The fabric of the church: Crossing and transepts

Pages 43-60

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.


In this section


The Crossing (where the transepts meet or cross the quire and nave) was here—as in many other places—included in the monastic or ritual quire of the priory church.

It is not square, for it measures 25 ft. 3 in. east and west and 28 ft. north and south; and it does not centre with the transepts, though the transept arches do so. The centre of the crossing is some 9 in. west of the centre of the transepts. Any reasons for these irregularities are difficult to give as the transepts are practically the same width as the quire and nave, and a square crossing centrally placed would therefore have been expected.

The nave and quire arches are round, while those to the transepts are pointed and stilted. The latter rise to a considerably greater height than do those of the nave and quire.

The spandrels of the four arches, on the inner side, are enriched with diamond-shaped panels, (fn. 1) one panel on each spandrel (pl. XXXIXa, p. 44). The panels are filled with a device of four scrolls which vary in design. In the angles, where the spandrels meet, there is a small mural arcade, (fn. 2) one on each spandrel, the arches of which rise from a small round shaft in the angle between the two arches. An interrupted zigzag ornament is carried over the arches and down the angle of the sides opposite to the small shaft. This ornament, together with the plain hood mould over the arches, though rich, is somewhat heavy. (fn. 3)

The cornice above, upon which the flat ceiling rests, (fn. 4) is enriched with a very effective lozenge ornament. The four great arches of the crossing have the horizontal zigzag ornament in the hood mould, (fn. 5) and have a double rib on the soffit of the inner order, that of the outer order being flat. The piers under the transept arches have attached shafts corresponding to the double ribs in the arches above, and also to the outer order of the arch. In the south transept the shafts have Norman caps, which on the east side have two scallops, and on the west side three scallops and the pellet ornament (pl. XXb, p. 12). (fn. 6) The bases in the south transept are a plain Norman type of about the middle of the twelfth century.

In the north transept the base of the west pier is similar, also the base of one shaft only of the east pier, that is the one that was covered by the screen wall under this north transept arch; but the remainder of the base of this east pier, and the caps to the shafts of both the east and west piers, are early Perpendicular work, marking the rebuilding that took place about the year 1405 (pl. XLI, p. 46). The settlement, damage by earthquake, or whatever it was that necessitated this rebuilding, chronicled by the pope in 1409, (fn. 7) seems to have centred in the north-east pier of the crossing, which still shows signs of the trouble, especially in the cracks in its north face. The rebuilding is further shown on the south side of the pier by the fact that the stone string under the sill of the triforium is interrupted before it reaches the transept, whereas on the south side of the church it is continued to the corner. (fn. 8) It is also shown by the Norman pilaster at the north-east portion of the pier having a Perpendicular cap and base; and, if Coney's engraving in Dugdale can be relied upon, the half-column on the east side of the pier, rebuilt in 1865, was replaced by a corbel with fifteenth-century mouldings.

The variations in the levels of the bases of the piers of the crossing, (fn. 9) and the question as to whether the tower was rebuilt over the crossing or elsewhere, are considered later on. (fn. 10)

The quire and nave arches are carried on corbels, thus leaving a flat wall surface for the backs of the quire stalls, as at Brinkbourne, Lanercost, and elsewhere. The corbels of the quire arch are a repetition of the shafts and caps of the south transept piers (pl. XXXIX b), the fact that the shafts were never continued down being shown by the string at the triforium level which is continued beneath. The corbels of the nave arch have been replaced in early Perpendicular times and correspond to the caps on the shafts of the piers of the north transept, and further mark the great work carried out about the year 1405. At the close of the nineteenth century, these two arches, which had been strengthened by iron trusses in 1828, (fn. 11) showed signs of giving way, the key-stones having dropped for want of abutment. This was remedied by building a shallow south transept in 1891, and a similar one on the north side in 1893.

The arches of the north and south transepts are, as stated above, pointed; and because they are somewhat stilted it has been thought that they were originally round-headed (fn. 12) as at Malmesbury; but, although there is evidence that the north transept arch has been partially rebuilt, there is no such evidence as regards the southern one; it may therefore be assumed that they were both built with a pointed arch as at Christ Church, Oxford. In the north transept arch the zigzag ornament, which is carried over the arch and down to the cap on the west side, stops three-quarters of the way down on the east side, and from there to the cap it is replaced by a Perpendicular mould. In the south transept, the zigzag mould, although wanting from about seven feet above the caps, has clearly been hacked off, probably to allow the brick building erected after the suppression to be placed against the face of the arch: there are no signs of any rebuilding. It is not uncommon to find pointed arches stilted when required to reach a given height.

The crossing in monastic times was enclosed on three sides by stone screens. On the west side was the quire screen or pulpitum, which here occupied the entire width of the bay westward of the crossing. The present west wall of the church would appear, by a drawing made in 1864, to have been built on the remains of the west wall of the pulpitum (pl. XL). Its east wall was on a line with the east jamb of the triforium arch, as is shown by the position of the small doorway there. The top floor of the screen may be assumed to have been on a level with the floor of the triforium, giving a screen 18 ft. deep and 17 ft. high, with probably a parapet of 4 ft. above that again. (fn. 13) The doorways in the triforium arch gave access to the screen by doors opening outward on to it (pl. XIX b, p. 11). These doorways still remain, and at the south end the staple for the door hinge is still in position. They probably date from the time of the re-building, about 1405, as they have a four-centred arch, but the east jambs on both sides of the church are twelfth-century work.

