The monastic buildings: Monastic close, fair ground, gardens and grave-yard

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

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.


E A Webb, 'The monastic buildings: Monastic close, fair ground, gardens and grave-yard', in The Records of St. Bartholomew's Priory and St. Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield: Volume 2, (Oxford, 1921) pp. 181-195. British History Online [accessed 21 May 2024].

E A Webb. "The monastic buildings: Monastic close, fair ground, gardens and grave-yard", in The Records of St. Bartholomew's Priory and St. Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield: Volume 2, (Oxford, 1921) 181-195. British History Online, accessed May 21, 2024,

Webb, E A. "The monastic buildings: Monastic close, fair ground, gardens and grave-yard", The Records of St. Bartholomew's Priory and St. Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield: Volume 2, (Oxford, 1921). 181-195. British History Online. Web. 21 May 2024,

In this section


The Monastic Close

The close of a monastery was the land enclosed by the monastic walls, but outside the range of the monastic buildings. At St. Bartholomew's there was, in addition to the close, a market or fair ground belonging to the monastery, also enclosed by the monastic walls. This fair ground was always held as distinct and apart from the close. Before the suppression it was the close only that the king declared had always been accepted as a distinct parish, (fn. 1) and, although after the suppression the fair became part of the parish, it formed a separate precinct from that of the close and retained the separate entrance from Smithfield.

The close was entered by a gate at the southern angle of the monastic land, known as the south gate. It still forms, now widened, the principal entrance to Bartholomew Close (pl. LXXXIII a, p. 210). The porter's or janitor's lodge was probably on the south side of the gate, with rooms over it, now No. 1 Bartholomew Close, which is one of the glebe houses. Probably on the other side of the gate was the almonry (domus elemosinaria) where the doles of the monastery were given to the poor.

This gatehouse, with rooms over on one story, is shown by Agas, Hoefnagel, and by Fairthorn and Newcourt as ranging with the other small houses on either side of it. It may have been rebuilt after the suppression, but there is no record that it was an important structure such as is found in many of the large and in even some of the smaller monasteries.

On entering the close in monastic times by this gate the buildings of the dorter would have filled the centre of the view. On the right of the dorter would probably have been seen part of the infirmary; and on the left the refectory, over the roof of which the top of the tower of the church may have been visible. On the left, in the northwest corner of the close, where No. 66 now stands, would have been seen the kitchen and probably part of the guest-house; for there was no passage-way through to Smithfield then as there is now Towards the south of the open close, where the drinking fountain now stands, was the building over the head of the water conduit, as shown in the maps of Agas and Hoefnagel; at Sherborne there is such a conduit head, which used to stand in the centre of the cloister garth but now is in the street.

The open space of the close before the suppression was probably much larger than it is now. There were houses in the close, mostly with gardens, but they seem to have been confined to the immediate neighbourhood of the bounds. The houses on the west side faced Duck Lane, with gardens running back to the close. The houses on the south side faced the close, as they do now, without gardens. But the whole of the eastern part of the close, from the north end of what is now Albion Buildings to Queen's Square, was probably very sparingly built upon, which would have made the open area of the close double what it is at present. By the boundary on this east side were the important houses and gardens of John Burgoyne and his two sons, Thomas and Robert. These houses were probably on the close side and not on the east sides of their plots, as it is their gardens and not their houses that are quoted in the description of the bounds.

Then again, on the north side of the close there is no record to show that the dorter ever extended farther south than No. 61 Bartholomew Close, so it is very probable that the sites of Nos. 60 to 54 were not built upon in monastic times, making the open close still larger in that direction. The houses Nos. 54 to 49 were also apparently not built until after the suppression; if that were so, then from the north-east corner of the great open close there would have been either a broad way that ran north to the prior's house and the fair ground or, if a narrow road as now, then the way would have had gardens on both sides. On the right would have been 'the large garden within the close' stretching from the present Half Moon Passage to Newbury Street, and running back eastward to the monastic bounds. (fn. 2) On the left would have been the space east of the infirmary, probably a garden too. Then came the garden or forecourt of the prior's house. Across the end of the road now reached in our itinerary of the close precinct was the gateway leading to the fair ground.

