The monastic buildings: Cloister buildings

The Records of St. Bartholomew's Priory and St. Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield: Volume 2. Originally published by Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1921.

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'The monastic buildings: Cloister buildings', in The Records of St. Bartholomew's Priory and St. Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield: Volume 2, (Oxford, 1921) pp. 143-158. British History Online [accessed 13 April 2024]

In this section



Slype, Chapter-house, and Dorter

The Slype.

The slype is shown in Hardwick's and other plans in the usual position between the south transept and the chapter-house. The lower parts of its walls were exposed in 1912 when the chapter-house site was excavated for secular building purposes. It measured 10 ft. in width and probably extended 32 ft. in length, which was the breadth of the transept. No entrance from the cloister is shown in Hardwick's plan, but doubtless there was one as at Norwich and elsewhere, because the slype formed the passage from the cloister to the burying-ground. What is believed to have been the entrance doorway has already been described when dealing with the cloister (fig. 6, p. 130). (fn. 1)

It was usual for the slype to be vaulted, but whether it was so here we have no record. It was entered by a door in the centre of the south wall of the transept, as at St. Albans and elsewhere. The jambs of this door, which still remain to the height of the present graveyard level, were exposed during the excavations in 1912, and can be seen from the basement window of the great warehouse erected in that year. The stones of the jambs are red from the scorching of the fire of 1830, which destroyed the slype. This doorway is shown in Wilkinson's plan and in Malcolm's engraving of the ruins of the south transept.

After the suppression, the entrance from the cloister was filled in with a brick fireplace of Queen Elizabeth's time, similar to the one still in the guest-house at Lanercost, placed there in 1586. In 1616 the slype was probably used in connexion with Lord Abergavenny's house in the dorter, as will be shown later on. (fn. 2)

In 1809 Carter tells us that it was being used as a sawpit: in 1819 Wilkinson's plan shows it as occupied by two vestry rooms in connexion with the chapel which then occupied the chapter-house.


The chapter-house (capitulum) adjoined the slype on the south side and is so shown on Hardwick's and Wilkinson's plans. It was built—as already said—about the year 1160, and was rectangular in form, as was usual in monasteries of the twelfth century. It measured 53 ft. 4 in. by 27 ft. 10 in., being rather smaller than that at Holy Trinity Aldgate, which is shown as measuring 58 ft. by 33 ft. Its west front occupied, as was usual, three bays of the east cloister walk; (fn. 3) and it had the usual three arched openings already referred to (fn. 4) and described below. (fn. 5)

There is no evidence that there was a vestibule to the chapterhouse to carry the usual night passage from the dorter to the church; there is a straight stone string on the inner face of the west wall of the chapter-house 15 ft. 5 in. above the floor (exposed in 1912), but this is at too great a height to indicate a passage on a level with the dorter floor.

There is no mention of the chapter-house in the king's grant to Rich, nor in Rich's grant to Mary, but the grant by Elizabeth to Rich mentions chambers and buildings built above the cloister 'and above the buildings called le Chapter Howse and le library'; these buildings above the chapter-house may refer to a passage-way over it to the church. On the other hand, it has been pointed out by Mr. F. H. Greenaway, who has minutely studied Lord Holland's Rental in connexion with the internal arrangement of all the monastic buildings, that Lord Abergavenny's withdrawing room, lodging rooms, kitchen and larder were on a floor probably inserted in the chapter-house on a level with the dorter floor, and with a cellar below on the ground floor; and that Arthur Jarvais's cellars were also in this lower part of the chapter-house as shown on the plan. (fn. 6) He therefore suggests that at the time of the suppression the lead was taken off the roof of the chapter-house, as was done with the south transept, and it was so rendered uninhabitable, which would account for the fact that there is no reference to it either in the grant by the king to Rich, or in that by Rich to Mary; but that the Dominicans in Queen Mary's reign inserted these buildings in the upper part of the chapterhouse, possibly for a prior's lodging, and repaired the roof, which would account for the building being mentioned in the grant from Elizabeth to Rich. This suggestion seems feasible when it is remembered that the late prior's house was then occupied by Sir Richard Rich, and the rooms in the chapter-house, being next to the dorter, would have made a convenient prior's lodging for Prior Perrin.

