Survey of London: Volume 15, All Hallows, Barking-By-The-Tower, Pt II. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1934.
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(A) AQUAVITE HOUSE
The river front between Galley Quay and Tower Dock, which measures only some 50 yards, seems to have been occupied by four clearly defined properties: Aquavite House, Stew Quay, Clare's Quay and the "Ram's Head." Some of these comprised more than one messuage or tenement, probably in certain cases warehouses or granaries, but the four main properties retained their identity throughout.
It will be seen below that Aquavite House occurs in 1588 as the western boundary of Stew Quay, and when the story of the latter property is traced it will be found that the site in question, in 1368 and again in 1415 before Stew Quay obtained its name, was land belonging to Thomas Pilke, afterwards allocated to the support of the chantry which he founded in All Hallows Barking Church. That it adjoined Galley Quay is evident from the grant from William Colyn to William Marowe in 1449, where the eastern boundary of the tenement that became part of Gallery Quay is given as property belonging to the church of All Hallows, once of Thomas Purcus. (fn. 1) After the lapse of more than a century, in 1588, Aquavite House is found in the hands of Henry Hewitt, who leased it for forty-one years to William Kimber. This is set forth in a sale by Benjamin Hewitt of Enfield, son of Henry Hewitt, to George Chester of "a messuage called the Aquavite House in Petty Wales, also a little key or wharfe adjoining the same abutting on Stew Key on the east and Galley Key on the west." (fn. 2) In its passage into Chester's possession it did not, like its neighbour Stew Quay, lose its identity, but continues in the 17th-century rate-books to maintain its old name (see later, p. 55).
It seems difficult, from the above citations, to avoid the conclusion that Aquavite House and its wharf was identical with the property belonging to Pilke's chantry, but it is not so named in the particulars of grants at the dissolution of the chantries under Edward VI. The endowments of Pilke's chantry included houses on Tower Hill, in Great Tower Street and in Petty Wales. (fn. 3) It is possible that one of the latter may be the forerunner of Aquavite House, possibly "the messuage called the Dyehouse in the tenure of Katherine Wilkes in Petty Wales."
(B) STEW QUAY
The earliest reference which can be traced to this quay is in 1352, and occurs in the description of the boundaries of the adjoining property to the east, which will be identified as Clare's Quay (see p. 53). The latter is therein described as the quay which John Palmer had in Petty Wales, and bounded on the west by the tenement of Thomas Snettisham. (fn. 4) Stew Quay appears to have devolved upon Snettisham's widow Joan, for in 1368 we have a formal grant to her of the property by her brother, who was probably her trustee, and who is described as "William Phelippe, brother and heir of Sir John Phelippe, rector of S. Faith within the monastery of St. Paull's." (fn. 5) Thomas Snettisham is called "clerk," and the boundaries are given as Salaman Brounyng on the east (Clare's Quay) and the tenement late of Thomas Pylk on the west (Aquavite House). From a document dated 1383 (fn. 6) we learn that Thomas and Joan Snettisham had two daughters and co-heiresses, Margaret and Margery, who married John Andrew, vintner, and Nicholas Brounyng respectively. The premises were to be jointly occupied by the two families, and "the big stone door" was to be common to both. John and Margaret had the houses near the door containing 115/8 yards to the east, and the house within the gate containing 7½ yards to the west. In 1413 Margery Browning, then a widow, received from Henry Andrew the moiety of the wharf which he had from his mother Margaret Andrew, (fn. 7) and two years later Margery made a grant of the whole property. The entry in the Hustings Rolls (fn. 8) is as follows: "Margery, widow of Nicholas Brounyng, late shipwright, grants to John Rolf, shipwright, Robert Colbrook, ironmonger, and John Braunthwayte all her tenements with wharves lying between the tenement late of Salaman Brounyng and now of Robert Purfot on the east [Clare's Quay], and a tenement belonging to a chantry for the soul of Thomas Pylk on the west."
John Rolf, shipwright and lighterman, left by will (1433) a mansion in Petty Wales to his daughter Joanna, wife of William Miller, shipwright, and directs that the rest of his tenements with a wharf in the same street are to be sold, (fn. 9) but the purchasers have not been traced. Strype in his edition of Stow refers to a monument in All Hallows Church to Laurence Coke, citizen and draper, who, he tells us, gave by will (27th October, 1466) to his daughter Isobel, his lands and tenements in Petty Wales called the Stew Key. (fn. 10)
A hundred years or so later we find a reference in the Hustings Rolls (fn. 11) which throws some light on the name of the quay. It concerns the sale, in 1560, by Thomas Reade to Edward Geoffry, tallow chandler, "of his moiety of a tenement called Stewe Key, now or late in the tenure of Andrewe Berye … together with a key called Stewe Key, and a tenement on the street side in the occupation of Laurence Rak, and another tenement on the same key in the occupation of Robert Johnson and a warehouse sometimes called a hote-house [hot-house, bath-house or stew] now or late in the tenure of Mother Johnson and a storehouse in the gate of the said key next adjoining to the hot-house."
The parish rate-list for 1562 gives us Edward Jeffery rated at 10d. and Robert Johnson at 1d., and that for 1578 has the following four names: Edward Jefferaye at 10d., John Ryan ("in Jefferays Key") at 4d., Hugh Fludd 4d. and John Nottingham at 4d. The Nottingham family occurs in a series of documents recorded in the Hustings Rolls. In 1588 William Nottingham, woodmonger, grants to Thomas Jones, white baker, premises which include a bakehouse, coalhouse and hayloft "on the west side of the gatehouse of the Stewe Key, abutting on Pety Wales on the north and on the tenement of William Ryan on the south, tenements of John Nottingham, the grantor's father, on the west and tenements of the grantor on the east." (fn. 12) Robert Jones, gentleman, appears to have succeeded Thomas, and William Nottingham's two daughters and co-heiresses, Rachel and Sarah (who married Richard Harrison, cordwainer, and John Roworth, weaver, respectively), recovered the property from him and parted with it in 1621–2 to George Chester. (fn. 13) Henceforth it was to be known as Chester's Quay.
"Chester's Key" occurs first in the Lambeth MS. of 1638, where the occupier, Roger Alsop, is estimated to be paying £120 a year rent. (fn. 14) Its later history is given with that of the adjoining quays on p. 55.