At the restoration of 1864 a portion of the base of this screen was discovered in situ beneath the pavement. (fn. 14) 'It consisted of a massive shaped stone which had supported the left angle of the structure at the entrance into the quire. One arm eastward had carried a buttress, the other westward had flanked the entrance passage, while the stem extended northward, constituting part of the plinth of the east face of the screen. A trefoil was deeply cut in the stone, and a base moulding ran beneath: apparently work of the thirteenth century.' It is a fair assumption from this description, and from the character of the doorways, that the pulpitum was built at the same time as the nave, about 1230. It was probably destroyed at the suppression or in 1624, when Strype says 'the gallery at the lower end was rebuilded'. (fn. 15)

The only record of a screen on the south side of the crossing, under the south transept arch, is a statement in Hayter Lewis's paper read before the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society (fn. 16) in 1866, in which he says that the pulling down of the eastern wall 'and of another under the tower, erected probably to form the back of the stall work there, afforded some interesting specimens of the capitals and other enrichments of the old Norman church'. F. J. Withers in his diary also wrote, under date January 25th, 1865, (fn. 17) 'Three gigantic capitals and one smaller one had been discovered embedded in the low fragment of wall remaining parallel with, and in, the south transept'; and on March 27th following he wrote, 'the small fragment of wall running across the lower part of the south transept arch had been dug out and yielded two fragments of ornamental columns and two plain ones'. The discovery of late twelfth-century work embedded in this stone screen (or stone base for a wooden screen) points to its having, like the pulpitum, been erected when the nave was built, and when any twelfth-century work in the nave was taken down. (fn. 18) Had the floor in 1865 not been lowered below the original level these fragments of the two screens might have been retained. The capitals referred to are preserved in the church (pl. LXVI (6), p. 128; pl. LXVII (7), p. 129).

The screen on the north side of the crossing beneath the north transept arch still exists. Like the two other screens it formed backing for the stalls, and for that reason was built on its southern face of plain ashlar, in line with the face of the great piers of the crossing (pl. XLV b, p. 54; pl. XXVII, p. 21). (fn. 19) It may be assumed that there was an earlier screen here, built at the same time as the other two screens. The present screen evidently dates from the time of the great rebuilding about the year 1405. It is 11 ft. 6 in. in height from the present floor level. It is massive in construction and is bonded into the columns of the main piers at each end to give support, apparently, to the north-east pier of the crossing, the dangerous condition of which is referred to above.

The description of the north side of the screen more properly belongs to the north transept, but can be conveniently given here (pl. XLI, p. 46). It consists of an arcade of two arches, as is the case at Winchester, where it formed part of the chapel of the Holy Sepulchre; the centre pier has no capital, but is ornamented with the ressault (or double ogee) moulding of the early fifteenth century. It is in good preservation in its lower part, where, after the suppression, it was covered with earth; but its upper portion was badly damaged when the transept was occupied as a blacksmith's forge (pl. XLII a).

At the restoration in 1865 the ashlar face on the south side of the screen was removed (fn. 20) under the impression, we must assume, that it was post-suppression work. After this was done, a stone coffin (fn. 21) was found which Withers describes as 'running under the blacksmith's shop'. It was in the western bay of the arcade and, for some reason, was drawn out on this south side and was not replaced. This coffin (now in the north aisle without contents or lid) probably contained the remains of one of the priors, for in the adjoining bay there is a similar coffin, the skeleton in which is believed to be that of a prior because leather sandals are on the feet. Moreover, Stow mentions that in his time there were memorials in the church to a John Carleton and to a John Watford, and as there were priors of these names it is possible that these were their coffins. (fn. 22) This second coffin, which has a Purbeck marble top but no inscription, was not found until the north transept was being excavated in 1893. When discovered it was badly cracked across the centre, and in order to repair it the lid had to be lifted, when a skeleton was disclosed in a good state of preservation, but without a head. We have no record of any beheaded person, prior or other, having been buried in the church, so we must assume that the skull had been abstracted at some earlier period.

The work of demolishing the south face of the screen in 1865 revealed the backs of the two arches of the arcade, but the work could not proceed further for fear of encroaching on the dwellinghouse which, with the blacksmith's forge, was on the north side in the transept; the defaced wall was therefore left and simply screened by a large benefactions-board until the restoration in 1893. It then had to be decided whether to reface the wall on the quire side or to pierce the filling in of the arches and rework the old stones of the arches on the south side to a new face. As the filling in of the arches on the north side was plain ashlar with no moulded stone, and as the requirements of the day made it very desirable that worshippers in the north transept should be enabled to join in the services in the quire, the latter course was pursued; (fn. 23) a few shallow mouldings were worked on the angle of the arches and a small battlement on the top.