This was the position of the gateway in post-suppression times; that is, at the south end of Kinghorn Street, known in 1616 as Close Gate Row, and therefore of the wall or fence running east which separated the fair ground from the close. We incline to the opinion that it was also the position in monastic times, although Agas shows it (p. 110) running farther north in a direct line from the church. Agas also shows no gateway, but there must have been one, otherwise there would have been no communication between the close and the fair ground.

The dividing wall or fence in this position (the position adopted in the conjectural map, p. 131) would have run along what is now the south side of the houses on the south side of Newbury Street. The fact that these houses, in 1616, were included in the Cloth Fair precinct is shown by the fact that they were then called Rugman's Row, that is the place where rugs were sold in fair time.

The gateway is referred to by Strype in his edition of Stow where, after describing the Great Close, he says: 'passing northward is a gateway, the bounds of this close'. (fn. 3) Until the year 1908 the premises of John Hull & Sons stretched across the roadway at this southern end of Kinghorn Street (pl. LXXXI a, p. 182), and beneath them, on the east side of the narrow roadway, was a little wooden shop which may have been a porter's lodge, and which had stood beneath the ancient building which had preceded Hull's premises. In October 1908 the projecting part of Hull's building was taken down, and the little shop demolished to widen the roadway, which was much restricted at this point. When this occurred it was found that the corner post of the shop consisted of what had apparently been an old square gatepost, confirming the opinion that this was the gateway spoken of by Strype. The gate in this position would have effectually kept out the crowds of the fair from the residential quarters of the close; for Ogilby's map shows that there was no thoroughfare through Red Lion Passage as there is now.

The Fair Ground.

Entering the fair ground from this gate, the great green of the market—in fair time—would have been seen filled with booths and stalls of the clothiers and drapers of London; the buyers from all parts of the country would have been there; whilst walking up and down the alleys would have been seen the steward in the livery of the priory. Also an official from the Drapers' Company would have been there to see that the goods were being properly measured, and that the quality of the cloth was according to the standard of the Company. An official from the Corporation would also have been there checking the weights and measures and seeing that the rights of the Corporation were not encroached upon.

Walking up the avenue crossing the fair ground from the Close gate and looking down the northernmost avenue of booths on the right, would have been seen the building of the garner, already described. On the left, after leaving the Close gate, would have been seen, first the burial-ground of the canons, possibly protected by a wall or fence; then the east end of our Lady's Green, also possibly protected in some way, and the Lady Chapel behind. Turning to the left down an avenue of booths would have been the north side of our Lady's Green, within which we are inclined to think was the parochial burial-ground. The burial-ground may have been protected by a fence, but possibly not, because Stow says the fair was held in the graveyard. (fn. 4) Proceeding westward on the right would have been more avenues of stalls, and on the left the Walden Chapel, against which booths were probably placed (as has been shown in the chapter on the fair). (fn. 5) The same would have applied to the north end and west side of the transept, excepting where the transept door to the parish Chapel would have come. We should then have seen the wide avenue from the transept to the west gate of the fair with booths on each side. On the left would have been the nave wall with stalls against it, (fn. 6) and on the right the laundry-ground covered with booths and next the laundry and stables as described above.

The Gardens.

The rent roll at the Bodleian mentions two gardens in connexion with the monastery (plan, p. 131): (fn. 7)
'Memorandum that the said kitchen steward has the garden de la Morehawe (gardinum de la Morehawe) pertaining to his office, worth 20/- a year. Item there belongs to this office the soil of the large garden within the close of the said priory (magni gardini infra clausum prioratus) worth 6/8d. a year.'
In detailing what went to the cellarer occurs:
'Item the fruit of the garden in the close of the said priory belonging to the cellarer is worth 13/4d. a year'
—presumably growing in 'the large garden within the close'. The cellarer also had 'the fruits growing in the gardens and the cemeteries worth 4s. a year'; the sacrist had the same and the master of the farmery had for his office 'fruit of the garden valued at 2s.' Whether the cellarer's fruit, and the master of the farmery's fruit, and the sacrist's were from one and the same garden or from other gardens we are not told.

