London, Volume 5

Knight, Charles
1843

CXI.-The Churches of London: No. I.-Before the Fire.

CXI.-The Churches of London: No. I.-Before the Fire.

 

 

In the church of St. Peter, , there has been from time immemorial a tablet bearing a very remarkable inscription, and which, if trustworthy in the chief matter to which it refers, not only points out to us the locality of the oldest of metropolitan Christian churches, but the very edifice of the kind raised in Great Britain. The tablet was

fast chained

in the church in Stow's time, and although written by what authority he knew not, was certainly

of no late hand.

Thus runs it:

Be it known unto all men that the year of our Lord God C.lxxix. Lucius, the

first

Christian king of this land, then called Britain, founded the

first

church in London, that is to say, the church of St. Peter, upon

Cornhill

; and he founded there an archbishop's see, and made that church the metropolitan and chief church of this kingdom; and so [it] endured the space of CCCC. years, unto the coming of St. Austin [Augustine], the Apostle of England, the which was sent into this land by St. Gregory, the Doctor of the

church in the time of King Ethelbert. And then was the archbishop's see and pall removed from the aforesaid church of St. Peter, upon

Cornhill

, unto

Derebernaum,

that now is called Canterbury, and there remaineth to this day. And Millet [Mellitus], monk, the which came into the land with St. Austin, was made the

first

bishop of London, and his see was made in Paul's church.

The tablet then goes on to inform us how many years after Brute Lucius reigned, M.C.C.xlv. (the precision of these old chroniclers is admirable), how long his reign lasted--no less than years; and that he was, according to chronicle, buried in Lndon, whilst another set him down at Gloucester,

in that place where the order of St. Francis standeth now.

But this is by no means the entire extent of our information as to these very ambitious claims of , . Stow also gives us, on the authority of

Joceline of Furneis,

the names of both the and archbishops, Thean and Elvanus, as well as of their successors; and informs us that whilst the , aided by King Lucius's butler, Ciran, erected the church, the added a library, and

converted many of the Druids, learned men in the Pagan law, to Christianity.

He adds, evidently with a lingering belief in the story,

True it is, that a library there was pertaining to the parish church of old time builded of stone.

[n.162.1]  It also appears a school was held there from some very early, but unknown, period. Altogether, the story forms so delightful a piece of antiquarian gossip, that we wish it was in our power to assert its undeniable truth.

Turning to a more general view of our subject, and to matter of a less romantic, but more trustworthy nature, it may be observed that the (in time) of our metropolitan topographers, Fitz-Stephen, amongst his notices of the temperateness of the air and the strength of the place, the honour of its citizens, and the chastity of its matrons, its schools, its customs, and its sports, does not, of course, exclude a view of the provision of the religious demands of his favourite city; and brief and unadorned as is the single sentence with which he dismisses the subject, the facts he gives us derive considerable interest as well as value from the antiquity of the period referred to. It is something to be able to lift off the dark mist that hangs over the London of the middle ages, even though it be but to learn that

there are in London and in the suburbs

13

churches belonging to convents, besides

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lesser parish churches.

And a very striking illustration the statement forms of the wealth and zeal of the inhabitants of London, as well as of their great numbers during the period in question, and makes it probable that there is no error, after all, as to the armed men who, according to the same writer (himself probably an eye-witness), went out to a muster in the neighbourhood

in the fatal wars under King Stephen.

Nay, it should seem, if we may judge of the increase of the population by the increase of churches, that that population had been stationary for some centuries after Fitz-Stephen's time, for when Stow wrote, the entire number of churches in and about London within miles' compass was but : the exact number mentioned by Fitz-Stephen, if we add the conventual to the parish churches, as Stow does in his list with regard to all that were still preserved. And thus, no doubt, they remained down to , when the great fire destroyed at once of their

