31 years from 1657 at a rent of £6. 6s. 8d. and for a fine of £160 was granted to William Nevet, who then inhabited the property. Later that year the lease was granted instead to Francis Heath, who paid the fine. Nevet, however, seems to have continued to occupy the house until about the time of the Great Fire. He was listed in 1662-3 as occupant of a house which perhaps had 6 hearths. On the eve of the Fire 2 was probably occupied by William Birch, victualler, whose house had 5 hearths. (fn. 8)
After the Fire Francis Heath's interest in 2 was assigned to Thomas Coates, the tenant of 145/9-10, to whom the Mercers granted a lease of the ground where the house had stood for a term of 52 years at £6. 6s. 8d. rent. A foundation was surveyed for Coates in July 1670. This included a house for William Nevet occupying the northern half of the frontage on Queen Street, which had now replaced Soper Lane. Coates failed to pay the rent due to the Mercers' Company, and in 1672 was declared bankrupt. The commissioners for bankruptcies assigned Coates's interest to Robert Rossington, gentleman, of the Inner Temple, to whom in 1674 the Fire Court judges awarded 40 years to be added to the lease granted to Heath so that Rossington could complete the rebuilding (see also 145/9-10). (fn. 9)