A New History of London Including Westminster and Southwark. Originally published by R Baldwin, London, 1773.
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The proper name of this ward is Basinghall, from the mansion house of the family of Bassing, where Blackwell-hall now stands; several of whom served the chief offices of this city in the 13th century. Henry III. granted Adam de Bassing certain houses in Aldermanbury and in Milk-street; the advowson of the church at Bassings hall; with other liberties and privileges. The family also spread in Cambridgeshire and gave name to a place called Bassingbourn.
This small ward is bounded on the east and south, by Coleman street ward; on the north by Cripplegate ward; and on the west by Cripplegate and Cheap wards. It consists only of Basinghall street with the courts and avenuesleading into it, which are well built and inhabited. The public buildings it contains are as under.
At the south end of Basinghall street, on the west side, stands Blackwell-hall, an antient market for woollen cloth. Its original name was Basing's-haugh or hall, from the family of the Bassings, who built the house, and gave name to the ward. This house descended to Mr. Thomas Bakewell in the 36th of Edward III. and from him was called Bakewell-hall. Afterward it fell to the crown, and was sold, with its garden and appurtenances, by king Richard II. to the city of London for 50l. and has from that time been called corruptly Blackwell-hall, and employed as a weekly market for all broad and narrow woollen cloths brought out of the country. This hall, after being rebuilt in 1558, was destroyed by fire in 1666, and again rebuilt, as it now appears, in 1672.
It is a square building, inclosing two courts surrounded with warehouses, and has three spacious entrances for carriages; one from Basinghall-street, the other from Guildhall-yard, where is the principal front, and a door-case, adorned with two columns of the Doric order, with their entablature and a pediment, in which are the king's arms; and a little lower the city arms supported by cupids, &c. the other gate opens into Cateaton-street.
In this edifice are the Devonshire, Gloucester, Worcester, Kentish, Medley, Spanish, and Blanket Halls; in which each piece of cloth pays one penny for pitching, and a half-penny per week resting. The profits, which are said to amount to about 1100l. per annum. are applied toward the support of Christ's Hospital; the governors whereof have the whole management of these warehouses. There are several statutes relating to the regulation of this market, with respect to the factors and others concerned in the sale of cloth (fn. 1).
From this hall northward, are several good houses, to the back-gate of Guildhall; which gate, and part of the building are of this ward. Some small distance from this gate the Coopers have their hall, which is well built of brick, and the hall is a handsome room, wainscotted about fourteen feet high, and paved with marble.
On the east side of Basinghall-street, and almost opposite to Blackwell-hall, is a paved alley, a thoroughfare into Coleman-street, called Mason's-alley from Mason's-hall, which stands at the south-east angle, and, though small is convenient, being well-built of stone.
Farther down on the same side, and nearly opposite to Cooper's-hall, stands the hall of the company of Weavers; which is handsomely built, and decorated on the inside with fret work, a screen of the Ionic order, and hangings.
More to the northward is Girdler's hall, a neat building, well wainscotted within, and adorned with a screen of the Composite order.
St. Michael Bassishaw church.
The only church in this ward, is that of St. Michael Bassishaw; so denominated from its dedication to St. Michael the archangel, and from its situation. It is a rectory of very ancient foundation, about the year 1140; and till the year 1327, was in the gift of the prior and canons of St. Bartholomew in Smithfield. At which time the presentation was in Henry Bodyke, citizen of London; but about a century after, it fell to the dean and chapter of St. Paul's, who from that time have continued patrons of it.
The old church, which was very beautiful, was entirely destroyed by the fire of London in 1666: and ten years after the present structure was begun, and was finished in 1679. The walls of this building are strengthened with rustic work at the corners, and the body is well enlightened by a single series of large windows. At the east-end, where the top is terminated by an arch, the light is given by three windows; one of them tall and upright, the two others circular: the steeple is a tower, crowned with a turret, from which rises a kind of spire.