Survey of London: Volume 28, Brooke House, Hackney. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1960.
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The Documentary Evidence
The history of the King's House or Place, later known as Brooke House, (fn. 1) can be traced with certainty by documentary evidence back to the year 1532, but the archaeological evidence of the structure, both above and below ground, which has been presented in the preceding pages, suggests that part of the house existed considerably earlier. Documentary evidence which may be held to support this earlier existence, as far back as 1476, has been found; but, unfortunately, it is not quite conclusive and there is still doubt about the history of the building before 1532.
The house belonged to an estate of some two hundred acres which from 1532 until the beginning of the seventeenth century was consistently described as 'the manor of Hackney' In this case the term 'manor' appears to have denoted merely a freehold estate, possessing none of the attributes of a true manor. This point is important because there were two other 'manors of Hackney' (latterly known as Kingshold and Lordshold), and because Lysons (fn. 17) and a number of later writers (fn. 18) mistakenly identified the Brooke House estate with the true manor known as Kingshold. In the first edition of his work (fn. 19) Lysons also failed to identify the King's Place with Brooke House. It is easy to see how the King's House or Place might be identified retrospectively with the manor house of the manor of Kingshold, but in fact there was no connexion. The manor of Kingshold had its origin in an estate held by the prior and brethren of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem (fn. 20) from the Bishops of London, (fn. 21) who were lords of the principal manor of Hackney (later called Lordshold) during the Middle Ages. (fn. 22) In 1540 the Order was suppressed and its lands taken by the King. (fn. 23) Most of its Hackney property remained vested in the Crown (hence its name of Kingshold) until 1614 when it passed into private ownership. (fn. 24) There is, of course, the possibility that the Brooke House estate had at one time belonged to the manor of Kingshold and had been sold by the prior and brethren before 1532, but there is no evidence to this effect. It is more likely to have been originally part of the principal manor of Lordshold, since it lay within that manor's boundaries. (fn. 25) Moreover, the waste land belonging to Lordshold manor included the land adjoining the front of Brooke House (see page 61).
It has not been possible to define absolutely the extent of the so-called manor originally attached to Brooke House, since its boundaries varied from time to time as lands were added to and subtracted from the estate by successive owners. During the latter half of the sixteenth and throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, it can be safely assumed that most of the land now bounded by Upper and Lower Clapton Roads, Downs Road, Rendlesham Road and Northwold Road, belonged to the owner of Brooke House (see Plates 1, 2, 3). Other parts of the estate lay in Hackney Downs, Millfields and Hackney Marshes.
The owner of the house and estate in 1532 was Henry Algernon Percy, sixth Earl of Northumberland. No connexion between Percy and Hackney before this date has been found, but according to two documents at Syon House, one of which is dated 1582, Sir Thomas Nevill exchanged the manor of Hackney with the Earl of Northumberland for certain of the Earl's manors in Sussex. (fn. 26) Part of this statement is demonstrably true, for the conveyance from the Earl to Sir Thomas of the Sussex manors is recorded in a fine of 1531 between the Earl and Sir George Nevill, Lord Bergavenny, Sir Thomas Nevill, Sir Edward Nevill, Reynold (Reginald) Carnaby, (fn. 2) Thomas Gurnell and Robert Cansfield, in trust for Sir Thomas Nevill. (fn. 27) But no complementary conveyance of the manor of Hackney from the Nevills to the Earl of Northumberland has been found, although Sir George Nevill, Lord Bergavenny (Sir Thomas's elder brother), (fn. 28) surrendered, with John and William Nevill, some eight acres of copyhold land in Hackney manor (Lordshold) in 1496 to Richard Wymond. (fn. 29) Investigation of several possible sources failed to reveal by what means the Nevill family acquired this copyhold land or the Brooke House estate.
The problem was therefore to discover whether there had existed in Hackney a freehold estate the history of which might answer the architectural and historical questions posed by Brooke House. Such an estate has been found, but it must be emphasized that the possible origin of the house in the estate now to be described is hypothetical.
In 1439 William Estfeld, knight and alderman of London, conveyed to William Bothe, or Booth, clerk, an estate in Hackney. (fn. 30) Bothe came of a Lancashire family (fn. 31) which acquired an influential position in the English Church in the second half of the fifteenth century. In 1439 he was a canon residentiary at St. Paul's and Archdeacon of Middlesex. (fn. 32) He later became Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry (1447–52), and Archbishop of York (1452–64); (fn. 31) he died in 1464. (fn. 33) His half-brother Laurence was Bishop of Durham (1457–76) and Archbishop of York (1476–80) and a nephew, John Bothe, was Bishop of Exeter (1465–78). William Bothe has recently been described by Professor C. N. L. Brooke as 'a land agent and a moneylender', and he seems to have shared in the unpopularity with which his family was regarded by many contemporaries. (fn. 34)
One of the witnesses to William Bothe's will (1464) was William Worsley (? 1435–99), (fn. 33) a Lancashire man whose brother Robert had married a niece of both William and Laurence Bothe. (fn. 35) William Worsley was ordained priest in 1460, but he had already enjoyed a number of ecclesiastical preferments during his minority, and his successful career in the Church was probably due to the influence of the two Archbishops of York. (fn. 31) His brother, Seth Worsley, had been appointed one of the feoffees of William Bothe's Hackney estate in 1439. (fn. 30) In 1476 another of the feoffees, John Buron, or Byron, to whom the Archbishop had bequeathed his property in Hackney and Tottenham, (fn. 3)
In 1479 Worsley was elected Dean of St. Paul's (fn. 37) and some of his household accounts survive for the period 1479–96. These accounts list the farms or manors, including Hackney, from which the Dean's revenue was drawn, but the names of the farmers and the rents which they paid are entered for all the properties except Hackney. (fn. 38) The reason for this may be that the Hackney farm mentioned in the accounts was the private estate which the Dean had obtained from John Buron, and that the others were his share of the capitular estates. (fn. 39)
Though no description of Worsley's Hackney estate survives, notes of several payments made by the Dean's steward at Hackney, including one or two to the Dean in person, suggest that there was a house there for his reception, (fn. 4) and in view of the identification of one of the coats of arms on the wall painting as that belonging to the Radclyffe family (see page 20), it is worth noting that the name of the Dean's steward was Roger Radclyff(e) or Ratclyff. (fn. 38) The latter may be identified with Roger Radclyffe, fourth son of John Radclyffe of the Tower, Lancashire, who died before 1513. (fn. 40) An earlier member of the family with the same name had been Dean of St. Paul's between 1468 and 1471 (fn. 41) and the family was allied to the Bothes, (fn. 42) the Worsleys and the Burons or Byrons (fn. 43) by marriage.