The appearance was greatly improved by the insertion of a wroughtiron grill in each arch, upon which were placed small shields emblazoned with the coats of arms of the more notable people present at the opening of the transept in 1893 (pl. XLI a, p. 46). (fn. 24)

The coats on the upper shields are: the royal arms; those of Albert Edward Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII), of the priory, and of St. Bartholomew. Those on the lower ones are: the hospital, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of London, the City of London, and the Rev. Sir Borradaile Savory, Bart., and the Rev. Canon Frederick Parr Phillips, rector and patron respectively at that time. (fn. 25)

After the suppression of the monastery the north transept was demolished, which necessitated filling in the space above the screen and below the transept arch. This was done with rough masonry, in which a pointed arched window was inserted. The rear arch of this window remained until the transept was restored in 1893, but the window had been replaced in the eighteenth century in the same style as the Georgian windows in the east end of the quire.

The only reference to the quire stalls in monastic times is that by Matthew Paris in his account of the affray in the church when Archbishop Boniface crushed the sub-prior against one of them (fn. 26) in the year 1250. The stalls at that time would have extended eastward from the pulpitum half-way across the eastern pier of the crossing to a point where the stone string from the ground arcade is stopped on the face of the pier. The present stalls are in the same position, but they do not extend beyond the eastern face of the western piers of the crossing. They are of oak, nine on each side, and were erected in 1886 by the patron, the Rev. F. P. Phillips, in memory of his parents. (fn. 27) The back bench ends have an ornamental panel terminating in a carved poppy-head with a figure of an angel worked on the arm below. There are two benches for six boys each, on either side, in front of the stalls. The ends of these are ornamented with traceried panels with rounded foliations on the top.

The present quire screen, which stands on the site of the east front of the pulpitum, was erected in 1889 in memory of Rector William Panckridge (pl. XVI, p. 8). (fn. 28) It is Perpendicular in design and is entered in the centre through an ogee crocketed arch with two cusped open panels in the spandrels. Above is a double row of five open panels, each panel having two cusped openings. On either side of the entrance is a richly canopied stall; the panel below the canopy is pierced to form a double opening, and below that are three solid panels with cuspings. On either side of the canopied stalls are four open bays, each the width of a stall (2 ft. 3 in.); the fourth is splayed eastward and encloses the stalls. Above these is a frieze of a double row of two open panels, as over the entrance.

The organ gallery, as mentioned, (fn. 29) was rebuilt on the site of the pulpitum in 1624 and the gallery was also continued across the south transept (pl. XLIII, p. 52). A Conobles organ was ordered by the vestry 'on approval' in the year 1715, to be placed in the gallery, and in 1731 they purchased an organ built by Richard Bridge of Clerkenwell. (fn. 30)

In 1864 this gallery was removed and the then organ (a second-hand one by Russell, reconstructed by R. H. South, of Gray's Inn Road) was sent to South for safe custody during the restoration of the church; but before the church was re-opened South had died intestate and the organ had been sold as part of his effects. A small instrument had to be purchased in its place and was erected on the south side of the sanctuary. At the restoration of 1886 this small instrument was disposed of and the present organ from St. Stephen's, Walbrook, built by George England in 1765, was purchased. (fn. 31) A new oak gallery, finely panelled, was erected for it on the site of the pulpitum; and in 1893 an organ case was given by Mr. H. T. Withers in memory of his brother John (whose diary has so frequently been referred to). The case is of oak, divided into three compartments; the central one is higher than the rest and is surmounted by a carved figure (pl. XVI, p. 8).

In the centre of the crossing there was, until 1919, a brass lectern, the gift of Mrs. John Hilditch Evans in memory of her husband, who was churchwarden here in 1869, and treasurer of the restoration fund from 1868 to 1885. This has now been replaced by an oak lectern, designed by Sir Aston Webb, and built out of old oak beams from the original roof of the Lady Chapel.

The Transepts.

The south transept of the church as originally built measured internally from the south face of the transept arch to the north face of the wall opposite 50 ft., and in width 27 ft. 6 in. The length of the north transept is not known; it was probably built in or about the year 1148 (fn. 32) and the south transept soon after.

The North Transept.

Of the original north transept nothing remains but the south end. In the case of the south transept, as will be seen presently, the ruins of the original structure were standing as late as 1830, and they figure in several engravings (pl. XLIV, p. 53); but we have no such records concerning the north transept, and from other evidence dealt with later, (fn. 33) there can be little doubt that the walls were pulled down and removed by Henry VIII at the time of the suppression, the space under the north arch of the crossing being filled in as explained above (pl. XLV b, p. 54). (fn. 34)

The north side of the transept arch was thus exposed to the weather from 1544 to 1893, which accounts for its extremely weather-worn condition at the present time. The same applies to the north quire screen, which thus became an external wall. The site of the transept probably remained vacant for some time after the suppression, for Agas's map of 1560, Hofnagel's of 1572, and Norden's of 1593, all show the site as vacant land; but in 1658 Fairthorn and Newcourt show it, and the whole of the parish, as densely packed with houses. Before that date, however, houses had been built on the site, for Holmes's buildings seem to have been there in 1602, and in 1631 Lady Saye and Sele bought a house at 'the corner of Church passage', that is, at the south-west corner of the transept site, for an endowment of her almshouses. In 1776 this same corner site was leased by the churchwardens and overseers on a 61 years' building lease, (fn. 35) to continue the income of the almshouses (fig. 5, p. 128). (fn. 36) It was then known as 9½ Cloth Fair. The blacksmith's forge, known as No. 10 Cloth Fair, was probably set up in the transept in the first half of the seventeenth century under a lease by the Earl of Warwick. As the anvil stood close to the stone screen of the transept the hammer was heard very plainly in the church (pl. XLII a, p. 47).