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number, many of them never again to rise from.their ruins. Fitz-Stephen gives us no enumeration of the buildings he mentions, but this is of little importance, for Stow does; and it is tolerably clear that the buildings he refers to are almost identical with the buildings mentioned by Fitz-Stephen. So that however much older than the century may have been the churches of London generally that existed before the fire, it is evident that their foundation must be referred to at least that early period. of the

belonging to convents

may be traced with precision. We find on examination that there were in existence in Fitz-Stephen's time, Trinity Priory, , founded in by good Queen Maud, wife of Henry I., for Regular Canons of the rule of St. Augustine, by whose influence

was the number of those that praised God day and night so much increased, that the whole city was much delighted with the sight of it ;

[n.163.1]  St. Bartholomew's, already fully treated of in our pages; , the same; St. James Priory, Clerkenwell, founded for Black nuns about , near the famous well from which it derived its name; the Priory of St. John the Baptist, near another well of still higher repute--Holywell, ; St. Katharine's Hospital, founded by Matilda, Stephen's queen, of which the building in is the legitimate descendant; St. Thomas Aeon, founded in honour of Fitz-Stephen's master, Beckett, by the ambitious churchman's sister and her husband, within a few years after his murder, and on the site of their father's house, in which Beckett himself was born; St. John of Jerusalem, Clerkenwell, the house of the Hospitallers; and the Temple, the house of their rivals; St. Mary Overies, noticed in our volume; and, lastly, , which, both from its antiquity and its magnificence, was appropriately named: it was founded in , by a king of Kent, Wythred; rebuilt, and a great increase made to its endowments, about , by noble Saxon brothers; confirmed in all its rights, privileges, and possessions by the Conqueror, who made it not merely independent of his own or the kingly jurisdiction, but of the Papal also, and which, among its other noticeable features, included within its precincts a sanctuary, that seems to have been the Alsatia of an earlier day. For a certain class of persons, those who had occasion to pass to and fro between Newgate and on business of a more indispensable than agreeable nature, this sanctuary was most conveniently situated, and the advantages it offered were fully appreciated. Thus, in , when a soldier for some crime was pursuing the route mentioned, men rushing out suddenly from Panyer Alley rescued him, and the whole fled into . The Sheriffs in their irritation were incautious enough to follow them into the c-hurch, seize them, and send them to Newgate; but the authorities soon compelled them to replace the offenders in the sacred building.

If the great fire of London was calculated to beget in the minds of contemporaries the deepest awe and astonishment at the amount of the mischief consummated within so small a space, those feelings were not likely to be lessened by the peculiar severity of the visitation as it regarded the churches of London. In the following list is shown in alphabetical order the churches as they stood in the beginning of the century, when the central portion of London must