In 1494 William Worsley took part in Perkin Warbeck's conspiracy and was attainted of high treason. He was pardoned in the following year (fn. 31) but perhaps as a result of this decline of fortune he sold his estate in Hackney and Tottenham to Sir Reginald Bray of London, goldsmith, in 1496. (fn. 44) Meanwhile, in the City of London the Pewterers' Company was building a new hall. The carpenter appointed was Simon Birlingham, and on two occasions between 1496 and 1498 he went to Hackney with members of the Company 'to have a vewe of the Deans roof there' and to take 'a vewe and sight of the halle'. Several halls in the City were also inspected. (fn. 45) To a City Company 'the Dean' would mean the Dean of St. Paul's, i.e. William Worsley, who remained in office until his death in 1499. (fn. 46) Even though he had sold his estate in Hackney in 1496 it would be quite natural, especially if he had built the house, for it to be referred to a year or two later as 'the Dean's'.
Sir Reginald Bray died in 1503. He left his lands in Middlesex and several other counties in trust for the son of his brother John Bray, or his next heir. (fn. 47)
Between 1503 and 1513, and probably before 1509, (fn. 48) Sir Robert Southwell, knight, purchased from John Bray, 'nevew and heir' of Sir Reginald Bray, 'free houses and [a] dwelling place with . . . free lands lying in Hakeney sometyme Seth Wursleis'. (fn. 49) (fn. 5) In 1513 the property was vested in William Wutton, John Sturges, Robert Southwell, junior (the nephew of Sir Robert Southwell), and Richard Sampson, clerk, as feoffees. (fn. 50) Sir Robert died in March 1514 (fn. 50) having left instructions in his will for his feoffees to join with his executors and the prior and sub-prior of Blackfriars Priory to appoint an honest and substantial man of Hackney as overseer of the estate. He was to have 13s. 4d. a year and the rents and receipts from the estate were to be used to pay for certain obits and services for the souls of the Southwell family for a period of twenty years after Sir Robert's death. (fn. 49) A month later the feoffees strengthened their title to the estate by means of a fine levied between themselves and Edward and Joan Bray, to bar the entail. (fn. 51) The jury appointed to inquire for Southwell's heir found his nephew, Richard Southwell, heir to the property in Middlesex. (fn. 50) They also found that Sir Robert's estate in Hackney and Tottenham consisted of three messuages and one hundred and twenty acres; most of this estate was held of the Bishop of London and worth £5, and two closes in a field called 'Chistilfyld' in Tottenham and containing twelve acres were held of the Prioress of Clerkenwell. (In 1536 and 1547 descriptions of the Brooke House estate included two closes in 'Chistley Feldes' (fn. 52) or 'Cheseleyfeld' (fn. 53) containing eighteen acres.)
No trace can be found of the estate in Richard Southwell's possession after 1514. He was a ward until 1525, (fn. 54) when he came of age and received livery of his lands. (fn. 55) In 1542 he was knighted (fn. 31) and two years later was made keeper and bailiff of the King's manor of Hackney (fn. 56) (i.e., the Brooke House estate), although Richard Grenewaye had earlier received a life grant of the office of keeper (fn. 57) and was still alive (see page 58).
In 1536 Richard Southwell's brother Robert married Margaret, the daughter of Sir Thomas Nevill, (fn. 31) and the manors in Sussex which Sir Thomas was said to have exchanged with the Earl of Northumberland were settled on Robert Southwell and his wife. (fn. 58) At the time of her marriage Margaret Nevill was aged fifteen (fn. 59) and she may have been betrothed some years earlier. In 1531 Richard Southwell was fined the very large sum of £1,000 for his part in the murder of Sir William Pennyngtone, a Justice of the Peace for Norfolk, and he is known to have sold some of his lands shortly afterwards. (fn. 60) It may be that he borrowed some of the money required for the fine from Sir Thomas Nevill, who was a wealthy man, (fn. 31) on the security of his Hackney estate, on condition that the latter settled it, or lands to its equivalent value, on Robert Southwell when he married Nevill's daughter. This conjecture, if correct, would account for Nevill's possession of the Hackney estate in 1531, and his settlement of the Sussex manors (for which he exchanged it with Northumberland) on his daughter and her husband Robert Southwell shortly after their marriage in 1536.
All this material may now be briefly summarized. There is no direct evidence that the Southwell estate is identical with the Brooke House estate, but indirect evidence points to that conclusion.
William Worsley, an ambitious, wealthy and well-connected cleric, owned, and perhaps built, a house at Hackney important enough to be worth studying as a model for the hall of a City Company; there he kept some state and was served by his relative, Roger Radclyffe. The surviving portion of the wall painting found at Brooke House depicts the arms of a branch of the Radclyffe family and the kneeling figure of a cleric. Both the Southwell and the Brooke House estates included lands in Hackney and Tottenham, and particularly, lands in 'Chistilfyld' or 'Chistley Feldes' in Tottenham. The Southwell estate was owned by the brother-in-law of Margaret Nevill, whose father was said to be the owner of the Brooke House estate before the Earl of Northumberland. The identification of the Southwell estate with the Brooke House estate would also explain the apparent absence of any evidence for the later history of the one, and for the earlier history of the other.
