Survey of London: Volume 22, Bankside (The Parishes of St. Saviour and Christchurch Southwark). Originally published by London County Council, London, 1950.
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'Winchester House and Park', in Survey of London: Volume 22, Bankside (The Parishes of St. Saviour and Christchurch Southwark), (London, 1950) pp. 45-56. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vol22/pp45-56 [accessed 2 March 2024]
CHAPTER 6: WINCHESTER HOUSE AND PARK
Early in the 12th century the Abbey of Bermondsey granted to the Bishop of Winchester and his successors a stretch of land in Southwark extending from the precincts of St. Mary's Church on the east to the Manor of Paris Garden (the end of Bankside) on the west, for a payment of eight pounds a year. This land, over which the Bishops exercised manorial jurisdiction, became known as the Bishop of Winchester's (or later the Clink) Liberty. Plots of ground along Bankside seem to have been alienated at a very early date, so that the bishops can be exonerated from the ownership of the Stews, though they came within their jurisdiction.
In the 13th century the Bishop's land is referred to as "Southwark Marsh" and the greater part of it remained open meadow until well after the Reformation. A good description of the manor in the late mediaeval period is contained in a lease from Bishop Waynflete in 1457 (fn. 82) of "all the episcopal pastures belonging to the Bishop's manor in Suthwark and commonly called the Wylys, and the second herbage or crop of the episcopal meadows on the west side of the said pastures, above the street called Parysgardynwalle between the feast of the Translation of St. Thomas [7th July] and that of the Annunciation [25th March] which has been customarily mown for the use of the bishop's household, with the profits of the fisheries and the loppings of trees, which are now let to Robert Marche at an annual rent of £7 6s. 8d. and 4 episcopal gardens with a house called le Netherhows and a low chamber beneath a granary, of which gardens one was lately in the tenure of Thomas Straunstone at an annual rent of 26/8d., the second is held by Thomas Gardiner at an annual rent of 3/–, and lies on the south side of the street called Maydenlane, the third is held by Philip Powers at an annual rent of 4/-. Also a void plot of ground on the bank of the Thames on the N. of the manor at the W. end of the way called le Wharf, in length 60 ft. and in width 40 ft.; to hold for the term of 99 years … and whensoever the said Bishop and his successor, with their family, shall sojourn in the manor, they shall have free pasturage for 4 beasts and 26 two-year-old sheep."
In the Tudor period the open ground became known as the Bishop of Winchester's Park. Its full extent is shown on the 1618 map (Plate 1). It was gradually let out in plots and built over during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. In a report on the Park Estate made in 1856–57 it was stated to occupy "an area of about 58 acres" and to be "closely covered with houses of which on the whole estate there are upwards of 1800—also one Chapel and one Church besides a large number of Manufactories and Warehouses and some schools. . . . The Grove and its vicinity situate towards the centre of the Estate is the principal centre of the Ironfoundry trade in London." (fn. 83) Some portions of the estate were sold during the 19th century, but the greater part is still the property of the Church Commissioners. Details of its development are given in subsequent chapters.
Winchester House or Palace
Camden (fn. 84) states that Winchester House was built by William Gifford, who was Bishop of Winchester from 1107 to 1129. It is unlikely that any 12th century work now remains, but portions of the 14th century great hall are incorporated in the warehouses on the south side of Clink Street; and, because the palace was not pulled down when it was vacated by the bishops, but was divided and adapted and rebuilt piecemeal, its main plan is discernible in the present disposition of the warehouses round Winchester Yard.
The earliest reference to Winchester House in use is in the life of St. Thomas à Becket by William FitzStephen, which gives an account of Archbishop Thomas on his last visit to London going in procession to the abbey church of St. Mary in Southwark and receiving hospitality in the house of the Bishop of Winchester, before proceeding to Canterbury, where he met his death. In 1174 an agreement was made between the bishop and the prior and canons of St. Mary Overy Priory, by which the canons were allowed full use of the quay or dock on the river between the priory and Winchester House, and the bishop was allowed free access to his residence by road from London Bridge. (fn. 85)
There are various references to the bishop's house in Southwark in chronicles and official records of the 13th century. Citizens of London came to see Bishop Peter des Roches there in 1232 during the struggle against Hubert de Burgh; (fn. 86) Simon de Montfort was lodged there during the vacancy in the See after Peter's death in 1238, (fn. 86) and in 1250 there is an order for the repair of the bishop's wharf (fn. 3) (then on the site of the northern end of Stoney Street, but later moved to the east end of Clink Street).