During the excavations in 1912 no foundations for a support of any kind for a vestibule were found, nor was there any sign of a stair leading from a passage over a vestibule to the door shown by Carter to the west of the south wall of the transept (pl. XLVa, p. 54). If there was such a passage the church may have been entered by the opening on the triforium level above the door shown by Carter, from which a stair may have descended from west to east to the transept floor, as at Bristol, or from south to north, as at Hexham: in fact, Carter's drawing shows what Malcolm's does not, a thickening of the wall at this point to support a stair-head. The twelfth-century chapterhouse at Birkenhead has no vestibule, but the approach there was by a passage over the chapter-house which was stepped up from the dorter on one side and down on the other and thence by a stair to the transept. At Gloucester the approach to the transept is by a newel stair in the north-west angle of the chapter-house; but at St. Bartholomew's direct evidence as to the night approach is wanting.

The chapter-house building, or what then remained of it, is thus described by Carter in his survey of 1809: (fn. 7)
'Immediately proceeding from the east cloister (though not directly in the centre of the line) is the chapter-house: style Henry III reign. It is an oblong building. The walls now show no higher than the dado: and it is turned into a store place for sawn timber . . . The Walls (fn. 8) are left on the east, north, and south sides to a height from whence it may be inferred the windows took their rise, comprehending the dado part of the design. On the west side are three entrances (stopped up) from the cloister: on the north and south sides a series of arches supported by ornamented corbels: the corbels have most pleasing and chaste tracery.'

The pope, in his grant of indulgences in 1409, (fn. 9) mentions that the then prior had 'rebuilt the chapter-house'; but that this was not an entire rebuilding is shown by Carter describing the style as that of Henry III, and by the fact that Norman, as well as Early English work, was found there during the excavations in 1912, in addition to the fifteenth-century work.

In 1912 the houses known as Cockerill's Buildings were cleared away, and the entire sites of the chapter-house, the sixteenth-century prior's house and other monastic buildings were excavated to a depth of 8 ft. for the erection of the lofty warehouse, already referred to, now known as 43 Bartholomew Close. During the operations, the whole of the west walls of the chapter-house and of the slype were uncovered, and the bases of the four walls of the chapter-house were found standing to the height of about five feet (pl. LXXI, p. 134). On the south side there were indications of a stone bench. (fn. 10) The floor was covered with plain red tiles measuring 8½ inches square. In the centre of the floor was found, 8 inches below the floor level, a stone coffin, now in the cloister, which had at some time been rifled. It was lying 19 ft. 6 in. from the west wall, and equidistant (14 ft.) from the north and south walls. As the chapter-house was first built by Prior Thomas it is not unreasonable to assume that the coffin was his, for in the twelfth century it was the custom to bury the head of the house in the chapter-house; at Durham three bishop-abbots were so buried. A twelfth-century cap and base of Prior Thomas's time, now in the cloister, were recovered from the débris, together with portions of a thirteenth-century mural arcade, which is probably what Carter saw in position when he described the work as being of the time of Henry III; it is similar to that in the chapter-house at Westminster (pl. LXVII (12), p. 129).

There was also found, during the excavations, but east of the chapter-house, a block of Purbeck marble, the upper part of which is triangular (pl. LXVII (11), p. 129). On it is carved the kneeling figure of an Augustinian canon in his habit and it evidently dates from the thirteenth century. This stone Mr. W. R. Lethaby, surveyor to Westminster Abbey, identifies as the arm of a chair and there can be no doubt that it is so; probably it is the left arm of the prior's chair from the chapter-house, similar to the stone chair at Durham, which, however, is quite plain. On the sloping arm are stumps which Mr. C. R. Peers considers the remains of connecting pieces which attached an otherwise completely undercut carving worked out of the solid block of the rest of the slab. The carving probably took the form of a shaft expanding at the top into foliage, or some device, this being indicated by the pair of stumps just below the roll at the top of the arm. (fn. 11) Below the figure there is a small slab of the main stone 1 ft. 5 in. long and 9 in. wide. It projects 1¾ in. and has on its front edge a thirteenth-century moulding which would have been continued on the stone bench which ran round the chapter-house. On the reverse side to the carved figure the stone has a plain face with a chamfered edge. The seat of the chair was apparently independent of the sides as there are no marks of attachment.

A considerable quantity of early fifteenth-century carved stones was found on the chapter-house site, now in the cloister, verifying the statement of Pope Alexander that there was at any rate a partial rebuilding at that time. The coffin, the arm of the chair, and the fragments of three periods were presented to the Rector and Churchwardens by the building owners.

