Appendix: Parish gates

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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E A Webb, 'Appendix: Parish gates', in The Records of St. Bartholomew's Priory and St. Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield: Volume 2, (Oxford, 1921) pp. 553-559. British History Online [accessed 23 May 2024].

E A Webb. "Appendix: Parish gates", in The Records of St. Bartholomew's Priory and St. Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield: Volume 2, (Oxford, 1921) 553-559. British History Online, accessed May 23, 2024,

Webb, E A. "Appendix: Parish gates", The Records of St. Bartholomew's Priory and St. Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield: Volume 2, (Oxford, 1921). 553-559. British History Online. Web. 23 May 2024,

In this section



From Vestry Minute Book, vii, 441, 15 June 1854. (fn. 1)

A Committee formed to consider the present neglected state of the parish gates by the City authorities.

The following undertaking of the Commissioners of Sewers was produced and read.

The City of London Sewers Act, 1848. (fn. 2)

On the part of the Promoters of this Act I hereby undertake to retain the clauses 167 and 168, also if the same Act should pass into a law in this session of Parliament to provide for the due payment of an annuity of £40 a year for the life of Joseph Hayne now charged upon the rates authorized by two Acts of Parliament 28 Geo. II, cap. 37 and 9 Geo. III, cap. 23 to be raised in the parish of St. Bartholomew the Great and also to provide for the maintenance of the gates now enclosing the said parish as the same are now and will continue the same until the trustees, acting under such Acts, shall approve of the discontinuance of the same or until a new street shall be made through the said parish, this undertaking being given in consideration of the said trustees and parish not opposing directly or indirectly the progress or passing of the said Act. Dated this 28 August 1848.

Remembrancer's Office, Guildhall.

Witness: R. Cutler.

And I the undersigned for and on behalf of the said trustees and Parish do hereby in consideration of the above undertaking agree to withdraw and not to resume any opposition to the said Act.
Dated the 28 August 1848


Bartholomew-the-Great Vestry Minute Book, vol. x, p. 593.

On the motion of Mr. E. A. Webb, seconded by Mr. Benjamin Turner, it was resolved that—

Whereas the City of London desire to discontinue the services of the three watchmen appointed by the Vestry of this Parish and paid by the Corporation the total wage of £104 per annum.

And whereas one of the watchmen died on April 1 last and his place has not been filled.

And whereas the Corporation desire to remove the gates of the Parish and to be delivered of the maintenance of the same for which they are now liable by agreement dated Aug. 28, 1848 between the Commissioners of Sewers and the Trustees of this Parish.

And whereas the Trustees of this Parish desire to retain the present Smithfield gate and gateway, the maintenance of which they are willing to undertake in future for reason of its great antiquity, dating as it does from the early part of the thirteenth century, and for its historic interest.

And whereas the Trustees desire to purchase the house erected over the gateway and 6 feet more or less in width of the property on the south side thereof for the better preservation of the said gateway in which the gate is hung, it is hereby Resolved by this meeting of Parish Trustees appointed by Act of Parliament 28 Geo. II, cap. 37, confirmed by Act of Parliament 9 Geo. III, cap. 23, both since repealed by 14 & 15 Vict., cap. 91, sec. 45, that they, the Trustees, are willing to release the Corporation from all their obligations in connection with the gates and watchmen and to allow the removal of all the gates of the Parish excepting one aforesaid leading from Smithfield to the Parish Church in consideration of a money payment of £1,500 and of the reasonable compensation of the two existing watchmen.

Resolved that the Rev. W. F. G. Sandwith, Rector, of this Parish, be the Treasurer of the Trustees of this Parish.


From a pamphlet published on the occasion of the meeting in the Great Hall of St. Bartholomew's Hospital to preserve the Gateway, 27 Nov. 1908.

When, in 1544, Henry VIII sold the whole parish to Sir Richard Rich, there were two rooms one over the other, above the archway-rooms no doubt in the tower, and from that time the history of the archway can be fairly well traced.