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have appeared forest of steeples.[n.164.1]  If the reader, after glancing over this list, will then mark how many of them have an asterisk prefixed, he will see those which remained: surely no other single feature of the conflagration furnishes us with so startling a notion of its effects as this :--
Churches of London and the Suburbs before the Fire.
Albans, Wood Street, W.
*Allhallows, Barking
Allhallows, Bread St. W.
Allhallows the Great, W.
Allhallows, Honey Lane
Allhallows the Less
Allhallows, Lombard Street, W.
*Allhallows, Staining
*Allhallows, London Wall
*Alphage
*Andrew, Holborn, W.
Andrew Hubbard
*Andrew Undershaft
Andrew, Wardrobe, W.
Anne, Aldersgate, W.
Anne, Blackfriars
Antholin, W.
Augustine, W.
*Bartholomew the Great
*Bartholomew the Less
Bartholomew, Exchange, W.
*Battersea
Bennet Fink, W.
Bennet, Gracechurch Street, W.
Bennet, Paul's Wharf, W.
Bennet Sherehog
*Botolph, Aldersgate
*Botolph, Aldgate
Botolph, Billingsgate
*Botolph, Bishopsgate
Bride, Fleet Street, W.
*Bridewell Precinct
*Chelsea
Christ Church, W.
Christopher, W.
*Clement Danes, W.
Clement, East Cheap, W.
*Deptford
Dionis, Back Church, W.
Dunstan, East, W.
Dunstan, West
Edmund, Lombard Street, W.
*Ethelburgh
Faith
*Fulham
Gabriel, Fenchurch
George, Southwark
George, Botolph Lane, W.
*Giles, Cripplegate
Giles in the Fields
*Greenwich
Gregory, by St. Paul
Hackney
*Helen, Bishopsgate
*Islington
*James, Clerkenwell
*James, Duke's Place
James, Garlick Hill, W.
John, Baptist
John, Evangelist
John, Zachary
*Katherine Coleman
*Katherine Cree
*Katherine, Tower
*Kensington
*Lambeth
Lawrence, Jewry, W.
Lawrence, Poultry
Leonard, East Cheap
Leonard, Foster Lane
*Leonard, Shoreditch
Magnus, W.
Margaret, Lothbury, w.
Margaret Moses
Margaret, New Fish St.
Margaret Pattens, W.
*Martin in the Fields
Martin, Ironmonger Lane
Martin, Ludgate, W.
Martin, Orgar
*Martin. Outwich
Martin, Vintry
Mary, Abchurch, W.
Mary, Aldermanbury, W.
Mary, Aldermary, W.
Mary le Bow, W,
Mary Bothaw
Mary Colechurch
*Mary Magdalen, Bermondsey
Mary Magdalen, Milk Street;
Mary Magdalen, Old Fish Street, W.
Mary at Hill, W.
Mary Mounthaw
Mary, Somerset, W.
Mary Staining
*Mary, Whitechapel
Mary Woolchurch
Mary Woolnoth, W.
Matthew, Friday St., W.
Michael, Basinghall Street, W.
Michael, Cornhill, W.
Michael, Crooked Lane, W.
Michael, Queenhithe, W.
Michael Querne
Michael Royal, W.
Michael, Wood Street,W.
Mildred, Bread Street, W.
Mildred, Poultry, W,
*Newington
Nicholas Aeon
Nicholas, Cole-Abbey, W.
Nicholas, Olave
Olave, Hart Street
Olave, Jewry, W.
Olave, Silver Street
*Olave, Southwark
*Pancras, Soper Lane
Peter, Cheap
Peter, Cornhill, W.
Peter, Paul's Wharf
*Peter Le Poor
*Putney
*Rotherhithe
*Saviour, Southwark
*Savoy
Sepulchre, W.
Stephen, Coleman St. W.
Stephen, Walbrook, W.
*Stepney
*Stratford Bow & Bromley
Swithin, W.
Thomas Apostle
*Thomas, Southwark
Trinity Church
*Trinity, Minories
Vedast, Foster Lane, W.
*Wandsworth
*Westminster, St. Margaret
*Westminster, St. Peter.

The affixed to many of the above names show the churches rebuilt by Wren; consequently those without either that mark or the asterisk are the buildings that have been entirely lost to us. Among all these it would have been difficult to have found uninteresting structure, whilst many of them were, no doubt, exquisite specimens of their respective architectural styles, and they all belonged to long period in the history of Christian architecture, when none but beautiful buildings were erected, and the only differences were as to their relative degrees of beauty. In their origin, names, customs--in the monuments and inscriptions they contained--in their wealth and decorative splendour, might find materials for a pleasant and instructive volume; thus, to refer to the point only--the name:--there is, to explain how St. Martin, Ironmonger's Lane, came to be called also Pomary,

supposed to be of apples growing where now houses are lately builded ;

[n.164.2]  St. Mary Woolchurch, from the beam placed in the churchyard for the weighing of wool; St. Michael at the Quern, corruptly

165

from Corne, on account of the neighbouring ancient corn-market by ; Fen Church, from the fenny or moorish ground on which it was built, through which ran the once sweet and beautiful waters of Langbourn; St. Bennet Sherehog--a ludicrous popular misunderstanding of the right appellation:

St. Syth,

writes Stow,

hath also an addition of Bennet Shorne or Shrog, or Shorehog (for by all these names have I read it), but the ancientest is Shorne: whereof it seemeth to take that name of

one

Benedict Shorne, some time a citizen and stock-fishmonger of London, a new builder, repairer, or benefactor thereof

[n.165.1]  in the time of Edward II.: and so on. Many of them, again, were very rich in memorials of the dead, from the most magnificent structures that art and munificence could raise to their memory, down to the single stone with its

Pray for the soul of---;

from the gloomy, and pathetic, and elaborate, and, we must add, frequently fearfully long-winded, inscriptions, down to the humorous or fanciful, or simply gay and cheerful; in some cases so full of the exhibition of animal spirits, that would almost suppose the writer--not to say it irreverently-thought death only a capital joke. Here is , the jingle of which we cannot get rid of, inscribed in , , a church built by of the deans of , about , for the use of the inhabitants of the sanctuary:--

When the bells be merrily rung

And the mass devoutly sung

And the meate merrily eaten,

Then shall Robert Traps-his wife-and children be forgotten.