The west wall of the chapter-house measures 4 ft. thick. On it was found, 15 ft. 5 in. from the chapter-house floor, the stone string referred to above.

On this wall, below the string, were uncovered the three arched openings from the chapter-house into the cloister; the central one being the entrance doorway, the side ones the usual window openings (pl. LXXV, p. 146). The doorway measures 11 ft. 10 in. in height to the crown of the arch and 7 ft. 2. in. in width. On the threshold some of the original plain red tiles remain. The apex of each of the two side arches ranges with that of the central arch, but the outer sides are compressed to bring them within the chapter-house walls; for the three bays of the cloister, with which these three arches are concentric though shortened, are still wider than the chapter-house. (fn. 12) The width of these arches at the springing on the chapter-house side is only 6 ft., whilst on the cloister side it is 8 ft. 4 in. The work is of the early fifteenth century, and that the arches had to be compressed in this queer way still further shows that the walls of the chapter-house were not rebuilt at the same time.

The central doorway has been left, by the courtesy of the owners, more or less exposed within the warehouse, but the side openings have been bricked up. On the cloister side these arches are not at present visible, for they are either below ground or built into the stable walls. Examples of similar west fronts to chapter-houses occur at Norwich, Haughmond, Wenlock, and many other places.

Reference to the chapter-house occurs occasionally in the records before the time of the suppression, thus:

In the 'Book of the Foundation' it is related (fn. 13) how it was in capitulum (about the year 1170) that a merchant, who had been saved from shipwreck by the apostle, was brought to tell his tale; it was here that an indenture entered on the Close Rolls was dated in 1357. (fn. 14) The agreement with the hospital in 1433 concerning the water supply, and Prior Fuller's appointment of a launder to the monastery in 1539 were both sealed 'in the chapter-house'.

As to the use the building was put to after its regrant to Rich the records are silent: we have already suggested above that it was used by Lord Abergavenny as part of his house in the dorter. In 1804 Wilson (fn. 15) mentions that Thomas Madden, one of the Methodist clergy from the meeting-house in the triforium of the church, had, in the middle of the eighteenth century, 'removed to a large room which he fitted up for a chapel'; and we show later that John Wesley, in 1763, began preaching 'in a large commodious place in Bartholomew Close'. These are probably references to the chapter-house, as Wilkinson's plan and view (fn. 16) of the interior (pl. LXXVI, p. 147) show the building so fitted up and he calls it 'St. Bartholomew's Chapel'. Wilkinson wrote at the same time 'The chapel of St. Bartholomew is of equal antiquity with the priory. It is neatly pewed and has a very commodious gallery, also vestry rooms at the back of the north wall' (i.e. in the slype), 'from one of which a small window looks into the green churchyard, fronting the doors to the south entrance to the church'; this is shown by Malcolm as a postsuppression opening.

Knight (fn. 17) says that a door of the undercroft of the dorter opened into a cellar beneath the chapel where the fire broke out in 1830. From this we assume that the floor of the chapter-house had been raised some 6 ft. to the street level when the building was converted into a chapel, thus forming a cellar below. It was probably this low portion that Carter referred to when he wrote that the walls showed no higher than the dado. Wilkinson's engraving and the drawing in the Gardner Collection (pl. LXXVI, p. 147) show a heavily timbered roof to the chapel, which was probably the roof before the suppression: if so, the chapter-house was not stone vaulted, as was the case at Lacock and elsewhere.

There was much confusion among the writers of the early nineteenth century between the nonconformists' meeting-house in the south triforium of the church and the chapel in the chapter-house. Thus Malcolm, writing in 1803, speaks of a dissenting place of worship 'called Bartholomew chapel'; but as he proceeds to say that 'it was set against the east end of the priory not far from the quire' he is evidently referring to the old meeting-house in the triforium and sacristy. Allen, however, copies Malcolm's words but publishes Wilkinson's plan showing St. Bartholomew's chapel in the chapterhouse. Wilkinson also, after correctly describing the latter chapel in the chapter-house, proceeds to say that 'for upwards of a century it served as a meeting-house for presbyterian dissenters', which must refer to the old meeting-house.

The Dorter.

The dorter or dormitory (Dormitorium) adjoined the chapter-house on the south side and extended southward into Bartholomew Close, occupying the whole of the site of No. 61, now the City of London Union Offices.