As regards the de la Morehawe' garden (the value of which (20s.) was as much as the tolls and customs of the fair at that time), it is not clear whether this garden was within or without the monastic precincts. If without, it is strange that it should not be included with the other holdings of the priory in the parish to which it belonged. There was a shop de la Moorehawe where was a smithy' (de una schopa de la Moorehawe ubi fabrica est) valued at 6s. 8d., which was included among the other rents of the cellarer coming from the parish of St. Sepulchre, but we have found no record of a house so called. If the garden were within the precincts it is strange that the Bodleian rental does not say so, as it does of the great garden within the close.

The name 'de la More' occurs many times in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries in the Guildhall Letter Books and other public records. Hugh de la More in 1278 was a goldsmith. (fn. 8) Ralph de la More in 1279 was elected sheriff, (fn. 9) and witnessed a grant to the hospital. (fn. 10) His will, dated the following year, shows he was a wealthy man with his principal house in Marte (Mark) Lane. (fn. 11) Thomas de la More was rector of St. Swithin's in 1343; (fn. 12) and a man of the same name, prior of Tynemouth, died Abbot of St. Albans in 1396. (fn. 13) A 'hawe' was an enclosed place. Pardon Church-hawe was a churchyard in the fair ground. Bassishaw was the place of the great family of Basing or Bassing, which gave the name to the church, St. Michael Bassishaw, and to the street where it was situated, Basinghall Street, as has been already mentioned. (fn. 14) Another 'hawe' gave the name to the church of St. Mary Bothaw, and perhaps to St. Mary Mounthaw, both in the city. It would therefore seem that 'de la Morehawe' was probably the place of one of the de la Mores. The smithy in St. Sepulchre's parish may have belonged to the same or another de la More, but it need not have been adjoining.

Probability seems to favour the garden being within the monastic precincts: if it were so it may have been in the south-east part of the close where, at the suppression, Thomas Burgoyne, Robert Burgoyne and Thomas Andrews had their gardens, and where a de la More may have been allowed to form a garden early in monastic times.

'The large garden within the close' is shown by Agas (p. 110) on the south side of the boundary fence which divided the fair from the close precinct; that is somewhere about the north side of what is now Newbury Street. It extended southward to what is now Half Moon Passage, and eastward to the monastic bounds. This extension eastward, shown by Agas, is proved by an ancient deed of sale made by 'Wm. de Gloucestria', butcher, to Martin Senches, the king's crossbowman, of land with buildings 'in Aldredesgate St.' in St. Botolph's parish, which is described as 'reaching to the garden of the canons of St. Bartholomew's'. And it is proved more or less by an account of a coroner's inquest held in the year 1325 on a certain John Fuatard who 'lay killed in the garden of the priory church of St. Bartholomew', which is described as 'in the parish of St. Butulph in the ward of Aldresgate'. (fn. 15) Fuatard and a woman Isabella had entered the garden over the wall and had broken into the house of Richard de Rothinge and stolen some goods which they threw over the wall. Rothinge's servant Thomas attacked them, slew Fuatard, raised the cry and remained on the spot until the coroner arrived. The statement that the priory garden was in St. Botolph's parish implies that it was in the eastern part of the monastic precinct of which St. Botolph's claimed, as will be seen later on, (fn. 16) to be the mother parish. Part of this garden remained as two gardens at the back of the houses on the south side of Newbury Street in the seventeenth century. Sir Henry North's part is thus described in the rental of 1616: (fn. 17)
'Sir Henry North Knight houldeth one garden or square plot of ground walled about with bricke between Rugman's Rowe (the south side of Newbury Street) and the houses in the narrow alley leading out of the close through the Haulfmoon on the north and south, Doctor Martin east, and that waste ground before the gates of Mr. Jarvaise and Sr. Percival Hart west by lease granted to Mr. Robert Paddon, auditor, bearing date 14 Junii 34 Eliz. (1592) for 31 years from Bartholomew tyde before, yeilding there per ann. . . . (blank) and is worth per ann. 10. 0. 0.'
Adjoining North's garden eastward was the other portion of the monastic garden, and this was entered from the east end of Newbury Street by what is now the cartway to Messrs. Collingridge's yard (and which early in the nineteenth century was leased to St. Botolph's parish for the female side of a workhouse). Dr. Martin's stable was in this position and is thus described:
'Mr. Doctor Martin houldeth one faire stable of bricke and a haylofte and lodging for a groom over the same situate at the south-east corner of Clothfaire with an entrance, the breadth of an ordinary house, at the end of Rugman's Rowe, lease 11 years to come at xxxs. valet per ann. 8. 0. 0.'
Although the garden is not specified in this entry it existed, for the survey of Rugman's Row concludes thus:
'Memorand. That all these tenements . . . have prospect backwards into the gardens of Sr. Henry North and Mr. Doctor Martin.'