Most of the holders of the See of Winchester from the beginning of the 14th century until 1550 held high offices of state—eight of them were Chancellors—and their London residence became a place of importance. In 1341 the Great Chamber there was the scene of the ceremonial presentation of the Great Seal to the new Chancellor, Sir Robert Pawing, by King Edward III in the presence of Queen Isabella and the magnates of the realm. (fn. 3) The enlargement of the hall and the building of the great rose window in the east end of it appears, from architectural evidence, to date from the middle of the 14th century, possibly during the episcopacy of William of Wykeham (1367 to 1398). Henry Yevele, a master craftsman of this period of architecture, was the bishop's guest at Winchester Palace, Southwark, on a number of occasions in 1391. (fn. 87) He began work on the rebuilding of Westminster Hall in 1394, and in default of any definite evidence to the contrary it is feasible that he was also responsible for the design of the great hall of Winchester Palace. Unfortunately it has not been possible to confirm this suggestion or to find any proof of the date at which this rebuilding was carried out.
Fabyan relates that in 1406 on the occasion of the wedding of the sister of the Duke of Milan with Edmund, Earl of Kent, in the church of St. Mary Overy, a "sumptuous and pompeous feaste" was held in "the Bishop of Winchesters palais" and that in 1424 the wedding feast of James, King of Scotland, and Joan, daughter of the Earl of Somerset, and niece of Cardinal Beaufort, was held there. (fn. 88)
Apparently the house fell into disrepair temp. Henry VIII for in 1528 Richard Fox, the then bishop, wrote to the Lord Treasurer asking to be excused the non-payment of a debt because he had "been at great charge in repairing his ruinous houses in Southwark." (fn. 4) It is doubtful if Wolsey who only held the See from 1529 to 1530 ever lived at the house. It is, however, fairly certain that Stephen Gardiner made alterations there, for there are drawings extant, made in 1884 by Francis Dollman (Plate 49) of a doorway which was formerly cut in the south wall of the Great Hall with Gardiner's arms impaled with those of the See of Winchester in the spandrils.
Bishop Gardiner was deprived of his See in 1551 and imprisoned in the Tower because of his opposition to doctrinal changes. Winchester House was granted to the Marquess of Northampton in 1552 (fn. 7) and he is said to have built a gallery there. (fn. 35) Gardiner was restored to his bishopric and his house on Mary's accession. (fn. 7)
In 1559 Henry Machyn relates that the "bysshope of Wynchastur[s] plasse … was rychely hangyd with ryche cloth of arras wrought with gold and sylver and sylke" for the reception of John, Duke of Finland, (fn. 89) but from then onwards there are few references to the house in the records. This may be due in part to the fact that the Elizabethan bishops of Winchester were not such outstanding personalities as their predecessors. One of the last big ceremonial events to take place at Winchester House was the marriage feast of Lord Hay and Lucy, the daughter of the 9th Earl of Northumberland in 1617. (fn. 77)
In 1620 Philip Henslowe dined there with the master of the Rolls. (fn. 90) There is an interesting account in Wren's Parentalia, of Dr. Matthew Wren having a private interview in 1623 with the Bishops of Durham, St. David's and Winchester in the great gallery of Winchester House, "a Place where I knew his Lordship scarce came once in a Year," (fn. 91) to discuss the religious opinions of the future King Charles I. The saintly Lancelot Andrewes, who seems to have been the last bishop to use Winchester House, died there in 1626. (fn. 92) His tomb in Southwark Cathedral is illustrated on Plate 7. (fn. n1) Part of the property had been let to tenants some years previously. In 1614 fifteen names are entered in the Token Book under the heading "Winchester house," with a total of sixty-six tokens. Among them is John Leech "Clerke of ye glasshouse."