It measured externally 135 ft. north to south and 35 ft. east to west. The dormitory proper was on the first floor and was reached by the dorter stair, the entrance to which was from the bay of the cloister immediately south of the chapter-house. On the ground floor was a large undercroft, used, we may assume as to one part, as the 'common room' (locutorium) and 'warming-house' (calefactorium) where the canons warmed themselves before an open fire, this being the usual arrangement; the southern portion probably formed the lower part of the rere-dorter.

The question as to whether there was a night approach from the dorter to the church has already been discussed. (fn. 18)

The dorter with its undercroft remained in its entirety until 1870, when it was demolished, and the City of London Union Offices were erected on the site. Knight, writing in 1842, says there were then two or three stories but that it was evident that the whole had been open from the first floor to the roof. The latter, he says, was of oak and after the style of Westminster Hall. He writes: (fn. 19)
'The complicated and yet harmonious arrangement of the timbers . . . their finely arched form rising airily upward towards the centre of the building and the vertical supports which they appear to have sent down to the floor of the hall below—all appear to show that there was but one story and one room; and a glorious room it must have been; measuring some 40 ft. high, 30 ft. broad and 120 ft. long.'
Malcolm, in 1803, describes the roof (fn. 20) as
'full of timber and remains nearly as it was when used as the refectory'.
(Both he and Knight called the dorter the refectory in error. Carter unfortunately did not describe it.)

The doorway from the cloister to the dorter stairs is still standing, but it is bricked up on both sides. Its eastern side was uncovered in December 1903 when the City of London Union authorities were making alterations to the yard at the north end of their premises. It is a stone arched doorway measuring 7 ft. in width and 9 ft. in height from the original floor level to the crown of the arch. From the floor to the springing of the arch is 7 ft. 9 in. The floor of the undercroft at the north end was exposed at the same time and was found to be composed of 2½ in. brick laid flat. The walls of the dorter were underpinned on the north and east sides, and the footings were found to be 5 ft. 6 in. wide, 1 ft. 6 in. deep, and composed of chalk. The wall above the footings measured 3 ft. 3 in. in width and was of Kentish rag up to 4 ft. and above that of brick, probably a rebuilding by Prior Bolton in the fifteenth century. The undercroft extended under the whole length of the building. It was divided longitudinally into two aisles by a central row of octagonal columns, with plain moulded capitals. Hardwick's plan shows seven out of eight of these columns as being in position in the year 1791. The work dated from the latter part of the twelfth century. Carter says of it: (fn. 21)
'in its lines rather plain as the mouldings to the capitals of the octangular columns (bases buried) and ribs of groins are but few.'
Hardwick's section (pl. LXXIII, p. 136) shows an arcade on the north wall of ten round-headed mural arches springing from twelfth-century circular piers with circular moulded capitals. The height shown is 10 ft., which probably means 11 ft. from the original floor level as the bases were covered. The arches are shown with a spacing of 10 ft. 9 in. and the piers with a diameter of 2 ft. 8 in., and a springer of the transverse arch above the abacus of the capitals. The northernmost bay, being under the stairs, is shown without a mural arch or pier on the east wall; but in the year 1903 remains of two piers were removed from the north wall; probably these were connected with the doorway shown by Hardwick and Knight as leading into the chapter-house.

In the fifth bay from the south Hardwick shows a window of two lights, 5 ft. high and 4 ft. wide, the outside of which is shown in a wash drawing by Whichelo in 1803 (pl. LXXVII a). This was apparently inserted in the fifteenth century. In the adjoining bay southward is shown the opening for the passage-way across the undercroft, now known as Middlesex Passage (pl. LXXXI b, p. 182). This passage we assume to have been there in monastic times and to have given access from the cloister to the infirmary, the infirmary kitchen, the mulberry gardens, the wood-house, and other domestic offices. It corresponds in position with that at Westminster Abbey which leads from the dark cloister into the little cloister, originally the infirmary of the monastery. This passage at St. Bartholomew's is shown on Wilkinson's plan with a thick wall on the south but a thin modern one on the north side. At Lanercost the passage is quite open to the undercroft on both sides.

At Westminster the uses of the undercroft of this range varied from a royal treasure-house to a prison.

After the suppression the dorter probably escaped secular occupation for twenty years or more because it was still referred to as Le Dorter in Elizabeth's regrant to Rich in 1560. For four or five years previously it had been in occupation by the Dominicans as the dorter. Rich in his grant to Mary thus describes it:
'Also a great building chamber erection or place with its appurtenances now or late called Le Dortour late the Dormitory of the said late Priory. And also the steps with their appurtenances leading from the aforesaid enclosure or ambulatory up to the said great building chamber erection or place called the Dortour.'