In 1884 No. 10 Cloth Fair was acquired (as explained later on), (fn. 37) and in 1891 9½ Cloth Fair was bought back from the Charity Commissioners, (fn. 38) who had laid hands upon it. The two houses were then, together with No. 11 Cloth Fair, (fn. 39) cleared away and the present shallow transept was built, more particularly to give abutment to the east and west arches of the crossing. The depth of the present shallow north transept is 19 ft. 6 in.

The north porch to the transept is described later with the exterior of the church (fn. 40) (pl. LVIII, p. 118).

The stone screen on the south side of the transept has already been described. (fn. 41) Some old work still remains in the arched entrance to the north ambulatory, though considerably restored. The pilaster on the south side of the arch has a Perpendicular capital and base; (fn. 42) that on the north side seems to have been restored in 1864. The triforium arch above, with its subsidiary arcade, is a restoration of 1893, though the pilaster on the south side is apparently twelfthcentury work (pl. XLI b, p. 46). After the suppression this arch was built up to form the west end of the boys' school.

During the building of the shallow north transept in 1893, the base of a circular shaft was found in the east wall, with some 18 inches of wall attached running eastward. This wall was plastered and a portion of the colouring was still adhering. The opening probably formed part of a doorway leading by a turret to the triforium above, as occurs at Norwich in a corresponding position, and also at St. Augustine's, Canterbury, though at St. Augustine's it is in the south transept. To preserve this bit of old work intact, the recess for the side altar was placed on the north wall of the transept, instead of on the east wall as originally intended.

The remainder of this bay of the transept, together with the corresponding bay on the west side and the whole of the north end, are the work of Sir Aston Webb in 1893. The style adopted is characteristic of its time. A feature is the way in which the slender shafts penetrate the mouldings of the capitals and of the bases of the piers, and in which these mouldings die away into the face of the adjoining walls. The work is carried out, like that in the apse, in blue Bath stone, whereby it harmonizes in tone with the older work.

The north end of the transept consists on the ground floor of two bays; that on the east is recessed for the side altar; that on the west contains the north door of the church leading through a porch into Cloth Fair (pl. XLII b, p. 47). Beside this door is the entrance to the present turret stair, which leads to the triforium and clerestory passages and gives access to the chamber built over the porch.

The bay adjoining contains, on the west wall, a deeply splayed window with a stone bench. The other bay contains the arched entrance to the north aisle of the nave. The arch is pointed, it is the work of 1893 and is similar in style to the rest of that time; but it is very massively built, and the great pillar on its south side seems to be a natural extension upwards of the remains of the twelfthcentury pillar which were found beneath the flooring of No. 9½ Cloth Fair. The height of the remains of this twelfth-century pillar is 5 ft. 7 in. from the present floor level and indicates the present height of the road outside the church.

The triforium of the north wall is divided into three bays, each with a subsidiary arcade of three pointed arches. The same arrangement is carried along the west wall.

The clerestory of the east and west sides of the transept has in each inner wall two plain oblong openings to the clerestory passage, corresponding with the two light cusped windows in the outer wall. On the north wall, the three outer windows of the clerestory run up into the gable and have double tracery. Each consists of a single light, but the corresponding openings in the inner wall form an arcade of three arches, corresponding with the triforium arcade below, except that each arch is furnished with open tracery. The shafts between these clerestory inner windows end in the sill of the triforium arcade.

The roof is open and has twelve rafters.

The finding of a portion of a lid of a coffin of one of the priors on the site of this transept was referred to when speaking of Prior Hugh, (fn. 43) who died in 1295.

The small wooden altar against the north wall of the transept appears to date from early in the seventeenth or late in the sixteenth century, and served as the altar of the church until 1885. It now serves in its present position as the altar of a chapel, named the Chapel of Sacrifice, in memory of those who in connexion with the church fell in the Great War.

The South Transept.

The south transept originally extended to the railings on the south side of the small burial-ground known as the green churchyard. It would seem that at the suppression in 1539 the lead was stripped from the roof of the transept and the walls were allowed to fall into ruin, as happened in the case of the majority of the monasteries.

There are several engravings of the south and east walls when in ruins, but not of the west wall, which had no windows, as it backed on to the cloister and its gallery over; it is, however, picturesque enough now with its worn bricks and large fig tree. The oldest of these engravings is in the Gentleman's Magazine of 1790, but the best is in Malcolm's Londinium Redivivum, (fn. 44) 1803, with a drawing by Carter in 1781 (pl. XLV a, p. 54), here reproduced (pl. XLIV): the views differ slightly in detail. A drawing by Nash in 1821 (fn. 45) is evidently to some extent imaginary and may be disregarded.