The break-up of the house was now imminent. In November, 1642, the House of Lords agreed that it should be turned into a prison and Thomas Davenish was appointed keeper. Sir Kenelm Digby, Sir Francis Williamson and Sir William Brockman were among the prisoners. (fn. 94) In 1643 Joseph Zin Zan asked to be allowed the use of the stable and yard at Winchester House for a riding school. In 1649 the Trustees for the sale of episcopal lands sold the whole property to Thomas Walker of Camberwell, gentleman, for £4,380 8s. 3d. (fn. 95) under the description of the "mannor of Southwarke . . . called … Winchester libertie alias the Clinke libertie … and the late Bishopp of Winchester his Pallace … conteyning … three acres and an halfe . . . wharfes and wharfage … att … St. mary Overyes Docke … all that messuage … heretofore in the tenure … of Robert Davison the elder … and … buildinges Gardens and yardes … betweene part of … Winchester howse and the kitchen Garden Wall of the said mannor howse on the East and the tenementes landes and garden late Robert Brandons on the West … and all those nyne messuages Cottages or tenementes … and all that Garden … anciently called the Pond Garden alias Pikeyarde and nowe commonly called the Clinke Garden [leased in 1632 to Robert Davison] … and all that … plott of ground … in the Clinke Streete … extendinge from the nyne tenementes abovesaid on the East to the Cage there on the West now built vpon and devided into seuerall small tenementes [leased in 1637] … And all that great Garden … called Deadmans place wherevpon divers … edifices are erected … together with a gatehouse … bounded Eastwardes vpon the high Streete leading from Stewes Banke towardes the Burrough of Southwarke Westward vpon a tenement … called the vine (see Plate 59) and a garden late belonging to one Gerrard and Southwardes vpon a tenement … formerly in the tenure … of Richard Warren … wch last mencioned premisses are nowe devided into seuerall tenementes [leased in 1633 to Sir Thomas Bilson] … And all that … Brewhouse … called the James and all those seaven tenementes … And alsoe one Garden … called millwardes Garden lyeing … on the South side of … mayden lane together with a howse in the said Garden nowe or late in the tenure . . . of widdowe mowle conteyning in length from East to West ten perches and an halfe … and in breadth att the East ende fortie fower foote and att the West ende Sixtie six foote … bounding North vpon the Thames and South and West vpon the Cawsey leadinge from the Stewes Bancke towardes the Clinke gate … and all those other fower tenementes built by William Shale [and now divided into 17] on the Bancke by the Thames side next the East ende of the Brewhouse … and all that Orchard … bounded North vpon mayden lane [all leased to Leonard Bilson in 1638] … And all that Capitall messuage … called Rochester house … bounded on the North by a Common Sewer deviding itt from Winchester Pallace on the East by … fowle lane on the South by a lane leading from fowle lane to Deadmans place and reaching West to a gateway leading from Winchester howse to the Parke being now devided into thirtie seaven seuerall tenementes" [all leased by the Bishop of Rochester to John Jeyes in 1604/5]. (fn. n2)
Thomas Walker had obviously bought the property as a speculation. He proceeded at once to lay out Stoney Street to link Deadman's Place and Church Street with Clink Street and to cut up the garden on either side into building plots. He did not pull down any of the buildings but divided them up into separate tenements.
At the Restoration the Bishop of Winchester regained possession of Winchester House and Liberty, but the process of disintegration had gone too far to be arrested and in 1662 the Bishop obtained a private Act of Parliament (fn. 96) to enable him "to lease out the tenements now built upon the scite of his mansion house in … Southwark."
The leases have been preserved among the records of the Church Commissioners, and as they were renewed to successive tenants in almost the same words and for the same rents down to the early years of the 19th century, when plans were made of the holdings, it has been possible, by working backward through the leasebooks, to plot out the plan of the palace as it was when it was last used by the Bishop of Winchester. The plan is given on the next page, and it should be looked at in conjunction with Hollar's view of the area dating from 1646 (Plates 43, 44) and with the drawings of the remains of the hall and adjacent buildings on Plates 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, and p. 53.