The building was later converted into a private dwelling, for in the Rental of 1616 (fn. 22) we find that Lady Scudamore (the second wife and then the widow of Sir Philip Scudamore) had a lease of two portions of the priory buildings (or 'Mansionhouse of Lord Rich' as it was called). One of these was the dorter which she held by lease for three lives at an annual rent of £12 (the date is omitted) and then worth £50 (probably because she had spent money on converting it into a dwelling-house), and which at this time was in the tenure of Lord Abergavenny. The dorter is described as being in 'the north-west corner of the close' (fn. 23) 'with entrance thereto near Sir Thos. Neale's', whose house, as will be seen presently, is assumed to have been the frater with the misericord and library.

The 'particular' continues 'and so ascending up a paire of stairs over the vault or dorter' (i.e. the undercroft of the dorter) 'we enter into a faire lardge hall, on the south side whereof is a greate chamber and studdy and 7 chambers and a garrett over the same for servants and other uses'. We are not told the position of the stairs but they were probably the monastic stairs and we have so shown them in the plan (see plan, p. 77). The 'faire lardge hall' probably extended right across the building, and the same applies to 'the greate chamber' which was at its southern end. The 'studdy and 7 chambers' were apparently farther south over the rere-dorter.

The 'particular' continues 'from the northwarde of the hall, about the middle part, passeth a narrow darke entry, on the east side whereof are two little lodgings and a wth. drawing chamber; on the west side a little pantry and a larder; at the end of the entry is a convenient kitchen and a yard beyond the same paved with freestone about which by the sides thereof are necessarie rooms for woode, coales, etc., and a faire cellar under the pantry larder and parte of the kitchen'. All these rooms would fit into the chapter-house, with those for wood and coals and the fair cellar occupying part of a lower floor. This division of the chapter-house into two floors would explain why it is not described otherwise as having been converted into a dwelling. The 'yard paved with freestone' may well have been the slype if its roof had been destroyed at the suppression, in which case a newel stair in the corner of the chapter-house, as at Gloucester, would have afforded a ready access from the kitchen to the yard.

The 'particular' continues 'under part of the hall and great chamber in the dorter there is one vault or rather part of a cloyster contayning about by estimation in length 24 yardes and 4 in breadth in the tenure of a stone cutter' (this describes half of the undercroft north of Middlesex Passage). 'On the south side of the entrance through the vault is one lowe room divided in two contayning haulfe the bredth of the vault in the tenure of Richard Woodhouse currier.' This describes the western half of the undercroft south of Middlesex Passage; the eastern half we shall see later belonged to Lady Scudamore's other house, let to Sir Edward Barrett. The second half of the northern part is not mentioned; it may have been owned by Sir Thomas Neale; if so, that would account for no mention being made of it. The survey concludes, as already said, with 'all of which is worth per annum £50'.

In a later survey made in 1641 Lady Scudamore still held two houses in the parish 'and the vaults under the private house'.

After the aristocracy left, about the middle of the seventeenth century, there is no record of the fate of the dorter until the year 1803, when Malcolm thus describes it: (fn. 24)
'Not a vestige of ancient architecture is visible, that part which projects into the close being faced with brick. The windows are transformed into large ones of the present fashion. The length is 120 ft. by 30 in breadth. Some idea may be formed of its original state by the northern half, now a calico glazier's shop; but the south part is a suite of very good apartments inhabited by the worthy rector Mr. Edwardes . . . the cellar of Mr. Edwardes cannot be paralleled in London for coolness and durability.'
(referring no doubt to the undercroft which was in his occupation).

Who the calico glazier was we are not told, but in 1801 the wholesale tobacconist Abraham Crofton was paying rates (fn. 25) at No. 61 Bartholomew Close: in 1816 the style of the business had become Crofton and Rippon and so remained until the year 1870, when on the 29th September the City of London Union authorities purchased the property and laid ruthless hands upon the whole pile, demolishing the beautiful timber roof and the undercroft with its vault, its arches, and its piers.

The rere-dorter (Necessarium) is not referred to in any of the grants and there are no other records to establish its position. It always formed part of the dorter building at the end farthest from the church, either in line with the main building or at right angles to it.