From 1532, when Henry Algernon Percy, Earl of Northumberland, first appears as owner, the history of the house and estate is well documented. Percy was born c. 1502 and on the death of his father in 1527 succeeded to the title (fn. 61) and to the family estates. (fn. 62) A number of grants made by him between 1527 and 1537 are dated at various places in and near London, (fn. 63) including one dated at Hackney on 10 June 1532. (fn. 64) This is the earliest reference to the Earl's connexion with Hackney. Subsequent grants are dated at Hackney or his manor of Hackney in July 1532, November and December 1533 and in June 1534. (fn. 65) Later evidence leaves no doubt that this was the Brooke House estate. Hitherto, Percy had had two London houses, one in Aldgate in the parish of St. Katherine Coleman, and the other in Aldersgate in the parish of SS. Anne and Agnes. In 1529 he exchanged the former with Robert, Viscount Fitzwalter (Fitzwauter) for property in Cumberland, (fn. 66) and in 1534 he leased the house in Aldersgate, which had been owned by the Percys since 1343 (fn. 67), to William Paget, one of the clerks of the King's Signet, reserving to himself several rooms 'for his owne pryvate loggyng'. (fn. 68)
An inventory of the furnishings in the house at Hackney was taken in January 1534 (fn. 69) by Stephen Stamforth, yeoman of the Earl's wardrobe, (fn. 70) and Edward Carnaby, a servant and relation of one of the Earl's gentlemen of the chamber. (fn. 71) The number of rooms in the house is not stated but the inventory indicates that it was comfortably furnished though modest in its establishment (see Appendix I, pages 76–8).
Henry Percy did not hold the manor of Hackney for long. The dissipation of the Percy estates by the sixth Earl has been described in detail by J. M. W. Bean in The Estates of the Percy Family, 1416–1537. (fn. 6) Mr. Bean finds the key to the dissolution of the family estates in Percy's 'weak and gullible' character, 'aggravated by persistent ill-health, and the break-up of his marriage' which left him childless. The Earl's letters contain numerous references to his ill-health and certainly his dealings with his family were far from amicable. A marriage had been arranged for him by his father with Mary Talbot, daughter of the Earl of Shrewsbury. In the early 1520's he formed an attachment to Anne Boleyn, and only his father's threat to disinherit him and the more awful threat, delivered by Cardinal Wolsey, of the King's displeasure, (fn. 7) His marriage to Mary Talbot took place in 1524, (fn. 61) but the union was an unhappy one; they had no children and lived apart. (fn. 73)
In 1531 the Earl mortgaged some of his northern estates to the King, but Henry, realizing that he could best control the north through the powerful family of Percy, returned them (fn. 74) and in January 1535 accepted in exchange some of the Earl's lands further south. These included the manor of Hackney, (fn. 75) and within the year following a fine was levied between the King and Northumberland to bar the entail. The estate was then described (probably inaccurately as was often the case with indentures of fines) as ten messuages, a hundred acres of land, eighty acres of meadow, two hundred acres of pasture, twelve acres of woodland and rents amounting to ten pounds in Hackney, Tottenham and Stepney. (fn. 76) This fine is matched by one of the same date between the King and Sir Reynold Carnaby, a gentleman of the Earl's chamber. (fn. 77) The description of the property is exactly the same in both cases, but whereas the former also concerns lands in other counties the latter does not. As Carnaby had in October 1532 granted a lease to a John Hedge of certain lands which were part of the Brooke House manor (fn. 52) it may be inferred that Northumberland had already given him custody of the manor, though no record of such a grant has been found. It has been noted earlier that Carnaby was among the grantees of the Sussex manors which the Earl allegedly exchanged for Hackney.
In March 1535 an inventory was made on the King's behalf of the furnishings 'At the takying of the possessyon of the house Att hackeney'. (fn. 78) A comparison of this inventory with that taken in January 1534 (see Appendix I, pages 76–9) shows certain resemblances, though the Earl's arms and cognizance embroidered on the bed hangings had been removed. The rooms of the house were mentioned only in the later inventory and included a gallery, a little chamber next to it, the chief bed chamber, a closet, a dining chamber, and a chamber of estate. No chapel is mentioned.
The King visited the house in April 1535 (fn. 79) and on 24 September of the same year he granted his manor or principal messuage of Hackney (i.e. Brooke House) to Thomas Cromwell. (fn. 80) The grant was to take effect from the previous 25 March, and in May an order was issued to the keepers of Enfield Chase and Enfield Park to deliver fifty oaks from each place to James Nedeham, clerk and surveyor of the King's works 'to be employed towardes our buyldynges At our place of Hakney'. (fn. 81) Between 30 July and 23 September there are several letters written to Cromwell by his servants, reporting on the progress of his building works at Hackney. (fn. 82) It is tempting to assume that these building works refer to alterations made at Brooke House, but Cromwell owned another estate in Hackney (fn. 83) and the possibility of his building on this other property cannot be ruled out. If the letters refer to alterations at Brooke House the timber ordered by the King may have been a present to Cromwell and the grant of the house may have been delayed until the alterations were finished. In view of this possibility it is worth noting the works carried out.
On 24 July the sum of £36 19s. 6½d. was paid on Cromwell's behalf for work at Hackney; this excluded the cost of four 'parelles (fn. 8) Thomas Thacker wrote to Cromwell on 11 August, 'the kychyn the breke worke thereof wt the Chymnes [is] Fynysshed to the Rooff, the Roff sett upp and tylers upon it, the Enlargyng of yor buttry there & Scolary & [sic] well brought upp above the ground my hyght, and the Roofes therof in Framyng wt all spede, and all other yor lodgynges trymed with wyndowes glasse & hangynges there so as I thyng[sic] yor maistership wyll lyke it well, as a goodly place in myn opynyon'. Thacker's letter also mentions the payment of £44 14s. 6d. to 74 workmen and labourers. (fn. 86) Another letter written in August by Thomas Broke reported that 'yor lodgynges there ben fully fynysshed and the kechyn there is all done, except the paving. . . . And the larders bothe weate and drye and the filling of the poole in the garden there ben in suche forwardnes'. (fn. 87) John Williamson was another of those concerned in the building work and he wrote to Cromwell in September full of praise of the house:—'I doute not but yor maistershipp wyll thynk yo money well bestowed, and shall have as pleysaunt a place as shalbe a greate waye aboute the Citie of London'. (fn. 88) Other payments made at Hackney in September include £58 for 68 workmen and £27 17s. 3d. for 58 workmen. (fn. 89) Richard Lee, or à Lee, appears to have been in charge of the building works.