But to return to monastic times: the kitchener, we have seen, had the soil of the large garden, by which we assume he had the use of the ground for growing herbs and vegetables, whilst the cellarer had the fruit. But we are told that the cellarer in addition also had the fruit growing in 'the gardens' and the cemeteries, implying more than one garden, and as Henry VIII in his Valor Ecclesiasticus specified orchards as well as gardens we assume there were one or more enclosed fruit gardens also. Such a garden enclosed is shown on Ogilby's map surrounded by the dorter, infirmary kitchen and the prior's inner court. The same site in Wilkinson's map is marked as the site of the mulberry gardens of the monastery. In addition to the mulberry trees there were also, we may assume, fig, apple, pear and cherry trees. Fig trees still flourish on the south side of the church and mulberries still ripen for St. Bartholomew's Day in the Charterhouse near by.
Malcolm, writing in 1803, says:
'A gateway was standing within the memory of man leading to the woodyard, kitchens, &c.' (as we have seen). 'An antient mulberry tree grew near it and beneath its branches the good wives and maids of the parish were wont to promenade.'
Archer says the decayed stump of a mulberry tree was grubbed up there a fortnight before his first visit in 1842. Wilkinson's map of 1821 shows two entrances into this enclosed place, one to the east where 47 Bartholomew Close stands, and another to the west next to No. 2 Middlesex Passage, but the position of the gateway mentioned by Malcolm is not clear.

There were outgoings on account of the gardens amounting to 10s. a year which were paid to the church of St. Martin le Grand 'for certain lesser tithes of animals kept in the close of the said priory, and for the said gardens'. (fn. 18) For what reason this had to be paid is not shown; but the Rental states that 'the sacrist had the grazing of the two cemeteries valued at 4s. a year': as well as the fruit growing in the garden and in the cemeteries mentioned above, also valued at 4s. a year. Whether the grazing was by horses, cows or sheep does not appear, but probably by sheep.

The Graveyards or Cemeteries.

There were certainly two cemeteries (cimiteria) in the monastic precincts. Mention of the earliest one is made by the writer of the Book of the Foundation, (fn. 19) where he refers to its consecration. This graveyard would no doubt have been for the interment of the canons of the house and for that of the brothers and sisters of the hospital, and for others dying after they had had the habit delivered to them. But when Pope Lucius III in the year 1184 wished a separate cemetery to be hallowed within the hospital precinct, it was to be not only for the brethren and household, but also for the poor; (fn. 20) so by analogy it is possible that at the first there was but one burial-ground for all. By the year 1224, however, the prior and convent had set aside a separate burial-ground for the poor of the hospital, which the brethren of the hospital were to use. This continued until the year 1373 when Bishop Simon of Sudbury granted the hospital a cemetery of their own, but on the understanding that the poor of the hospital should no longer be buried at the priory. (fn. 21)

There was also within the priory a burial-ground known as the Pardonchirchehawe, (fn. 22) already referred to. It is so called in the wills of Robert de Watford, carpenter, in the year 1368; of William Thomas, a citizen of London, in 1395; (fn. 23) and of Margaret Goodcheepe in the year 1413. (fn. 24) Walter Shelley, a cleric, in the year 1453 (fn. 25) willed to be buried at the foot of the church (in pede ecclesie) or in the cemetery called 'pardon churche'.

This was evidently the parochial burial-ground referred to by Henry VIII in his grant to Rich, when he said that the inhabitants had always had their own burial-place annexed to the church, but whether it was a third burial-ground or the same as the second, mentioned above as being made for the hospital about the year 1224, is not clear. We think it was the same as the second: first, because in 1306 only two cemeteries are mentioned, the grazing of which went to the sacrist; (fn. 26) secondly, because when in 1373 the hospital was granted its own burial-ground there would have been no further use for the one they had at the priory unless for the interment of inhabitants of the priory; thirdly, because the number of inhabitants claiming burial here would have been very small, as they would have consisted only of servants of the canons and the households of the few who had been granted residence within the monastic walls.