Malcolm's engraving shows on the east wall the wide arched entrance (fn. 46) to an eastern chapel, and on the triforium level an irregular arcade along the entire length. The two large openings were presumably windows with a passage in the thickness of the wall, the roundheaded arch of which was then alone standing. Between these windows, and on either side of them, is an arcade opening into a mural passage. Two of the arches have a subsidiary arcade of two smaller arches with a central shaft, a heavy capital and a pierced tympanum. The arcade probably dated from the second quarter of the twelfth century. The two arches of the arcade between the windows are of unequal height, somewhat like those in a similar position at St. Cross by Winchester.

On the south wall is shown on the ground floor a central roundheaded doorway which must have led into the slype as at Tewkesbury; on the right of it in the engraving, nearly in the corner, is a smaller door, as at Christchurch, Hampshire: this may have been the night door from the dorter.

Above on the triforium level are shown three windows; the central one is higher than the others: the one on the right is bricked up on the outer face and shows a deep splay on the church side; but no passage is shown in the thickness of the wall. There is a mural arch between the central and eastern windows. The two latter windows probably had a deep splay like the third, but being bricked up on the church side the splay is not seen.

The clerestory on both walls had fallen before this or any of the drawings were made. Rising behind the east wall is seen, in the engraving, a timber building on the site of the sacristy, which we assume was part of the Nonconformists' meeting-house; and behind the south wall the top of the chapter-house, where the disastrous fire originated on the 3rd May 1830. (fn. 47) This fire, which seriously damaged the south side of the church, was made the occasion of removing the ruined walls of the transept. There is a receipted account of that year in the belfry cupboard for 'cutting up the foundations of the south wall and clearing away in the green church yard'. The walls must have required much labour in clearing, as they were 4 ft. 10 in. thick. (fn. 48) A brick wall was then erected in their place round the green churchyard. The still more destructive fire, which occurred on the 11th August of this same year at Houghton & Messenger's in Bartholomew Close, (fn. 49) does not seem to have touched the church. We hear nothing of the parish fire engine on either of these occasions. One had been bought as early as 1668 and another in 1730. In 1862 we hear of it being housed in the north aisle of the church. (fn. 50) At Malmesbury an engine of that period was, a few years ago, still housed in the north transept of the abbey. The church at the time of the outbreak in 1830 was not insured, and in consequence £1,000 had to be borrowed for the repairs.

After the suppression, the ruined transept was cut off from the church by the erection of a brick wall in line with the outer wall of the south aisle, with a door for access, and was used as a graveyard. Between this wall and the crossing, on the triforium level, a gallery was placed, a continuation, as has been stated, of the organ gallery in the west end (pl. XLIII, p. 52). This gallery, we assume, was destroyed in the fire of 1830, for in the year 1836, when the select vestry were dissatisfied with the St. Stephen's chapel for a vestry room, they resolved to form a more convenient room 'in the vacant space above the south aisle'. (fn. 51) This vacant space must have been the space occupied by the old gallery, for it was there that this vestry room was erected.

A floor was thrown across from the sill of the triforium arch on the east side of the transept to that of the one opposite. The great arch of the crossing was filled with a wooden frame, on which canvas was stretched on both sides. The triforium arch on the east side was filled with a fireplace; that on the west side with the parish safe; the hood moulding of the arch of the crossing was hacked off and the walls were plastered over so that no signs of any arches were visible, and the room was then wainscoted (pl. XX b, p. 12). (fn. 52)

The transept remained in this condition for over fifty years, until 1890, when the Restoration Committee removed this temporary structure, restored what remained of the northern bay, and added a new bay to give abutment to the arches of the crossing, forming a shallow transept only half the length of that originally built. It provided a much-needed baptistry, but the requirements of the day did not call for a new building of the same size as the old; indeed, the adjoining buildings had acquired rights of light over the site which could have been extinguished only at great cost.

The transept as it now stands measures 21 ft. 6 in. north to south; 27 ft. 6 in. east to west on the ground floor. On the east side, the twelfth-century arch into the aisle remains, refaced in 1865; the redness of the stones at the base of the wall below is the effect of the fire of 1830. The triforium arch above is twelfth-century work; the hood and other mouldings of the arch are quite plain. The subsidiary arcade was inserted in 1890, when the fire-place was removed. The arcade consists of two slender shafts with capitals and three lesser arches as in the quire.

In the corresponding bay on the west side, the arch into the nave aisle is original, and has a square chamfered hood mould. The triforium arch above is also original work of the second quarter of the twelfth century. It has an interrupted zigzag ornament worked on a moulding of the arch, and is characteristic of that period. (fn. 53) This outer order of the arch also differs from that of the one opposite by springing from a slender shaft at each end. The shafts are new, but the capitals and bases are old. When the plaster was removed the hood mould was found to have been hacked off. There is no subsidiary arcade on this side, but the arch is filled in as is the triforium arch opening into the nave, and no doubt for a similar reason (pl. XX b, p. 12). In the south jamb of the arch there is an arched opening to a passage in the thickness of the wall. This passage was blocked with an encroachment on the church wall by the owners of the rooms over the cloister until the year 1905, when that portion of the east cloister was recovered.