There is no evidence that Cromwell ever lived in, or visited, the house and on 1 May 1536, he surrendered the manor of Hackney to the King. (fn. 90)
Back in Henry's possession once more, the house was the scene of the reconciliation between the King and his daughter Mary, in July 1536. (fn. 9) The meeting was arranged after Mary had been persuaded to take the oath of supremacy and to sign the articles illegitimating her birth. (fn. 31) Charles Wriothesley relates that Mary 'was brought rydinge from Hunsedonne secretly in the nyght to Hacknaye, and [that] afternone the King and the Queene [Jane Seymour] came theder, and there the Kinge spake with his deare and wel beloved daughter Marye, which had not spoken with the Kinge her father in five yere afore, and there she remayned with the Kynge tyll Frydaye at nyght, and then she roode to Hunsdone agayne secretelye'. (fn. 91) Her reluctant compliance was rewarded by a gift of clothes 'aftre hir cuming to hakney'. (fn. 92)
The Earl of Northumberland's connexion with Hackney did not end with the conveyance of the house and estate to the King in 1535. Between May 1535 and May 1537 he frequently stayed at Newington Green (fn. 93) and from there he wrote to Cromwell in May 1537 asking him 'to helpe me to the kinges hous of hakency wherby I trust the sonner to recover my helth'. (fn. 94) Perhaps his health had been further weakened by the difficulties of his post as Warden of the East and Middle Marches during the Pilgrimage of Grace, in which his two brothers had taken part against the King. He was also very short of money, although a letter to Cromwell, thanking the King for a gift of 'such gorgyus and sumptuos apparell as I am unworthy to have', contains the unlikely comment that 'yf His Majestye hade sent unto me fourty thousand pounds it could not have rejoyced me soo muche'. (fn. 95) Most of his surviving letters written at this time are concerned with his servants' interests, and in one of them he described himself as being 'diseasid & crased'. (fn. 94)
By the end of May 1537 he had returned to the house at Hackney, where he remained until his death a month later. (fn. 96) Towards the end of June he sent for Richard Layton, the priest who was Cromwell's chief agent in the suppression of the monasteries. (fn. 31) Layton visited the Earl on the afternoon of 29 June, and found him 'Languens in extremis'. His sight and speech were failing, his body was 'yeolowe as saffrone' and his stomach swollen 'so gret as I never se none'. Layton thought he could not last another day and between two and three o'clock in the next morning the Earl died. Layton informed Cromwell that he had read the will 'wiche me semethe is of smale treasure'. (fn. 97)
On the same day Percy's body was coffined and carried in procession into the choir of Hackney church. He was buried that night in the churchyard and on the following day his funeral service was conducted by the Bishop of St. Asaph and the Abbot of Stratford. After the service the mourners returned to the house 'to dynner' and the heralds set up the hatchment in the church. (fn. 98)
In May 1538, a year after Percy's death, the King stayed at Hackney on his way to Waltham and Hunsdon (fn. 99) and he may have halted here occasionally on other journeys. Although the house does not seem to have been much used at this time, some care was apparently taken of it. Richard Grenewaye, a gentleman usher, (fn. 100) was appointed keeper for life of the capital messuage of Hackney which formerly belonged to the Earl of Northumberland, from Lady Day 1536. (fn. 57) The grant was not made until October 1538 but Grenewaye's accounts date from 1536. He farmed about 124 acres of land belonging to the manor. (fn. 52) In spite of the fact that his grant was for life and he lived until 1552, (fn. 101) Grenewaye was succeeded in April 1544 by Sir Richard Southwell. (fn. 56) Southwell received eight pence a day as keeper (Grenewaye had only four pence a day) and another six pence a day as bailiff.
The bailiffs' accounts which have survived for the years 1536–44 (fn. 102) are primarily rentals and are therefore important because they give the earliest description of the lands which were held with Brooke House. They included over 170 acres of non-contiguous arable, pasture and meadow land which were held by several tenants, and 29 acres which had been demised to the King by Robert Elderton and Edward Aunsell. (Among the manuscripts of the Earl of Warwick there is an unsealed conveyance, dated 1542, of these 29 acres, from John Elryngton and Edmund Parker to the King. (fn. 103) ) The accounts also record minor repairs made to the house. Works included a new garden door in 1538–9, (fn. 104) repairs to the roofs and windows and scouring the pool or moat in the orchard and garden in 1540– 1541. (fn. 105) In May 1537 the sum of £2,000 was paid to Anthony Dennye out of the Augmentation Office funds for buildings at Westminster, Chelsea and Hackney; probably very little of this was expended at Hackney. (fn. 106) Other sums issued from the Augmentation Office, for works at Hackney alone, were:—£280 between May 1543 and March 1544, (fn. 107) £56 in November 1545, (fn. 108) and £40 in September 1546. (fn. 109)
In September 1545 Lord Chancellor Wriothesley asked for the loan of the house whilst the plague was prevalent in the City; (fn. 110) the King granted his request and sent him some venison. (fn. 111) Wriothesley was in residence in December. (fn. 112)
Henry VIII died in January 1547 without having disposed of the manor, but he had 'intended to reward his councillors with lands to certain values, as he often declared to certain of the most intimate of his Council and Chamber' and soon after the accession of Edward VI the manor and capital mansion of Hackney were assigned to Sir William Herbert, a gentleman of his Privy Chamber. (fn. 113) The grant to Herbert appears to have led to a succession of absentee-owners during the next two decades.