It was generally of considerable dimensions. That at Beaulieu measured about 69 ft. by 22 ft., say 1,500 ft. super: that at Lacock 48 ft. by 15 ft., or 720 ft. super. At St. Bartholomew's it may have extended south of the dorter, covering the site of No. 60 Bartholomew Close, in which case its internal area would have been about 1,300 ft. But there is no evidence that this was the case, and we incline to the opinion that it was contained within the four walls of the dorter building proper and that it occupied that part which was south of Middlesex Passage.

There was usually a stream of water directed through the building, as at Canterbury, Fountains and other houses, but there is no evidence of what the arrangement was here, unless the water from Canonbury was used for the purpose.


The Refectory or Frater.

The frater (refectorium), the parlour (locutorium), the misericord, the kitchen (coquina), with its pantry and buttery, formed the southern range and may be considered together, as the only records we have are common to them all (see plan, p. 77).

King Henry VIII in his grant to Rich in the year 1544 (fn. 26) simply refers to 'le frater', 'le ketchyn', 'le botry' (buttery), 'le pantry', and 'le old ketchyn'. But Rich in his grant to Mary in 1555 (fn. 27) describes their position and mentions other buildings in addition; thus he mentions
'a long building or erection with its appurtenances on the south side of the said enclosure or ambulatory' (i.e. the cloister) 'now or lately called "le fratry" late the refectory of the said late priory. Also a building now or lately called "le old kitchen", late the cookhouse of the said late priory, lying and beeing at the west end of the aforesaid building called "le fratry". Also a building or a room (senacleum) (fn. 28) now called a parlour and lately called "le misericorde" at the east end of the same building called "le fratry", and a building now or lately called "le library" being above the said building called a parlour on the west part of the said building called "le fratry", and all that building land or soil with its appurtenances where is the passage from the aforesaid building late "le fratry" to the said building lately called "le old kitchen".'

On the authority of these descriptions we show on the plan (see plan, p. 77) the frater on the south side of the cloister (now Nos. 64 to 66 Bartholomew Close), which was the usual position, being the farthest from the church. The parlour, buttery, pantry, and old kitchen are shown at the western end (No. 67); the misericord, with the library over, at the eastern end (Nos. 62 to 63). The other kitchen mentioned in the Henry VIII grant was probably a special meat kitchen, such as for example the Cistercians built when meat diet was eaten more frequently. It must have been at the western end of the south side of the frater (No. 66, where that part of the house still projects southward from its neighbours) because Hardwick's plan of 1791 shows the west wall of that building as being ancient. At Aldgate the great kitchen occupied just such a position. A passage from the frater to the old kitchen, referred to above, was the usual arrangement, since the kitchen was considered monastically as external to the cloister. (fn. 29)

The entrance to the frater would have been from the south cloister, probably towards the western end, as at Westminster, Norwich, Peterborough, and elsewhere, with the lavatory beside it. (fn. 30)

The great dining-hall of the frater was probably on the ground floor, as at Aldgate (fn. 31) and Westminster, though there were probably a few steps up, as at Worcester and many other monasteries.

We have no direct evidence of the dimensions of the building now being described; it is necessary, therefore, to rely upon various indications and upon the dimensions of the site which we know that it occupied. The external width of the frater we show as 35 ft., that being the width of the present houses (Nos. 62–65 Bartholomew Close) standing on the site, the north walls of which are known to be in the position of the north wall of the frater. The internal length shown is about 60 ft., independent of the width of the misericord at the one end, and of the kitchen offices at the other. That measurement compares with 130 ft. (estimated) by 38 ft. at Westminster, 70 ft. by 30 ft. at Aldgate, 109 ft. by 31 ft. at Beaulieu, 23 paces by 10 paces at Bridlington, and 98 ft. 10 in. by 34 ft. at Chester (where the height is 32 ft. 3 in. to the underside of the principals).

The misericord (or flesh-frater where meat was allowed to be eaten) we also place on the ground floor with the library over, as Rich says. If the height of the frater was about the same as at Chester, or even less, the roof of this building might well have been a continuation of that of the frater. We have some indication of the dimensions of the misericord in a passage by Malcolm in which he says: (fn. 32)
'At the south end of the east cloister there was a space 53 ft. by 26 ft., probably a court through which the brethren passed to and from the refectory.'
(Dorter intended; though the brethren approached it from the cloister.) Malcolm emphasizes the word was in his statement by italics, from which we gather that the space had existed to his knowledge but did not exist when he wrote in 1803. But the length he gives of 53 ft. coincides with nothing within our knowledge; if, however, the figures have been reversed and 35 ft. was intended, then the length of his space coincides with the width of the frater building. His width of 26 ft. we accept and so show on the plan where a division for a passage to the Close, corresponding to the dark cloister at Westminster, is suggested.