We cannot locate this second cemetery with any exactness but it was certainly on the north side of the church, because Stow, writing in 1598, said that the booths of the fair were within the churchyard; therefore it would have been approached from Smithfield by the gate of the fair (the present entrance to Cloth Fair). This would account for the complaint of the hospital of 'the excessive distance of the cemetery through the horse market' (i.e. Smithfield) 'and muddy streets'. Had the cemetery been on the south side of the church it would have been approached by the great south gate of the monastery in Little Britain, whereby the horse market would have been avoided. By way of evidence of the correctness of the assumption that there was a graveyard in this position, there are the facts that when No. 68 Long Lane was rebuilt in the year 1890 and the basement lowered, a good many human skulls and bones were found; (fn. 27) and when in the year 1911 similar work was going on at No. 27 Cloth Fair, which was on the south side of the Long Lane house, an interment was found in situ 10 ft. below the present road level (fn. 28) indicating a position of a second burial-ground north of the Lady Chapel.

The original cemetery or burial-ground of the canons was undoubtedly in the usual place on the south side of the extreme eastern limb of the church, which here was the Lady Chapel. Many human bones were found there in the year 1888 when the foundations for the schools were being dug. There is also documentary proof in the will of Walter Whytefeld, already quoted, (fn. 29) where he desired burial in the cemetery of the priory 'before the entrance to the charnel house outside the processional path'. The entrance to the charnel or crypt is still extant: that there would have been a processional path round the conventual cemetery is also clear, for in Mr. Willis Clark's Book of Observances of Augustinian Canons (fn. 30) we read:
'On Easter Day, Ascension Day, Pentecost, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, and on St. Giles' Day a procession with a shrine and great pomp ought to pass round the cemetery, the brethren all in silk copes and the ministers of the altar in tunicle and dalmatic. On All Souls' Day a procession goes round the cemetery singing the Psalms of commendation; . . . On Palm Sunday a procession of great solemnity is held, on account of which, if weather permit, a cross is to be set up in the outer court, and the convent are to walk round the cemetery as far as that cross.'

In the absence of any cartulary or register of the priory there is no record as to where the priors were buried. The tomb of Rahere, the first prior, was on the north side of the sanctuary. The tomb of another prior is in the arcade of the north transept, covered with a plain Purbeck marble slab. The coffin in the other bay of the arcade probably contained the body of another prior. A broken slab of a third tomb of a prior, possibly that of Prior Hugh, was discovered on the site of the north transept. (fn. 31) The two coffins found on the site of the cloister garth were probably those of priors. It was usual for priors to be buried in the chapter-house, but when the site of that building was excavated in 1912 only one coffin was discovered. It was in the centre of the floor and, as already stated, (fn. 32) was probably that of Prior Thomas who built the Chapter-house.

After the suppression the burial-ground of the canons was used as a fore-court or garden of Sir Percival Hart's house, then in the Lady Chapel, as already described. (fn. 33) It continued to be so used by Sir Percival's successors until in the year 1885 it was purchased by the Restoration Committee as part of the Lady Chapel property. In the severe winter of 1887–1888 excavations were conducted on the site which revealed a large quantity of human bones indiscriminately heaped together on the south side of the ground; and inasmuch as scattered through the ground there were also vaulting ribs from the crypt, part of these remains had probably been thrown out from the charnel house. There were no undisturbed interments but a leaden shell of a coffin was found which had been ripped up on both its sides for half its length and the upper part of the body removed, but the lower part had been left. This fact points to the graveyard having been rifled; but at what time this could have been done it is difficult to say, seeing that it was immediately in front of the windows of the houses of Sir Richard Rich, of Sir Percival Hart and their successors.

Under these circumstances, in the year 1888, the trustees of the property, acting for the Restoration Committee, conveyed the site—some 257 sq. yards—for the sum of £1,100 to the rector and churchwardens for the purpose of building new parochial schools. The foundationstone was laid by the Duchess of Albany on July 5th, 1888, and the building, to the design of Sir Aston Webb, was completed the following year. It contains in the basement rooms built (entirely at his own charge) by the rector at that time, Sir Borradaile Savory, for the purpose of men's and boys' clubs and a soup kitchen.