The palace consisted of the great hall and a range of domestic buildings to the west of it along the south side of Clink Street, a gallery running from west to east on the south side of the hall with stairs at either end, and another gallery on the south side of the great courtyard, the two being connected by a range of buildings on the east side of the courtyard. East of these again were the privy garden, tennis court and bowling alley bounded by St. Saviour's Dock. By the 17th century there was a fringe of small tenements along the edge of the dock. The stables and stable yards and a brewhouse lay to the south of the galleries while on the west was the great garden, the kitchen garden and the pike or pond garden, known sometimes as the Clink Garden because the notorious Clink prison was situated under the buildings at its northern end. The palace was bounded on the west by the common sewer. A brewhouse, the James, and a number of other tenements were in existence on the river bank north of Clink Street, but there was free access to the water stairs which were opposite the west end of the great hall.
The great hall was the most prominent feature of the palace. It was approximately 80 feet long, 36 feet wide and 42 feet high, and had an undercroft or cellar beneath it. It had two doorways on the south side communicating with the ranges of buildings south of the hall. Traces of the more westerly doorway still remain. The west wall contained the rose window, parts of which still exist (Plate 51a). A group of three doorways below the window gave access to the kitchen offices. There seems always to have been an entrance under these buildings from Clink Street to the garden. This was utilised by Thomas Walker to make a through way to Stoney Street. The archway remained in existence until 1943. The building next to the archway on the east was used as a water or pump house. The water was pumped from the river through wooden pipes for use in the kitchens and palace buildings generally.
It is not possible in the space available to give particulars of the records from which the description and plan of the palace have been made, or to give an account of its gradual transformation into a district of warehouses; but the fortuitous preservation of the rose window needs some explanation, and the history of the hall building, from the time when it ceased to be used as part of the palace, is therefore given in some detail. (fn. 97)
At some time between 1649 and 1660 vertical and horizontal partitions were put into the hall. In January, 1660/1, the Bishop of Winchester let the western end to John Odell, glazier, under the description of a messuage "now in the occupation of Joan Savage and John Stanbrooke containeing eight Roomes and a Sellar." It was re-leased to him in 1663 at a rent of 20 shillings and 1 capon a year. The next portion eastward, said to be "late of John Luntley," was let to William Ligburne, carpenter, in 1665, and it contained "one Cellar, one large roome over … two chambers over . . . two chambers over … and two garretts." The rent was 20 shillings and 2 capons. The next portion eastward was let, in 1665, to Sir James Austin and others, the trustees of a parish charity for binding four poor children out as apprentices. The premises were divided into three tenements, the rent being 20 shillings a year. The fourth and most easterly part of the hall was let in 1664 to Richard Holman and again consisted of a cellar and eight rooms over it, two to a floor. Each of these four portions was approximately 20 feet from west to east, i.e. the total length of the hall was about 80 feet. The kitchen with the water or pump house lying to the west of the hall was let to Thomas Helme, gentleman, in 1661. All five bits of property continued to be let to separate tenants under the same descriptions for the next 100 years, but by the end of the 18th century the building west of the hall and the two westerly sections of the hall had, together with some of the riverside property on the North side of Clink Street, come into the hands of Messrs. Lingard and Sadler (later Messrs. Wardale), mustard makers. On the Sunday evening of 28th August, 1814, a fire broke out at their premises. It was near low water and the fire floats could not be brought up to play on the flames for several hours; Messrs. Wardale's premises were consumed and much damage was done to the neighbouring flour and grain warehouses. (fn. 70)
One effect of the fire was to reveal the remains of the original walls of the hall and the adjacent buildings. John Carter, George Gwilt and I. Le Rous were among those who sketched and measured these relics and several of their drawings are reproduced here. The sketch by Le Rous shows the remains of the building west of the hall, and the west wall of the hall itself.
In spite of the severe destruction wrought by the fire the leaseholders still pursued the old policy of using any existing work they could instead of drastically rebuilding. The rose window and the arches beneath it, and some of the old foundations of the south wall of the hall and adjoining buildings were built into the new warehouses.
The plans and elevations given on p. 53 show the portions of old walling and the old door and window openings which were in existence in the warehouse buildings in 1943.