In the early chancery proceedings in the time of Queen Elizabeth at the Record Office (an imperfectly explored mine of wealth of local history) the writer was fortunate enough to alight on the pleadings of two cases in Chancery in the years 1590 and 1596, whereby the litigious rector of that time, David Dee, sought to show that a certain house in the Close had been granted to the rectors by Sir Richard Rich as a parsonage house, and others as glebe houses, in addition to those which Rich had actually so granted under his settlement with the king. This caused one Philip Scudamore, and inhabitant of the parish commemorated by a tablet in the north aisle of the church, to give a detailed description of his title to the rooms over the arch. He showed that, in 1544, the two rooms over the Smithfield Gate, one over the other, were at that time the freehold property of Sir Richard Rich by grant from the king, one John Smith then being the tenant; that on the 28th May in the same year he enfeoffed this John Smith as freeholder. In his will, dated 12th June 1550, John Smith bequeathed the rooms to Margaret Miller, his sister, for her life, and after her death to her son John Miller. John Miller left the rooms at his death in 1571 to his second son, Richard Miller, who, on the 22nd July in the 36th year of Queen Elizabeth, enfeoffed Philip Scudamore, the defendant in the case, who then entered into possession, and was in possession of the property at the time of the suit. He, the vandal, as we should now call him, in the next year, 1595, proceeded to pull down 'the old decayed and ruyned edifices' as he styles them, one over the other, and to build new ones in their place. But we must be thankful to Scudamore for so carefully reciting his title as he has done, and for leaving us the following description of what he pulled down. It is upon this description and the thickness of the arch that the writer relies for the statement that there was a south-west tower with two rooms in it over the present gateway. Scudamore thus describes the rooms: 'Certaine chambers or rooms one over another, anncyently edified, builded, or standinge over and upon the same gate, on an arch of stone and two great mayne pillers of stone beringe upp the saide arche, chambers and rooms, and adjoyninge to the saide messuage (i.e. the house adjoining, which had been part and parcel of the same property) and thereunto annexed.' The arch of stone, with one of the pillars corbled from the wall, can still be seen; the other is hidden by the stationer's shop.

From the above evidence it is clear that the rooms over the arch were never the property of the parish, as some people suppose.

The parish was the owner of the arch and the east side of the passage, for on the 18th September 1690, we find William Crosfeild, churchwarden of the parish, granting by direction of the parishioners a lease for 13 years to George Webb, a citizen and merchant taylor, of 'all that shop or shed lying on the east side of the passage (south side must be intended, as the passage had no east side), together with the room or chamber lying over the gateway leading to the parish church of St. Bartholomew the Great, in or near West Smithfield', for the consideration of 20s. paid down and a yearly rent of 30s. for the use of the poor.

And on the 20th June 1704 the two churchwardens, with consent of the Vestry, granted a lease for six years to John Mitchell, citizen and pewterer, of 'all that outhouse or stable, together with the vault thereunto adjoining, situate and being on the south side of Webb's Coffee House, at the side of the passage or breeke leading from West Smithfield to Bartholomew Close, as also the room or closet over the said passage' at a yearly rent of £3.

On the 25th March 1713, the two churchwardens, by order of the vestry, granted a lease of 20 years to William Mawhood of 'all that piece of ground lying and being in a passage leading from the church into Smithfeild near Duck Lane end (now Little Britain), and adjoining to the house wherein the said William Mawhood now liveth containing in length from east to west 22 ft. 8 in., and in breadth 4 ft. 4 in., upon which there now standeth a deal shed and was late in the occupation of John Mitchell, deceased, and also all that room or chamber which is now built under the upper cavity of the arch of the old gate or arch of the entring into the said passage from Smithfield', at a yearly rent of 40s.

And further, the churchwardens leased to Mawhood 'all that piece of ground nine inches in breadth and fifteen feet in length the same being parish ground, whereon the wall on the north side of the house, wherein the said Wm. Mawhood now liveth, standeth, the same adjoining the shed hereinbefore described', for twenty years at a yearly rent of 20s.

The 'room and chamber over the gateway' in the lease of 1690, and the 'room or closet over the passage' in the lease of 1704, cannot be either of Scudamore's rooms over the arch, as they were never parish property. The description in the lease of 1713 is probably the correct one a 'room or chamber which is now built under the upper cavity of the arch of the old gate', which fairly describes the closet or cupboard which is still in the passage and entered by the first door shown on the engraving.

The lease of 1713 expired in 1733, but Mawhood continued in possession as an annual tenant until 1741, when the Vestry ordered that the shed be fitted up as a watch-house and cage.

On the 10th July 1822, it was resolved by the Vestry to sell the shed to Sir William Rawlins for £50, and with the proceeds defray the cost of a special plan of the parish then nearly completed.