The second bay on this west side of the transept still retains some of the original work, owing to the cloister with its gallery over not having been entirely destroyed. Thus, adjoining the triforium arch some of the plaster still retains its original red colouring marked out in brick pattern. South of this again is an original shallow lancetshaped mural arch with a slender shaft on its north jamb, much weather-worn from exposure; the capital has gone. The ashlar filling of this arch was inserted in 1891, as the fireplace of the encroaching tenement on the other side was at that time only 9 in. away. The recessed mural arch below, the south wall, and the southern bay on the east wall are entirely Sir Aston Webb's work and are similar in style to that in the north transept. The latter bay has an entrance door to a small spiral stair, also built in 1891, which leads to the triforium of the quire. The door is within a recessed mural arch similar to the one opposite. In the triforium above is a narrow arch of the same date containing a lesser arcade of two arches, similar to those in the north transept. Between it and the old arch described above there is a recess of about 5 ft. high caused by a splay, but for what purpose the wall was splayed at this point is not clear: it is not shown in any of the old prints.

The south wall consists of three bays. On the ground floor the three deeply-recessed arched openings are projected for some six feet southward into the graveyard; the central one to form an inside porch to the south door of the church; the eastern one to form a baptistry; the western to give additional seating accommodation. The deep flat-sided piers between these three bays are pierced with small crocketed openings. The east wall of the baptistry has an 'aumbry' or locker.

Above this ground arcade on the south side three lancet-shaped windows run from the triforium sill right into the gable. They are each divided by a mullion into two simple cusped lights with tracery in the heads. The inner jamb shafts stop at the sill, but the outer ones are carried to the ground, penetrating the mouldings of the capitals and the bases of the piers below.

The clerestory windows are similar to those in the north transept. There is, however, no window over the north bay on the west side. The wall above the triforium at that point has apparently been rebuilt of a less thickness, and no windows inserted. On the opposite side the original clerestory window remains, also the Norman string below it.

The roof, restored in 1890, is similar to that in the north transept. In the north-west angle of the transept, on the south side of the pier of the crossing, the abacus of the last capital ends in a grotesque head, such as frequently occurs about the years 1150 or 1160. Here it is a corbel and merely serves to screen the termination of a member which is carried up, but to carry nothing (pl. XX b, p. 12). At Christ Church, Oxford, and at Cartmel there is a member with its cap in this position in each of the four piers of the crossing, inserted apparently merely to fill up the space.

The Font.

The font stands in the baptistry in the south transept (pl. XLVI a, p. 58). This and the font of St. Dunstan's, Stepney, seem to be the only two pre-Reformation fonts in London. It is an octagonal basin set on an octagonal pedestal, devoid of ornament but with mouldings of the second half of the fourteenth, or quite early in the fifteenth, century. It probably dated from the great restoration of about the year 1405. The dimensions are 3 ft. 4 in. high and 2 ft. 6 in. in diameter. The marks of the staples for locking the font, in conformity with the order of the Archbishop of Canterbury in the thirteenth century, are still visible on the south-west face of the bowl, and there is a matrix of a brass 10½ in. x 2 in. on the north-west face, but there is no record concerning the inscription. (fn. 54)

The present font cover is pyramidal in form and has eight crocketed ribs, each terminating in a man's tonsured head. But it has hardly a sufficient air of antiquity to warrant the suggestion of its being pre-suppression. On the top is a detached triangular box with winged cherub heads, which seems to be later. The cover is carried by an iron crozier round the upper part of which is twined a stem with narrow leaves and berries which may be intended for a vine.

In the year 1712 _he church very nearly lost its font, (fn. 55) for the vestry Minutes of February 6th that year record: 'Tis ordered yt ye do buy a new fount instead of ye old one and cause it to be set up against ye green churchyard dore or thereabouts.' But on April 12th following better counsels prevailed, for it was 'ordered yt ye churchwarden do cause ye old fount to be set up again against ye old green churchyard dore'.

We have three references to the font in wills. In the year 1450 John Goldyng, who was living in the Close, desired ' to be buried before the font under a marble stone'. (fn. 56) In 1455 Richard Ryder desired 'to be buryed behynde the funt within the church of the priory'. (fn. 57) And in 1538 Richard Bellamy, who lived within the Close, desired to be buried in the body of the church 'between the font set there and the holy image of our Lord Jesus Christ'. (fn. 58) From this we may infer that the font was, in monastic times, in the nave and not in the parish chapel. There was the same arrangement at Holy Trinity, Aldgate; for when the pope consented to the building of St. Catherine's (Cree) as a parish chapel within the precincts of the monastery, owing to the smallness of the parish church and to the noise made by the parishioners, he directed that the font should remain in the church. (fn. 59)

After the suppression, according to John Coney's drawing in Dugdale, 1818, and Thomas Malton's in Beauties of England and Wales, 1804, the font was placed under the crossing near the south-west pier. Hatton, writing in 1708, indicates the same position by describing it as 'directly westward from the Communion Table.' (fn. 60)

Some additional interest attaches to the font from the fact that William Hogarth, the painter, was baptized in it on the 10th November, 1697 (pl. XCV, p. 286).

