Colleges: The college in the Guildhall chapel

A History of the County of London: Volume 1, London Within the Bars, Westminster and Southwark. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1909.

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'Colleges: The college in the Guildhall chapel', in A History of the County of London: Volume 1, London Within the Bars, Westminster and Southwark, ed. William Page( London, 1909), British History Online [accessed 15 July 2024].

'Colleges: The college in the Guildhall chapel', in A History of the County of London: Volume 1, London Within the Bars, Westminster and Southwark. Edited by William Page( London, 1909), British History Online, accessed July 15, 2024,

"Colleges: The college in the Guildhall chapel". A History of the County of London: Volume 1, London Within the Bars, Westminster and Southwark. Ed. William Page(London, 1909), , British History Online. Web. 15 July 2024.

In this section


The new chapel of the Guildhall must at least have been begun in 1299, for Henry le Galeys then gave to the Fraternity of Pui 5 marks annual quit-rent to maintain a chaplain there. (fn. 1) Either the building operations extended over a long period or extensive repairs (fn. 2) were soon needed, since in 1326 Thomas de Wake, lord of Lidel, and John de Stratford, bishop of Winchester, promised to supply the timber and lead to complete the church. (fn. 3)

In this chapel—dedicated to the honour of God, St. Mary, St. Mary Magdalen, and All Saints—Peter Fanelore, Adam Fraunceys, and Henry Frowyk proposed in 1356 to found a chantry of five chaplains at the altar of St. Mary. (fn. 4) Their intention, however, does not seem to have been carried out until 1368, when Fanelore was dead. (fn. 5) Of the college of five chaplains one was to be warden with a salary of 13 marks a year, the others receiving 10 marks each from the revenues of the endowment, viz., two tenements in the parish of St. Vedast and one in the parish of St. Giles without Cripplegate. The clerk who aided the priests in the mass was to have 6 marks a year. The warden was to collect the rents and pay his fellow priests, and accounts were to be given before the two founders during their lifetime, and after their death before the mayor and chamberlain, any surplus over expenses being kept in a chest with three keys held by the mayor and chamberlain, the warden, and the four chaplains respectively. When the post of warden was vacant it was to be filled by Fraunceys and Frowyk while they lived, but when they were dead, the priests, after asking leave of the mayor, were to elect one of themselves. The advowsons of the other chaplaincies, after the death of the founders, lay with the mayor and chamberlain.

The Corporation seems to have had the supervision of the chantry, judging from its order to the chamberlain in 1417 to seize the lands of the chapel because the chaplains wandered about and neglected their duties. (fn. 6)

The chapel was so ruinous in 1430 that it was decided to rebuild it, and in order to get more space for the new building the chaplains' house was taken down and another on the north side of the Guildhall assigned to them instead. (fn. 7) The work proceeded somewhat slowly: overseers were appointed in 1439, (fn. 8) and it was not until October, 1444, that the chapel was at last dedicated. (fn. 9) In December of that year the warden and priests were commanded to perform choral service there daily. (fn. 10) The chapel was still unfinished, the City companies being asked in 1446 to contribute to the expense of roofing it. (fn. 11)

A chantry was founded there in 1435 (fn. 12) by Henry Barton, who bequeathed also some ornaments to the chapel; (fn. 13) chantries were also erected by Roger Depham and Sir William Langford, (fn. 14) while the gild of St. Nicholas, founded by the parish clerks of London, added in 1449–50 two more chaplains to those then celebrating in the chapel, but in 1475 took away one for lack of funds. (fn. 15)

Stow says that the college consisted of a warden, seven chaplains, three clerks, and four choristers, (fn. 16) but from the ordinances of Bishop Bonner in 1542, (fn. 17) the number of priests seems not to have been more than seven, the custos and three chaplains established by the original foundation and the three annexed to the same.

The bishop's attention must have been drawn to the college by the unruliness of the priests, as he observes that the founders had made no ordinances, and in consequence the chaplains recognized no spiritual person in the college as their governor and refused to obey the custos. The bishop accordingly ordered that in future they should be obedient to the custos as their head, and that the highest seat in chapel and college should be assigned to him. Small misdemeanours were to be judged by the custos and two chaplains, but serious offences were to be dealt with by the bishop. Culprits not submitting to punishment were to be reported to the bishop, and in case of contumacy to be expelled. The bishop made arrangements for the daily celebration of masses in the chapel, and then proceeded to lay down rules for the life and conduct of members of the college: every year two of the chaplains, viz., one of each of the two sets, were to be appointed to provide the food, drink, and fuel; every week one of the commoners was to be steward, and prepare and see the food served at table; dinner was to be at 11 a.m., and supper at 5 or 5.30 p.m., according to the season; persons arriving after grace at the end of the meal must pay extra for bread and drink; anyone wanting more delicate fare than that provided must pay for it himself; anyone having fault to find with the meals was to tell the custos, steward, or bursars quietly; the four children, evidently the choristers, were to serve at all meals, and to take turns to say grace and read a portion of the Bible in the middle of dinner; no one except the bursars was to breakfast in the buttery or kitchen; none was to soil the table with liquor or wipe his knife upon it; the chaplains must not haunt taverns or alehouses; no weapons were to be worn within the precinct; the slander of a fellow-commoner was punishable by a fine of 4d. to the commons; in case of a blow the fine was to be 6s. 8d.; none without special leave of the custos was to have a layman, a stranger, lodging in his chamber within the precinct; chaplains or priests having rooms in the college were not to sleep away from the same; no woman was to go alone into any of the rooms in the precinct except to attend to cases of severe illness, and then with leave of the custos; the college gates were to be shut every night at a certain hour, and those coming in later were to be fined.

