North of Short's Gardens

Survey of London: Volume 5, St Giles-in-The-Fields, Pt II. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1914.

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, 'North of Short's Gardens', in Survey of London: Volume 5, St Giles-in-The-Fields, Pt II, (London, 1914) pp. 106-111. British History Online [accessed 29 May 2024].

. "North of Short's Gardens", in Survey of London: Volume 5, St Giles-in-The-Fields, Pt II, (London, 1914) 106-111. British History Online, accessed May 29, 2024,

. "North of Short's Gardens", Survey of London: Volume 5, St Giles-in-The-Fields, Pt II, (London, 1914). 106-111. British History Online. Web. 29 May 2024,

In this section


The land to the north-east of Short's Gardens seems also to have formed part of that acquired by William Short in 1590, for certain premises which can be identified as occupying a site to the rear of the centre of the frontage to Drury Lane between Short's Gardens and Broad Street, are stated to be bounded on the south by ground of Robert Clifton, "which ground was heretofore the inheritance of William Short, deceased." (fn. 1) The fact that the property in Crown Court sold by Thomas Short in 1679 (fn. 2) was also bounded on the south by land "late in the possession of Robert Clifton" shows that the Short property originally extended further westwards. It stretched, in fact, as far as the eastern boundary of Marshland. (fn. 3)

The Subsidy Roll for 1646 gives three names between that of the Earl of Downe, probably representing Lennox House, and Paviors Alley, afterwards Ashlin Place. The first is that of "Mr. Edw. Smyth," who was taxed 6s. 8d. for land, and 8s. for goods, and was evidently a person of much more substance than his two neighbours, who figure each at 2s. for land only. Mr. Smith had caused much concern by his building. As early as June, 1618, the Privy Council wrote (fn. 4) to the justices pointing out that "there is a faire building now goeing up in Drury Lane, wch is by credible informatin erected upon a new foundaction," that the "said building is under his Maties eye as he passeth that way, and is observed as a speciall marke of contempt amongst all the rest," and asking for particulars as to the date of the foundation, etc. As a result it was found that Smith's new building, which had been assigned him by William Short, (fn. 5) was contrary to the proclamation as going beyond the old foundations, and converting a stable into a dwelling house, (fn. 6) and order was accordingly given for the demolition of that part, (fn. 7) but Smith seems to have made a successful protest. Eighteen years elapsed, and Smith was again in trouble. On 20th June, 1636, the Earl of Dorset reported to the Privy Council that "one Smith hath lately erected an house in or neare Drury Lane suddenly and for the most part by stealth in the night, not onely contrary to His Maties proclamation, but after he was commanded by his Lopp to forbeare to proceed in the building thereof." Smith was thereupon committed to prison until the house should be wholly demolished. (fn. 8)

The north-eastern angle of land formed by Drury Lane and Broad Street, like the land on the opposite side of the way, is one of the very few sites which can be indentified with certainty in the book of grants to the Hospital of St. Giles. In some unknown year, but apparently in the reign of Henry III., John de Cruce demised to Hugh, the smith, "all that his land situate at the angle or corner formed by the meeting of the two streets, whereof the one comes from St. Giles and is called St. Giles Street, and the other goes towards the Thames by the forge of the said Hugh, and is called Aldewych. And which land begins on the east part of the said corner, and stretches westwards towards the Hospital of St. Giles; and again beginning at the said corner or forge, and facing the spring, (fn. 9) extends southwards towards the Thames, in a line with the street called Aldewych, by the garden of Roger, the son of Alan." (fn. 10) Before Elizabethan times the forge had disappeared, and the site in question was occupied by The Bear inn, and property connected therewith.

In 1567 George Harrison purchased (fn. 11) from Lord and Lady Mountjoy, inter alia, the messuage called The Bear, two messuages lying between The Bear on the east and the tenement of Godfrey Matthew (i.e., The Swan) on the west, and all other houses, etc., lying between Godfrey Matthew's tenement on the west and the Queen's highway from the Strand to St. Giles on the east. Harrison sold the property in 1568 to John Walgrave who in the following year parted with it to Johanna Wise, who subsequently married James Briscowe, and in 1582 (fn. 12) the property, including brewing vessels and other implements belonging to the inn and the brewhouse, was acquired by James Mascall, brewer, who was then actually in occupation of The Bear. The property continued in the Mascall family, and in 1634, according to a deed (fn. 13) relating to the marriage portionof Frances Godman, daughter of Olive Godman (née Mascall) it included (i.) a messuage sometime in the tenure of John Vavasour and then of Matthew Quire, (ii.) the messuage, inn or tenement commonly called The Black Bear, sometime in the tenure of Richard Robins and then of Matthew Quire, (iii.) ten messuages in Black Bear Yard, (iv.) a number of other messuages, (fn. 14) and (v.) two gardens to the rear of Black Bear Yard, one of them formerly in the tenure of John Vavasour, and the other occupied with the inn. Vavasour's house, it is known, occupied the site of Ragged Staff Court, (fn. 15) which was situated about 60 feet northwards from Paviors Alley, (fn. 16) and as no mention of it occurs in the sale to Mascall, it may be taken for granted that it was built either by the latter within the course of the next three years, (fn. 17) or by John Vavasour, who married Mascall's widow. The first building on that spot therefore was erected some time between 1582 and 1608. (fn. 18)