The Sacristy.

The Sacristy was in the external angle formed by the junction of the south transept with the quire aisle, being an extension of the Norman apsidal transept chapel. It was entered by the large round-headed archway in the east wall of the transept, shown by Carter and by Malcolm; and by the present pointed arched doorway from the south aisle which was opened out in 1914 (pls. XLVI b). This is the position of the sacristies at St. Mary's Abbey, York, at St. Albans, at Fountains and at Hereford. According to Carter the sacristy was built in the Decorated period, and if that is so the benefactions made by William de Wibsuade, temp. Edward I, (fn. 61) by J. de Honnesdon in 1307 and by Richard de Ewelle in 1314, (fn. 62) for the maintenance of the works of the church may indicate the date of its building.

The first reference to the sacristy is in Lord Rich's grant to Queen Mary made in the year 1555, (fn. 63) in which mention is made of 'the building late the sacristy or vestibule of the late priory in a measure used as the sacristy of the church '.

It is again referred to in the year 1784 in Vetusta Monumenta, (fn. 64) where it is misnamed the ' priory hall', but it is properly described as on the east side of the south transept. It was ' then being used as a carpenter's shop, where, till within a few years, were the twelve apostles or saints painted on the walls '. This carpenter's shop would have been, as shown below, in the basement of the Dissenters' meeting-house. (fn. 65)

The entrance arch from the transept is shown in the drawings made by Hardwick in 1791 for the Society of Antiquaries (pl. LXXII, p. 136), in whose library they now are. When Malcolm wrote in 1803 this lower part of the building was occupied by deal board scantlings and carpenters. He says that in the time of the convent it measured 26 ft. in length by 21 ft. in breadth, but he misnames it the 'Frater'.

The best description of the chapel is that given by John Carter in 1809, (fn. 66) in which he writes: ' Directly against the wall of the south aisle of the quire of the church is a magnificent small chapel with a grand arch of entrance from the south transept (latticed up), a doorway from the church (stopped up), and windows on the east and south sides. The design is of the time of Edward III's reign (1326–1377). Its use is now a store-room for hops, etc.'

Later on, when describing the exterior of the church, he says: (fn. 67) 'A magnificent chapel on the south side of the quire. The windows on the east and south sides have lost their arched heads; the columns and architraves to the jambs remain; they are very delicate and beautiful; the dado mouldings are remarkably so. The large archway from the transept has columns and a fine architrave. The upper part of the chapel is destroyed.'

Thomas Allen in 1809 writes (fn. 68) of the sacristy as ' the chapterhouse', but like the others describes its position correctly. He repeats Malcolm's dimensions, but, not being an architect, as was John Carter, his description is not so valuable. He writes: 'The original pilasters, buttresses and the small square masonry of the Norman architecture of the church is well preserved in this place, and a pointed door communicating with the church exists in the south wall of the latter, and at the east end are remains of columns in the early pointed style; eastward, in a portion called the south porch, is the upper part of a window of the sixteenth century. It is at present filled with logs of mahogany'!

The arrangement of the east end here described and the south porch, which was not apparently an entrance to the church, is shown in the plan published by Wilkinson in 1821 in his Londina Illustrata plan (pl. LVII, p. 111), and also by Hardwick (p. 136).

In the year 1612 the sacristy was occupied by Arthur Jarvais, who was Clerk of the Pipe from 1603 to 1624, and who was also the occupier of the prior's house. Lord Holland's Rental describes it as 'one very faire large cellar with a large room over the same where the office of the pipe was lately kept; out of this last mencioned room up a paire of staires on the north side are two pritty chambers one within another for lodging or other use'. From this it is evident that the ground outside the chapel having risen, here as elsewhere, a floor had been formed a little above the ground level, thus making a basement or cellar probably about six feet or more high. From Carter's account the old walls seem to have existed to the springing of the window arches, but as he says the upper part of the chapel was destroyed we suppose that 'the roof supported by large beams after the old manner', as described by Wilson, (fn. 69) could not have been the original roof, though it sounds much as if it were so.

In the second half of the seventeenth century this building was converted into one of the many Nonconformists' meeting-houses that were set up at that period. It will be found fully described later on with a conjectural plan and section of the building. (fn. 70)

Wilson writes of it: (fn. 71) 'In a corner of the meeting-house there used to be seen some years back a very antique sculpture, representing the figure of a popish priest, with a child in his arms; and there are several arches which appear to have been filled up with the same sort of trumpery. Underneath appear several vestiges of an antique chapel, though now used for no higher purposes than a cellar. From these remnants of ancient superstition, there is every reason to suppose that, in the days of Romish ignorance, this place was devoted to the purposes of religious worship.' We may forgive Mr. Wilson for his own ignorance and for his contempt of the art of sculpture, because he has preserved for us a record that this beautiful building was apparently enriched with a series of sculptured figures in niches in addition to the wall paintings referred to in Vetusta Monumenta. The figure mentioned by Wilson was probably a representation of Simeon with our Saviour in his arms.