The parochial burial-ground fared worse than that of the canons because Sir Richard Rich, seeing that its position on the fair ground would interfere with future developments as a building site, appears to have persuaded the king to allow the site of the nave to be used henceforth as the parochial ground in its stead. (fn. 34) Since that time it has always been known as the great churchyard. The monastic cemeteries were not included nor mentioned in Rich's grant to Mary.

A second burial-ground was formed in later years on the site of the south transept, and in the seventeenth or early eighteenth century—as already shown (fn. 35) —a third burial-place was formed, first for the Quakers, and then for the poor, in what is now an area outside the north side of the monastic quire.

Water Supply.

The City of London was first supplied with water in pipes in the year 1236, when nine conduits were erected; after which nothing much was done until the year 1423, when Sir Richard Whittington built a reservoir fed by a spring for the use of Billingsgate market, and brought water from Highbury to a reservoir at St. Giles', Cripplegate.

St. Bartholomew's was probably the first place in London to have an independent water supply in pipes; because in his Letters Patent in the year 1433, King Henry VI mentions that the water had so run of old, evidently referring to many years before; but unfortunately we have met with no record giving any further clue to the exact date of its commencement. The hospital also participated in the supply of pure water which came from the priory's manor at Canonbury.

In the year 1433 the supply to the hospital began to fail owing to the pipes not having been properly repaired by the priory. (fn. 36) This neglect was due to the financial difficulties from which the priory was suffering at that time. The hospital, in consequence, decided to do the necessary repairs at their own expense, and this was done by agreement with the priory, (fn. 37) and it was this agreement that formed the subject of the king's Letters Patent, (fn. 38) which ran thus:
'The king to all unto whom (&c.) greeting. Know ye that whereas the aqueduct of the prior and convent of the priory of St. Bartholomew in West Smethfeld London . . . the head of which aqueduct is within the precinct of a site of the same prior and convent in Iseldon, called Canonesbury in a certain meadow called Coweslese, and the water whereof runs to the priory aforesaid through a certain pipe or certain pipes of lead, as well under the land belonging to the same prior and convent as under the land of others, and of old has used to run, in divers places is broken and is in need of great amendment and repair. In order therefore that the master and brethren and sisters of the hospital of St. Bartholomew in West Smythfeld, as well as the sick poor and others to the same hospital daily resorting, may be able to be refreshed by the water of the said aqueduct for the future, the said master and brethren intend to apply great costs and expenditure about the amendment and repair of the said aqueduct for the glory of God. Wherefore duly viewing the premises and considering also that the aforesaid prior and convent are hampered by divers businesses and inevitable burdens that they are unable to attend to such repair without grave prejudice to themselves, as we have heard, and willing henceforth for the reasons aforesaid to respond in equal manner to the pious projects in this behalf of the said master and brethren in their work of piety, we of our special grace . . . have granted and given licence . . . unto the said prior and convent that they . . . can grant and give licence unto the said master and brethren and sisters of the aforesaid hospital that they may oversee and thoroughly examine the head of the aforesaid aqueduct together with the streams and other passages of water or springs . . . coming down to the said head or the pipes belonging thereto, with the oversight, advice and judgement of skilled workmen . . . and to clean and sufficiently restore and cover in the said head and its building and . . . the vents of the same aqueduct anew with stone and lime and also to erect and make anew a certain trough or cistern to be formed of stone and lime within the precinct of the said priory in a certain building within the same priory where . . . it shall seem best at the cost and expense of them, the master and brethren.'

The agreement further provided that the pipes and water should be divided into two equal parts; one part to be retained by the priory, and the other part to be led from the cistern in the priory directly across the king's highway (Duck Lane) into the hospital, which was also to have a key of the head aqueduct and of the vents and of the cistern. Any defects as they occurred were to be repaired at the joint expense of the priory and hospital. The hospital were to pay to the priory for this concession of the water 6s. 8d. each year, which 6s. 8d. occurs among the deductions from the receipts of the hospital in the Valor Ecclesiasticus as having to be paid to the priory. The cost of the repairs was not a very serious matter as in the year 1533 Prior Fuller and Master Brereton agreed with one Thomas Acon, a plumber, to keep the conduit in repair for forty years at a charge of 20s. a year. (fn. 39) But when Rich bought the priory from the king (fn. 40) he obtained a deduction of £4 a year as the cost of repair and maintenance.