To the west of The Bear property was The Swan. In 1566 Lord and Lady Mountjoy sold to Thomas Allen (fn. 19) all that messuage or tenement "sometyme called … The Swanne," in the tenure of Geoffrey Matthew, abutting to the east on The Bear, west on the tenement of Robert Bromeley, "sometyme called The Graybounde," south-west on Matthew's stables, south on the Greyhound Close, and north on the Queen's highway. It has unfortunately not proved possible to trace the later history of The Swan, but there can be no doubt that the property is identical with that sold in 1723 by William Gyles to Peniston Lamb and Thos. Hanson, (fn. 20) and which consisted of three houses in the main street with the alley behind, formerly called Cock alley and then Gyles' Court, and is described as having a frontage to the street of 44½ feet and a depth of 114 feet, and bounded on the south by the brewhouse late Mr. Theedham's, (fn. 21) on the east partly by messuages and lands in the occupation of Theedham, and on the west by messuages and lands "heretofore of one Short" (i.e., The Greybound).

A comparison between the names of the occupiers of the three houses as given in the deed of 1723, and the entries in various issues of the sewer ratebook, shows that the houses in question corresponded with the present Nos. 59 to 61 (formerly 56 to 58).

There does not seem any reason to doubt the identity of The Swan of the time of Elizabeth with Le Swan on le Hop, (fn. 22) demised by the Hospital of St. Giles to John de Polton in 1360–61. It was then described as standing south on land of the said Hospital and north on the king's highway. This description certainly does not warrant the statement of Parton that the inn must "have been situate somewhat eastward from Drury Lane end, and on the south side of Holborn." (fn. 23)

Immediately to the west of The Swan came The Greybound. Unfortunately no description of the inn or the property connected with it has come down from Elizabethan times. In 1679, however, Thomas Short, son and heir of Dudley Short, sold the whole to John Pery, and the indenture (fn. 24) embodying the transaction gave a description of the property as it then existed. It included two houses in the main thoroughfare, both extending southward to Greyhound Court and one of them being "commonly called … or knowne by the name or signe of The Crowne." It would seem therefore that The Greybound had by now been renamed The Crown, although the court still retained the old name. By 1704 the court had also been re-named Crown Court. (fn. 25) Included in the sale was a quantity of land in the rear, with buildings, garden ground and other ground, including the house in Greyhound Court where Thomas Short had himself lived. The details given, though full, are not sufficient to enable a plan to be drawn of the property. It certainly included the eastern portion of the site of St. Giles's Workhouse, (fn. 26) and did not extend as far south as Short's Gardens, as it is said to be bounded in that direction by a "peice of ground commonly called the mulberry garden, late in the possession of Robert Clifton."

To the west of The Greyhound, were a number of houses, which in 1567 were sold (fn. 27) by Lord and Lady Mountjoy to Henry Ampthill. (fn. 28) They are described as in eleven occupations, adjoining The Greyhound on the east, the highway on the north, and a close (probably Greyhound Close) on the south. The western boundary, unfortunately, is not given. The property was subsequently split up, about half coming into the hands of a family named Hawkins, (fn. 29) and this in 1726 certainly included property on either side of Lamb Alley, (fn. 30) probably as far as the site of the present No. 45, Broad Street. How much further the Ampthill property extended is not known.