After the fire of 1830 Knight wrote 'not a vestige remains'; but in 1914, the greater part of the site of the sacristy having been secured (as described later on), (fn. 72) Pope's cottages were pulled down, and remains of the east wall of the sacristy, with foundations of what was apparently a stone altar on the west side of it, were discovered. In the wall are the jambs of a doorway leading into what is described above as a porch, the floor of which, paved with red tiles, was on a level with the sill. The foundations of an altar in the sacristy contain fragments of twelfth-century worked stones. On the north wall is the remnant of a Norman pilaster buttress with a fragment of the stone string badly burnt, like the rest of the wall, by the fire of 1830.


  • 1. Illustrated by J. Carter in Vet. Mon., 1784.
  • 2. Already referred to above, p. 8.
  • 3. The same occurs externally in the narrow windows in the west wall at Climping and south transept at Old Shoreham.
  • 4. See later, p. 41.
  • 5. As in the north door at Brinkbourne Priory.
  • 6. Illustrated by Carter in Vet. Mon., 1784.
  • 7. See Vol. I, p. 197.
  • 8. As already stated, p. 16.
  • 9. See later, p. 71.
  • 10. See later, p. 111.
  • 11. Vest. Min. Bk. vii, 5.
  • 12. Lond. and Midd. Arch. Soc. Trans., iii, papers by Hayter Lewis; also his and Slater's report to Rest. Com. 1863.
  • 13. For use of pulpita in monastic churches see Archaeologia, lxviii, p. 104.
  • 14. Ecclesiologist, xxvi, 119.
  • 15. Strype, Stow, Bk. iii, 238 d. Also see later, pp. 46, 49.
  • 16. Transactions, iii, 79 and 89.
  • 17. Withers, Diary, p. 28.
  • 18. See above, p. 9.
  • 19. See Dugdale, vi, 291, Coney's engraving.
  • 20. Withers, Diary, p. 40, 11 Aug. 1865.
  • 21. Ib., p. 61, 6 June 1866.
  • 22. See Vol. I, pp. 167, 177.
  • 23. See account of the restoration in 1893 later on, p. 422.
  • 24. The grills were designed by Sir Aston Webb and carried out by Mr. Starkie Gardner; the shields by Mr. G. W. Eve.
  • 25. Heraldically described later on, p. 478.
  • 26. See Vol. I, p. 123.
  • 27. For inscription see later, p. 475.
  • 28. See later, p. 414.
  • 29. See above, p. 46.
  • 30. See below, p. 336.
  • 31. See, p. 503.
  • 32. See p. 50.
  • 33. See later, p. 96.
  • 34. See p. 48.
  • 35. D. 27, Parish Safe.
  • 36. Vest. Min. Bk. iii, 457, 467.
  • 37. See p. 117.
  • 38. D. 33, Parish Safe.
  • 39. Subsequently thrown into roadway by the Corporation. D. 68, 69, Parish Safe.
  • 40. Below, p. 118.
  • 41. See p. 47.
  • 42. As mentioned on p. 44.
  • 43. Vol. I, p. 139.
  • 44. Malcolm, Lond. Red. i, 291.
  • 45. Wilkinson, Lond. Illust.
  • 46. Malcolm shows this arch slightly pointed, but Hardwick shows it round-headed.
  • 47. Vest. Min. Bk. vii, 51; also p. 36 above; also below, p. 171.
  • 48. Belfry cupboard, drawer 17, bundle 8, Illidge's notes.
  • 49. Annual Register, 1830, p. 131.
  • 50. The Met. Fire Brigade Act was not passed until 1865.
  • 51. Vest. Min. Bk. vii, 160, 28 June 1836.
  • 52. Ib., 175, 7 June 1837. In this room, approached by an outside wooden stair, the parents of the writer signed the marriage register.
  • 53. There is a good example in the north door at Stone, Kent.
  • 54. See Dr. A. C. Fryer's paper, Archaeolog. Journ., 2nd series, xxi, No. 2, pp. 167–70.
  • 55. Vest. Min. Bk. ii, 30, 31.
  • 56. Wills, App. I, p. 533.
  • 57. Ib., p. 534.
  • 58. Ib., p. 540.
  • 59. Cal. Pap. Reg. vi, A.D. 1409.
  • 60. New View, i, 142.
  • 61. Cal. Pat., 597.
  • 62. Cal. Hust. Wills, i, 245, 249, App. I, p. 528.
  • 63. Close, 2 & 3 Phil. & Mary, pt. ii, No. 28, 17 Sept. (1555).
  • 64. Vet. Mon. ii, 8.
  • 65. p. 60.
  • 66. Gent. Mag. lxxix, 228.
  • 67. Ib. lxxix, 327.
  • 68. Allen, London, iii, 647.
  • 69. Wilson, Hist. Dissenting Churches, iii, 371.
  • 70. p. 167.
  • 71. Wilson, Hist. Dissenting Churches, iii, 370.
  • 72. See p. 440.