The particular made for the drafting of Herbert's grant has fortunately survived. It repeats the description of the lands belonging to the manor contained in the bailiffs' accounts mentioned earlier, but much more important is the description it gives of the house:—'there is a Manor place whiche is a Fayre House all of bricke (fn. 10) havinge a Fayre Hall and a parlor a Faire ketchyn a Pastory a drye larder with Buttry Pantery and all other houses of Office necessary and many Fayre Chambers a Faire long Galerye a proper Chapell and a Closet commynge out of the great Chamber over the Chappell a proper lybrarye to laye bokes in many other proper Roomes wythin the same Place And also a Fayre barne to ley haye a Faire Stable Roome able for stabling for horses And the said house is inclosid upon the backeside wyth a greate brode dyche and without that a Fayre large garden inclosid to the sayd House with a pale necessary for a garden or an Orcharde And at the furder ende of the sayd house [an] Orcharde havinge but Fewe trees of Frute therein wiche conteynyth di' acre or theraboutes And at the Hither end of the House comynge From London ys a Faire large garden grounde inclosyd with a bricke wall'. This particular was based on a survey made for the King in 1536. (fn. 114)
Herbert received his grant in July 1547, but in August he conveyed the manor and house to Sir Ralph Sadleyr or Sadler and John Hales of Coventry for £1,000, reserving a yearly rental of 38s. 3d. to the Crown. (fn. 115) Hales released his claim to the property to Sadler in the following October. (fn. 116) Sadler was born in Hackney in 1507. He entered Thomas Cromwell's household at an early age, and subsequently held important posts in the King's service; (fn. 31) by 1540 he was Clerk of the Hanaper, Prothonotary in Chancery and one of the two principal Secretaries of State. (fn. 117) Before he purchased Brooke House he had already secured a considerable estate in Hackney and the vicinity; he also had a house near the parish church and five acres of land which seem to have lain between the two closes purchased by the King in 1542 (fn. 117) (see page 59). In February 1548 Sir Wymond Carew bought the house and manor for £1,200, thus enabling Sadler to realize a profit of £200. (fn. 118) Brooke House was owned successively by three generations of the Carew family, but there is no evidence that any of them lived there. The family's home was at Anthony in Cornwall, where they held considerable estates. (fn. 119) Sir Wymond, who was Treasurer of First Fruits and Tenths, (fn. 120) also had a house in St. Giles in the Fields. (fn. 121) He died in 1549, leaving his son Thomas heir to his Middlesex property. (fn. 122) Sir Wymond had sold two closes in Tottenham shortly before he died (fn. 120) and in 1556 Thomas Carew sold twenty acres in Stepney and Hackney, (fn. 123) and about eleven and a half acres in Hackney in 1560. (fn. 120) Thomas died in 1564 (fn. 124) and left his son Richard, a minor, as his heir, but Thomas's mother Martha survived him and enjoyed the profits of the property until her death in 1573. (fn. 125) Richard Carew, the antiquary and author of The Survey of Cornwall, (fn. 31) sold the manor in 1578. (fn. 126)
Towards the end of the Carew family's ownership of Brooke House it was occupied by Lady Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox. (fn. 126) Lady Margaret Douglas was a granddaughter of Henry VII, and in 1544 married Matthew Stuart, Earl of Lennox. (fn. 61) Her royal blood made her the centre of political intrigue during most of her life. Miss P. M. Handover in her biography of Arbella Stuart, the Countess's grand-daughter, says that 'Before her death she [the Countess] could claim to be a great-granddaughter, granddaughter, niece, cousin, sister, mother and grandmother to Kings of Scotland, England and France and on the distaff side she was in equally close relationship to seven Queens . . . she found it hardly endurable that she herself should be denied the sweets of majesty.' (fn. 127) The marriage of her eldest son Henry, Lord Darnley, to Mary, Queen of Scots, resulted in her imprisonment in the Tower. She was released after Darnley's death and a few years later, in 1571, her husband, who had become Regent of Scotland, was killed at the battle of Stirling. (fn. 128) It appears that from this event dates her retirement to Brooke House. (fn. 129) In 1574 the Countess of Lennox's surviving son Charles was married secretly at Rufford to Elizabeth Cavendish, the Countess of Shrewsbury's daughter by a previous marriage. The Queen's touchiness about the marriages of those who stood closest to the inheritance of the throne had already been demonstrated by her treatment of the Countess of Lennox when Darnley married Mary, Queen of Scots. When the news of Charles Stuart's marriage reached Elizabeth the Countess was ordered to the Tower again. (fn. 130) She made a brief visit to Brooke House before her imprisonment and from there wrote to Lord Burghley thanking him for using his influence with the Queen on her behalf. (fn. 131) Charles and Elizabeth Stuart may have lived at Brooke House during the Countess's imprisonment and their daughter, Arbella, may have been born there. (fn. 132) By 10 November 1575 the Countess had returned to Hackney from whence she wrote to Mary, Queen of Scots, thanking her for her bounty 'to our little daughter' (Arbella). (fn. 133)
Charles Stuart died early in 1576, presumably at Brooke House, and the Countess wrote from Hackney to Lord Ruthven asking him to provide her with details of the pedigree of the Earls of Lennox for the embellishment of her son's monument. (fn. 134) He was buried in Hackney church. (fn. 135) The Countess survived him for only two years and died at Hackney in 1578. (fn. 61)
In her will, which was written a few weeks before her death, she made the Earl of Leicester one of her overseers and bequeathed to him a tablet with Henry VIII's picture and a chain of pomander beads, netted over with gold. She also provided for her son Charles' body to be removed from Hackney parish church and laid with hers in a tomb in Westminster Abbey. (fn. 136)
The Countess of Lennox presumably had a lease of the house and some of the surrounding lands. In July 1578, three months after her death, Richard Carew sold the house and forty-three acres of land to Henry Cary (Carye), first Lord Hunsdon, for £1,550. (fn. 137) Cary was a son of Anne Boleyn's sister, and therefore cousin to Queen Elizabeth. He was created Baron Hunsdon in 1559, and at the time of his purchase of Brooke House was a Knight of the Garter, a Privy Councillor, Warden of the East Marches and Governor of Berwick. (fn. 31) (fn. 11)