In 1631 Ann Barber, widow, and her son Thomas, sold (fn. 31) to Henry Lambe a tenement and two acres of land, the said two acres being garden ground and adjoining on the west "a parcell of ground called Masslings," on the south "a parcell of ground in the occuption of one Master Smith," on the east a "parcell of ground in the occupation of Mistris Margarett Hamlyn," and on the north certain tenements and garden plots in the occupation of Robert Johnson and others. In 1654 John Lambe sold the property to Henry Stratton, who in the following year parted with it to Thomas Blythe. (fn. 32) In the indenture accompanying the latter sale, the two acres are stated to be "a garden or ground late in the occupation of Samuel Bennet," and the remainder of the property is described as 10 messuages late in the tenure of Edmund Lawrence, 4 small messuages also late in Lawrence's occupation, a chamber commonly called the Gate House, a messuage called The Bowl, and a messuage called The Black Lamb. The property had formerly belonged to William Barber, (fn. 33) Ann's husband. There is nothing to show how he became possessed of it, but it is possible that the property is identical with the "one messuage, one garden and two acres of land with appurtenances" sold by John Vavasour in 1590 to Thomas Young. (fn. 34)

The eastern limits of the property above described may be fixed within a little, as it is known that a portion of it was utilised in the 18th century for the building of the original workhouse, and is described in a deed quoted by Parton (fn. 35) as bounded on the east by the backs of houses in Crown Court. It may be regarded therefore as including the site of the central portion of the present workhouse. The "parcel of ground in the occupation of one Master Smith" described as the southern boundary, and referred to in a deed of 1680 (fn. 36) as the garden and grounds of William Short, is obviously the strip of ground on the north side of Short's Gardens, leased by Short to Edward Smith. (fn. 37) The western boundary, "Masslings," has been strangely misconstrued. Parton read it as "Noselings," (fn. 38) which he regarded as a corruption of "Newlands," (fn. 39) and located the ground on the east side of Neal Street. Blott copied the error and, in a highly imaginative paragraph, connected it with Noseley, in Leicestershire. (fn. 40) As a matter of fact, there is not the slightest doubt that "Masslings" (fn. 41) is "Marshlands," between which the form "Marshlins" appearing in a deed of 1615 (fn. 42) is evidently a connecting link.

The boundary between Marshland and The Bowl property is shown on Plate 39.

By 1680 (fn. 43) a considerable portion of The Bowl property had been built on and Bowl Yard had been formed. In the first instance, the latter led by a narrow passage into Short's Gardens, but afterwards the entrance was widened, and the southern part of the thoroughfare was named New Belton Street, Belton Street proper being distinguished as Old Belton Street. About 1846 both were widened on the east side to form Endell Street, and the still remaining portion of Bowl Yard at the northern end was swept away. Bowl Yard obviously derived its name from The Bowl inn, which, together with The Black Lamb, is mentioned in the deed of 1655, above referred to. The sign had no doubt reference to the custom mentioned by Stow (fn. 44) that criminals on their way to execution at Tyburn were, at St. Giles's Hospital, presented with a great bowl of ale "thereof to drinke at theyr pleasure, as to be theyr last refreshing in this life." The inn itself probably fronted Broad Street, and the brewhouse attached to it was situated behind, on the west side of Bowl Yard.

Plate 38 shows the west front of The Bowl Brewery in 1846, and the houses at the northern end of Belton Street.

In the Council's collection are:—

(fn. 45)The Bowl Brewery in 1846 (photograph).
Nos. 7 and 9, Broad Street. Exterior (photograph).