In 1941 incendiary bombs fell on the flour warehouse at the southwest corner of the junction of Clink Street and Stoney Street (marked 5 on the plan on p. 53 and completely gutted it. The premises were inspected at that time. A considerable area of the old stone walls was still in existence along the line indicated by dotted lines on the plan but there were no signs of worked ashlar. The upper floors of the building were carried over Stoney Street on an arch which was of early 19th century brickwork, but above the archway on the south face was a patch of original coursed rubble walling, presumably contemporary with the remains of the old palace. Whether it was an area of original untouched wall, or whether it had been rebuilt with old stones it would be difficult to say. It seems strange that so small a portion of stone wall should have been retained and extra expense entailed by costly underpinning whilst the later brick arch was inserted. The archway and the walls of warehouse 5 were demolished in 1943 as they were dangerous.
The stone walls which still remain between Warehouses 1 and 2 on the key plan and on the south sides of both vary to some extent in thickness, but on the average they are 3 feet 6 inches thick and are faced on both sides with Ragstone or Reigate stone with a rough punched surface, except in some places where the facing has been renewed with brick. These stone walls continue up to the level of the third storey of Warehouse 2. Warehouse 1 has a basement, in the west wall of which can be seen six vault springers still in situ and traces of what could be door jambs and/or a small stone pier, proving that formerly there must have been basement rooms beneath the ground floor of Warehouse 2, as indeed we know from written evidence there were.
In the south wall of the basement of Warehouse 1 there is a recess, probably a doorway, leading to Warehouse 3, where traces of the jambs are to be found. This recess is continued on the floor above, where it is spanned by a flat-pointed arch in two rims of worked ashlar. There is a corresponding recess in the north wall of Warehouse 3, which has a flat pointed arch of similar rise and span.
On the west wall of Warehouse 1, at ground floor level, there are traces of jambs of openings leading towards Warehouse 2. The only item of interest on the ground floor of Warehouse 2, apart from the old walling, is the upper part of a buttress in the south-east corner, with a splayed finish.
On the first floor of Warehouse 2 are visible three flat-pointed ashlar arches on worked jambs, the northern one of which spans a recess with ashlar lined reveals. The arches formed an entrance from this building to the great hall on the east. There is a short length of moulded ashlar, probably a jamb to a door or window, on the south side (originally the outside) of the south wall of this warehouse.
In the south wall of the first floor of warehouse 1 there are remains of several voussoirs or arch stones of a flat-pointed arch spanning a recess. The moulds thereon have a section current in the 14th century. The arch stones are carried on the remains of moulded stone caps and attached shafts which are also characteristic of 14th-century work. The recess leads towards warehouse 3 and corresponds with a pointed arched doorway spanned by a stone arch constructed of three moulded rims springing from moulded jambs and capitals. This is the outer face of the doorway. In the west jamb is still to be seen the wrought-iron rider upon which the old door was hung. Eastward of the door in Warehouse 3 are the remains of an old external angle of the building constructed of ashlar quoins and having a "bowtel" mould worked on the edge.
There is little to be seen of the original building at second-floor level except in Warehouse 2 where there are traces of a pointed arch rising about a yard above the floor on the southern face of the south wall.
On the third and fourth floors in the wall between Warehouses 1 and 2 are remains of the rose window of the Great Hall of the palace. In 1943 Mr. Sidney Toy, of the Surrey Archaeological Society, obtained permission to remove the brickwork with which the window had been blocked on both sides. His account of the window, printed in the Surrey Archaeological Collections, is as follows: "The rose window … was found to be in a dilapidated condition, blackened and cracked by fire and lacking many pieces of its tracery; like the other remaining dressings of the hall it is of Reigate stone. In some places the stonework was sound but in others in a very friable condition, particularly about the central boss. The central part of the window must have been in a very decayed and delicate state when the window was bricked in more than a hundred years ago, for the boss was found supported on cross brickwork joining the two infilling walls and many pieces of the shafts radiating from it were missing.
The central portion of the window is hexagonal with ribs radiating from a solid boss, carved with leaf ornament; a circular iron band, still in position, being carried round on the springing line of the cusps. The outer portion consists of a geometrical pattern of cusped triangles, formed by the intersection of straight ribs. The outer edges of the tracery are rounded off and the segments near the circumference are filled in solid. The enclosing outer ring on the hall side is richly moulded, with a keel roll in the middle, but that of the exposed face on the west is decorated with hollow chamfers only; the labels on both sides have been destroyed."