Hunsdon owned the house for only five years, but he borrowed a great deal of money on it. In 1581 he mortgaged the property for £420 to Thomas Aldersey, citizen and haberdasher of London. (fn. 138) He redeemed this mortgage in the following May (fn. 139) and immediately re-mortgaged the estate to a William Bawtre of London, gentleman, for £2,000. (fn. 140) He also bound himself to Bawtre for a sum of £4,000 on the same day. (fn. 141) Neither the mortgage nor the bond was redeemed and Hunsdon was presumably forced to sell Brooke House to pay Bawtre. In March 1583 the house was conveyed with the lands purchased from Carew and Elrington to Sir Rowland Hayward, knight, for £2,500. (fn. 142)
Hayward was Master of the Clothworkers' Company in 1559–60 (fn. 143); he served as an alderman of the City of London for thirty years, was Sheriff in 1563 and Lord Mayor in 1570 and 1591. (fn. 144) His town house was the old Elsing Spital (fn. 145) in the parish of St. Alphage, London Wall, and he presumably used Brooke House as a country residence. He had a new conduit head made in a field to the north and laid pipes from it to the house. (fn. 146) He also secured a thousand-year lease of a piece of waste land, belonging to the manor of Lordshold, between the house and roadway, in order to enlarge the 'gate-house'. (fn. 147)
In 1592 Hayward conveyed the manor and house to feoffees, all London merchants, in trust to sell them after his death, (fn. 148) directing that £2,000 from the proceeds of the sale were to be laid out to purchase land for his son George. (fn. 145) Hayward died in December 1593. He was buried in St. Alphage, London Wall, and a monument was erected in the church by his executors, with figures of himself, his two wives and sixteen children. (fn. 144)
Hayward's feoffees did not find a purchaser for the house until 1597, when they conveyed it to Elizabeth, Countess of Oxford, Francis Trentham, Ralph Sneyd(e) and Gyles Younge for £3,300. (fn. 149) The Countess was the daughter of Thomas Trentham and his wife Jane, daughter of Sir William Sneyd. She was a maid of honour to Queen Elizabeth and in 1591 she became the second wife of Edward de Vere, seventeenth Earl of Oxford. (fn. 61) The conveyance of the estate to the Countess and her relations rather than to her husband, who was still alive, suggests prudent foresight on the part of the Countess and her advisers, for during his first marriage the Earl, being 'hopeless of Heirs, in Discontent with his Wife, squandred away a Princely Estate'. (fn. 150) Two letters written by the Earl at Hackney, one dated 1600 (fn. 151) and the other 1603, (fn. 152) suggest that he lived at Brooke House with the Countess. He died in 1604 and was buried in the parish church on 6 July. (fn. 153)
The Countess appears to have continued to live at Brooke House and in 1608 she executed a deed of trust vesting it in her son, Henry. (fn. 154) The latter was of no Reputation in his Youth, being very debauched and riotous, and having no Means, maintain'd it by sordid and unworthy ways . . . [The Countess] finding her Son hopeless, let him run his Swing till he grew weary of it; and thinking he could not be worse in other Countries than he had been in his own, she sent him to travel, to try if change of Air would change his Humour'. (fn. 150) In April 1609 the Countess obtained a licence from the Crown to sell the house and estate, which was then said to include some 270 acres of land in Hackney and Tottenham. (fn. 155) In June of the same year the deed of trust in favour of her son was revoked (fn. 156) and the house and some 200 acres of land were sold for £4,980. (fn. 157)
In her will, dated 25 November 1612, the Countess desired to be buried in the parish church of Hackney as near to her husband as possible, and to have a suitable tomb erected to their memory. (fn. 158) She also left £20 to the poor of the parish. (fn. 159) Her death and burial were recorded in the Hackney parish register on 3 January 1613, (fn. 160) but where she had lived since the disposal of Brooke House is not known.
The sale of the property by the Countess of Oxford in 1609 inaugurated the ownership, which lasted for more than two hundred years, of the Greville family. From 1621 the head of the family, in whom the property was vested, bore the title Baron Brooke (whence the name by which the house was best known) of Beauchamps Court, Earl Brooke from 1746, and, from 1759, Earl of Warwick. (fn. 161) Unfortunately many of the manuscripts at Warwick Castle, which has been in the family's possession since 1604, (fn. 161) have disappeared and [very little remains there relating to the Hackney estate.]
The purchaser of Brooke House was the poet and dramatist, Sir Fulke Greville (fn. 12) of Beauchamps Court, Warwick, 'one of the chief ornaments of Elizabeth's Court', (fn. 162) and, from 1614 to 1621, Chancellor of the Exchequer to James I. (fn. 31) He was a close friend of Sir Philip Sidney, whose life he wrote. A biased contemporary commented on Greville's indolence in public affairs thus:—'Sir Fulk Grevill lived at Warwick or Hackney, served only himself and his own affections and grew rich. It is true he walked sometimes in Whitehall Galleries where peradventure he found a way readier to preferment'. (fn. 163)
Some accounts for his expenses in the year after he bought Brooke House have survived. They include such items as:—£18 os. 8d. 'For husbandry, day labour and necessary charges thereof at Hackney'; £365 9s. 10d. 'For Cattle brought to stock Over, Leafield, Wedgnock and Hackney'; £587 2s. 2d. 'For diet, house-keeping and board wages at London and Hackney and Harold's Park'; £120 2s. 9d. 'For servants wages and allowances at Hackney and London';£250 14s. 9d. 'For charges of the stable at London and Hackney'; £9 0s. 1d. 'For charges of garden at Hackney'; and £296 10s. 10d. 'For buildings and reparations at . . . Hackney'. (fn. 164) It would be consistent with what we know of his activities at Warwick to suppose that the gardens which later attracted John Evelyn and Samuel Pepys were laid out at this time; according to Dugdale, Greville had spent some £20,000 'in repairing and adorning' Warwick Castle where he had laid out some 'pleasant Gardens'. (fn. 165)
In 1621 Greville was created Baron Brooke of Beauchamps Court, (fn. 61) and it was from this date, therefore, that the name Brooke began to be associated with the house, although in his will, dated 1628, Greville still refers to it by the name of 'Kinges Place'. (fn. 166) The earliest known occurrence of the name (fn. 13) is in 1715 (see Appendix II, page 80) and in 1716 there is an entry in the poor rate book for the payment of eight shillings per month to Widow Pooler for caring for a foundling 'left at Brook-house' and named Elizabeth Brooks. (fn. 169) The name King's Place still persisted, however, and the house was so called in a deed of 1719. (fn. 170)
In 1628 Greville died at Brooke House, Holborn (the London residence referred to in the accounts quoted above) as a result of an attack made on him by a crazed servant. (fn. 31) He was buried in St. Mary's Church, Warwick, where his sombre, canopied tomb still stands.