  • 1. Close Roll, 12 William III. (4863)—Indenture between (I) Mary Rawlinson, (2) Giles Powell and (3) Jeremiah Ridge.
  • 2. See p. 109.
  • 3. See p. 112.
  • 4. Privy Council Register, Vol. 29, p. 424.
  • 5. Calendar State Papers, Domestic, 1611–18, p. 551
  • 6. Ibid., p. 555.
  • 7. Privy Council Register, Vol. 29, p. 484.
  • 8. Privy Conncil Register, Vol. 46, p. 274.
  • 9. It is just possible that a later reference to the spring is to be found in the petition dated 7th July, 1637, of the inhabitants of the Old Town of St. Giles, "complaying of ye stopping up of a fair large and open well in ye said towne; being of great use and comfort to ye peters who now find ye want thereof in these times of contagion, y' same being continued to bee stopped up as aforesaid, by ye now landlord Frauncis Garrett." (Privy Council Register,Vol. 48, p. 105).
  • 10. Parton's Hospital and Parish of St. Giles, p. 114.
  • 11. Close Roll, 9 Eliz. (742).
  • 12. Close Roll, 24 Eliz. (1129)—Indenture between Jas. Briscowe, Joan his wife and John Wise and Jas. Mascall.
  • 13. Close Roll, II Chas. I. (3057).—Indenture between Thos. and Olive Godman and Francis and Frances Gerard.
  • 14. Property on the east side of Drury Lane and on the north side of Broad Street is mixed up with this, and it is not possible entirely to separate them.
  • 15. "… abutting east on a court called Ragged Staffe Court (which court was heretofore in the possession of John Vavasour." (Close Roll, 12 William III. (4863)—Indenture between Mary Rawlinson, etc., cited above).
  • 16. Parton's statement that the two were identical (Hospital and Parish of St. Giles, p. 127) is incorrect. The Hearth Tax Rolls mention both, and both are clearly shown in the map accompanying Strype's edition of Stow (Plate ).
  • 17. He died in 1585 (Inquisitiones Post Mortem, Series II., Vol. 208 (173).)
  • 18. John Vavasour's will (Somerset House Wills, Winderbanck, 65), was proved on 18th June, 1608.
  • 19. Close Roll, 9 Eliz., (749).
  • 20. Middlesex Registry Memorials, 1723, V., 181–2.
  • 21. On 16th January, 1717–8, Edward Theedham leased to Chas. Hall and Ant. Elmes The Bear Brewhouse, in St. Giles (Middlesex Registry Memorials, 1717, IV., 263).
  • 22. Ancient tavern signs were nearly always "on the hoop," which seems to have originated "in the highly ornamented bush or crown, which latterly was made of hoops covered with evergreens." (Larwood and Hotton, History of Signboards, p. 504.)
  • 23. Hospital and Parish of St. Giles, p. 237.
  • 24. Close Roll, 31 Chas. II. (4527).
  • 25. Sewer Rate Book for that year.
  • 26. Parton's Hospital and Parish of St. Giles, p. 320.
  • 27. Close Roll, 9 Eliz. (742).
  • 28. On 27th March, 1573, Henry Amptill and Roger Mascall, brewers, were convicted of having set at large certain suspected persons, whom William Westone, a "hedborowe" of St. Giles, had taken in a certain tenement of the said Henry Amptill and had imprisoned. (Middlesex County Records, Sessions Rolls, I., p. 82).
  • 29. In 1621, John Ampthill was granted leave to alienate 5 messuages, II cottages and 4 gardens to Anne, Robert, James and Thomas Foote (Patent Roll, 19 Jas. I (2263); in 1614 he sold 3 houses to Richard Windell (Middlesex Feet of Fines, 12 Jas. I., Mich.), whose grandson in 1630 parted with them to Abraham Hawkins (Close Roll, 6 Chas. I. (2823)); and in 1625 he obtained leave to alienate 14 messauges to John and Abraham Hawkins. On the death of Abraham in 1645, he was still in possession of 14 messuages in St. Giles (Inquisitiones Post Mortem, 2nd Series, 707 (41).)
  • 30. The Hawkins property seems to have descended to Sir William Dawes, Archbishop of York, whose mother was Jane Hawkins. By a deed of 1726 (Middlesex Registry Memorials, 1726, IV., 389) Jane Lewis sold the remainder of a lease granted by Sir William, and comprising inter alia a house which by reference to the ratebooks can be shown to be the second westwards from Lamb Alley.
  • 31. Close Roll, 7 Chas. I. (2895).
  • 32. Close Roll, 1655 (3866).
  • 33. On 3rd December, 1603, William Barber, of St. Giles, gardener, was convicted, with others, of throwing filth and dung near the highway in a certain close called "Blumsberrie fieldes." (Middlesex County Records, Sessions Rolls, II., p. 4).
  • 34. Middlesex Feet of Fines, 32 Eliz., Easter.
  • 35. Hospital and Parish of St. Giles, p. 319.
  • 36. Sale by Arthur Blythe to William Wigg and Thomas Whitfield, in trust for John Smallbone, dated 1680, and quoted by Parton (op. cit.) p. 126.
  • 37. See p. 106.
  • 38. Hospital and Parish of St. Giles, p. 125.
  • 39. Hospital and Parish of St. Giles, p. 113. Newlands was actually in the parish of St. Marylebone (see p. 125).
  • 40. Blemundsbury, p. 308.
  • 41. "Maslyn's Pound" and "Maslyn Fields" are mentioned in the parish books in 1644 and 1656 (Parton's Hospital and Parish of St. Giles, pp. 270–1).
  • 42. See p. 101.
  • 43. See sale by Arthur Blythe to Wigg and Whitfield, quoted by Parton (Hospital and Parish of St. Giles, p. 126).
  • 44. Kingsford's edition, II., p. 91.
  • 45. Reproduced here.