The parish also owned the tenement which is now that portion of the stationer's shop which blocks the south side of the arch. We first hear of it in 1705, when by order of the Vestry, on June 12th, the churchwardens, in consideration of £10, demised to Ralph Living 'all that shed or tenement which was lately a schrivener's shop, situate at the end of Duck Lane, adjoining the "Cock" public-house, containing 6 ft. 9 in. north towards the gateway and 4 ft. 1½ in. east to a stone wall belonging to the said gateway, and south to a tenement in possession of the said Ralph Living, for 15 years at the yearly rent of £2 10s. 0d.,' Living covenanting to divide the premises from his own with a substantial partition and door. The lease expired in 1720, and in 1725 the Vestry ordered 'that Mr. Wm. Mawhood (who was then the proprietor of Living's house) be obliged to take a lease of that part fronting Smithfield which he holds of the parish, or quit the same at Midsummer next'. In 1727 Mawhood took a lease for 15 years on the same terms as Ralph Living in 1705.

On the expiration of this lease in 1742, Mawhood continued to hold as an annual tenant until 1783, when, on the 10th March, the Churchwardens, by order of the Vestry, granted him another lease for 30 years at a yearly rental of £3; otherwise the terms were the same as before.

On the expiration of this lease in 1812, Charles Mawhood, the then lessee, was offered a new 30 years' lease at a rental of £8. On his refusal he was called upon to separate the tenement from the dwelling-house; but this was not easy to do, for during the lease Mawhood's dwelling-house had been apparently brought forward and built above the tenement. A lease of it at £10 a year was next offered to Sir William Rawlins, who was then the owner of Mawhood's dwelling-house, and on his refusal, the Vestry decided to submit for counsel's opinion the question as to the best way to preserve the interests of the parish in the tenement. Counsel advised that the tenement be sold, and as Sir Wm. Rawlins, the owner of the rest of the house, had offered £180 for it, this was accepted, and the conveyance executed 11th October 1814. At that time the church clock had been made to strike the quarters, and a larger bell had been provided for the purpose, at a cost of £189. The Vestry, in February 1815, thereupon decided that as the clock and bell were not only for the present, but also for the future inhabitants of the parish, the money received for the tenement should be appropriated for the payment of the clock and bell.

It is to be regretted that the parish thus sold both the shed and corner shop or tenement on the south side of the arch, but they seem to have acted with deliberation, and to the best of their knowledge at the time in the interests of the parish.

The archway had more than one narrow escape of being itself removed. Thus on 5th August 1741, the question was put to the Vestry 'whether a convenient coachway be made at the church gate leading from Smithfield to the Close', but it is to the credit of the Vestry that they unanimously decided in the negative. Again, in 1814, counsel's opinion was taken as to whether, 'in the event of its being found necessary to remove the arch because of decay or for any other reason,' the liability to support the building above would fall upon the parishioners. Fortunately, Mr. J. A. Park's opinion was that the parishioners would be liable, to which opinion we may perhaps attribute the retention of the arch.

Plan of parish property

William Mawhood, above mentioned, according to Gillow, (fn. 4) occupied the rooms over the Smithfield Gateway in the 18th century, and who, the parish books show, occupied that part of the house which belonged to the parish on the south side of the passage through the gateway. He was the son of William Mawhood to whom the parish granted a lease of their portion in 1713. (fn. 5) The son William was born in 1708. (fn. 6) He was a leading Roman Catholic in his time whose advice was sought on matters of importance. He succeeded in 1757 to the business of his father, an extensive woollen merchant and army clothier in West Smithfield. He died in 1798, (fn. 7) and was buried at St. Bartholomew's. His diary from 1764 to 1790 is contained in forty-nine MS. volumes 8vo, which in 1888 was in the possession of G. F. Conney of London. (fn. 8) The premises were in the possession of Chas. Mawhood in 1812, so they were occupied by the family for 100 years.


  • 1. Above, p. 208.
  • 2. V. M. Bk. vii, 445.
  • 3. Above, p. 210.
  • 4. Lit. and Biograph. Hist., and Bibliograph. Dict., of English Catholics from 1534 to 1895, by J. Gillow.
  • 5. See App. II above, p. 556.
  • 6. Par. Reg., 5.
  • 7. Ib., 12, says aged 80, but apparently his age was 90.
  • 8. Haydock Papers, Glimpse into Catholic Life, by J. Gillow, 1888.