The cistern with the building over was apparently in the centre of the close, for just such a building as we should suppose would have been erected is shown in Agas's map (p. 110).

It was not only the poor in the hospital but also the prisoners in Ludgate and Newgate who benefited by this bountiful supply of good water, as seen by the will of Randulph Say, (fn. 41) who in the year 1447 bequeathed to the prior and convent one pound of pepper yearly for a grant of an easement by them of the aqueduct over their lands for the use of the prisoners of Ludgate and Newgate.

The fact of the pipes running through other than the land of the monastery gave trouble, as might have been expected, for in February 1538, eighteen months before the suppression, Prior Fuller and Master Brereton agreed (fn. 42) to pay £40 to one Richard Callard, a painter and stainer, in consideration of the annoyance caused by the prior and convent having to disturb his grounds in Islington in order to repair the water-pipes. For this payment the prior and convent obtained the right of access at all times and the right to build a brick house there with a 'cystren'; Callard on his side having a supply of water from the conduit.

In the year 1544, after the suppression, the aqueduct was sold to Sir Richard Rich by the king. (fn. 43) It is described as the water and aqueduct flowing down from ' le Condite Hede of St. Bartholomewes within the manor of Canbery . . . upto and into the said site and close of the said late monastery ' &c. Although Rich by his purchase obtained all the prior's rights over the water he did not carry out the prior's obligations, for he withheld the water from the poor of the hospital. The hospital had come into the possession of the corporation of the City of London and in the year 1556 the Court of Aldermen resolved (fn. 44) that Lord Rich be moved ' for the restitution of the water belonging to the house of the poor in Smithfield '. Again, in the year 1559 they resolved (fn. 45) ' that Lord Rich be moved to restore the water to St. Bartholomew's hospital which he without any just title hath of a long season withdrawn from the same house'. There are twentytwo entries in all in the Repertories on the same subject. In the end a long agreement was entered into between Lord Rich and the Corporation of which the following is an abridgement: (fn. 46)

An indenture made the 4th August 3 Elizabeth—between Sir Richard Rich, Knt. Lord Rich and the mayor and commonaltie and citizens of the City of London. Whereas the mayor (&c.) were in lawful possession by conveyance from King Henry VIII of the hospital of little St. Bartholomew's and whereas there hath been of old a conduit of water which had served continually the house of the late priory wherein Lord Rich 'doth now lye and inhabit at his coming to London' and also had served all the parishioners and after they had been sufficiently served had with the consent of Lord Rich been allowed to be conveyed from the cistern of Lord Rich, situate in the kitchen of Lord Rich, from thence to a great cistern in Bartholomew Close and thence by the licence of the late priors and since the dissolution by the licence of Lord Rich for the relief of the poor of the hospital, the head of which conduit was in a meadow called Cowe Lease in Islington part of the possessions of the priory, all the ground and houses of which except such ground and houses as he had conveyed to other persons, was then the property of Lord Rich. And whereas the pipes from the head of the conduit were much decayed so that there was not water sufficient to spare for the hospital. It was therefore agreed that the mayor &c. should repair the pipes at their own cost and that Lord Rich should give them licence so to do. It was further agreed that Lord Rich should give licence to the mayor &c. to enter the ground of Lord Rich ' lying next without the garden gate of Lord Rich' and there dig and build such a cistern as shall be able to receive as much of the water as shall serve the kitchen of Lord Rich and the cistern in the close for the parishioners; and when they were served a new pipe was to be placed in the cistern to serve the hospital. All which was to be done at the charge of the mayor and commonalty but afterwards the repairs from Canonbury to Lord Rich's house were to be borne two-thirds by the corporation and one-third by Rich. If at any time Rich or the inhabitants had not sufficient water in consequence of drought and the corporation could not remedy it then Lord Rich might stop the supply to the hospital until the drought was over.

The private cistern for Rich's kitchen was probably between the east end of Felton's Buildings and the present 'Rose and Crown' public-house.