The brickwork has been replaced in the window but Mr. Toy's drawings of the window and other parts of the building and the photographs taken by his colleague, Mr. Sexton, have been reproduced to illustrate his article and they form a valuable record of what he saw. The only other remains of early work are traces of the raking back of the original gable in the east wall of Warehouse 2 at third-floor level.
Little of the old work is now visible from the outside of the warehouses; it remains hidden from view until it shall be again revealed by a new catastrophe or by some drastic rebuilding of the area.
It is one of the paradoxes of the English language that the name of a small and obscure prison of the Bishops of Winchester in Southwark, the Clink, should have become a synonym for all prisons and should also for several centuries have given its name to the "Liberty" over which the bishop exercised jurisdiction. Probably the Clink owed its notoriety to its extreme unpleasantness. In 1632 it was described as lying under the mansion house of the bishop. (fn. 98) Though this does not necessarily mean that it was entirely below the ground, it was probably below high-water level. It lay between the river on the north and the common sewer on the west and was in one corner of the bishop's pond or pike garden (later known as the Clink Garden) and it must have been at best uncomfortably damp. Its approximate position just south of Clink Street, to the west of what is now Stoney Street is marked on the plan of the palace and on the map on Plate 1. The cucking stool and cage stood nearby in Clink Street. (fn. 99) Taylor, the water-poet, had his tongue in his cheek when he wrote of "the Clinke where handsome lodgings be."
The Bishops of Winchester probably had a prison for offenders
within the liberty from an early period. In the 15th century Cardinal Henry
Beaufort (Bishop of Winchester, 1404–47) left £400 to be distributed
among the prisoners in both compters of London, in Newgate, Ludgate,
Fleet, Marshalsea and the King's Bench and "in confinement within my
manor of Southwark," but the first reference that has been found to the
Clink by name (fn. 100) is in a list of alms distributed to poor people "at the Clynke"
at the funeral of Henry VII, on 28th April, 1509. (fn. n3) It is mentioned in the
First Eclogue of Alexander Barclay, (fn. 102) written circa 1514—
"Though thou be giltlesse, yet shalt thou be conuict,
Fare well, thy good all shall be from thee lickt,
Or some backe reckening concerning thine office
Of all thy riches shall pill thee with a trice
Then art thou clapped in the Flete or Clinke,
Then nought must thou say, whatsoeuer thou thinke."
Stow speaks of it as having been a prison "for such as should brabble, frey or breake the Peace on the banke, or in the Brothell houses." It was also used for victims of the religious persecutions of Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. In 1555 John Rogers and William Hooper were sent there after their trial before Bishop Gardiner, and when darkness fell were taken by the sheriffs "with bils and weapons … out of the Clink, and … thorow the Bishops house and so thorow S. Mary Overies Church-yard, and so into Southwark and over the Bridge on procession to Newgate." (fn. 103) They were both burned at the stake for heresy. Various references to persons confined there for matters of religion are to be found in the State Papers of Elizabeth's time. In a manuscript in the Bodleian Library dated 1580 is a satirical verse about "fidling knaves" confined in "there auncient howse … called ye Clynke," and a drawing, reproduced on this page, of a prison with a sign of a fiddle hanging on it. There is no definite evidence that this refers to the Bishop of Winchester's prison, but if it does not it is the first known use of the word "clink" as a general synonym for prison. Incidentally it is also an early example of the use of "fiddling" for swindling. Robert Davison, who held a lease of the adjoining property is described as "keeper of the Clincke" in 1624. (fn. 104)
In 1628 the Cordwainers' Company let to John Pidgeon a messuage described as "thentofore used for the Gaol or Prison called the Clinck sometime in the tenure of Mathew Hancock, afterwards of Thomas Mason and late of Marcus Stone … in Horseshoe Alley." This house can be traced in the Token Books back to 1617, but it is not referred to as a prison. The description is repeated in subsequent deeds, but no reference has been found to it elsewhere. It was perhaps used for a time as an annexe to the main prison. (fn. n4)
It is probable that the Clink fell into disuse after the sale of Winchester House and grounds in 1649. (fn. n5) John Strype described it in 1720 as "of late years of little or no account" and in 1761 it was said to be "a very dismal hole, where debtors are sometimes confined, but little used." (fn. 106)