Greville was unmarried, and was succeeded by his nephew Robert, second Lord Brooke, who died in 1643. (fn. 61) During the latter's life-time the house was occupied by a Mr. Bass, (fn. 171) but Lord Brooke's widow, Catharine, who lived until 1676, appears to have occupied the house in 1649 (fn. 171) and subsequently. (fn. 172) In 1651 some of her horses at Hackney were seized on behalf of the Council of State. (fn. 173)
During her life-time the two diarists, John Evelyn and Samuel Pepys, paid visits to the house, Evelyn in 1654 and Pepys in 1666. Both their comments illustrate the growing distaste for Tudor houses. Evelyn went expressly 'to Hackny to see my Lady Brooks Gardens, . . . one of the neatest, and most celebrated in England'. He found the house 'well furnish'd' but, as we have seen, judged it 'a despicable building'. (fn. 174) Pepys too found the gardens entrancing and much better than Mr. Drake's in the same parish, and was tempted by his first sight of oranges growing to steal one and eat it. There were also to be seen 'great variety of other exotique plants, and several labarinths, and a pretty aviary'. In a comparison of the house with Mr. Drake's, however, Pepys found it 'not so good, nor the prospect good at all'. (fn. 175)
Lady Brooke's second son, Robert, fourth Lord Brooke, who succeeded to the title in 1658, (fn. 61) also took up residence at Brooke House. He was chosen as a vestryman of Hackney in 1661 (fn. 168) and two of his children were baptized in the parish church, Robert in 1664 and John in 1665. (fn. 176) In the hearth tax returns for Clapton for the period 1664–74 (?) Lord Brooke was assessed for 37 (fn. 177) or 36 (fn. 178) hearths. It seems probable that after his death in 1677 (fn. 61) the family ceased to live in the house. In a marriage settlement of 1719 the property was described as being in several tenures. (fn. 170)
The first recorded tenant of the house in the eighteeth century was Evan Pugh, sugarbaker, although he himself may only have been a sub-lessee (see below). (fn. 179) In 1724, after his death, his son John (fn. 180) granted two under-leases of part of the house, i.e. 'the new Apartment', (fn. 14) part of the great wash house, and an apartment over the gatehouse which was reached by stairs leading up by another tenant's kitchen, to Thomas Underwood, a painter. (fn. 181) These leases show that the house was now a warren of apartments and that the inhabitants shared a necessary house in the yard next to the road. A great barn and a brewhouse are also mentioned and one part of the building was later used as a meeting-house. Seymour in his Survey of London, printed in 1734–5, (fn. 182) reported that a Presbyterian meeting-house had been 'lately set up in Brook house', perhaps the congregation to whom a George Smyth was 'teacher or preacher' in 1732. (fn. 183)
By 1727 Thomas Pangbourne, citizen and cordwainer, had succeeded Walter Gregg as Lord Brooke's tenant for the house, paying £60 a year in rent. (fn. 184) In 1742 Pangbourne was Master of the Cordwainers' Company (fn. 185) and in 1750 he (fn. 16) was granted a lease by Lord Brooke of the whole house and gardens, with two adjoining closes, one on the south called Grove Close and another on the north called Well Close. (fn. 188) The Chatelain engraving reproduced on Plate 12a purports to show the house as it was about this time.
Although his name continues in the rate book until 1757 Pangbourne had moved to the parish of St. Mary le Bow by 1756, where he carried on the trade of 'Parker' and weaver. (fn. 189) According to the contemporary directories (fn. 190) the Presbyterian congregation was still meeting in the house, but there do not seem to have been so many sub-tenants as formerly. A certain 'Morrison' appears to have occupied Pangbourne's apartment (fn. 191) and Daniel Thomas had a part of the house as a shop between 1750 and 1756. (fn. 192)
Pangbourne died in 1758 and in accordance with the instructions which he left in his will (fn. 189) his daughter sold his lease. The purchaser was William Clarke of Hackney, gentleman, (fn. 193) who immediately obtained from Lord Brooke a ninety-nine years' lease of Brooke House with Well Close and Grove Close (fn. 194) and set about 'rebuilding' the house. (fn. 192) The rebuilding undoubtedly included the erection of the pedimented Georgian range on the site of what had formerly been the great hall, and some alterations in the rear. How much of the great hall still survived in 1758 is not known. Chatelain's view of 1750 shows it still standing and roofed, but as has already been remarked, this engraving must be regarded as suspect since it shows an arch in the east wall of the hall where none existed. In the undated drawing in the London Museum reproduced on Plate 12b, which must have been drawn before Clarke built the Georgian block, the walls and the roof of the hall are missing. The drawing may therefore represent a stage between 1750 and 1758 when the hall had been demolished, perhaps in preparation for the rebuilding.
In the second half of the eighteenth century there were numerous private madhouses in the northern and eastern outskirts of London, and it was for such a use that Clarke converted Brooke House in 1758–9. (fn. 195) Brooke House remained a lunatic asylum until 1940, and it was probably this change from domestic to institutional use which preserved the building during the nineteenth-century transformation of the surrounding district, and enabled it to survive until the middle of the twentieth century as a fifteenth-century fossil in a Victorian suburb (Plate 1).