There is no indication of the size of the buttery, or of the parlour, or of the pantry, or of the old kitchen. The dimensions of the existing house, No. 66 Bartholomew Close, are 28 ft. by 23 ft., which are probably those of the other kitchen. The dimensions shown on the Aldgate plan are 27 ft. square, and at Lacock Abbey they are 33 ft. by 21 ft. The size of the old kitchen would probably have been larger than the new one.

The forecourts or gardens of the present houses, Nos. 62–65 Bartholomew Close, may have formed part of the kitchener's garden, which, allowing for the 10 ft. passage from the cloister at the east end, would have measured 86 ft. by 28 ft.; whilst the garden at Aldgate, part of which was a green, measured about 57 ft. by 35 ft.

The only description extant of any of these buildings is a very brief one of the interior of the frater by Bishop Grindal. This is in a letter (fn. 33) to Sir William Cecil in the year 1563, after the destruction by fire in the year 1561 of the spire and roof of St. Paul's. The bishop wanted to strip the church of its lead for the cathedral, and to make the frater serve as a parish church in its place, as was done at Beaulieu in Hampshire. He says: (fn. 34)
'There is an house adjoynynge which was the Fratrie (as they tearmed it) a verie fayre and a large house, and in deede allreadye, iff it wor purged, lacketh nothing butt the name off a churche: well buylded off free stone, garnished within rounde abowte with marble pyllers, large windows, &c. I assure you withoute partialitie, iff it wor dressed up, it wer farre more beautifull and more conveniente than the other. It is covered with good slate.'

Fortunately the future Lord Burleigh did not see eye to eye with the bishop and so the church escaped.

From this description it is evident that in the year 1563 the frater was much in the same condition as it was left by the Blackfriars in 1559, and that it was not then occupied as a dwelling-house. After 1563 Rich probably sold it at once to Sir Walter Mildmay (as stated in the cloister chapter), (fn. 35) who only remained there until 1567, when he bought Dr. Bartlett's house and garden (now Albion Buildings) and apparently sold the frater to his friend William Neale, who was the first witness to Sir Walter Mildmay's will, and with whom he served as churchwarden from 1574 to 1578. William Neale was succeeded in the frater by Thomas—later Sir Thomas—Neale (probably his son) some time before 1616. The records on which we rely for this occupation by the Neales are first, the will of Anne, the wife of William Neale, dated 1597, in which she refers to a 'great chamber' in her husband's house, indicating, we consider, the great dining-hall of the monastery; secondly, Evan Meredith, (fn. 36) in the year 1601, willed to be buried 'in the churchyarde betwixte my late wieves tombe and Maister Neale's wall, in the partwaye neare unto my saide tombe', that is to say in the present church path, beside the north cloister wall, showing that William Neale occupied the cloister on the north side of the frater, as has been seen Sir Walter Mildmay did before him; (fn. 37) thirdly, the Rental of 1616, where it is stated—as already seen (fn. 38) —that the entrance to the dorter was 'near to Sir Thomas Neale's' and there was no house that could be so described other than the frater and misericord. That Sir Richard Rich disposed of the property is sufficient reason why it is not mentioned in the 1616 rental.


Guest-house and Cellarer's Quarters.

The great hall, guesten or guest-house (hospitium) must have been of considerable proportions. Pope Alexander V in his grant of indulgencies in 1409 (fn. 39) said:
'The monastery being situate in a very famous place of the realm, very many resort thither from the realm and from divers other regions to its great burden.'

In the year 1321, when the Earl of Hereford led the barons to London to denounce the Despensers, (fn. 40) it was at St. Bartholomew's that the meeting was held to receive the reply of the citizens of London. It was in the domus hospitium that those from the realm and divers other regions were nightly lodged: it was in the 'guesten' or great hall where such meetings as that of the barons were held.