The college was suppressed with other chantries and colleges by Edward VI. (fn. 18) Pensions were paid to three chaplains of the college and to another chantry priest. (fn. 19)

The income of the college was estimated by the Valor at £37 7s. 4d. gross and £33 16s. 8d. net; (fn. 20) its property lay in the London parishes of St. Leonard Foster Lane, St. Giles without Cripplegate, and St. Andrew Hubbard, in which last Stephen Spilman had granted a messuage and garden in 1397–8 for the better maintenance of the warden and chaplains. (fn. 21)

The chapel was purchased from the king in 1550 by the Corporation of London. (fn. 22)

Wardens of Guildhall College

William de Brampton, appointed 1356 (fn. 23)
Edmund Noreys, occurs 1389 (fn. 24)
John Barnard, occurs 1430–1 (fn. 25)
Thomas Francis, appointed 1448, died 1488 (fn. 26)


  • 1. Sharpe, Cal. of Letter Bk. E, 1. This fraternity interested itself in the support of the chapel. Liber Custum. in Mun. Guildhall. Lond. (Rolls Ser.), ii (1), 227.
  • 2. Price, A Descriptive Account of the Guildhall of the City of Lond. 111.
  • 3. Sharpe, Cal. of Letter Bk. E, 215. On a visit to the Guildhall they asked why the works had stopped, and were told by the mayor that with their assistance and that of other great men the chapel would soon be finished. Their handsome contribution was the result of the hint.
  • 4. Riley, Mems. of Lond. 288. A chantry of some kind appears to have been already established there, but the college, though then projected, was not constituted until later.
  • 5. Harl. Chart. 79 G. 38.
  • 6. Rec. of Corp. of Lond. Journ. i, fol. 24; Price, op. cit. 119.
  • 7. Newcourt, Repert. Eccl. Lond. i, 361. They evidently lived and dined together, for Edmund Alynson in 1510 bequeathed to the commons of Guildhall College '5 sawssers, a olde plater, a wyne quartte pott and 2 belle candelstykks,' and 4d. every Friday for a year to pray for his soul at grace. Lond. Epis. Reg. Fitz James, ii, fol. 5.
  • 8. Rec. of Corp. of Lond. Journ. iii, fol. 39.
  • 9. Ibid. iv, fol. 48b.
  • 10. 'Cum Nota,' ibid. fol. 55b.
  • 11. Price, op. cit. 125.
  • 12. Ibid. 121.
  • 13. After a long contention with the wardens of St. John's Walbrook, an arrangement was effected in 1448, and a silver cross enamelled and gilt, and a suit of vestments of white cloth of gold, were handed over to the chapel. Ibid. 122.
  • 14. Stow, Surv. of Lond. (ed. Strype), iii, 42.
  • 15. Christie, Parish Clerks, 27–8.
  • 16. Stow, op. cit. iii, 42. It is strange that no reference is ever made to the chantry of two chaplains founded by Gilbert de Bruera, dean of St. Paul's in 1348. Doc. of D. and C. of St. Paul's, A. Box 76, Nos. 2005–6.
  • 17. Lond. Epis. Reg. Bonner, fol. 14–17.
  • 18. The lands were in the king's hands in June, 1548. Rec. of the Corp. of Lond. Journ. xv, fol. 370.
  • 19. Chant. Cert. No. 88, m. 5. Three were receiving pensions in Mary's reign. Add. MS. 8102, fol. 4.
  • 20. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i, 385. From this must be deducted three stipends of 10 marks each.
  • 21. Stow, op. cit, iii, 42.
  • 22. Newcourt, op. cit. i, 362. 17 April, 4 Edw. VI, the king's letters patent of Guildhall Chapel or College made to the mayor and corporation of London Rec. of Corp. of Lond. Repert. xii, fol. 1–221b.
  • 23. Riley, Mem. of Lond. 228.
  • 24. a Sharpe, Cal. of Letter Bk. H. 339.
  • 25. Stow, op. cit. iii, 42.
  • 26. Weever, Anct. Fun. Mon. 399.