Subterranean brick-built aqueducts, through which water-pipes from Canonbury were carried, occur in several parts of the parish: one in the centre of the close was exposed in September 1915 after the Zeppelin raid. Another was uncovered in Back Court, a continuation of which was carried to the east of the Lady Chapel where a section of it can be seen. It measures 4 ft. 6 in. high internally, 2 ft. 6 in. wide, and is 2 ft. 8 in. below the ground level. It is flat at the bottom, has straight sides and a vaulted top. The short distance below the ground level suggests that these aqueducts are post suppression. Similar ones have been found in Islington in a garden at Canonbury Park and St. John's Clerkenwell. (fn. 47) There is a similar aqueduct at Leez Priory in Essex, once the seat of Sir Richard Rich. (fn. 48)

The Corporation took great interest in the public conduits. Strype tells us (fn. 49) that on the 18th September 1562, the year after this agreement was made,
the Lord Mayor, aldermen, and many worshipful persons rid to the conduit heads for to see them after the old custom: and afore dinner they hunted the hare and killed her and thence to dinner at the head of the conduit. There was a good number entertained with good cheer by the chamberlain, and after dinner they went to hunting the fox. There was a great cry for a mile; and at length the hounds killed him at the end of St. Giles'. Great hollowing at his death and blowing of horns; and thence the Lord Mayor with all his company rode through London to his place in Lombard Street.'

In another fifty years (in 1613) London was properly supplied with pure water from the springs of Amwell and Chadwell which were brought to the city by the New River, the munificent work of its great citizen Sir Hugh Middleton.


  • 1. Henry VIII, grant to Rich. see later, p. 199.
  • 2. See below, p. 186.
  • 3. Strype, Stow Survey, Bk. iii, 284.
  • 4. See also Vol. I, p. 300.
  • 5. Ib.
  • 6. Ib.
  • 7. Translated from the Latin.
  • 8. Cal. Letter Bks., A. 25.
  • 9. Ib. 196, and N. Moore, Hist. St. Barth. Hosp. i, 513.
  • 10. A David de la More also witnessed a deed confirming a gift to the hospital by Richard Picot. Ib. i, 254.
  • 11. Cal. Hust. Wills, i, 51.
  • 12. Newcourt's Rep. i, 543.
  • 13. Ib. 780.
  • 14. See Vol. I, p. 365.
  • 15. Cal. of Coroners' Rolls of London, 1300–1378, p. 113.
  • 16. See p. 199.
  • 17. Rents and Surveys, R.O., 11/39, 16 James I (1617–18).
  • 18. App. I, Rent. Bodl., p. 472.
  • 19. See Vol. I, p. 48; and App. I, p. 392.
  • 20. See Vol. I, p. 87.
  • 21. See Vol. I, p. 88.
  • 22. Cal. Wills Hust. ii, 115.
  • 23. App. I, Vol. I, p. 531.
  • 24. Ib., p. 532.
  • 25. Ib., p. 534.
  • 26. As mentioned above, p. 184.
  • 27. On the evidence of Mr. Thomas Bridge, the owner in 1910.
  • 28. Seen by the writer.
  • 29. Vol. I, p. 533.
  • 30. See p. 149.
  • 31. Above, p. 52.
  • 32. Ib., p. 146.
  • 33. Ib., p. 77.
  • 34. As stated above, p. 70.
  • 35. Above, p. 120.
  • 36. As mentioned, Vol. I, p. 211.
  • 37. Hosp. Cart. 83 d, 84 d, 1 Nov., 12 Hen. VI (1433).
  • 38. Pat., 11 Hen. VI, pt. ii, m. 3, 8 July (1433).
  • 39. Excheq. Augs. Convent Leases, temp. Hen. VIII, No. 258.
  • 40. Parties. for Grant, below. p. 508.
  • 41. App. I, p. 533.
  • 42. Aug. Off. Convent Leases, No. 280.
  • 43. See Vol. I, p. 268.
  • 44. Repertories, Guildhall, 13, f. 451, 19 Nov., 3 & 4 Phil. & Mary (1556).
  • 45. Ib., 14, f. 138, 14 Mar., 1 Eliz. (1559).
  • 46. Lord Holland's Carty, ff. 140–51.
  • 47. Mr. Grover, builder, told the writer on September 23, 1912, that he himself had found these.
  • 48. Brit. Journ. Arch. Assoc., Notice of Leez Priory, by J. M. Wood, vol. 43 (1887), p. 21.
  • 49. Vol. i, Bk. i, p. 25.