In 1762 William Clarke obtained a lease of another part of the Brooke House estate which had been lately farmed by John Woodfield. (fn. 196) The farm contained about fifty acres and most of it lay to the west and south of Brooke House (see Plate 2, fields marked G, G2, G4 and G5).
Clarke was assisted in the management of the asylum by Miss Mary Hawkins, who also lived in the house. (fn. 197) He died in 1777 (fn. 198) and left his two leases to his brothers, John and the Rev. Charles Clarke, naming John Clarke and Mary Hawkins as his executor and executrix. (fn. 197) In 1781 the leases were assigned to Dr. John Monro of Bedford Square, (fn. 199) though Mary Hawkins continued to manage the asylum after this date.
The most interesting aspect of the history of Brooke House as an asylum was this connexion with the Monros, a family of Scottish origin which produced a long line of distinguished medical men, who specialised in mental disorders and who from 1728 to 1853 supplied Bethlem Hospital with its principal physicians. (fn. 200) Dr. John Monro, the son of Dr. James Monro, and the grandson of Alexander Monro, principal of Edinburgh University, was born in 1715. (fn. 201) He studied at Oxford, Edinburgh and Leyden and in 1751 was appointed to assist his father at Bethlem Hospital. (fn. 31) He was a friend of William Clarke (fn. 197) and his first known connexion with the madhouse at Brooke House was in 1762, when he recommended a patient to be sent there. (fn. 202) In 1763 Monro gave evidence before a Select Committee appointed to enquire into the wrongful detention of sane persons in madhouses. He thought that 'the present State of the private Madhouses required Regulation, with Respect to the Persons permitted to keep such Houses, the Admission of Patients, and the Visitation', (fn. 203) but it was not until 1774 that the Select Committee's work was embodied in an Act of Parliament. This Act authorized the Royal College of Physicians to elect from the Fellows of the College five Commissioners, who were annually to inspect and licence private madhouses in the metropolitan area. (fn. 204)
The first licence for Brooke House was granted in 1774 to Dr. John Monro, and he remained the licensee until 1783. (fn. 205) Between 1784 and 1789 the licence was issued to Mary Hawkins, (fn. 205) who on her death in 1790 left some £11,000, chiefly in stock, £1,000 of which she bequeathed to John Monro, his wife, and their three sons, James, Charles and Thomas. (fn. 206) Thomas, who qualified as a doctor of medicine in 1787 and immediately went to assist his father at Bethlem, (fn. 31) became the licensee of Brooke House on Mary Hawkins' death, (fn. 205) but John Monro retained financial control over the asylum until his death in 1791. (fn. 207) In his will he left explicit instructions to his sons to enter into partnership in his 'business'. Besides Brooke House he also had an asylum in Clerkenwell which appears to have belonged formerly to Dr. William Battie of St. Luke's Hospital. (fn. 205) The largest share of the profits was to go to Thomas, on whom, as the physician, the success of the business would depend. (fn. 208)
Thomas Monro's evidence before another Select Committee appointed to enquire into madhouses in 1815 illustrates the distinction which the Monros made in the treatment of their pauper patients at Bethlem and their wealthy private patients at Brooke House.
The patients at Brooke House were drawn from the middle and upper classes; (fn. 209) and although their treatment by cold baths, bleeding and purging was similar to that in use at Bethlem they were not restrained by chains. Thomas Monro in his evidence to the Select Committee said that the treatment he used 'was handed down to my father, and I do not know of any better practice'. The use of chains was 'fit only for pauper lunatics; if a gentleman was put in irons, he would not like it'. The violent patients were kept in separate rooms at Brooke House and for the forty or so patients there were as many servants. (fn. 210)
As a result of the investigations of the Select Committee Monro was forced to retire from Bethlem Hospital in 1816, and was succeeded by his son, Dr. Edward Thomas Monro, (fn. 211) who received the licence for Brooke House in 1818. (fn. 205) Thomas Monro lived until 1833, and devoted himself to the encouragement of young artists, among whom were numbered Turner and Girtin. (fn. 31)
In 1820 Dr. John Monro's son Charles, a solicitor and co-partner with Dr. Thomas Monro, purchased from the then Earl of Warwick the freehold of Brooke House and about fifty acres of land which had formerly been let to William Clarke. (fn. 212) The Earl had previously sold some of his land to the north of Brooke House to William G. D. Tyssen. (fn. 212) Edward Thomas Monro continued to hold the licence for the asylum until 1844 or 1845, (fn. 213) but in 1846 it was issued to the Misses Pettingall, presumably the resident superintendents. (fn. 214) Edward Thomas's son, Dr. Henry Monro, who was the author of several works on the treatment of the insane, became the licensee in 1847. (fn. 215) About 1868 he took into partnership Dr. Josiah O. Adams who continued to run the asylum, (fn. 216) after Monro's death in 1891. (fn. 31) The branch of the family descended from Charles Monro (who had purchased the freehold in 1820) continued to own the estate, leasing the asylum to a resident superintendent. In 1855 part of the estate had been sold to the British Land Company (fn. 217) and the area now bounded by Rendlesham, Downs, Nightingale and Walsingham Roads was laid out for building. A deed of covenant between the parties ensured that only detached or semi-detached houses would be erected 'to be kept and occupied for the residence of private gentlemen or families without any show of business', at a cost of not less than £500 each. (fn. 217)
In 1909 part of the forecourt of the house was taken for the widening of Upper Clapton Road and excavations revealed 'brickwork of a very old description . . . which probably formed part of the cellarage and foundations dating to the Tudor period'. (fn. 218) The projecting building, shown in the Chatelain view reproduced on Plate 12a, was also demolished at this time, and a smaller building erected on part of its site (see Plate 14a).
In October 1940 a high explosive bomb wrecked the northern courtyard and surrounding buildings, and blast also damaged buildings in the south courtyard; the patients were evacuated and the asylum was closed. In 1944 Brooke House and some five and a half acres were purchased by the London County Council; at the end of that year further damage was caused by enemy action. The house was demolished in 1954–5 and the site excavated in 1955–6. (fn. 219)