Of its position or dimensions we have no record whatever. It is only mentioned once in the grants, in that by the king to Rich in the year 1544. It is there called le hall. In the conjectural plan we have therefore placed it in the usual position on the west side against the west wall of the cloister and there it seems it must have been of necessity, as there is no other position available in which to place it, neither are there other buildings to place in that position. That is the position it occupied at Aldgate, and also at Norwich and elsewhere. The site is now in part a public footway leading from the Close to the Smithfield Gate: in part it is a carriage way (though not a thoroughfare) for the convenience of those occupying houses on the site of the west cloister, Nos. 68, 69, and 70 Bartholomew Close, and the 'Coach and Horses' public-house. As the 'Hall' is not mentioned in Rich's grant to Mary, nor in Elizabeth's to Rich, it was probably demolished at an early date so as to give access to these houses in the west cloister, or it may have been sold before Mary came to the throne.

On the west side of the guest-house facing Duck Lane (now Little Britain) was a row of houses which in 1544 was known as Church Row and at that time occupied by various tenants. Before the suppression they would probably have been occupied by tenants of the monastery, but they were not part of the guest-house because they were valued separately in the 'particulars for grant', whilst 'the hall' or guesthouse was included in the valuation of all the monastic buildings under the head of the 'capital mansion house of the monastery'. In the thirteenth century it is probable that the prior's house was in this western range with the guest-house and that Bolton built a new prior's lodge partly to make room for the increasing number of guests and partly to gratify his own great building propensities. The fact of the cloister building being on the east side of the guest hall and dwelling-houses on the west would have necessitated the guest hall being raised, as usual, on an undercroft to obtain the necessary light, beyond the fact that the undercroft was required for the cellarer.

It was customary to have a parlour where the buildings of the western range abutted on to the church; the lower part of the jambs and the threshold of a doorway were found in such a position, in the year 1904, when tunnelling under the public footway to trace the nave wall into Smithfield. This doorway is shown on the plan (p. 131); also a second doorway leading into the north walk of the cloister, as shown on Hardwick's plan (p. 136). There is a similar doorway from a parlour to the cloister at Westminster, Norwich, and Bridlington. At the south end of the guest-house there was another parlour, if we have rightly placed the one mentioned in Rich's grant to Mary when dealing with the frater. (fn. 41) The position of the frater kitchen as described was apparently such as to enable it to equally serve the guest-house and the frater.

The cellarer's quarters are not mentioned in any of the records, though the cellarer and the rents that he handled are referred to many times in the Bodleian Rental. His buildings were probably under the guest-house.


  • 1. Above, p. 135.
  • 2. See p. 151.
  • 3. Above, p. 133.
  • 4. See above, p. 135.
  • 5. See p. 147.
  • 6. See plan of dorter, p. 77.
  • 7. Gentleman's Mag. lxxix, 226.
  • 8. Ib. 327.
  • 9. Cal. Pap. Reg. vi, 151.
  • 10. For fuller details of this excavation see Archaeologia, lxiv, 165.
  • 11. Exhibited at the Society of Antiquaries, 20 Feb. 1919.
  • 12. See above, p. 135.
  • 13. Bk. of Found., Lib. II, cap. xvi.
  • 14. Close, 30 Edw. III, 20 Jan. 1357.
  • 15. Wilson, Dissent. Church, iii, 387.
  • 16. Wilkinson, Lond. Illust., 1819.
  • 17. Knight, London, 1841.
  • 18. Above, p. 144.
  • 19. Knight, London, ii. 51.
  • 20. Malcolm, Lond. Red. i, 289.
  • 21. Gentleman's Mag. cxxxiii, 327. See also Knight, London, ii, 53.
  • 22. Rentals and Surveys, R.O. 11/39, 16 James I, part of inheritance of Sir Hy. Rich.
  • 23. i.e., of the entire close; see plan, p. 131.
  • 24. Malcolm, Lond. Red. 289.
  • 25. Belfry cupboard, Rate Books.
  • 26. See Vol. I, App. I, p. 510.
  • 27. Ib., p. 522.
  • 28. Sic for cenaculum.
  • 29. Thompson, Engl. Mon.
  • 30. Above, p. 134.
  • 31. See Plan in Home Counties Mag., Jan. 1900.
  • 32. Malcolm, Lond. Red. i, 289.
  • 33. Lansdowne MSS., No. 6, Art. 55.
  • 34. The letter is given in full on p. 303 below.
  • 35. Above, p. 137.
  • 36. App. I, p. 551.
  • 37. Above, p. 137.
  • 38. Above, p. 151.
  • 39. Cal. Pap. Reg. vi, 151.
  • 40. Annales Paulini, Rolls Ser., 16, p. 295.
  • 41. See above, p. 153.