Passing, as our space compels us to do, with this brief mention, the extinct churches, and reserving those rebuilt by Wren for our next paper, let us now once more glance over the list on the preceding page. Of those marked with the asterisk, we need not concern ourselves with the more distant, as Greenwich on side or Kensington on another; but as to the remainder, an interesting question suggests itself--are any of those which fortunately escaped the fire, or were altogether beyond its range, still preserved to us in their architectural integrity? in other words, do any of the churches of London before the fire still exist essentially as they were? It is pleasant to find that, though few in number, there are such existing; churches that not only have been spared the fire, but the worse fate of architectural degradation that has befallen those which have grown too old for any merely-repairing processes. The church of Allhallows, Barking, where the headless bodies of the poet Surrey, Bishops Fisher (More's friend) and Laud, were deposited after their respective executions on the neighbouring Hill, is still preserved to us; so is Allhallows, Staining, where Elizabeth, on leaving the Tower, by Mary's permission, for a less severe imprisonment in Woodstock, full of thankfulness, hastened to offer up her grateful acknowledgments to God; St. Andrew, , that altar, as it might almost be called, for the worship of the old

Spring-time in London,

and where rest the honoured ashes of him whose heart was as open to all the freshness and loveliness of the present, as his mind was earnest and sagacious in inquiring into the past-(a church we could as ill have spared for Stow's sake as for its own); St. Katherine Cree, where Laud displayed those superstitious tendencies which

166

subsequently formed of the chief charges against him; the curious little church of St. Ethelburgh, in , so diminutive that the pettiest houses and shops seem, in very contempt of its insignificance, to have half smothered it up, pressing it on each side, and creeping across its front till the door below and the tip of its fine window above, with the surmounting turret, are all that can be seen; St. Helen's, close by, in every way the most perfect and interesting of the whole; , Cripplegate, rich in many recollections, were they not almost rendered as nothing in contrast with the -Milton's burial within its walls; St. Olave, , with its elegant architecture, and remains of antique decoration on the roof of its aisles; ; , ; and, still more distant, , where Sir Thomas More, when Chancellor, sang with the boys in the choir, and now lies in that last sleep which, with such a spirit, could not but be sweet; Fulham, Putney, &c. If to these are added the structures already described in our pages as St. Mary Overies (or ), Bartholomew the Great (the Less also has remains of the ancient structure), Ely Place, and the Savoy--the reader will have a tolerably complete general view of the old churches that remain. The Dutch church, , may here also be mentioned. This priory was founded by Humphrey Bohun, Earl of Hereford and Essex; the date is shown on the exterior, . Strikingly handsome as this building still is, with its long range of pointed windows of great size on each side, its magnificent western front, and its elegantly-clustered columns in the interior, both exterior and interior give but a partial view of the original splendour of this house of the bare-footed friars; the wanting its spire, which formed the

beautifullest and rarest spectacle

in London, and the other the sumptuous and all but innumerable monuments which formerly adorned it: whilst the whole forms but the nave of the perfect structure. For all these deficiencies we have to thank my lord Marquis of Winchester, into the hands of whose family the place fell after the dissolution: the mayor and many other influential persons bestirred themselves greatly, in , to induce his lordship to assist in the repair of the steeple, then in a dangerous state, for which they asked only or from him; his answer was-, a refusal, and then the pulling down of the steeple and choir, with the sale, for , of all the rich tombs. We may judge of the character of those memorials from the individuals to whom they related. There were buried in this church-Edmond, half-brother to Richard II.; the founder, Humphrey Bohun; Richard, the great Earl of Arundel, Surrey and Warren, beheaded ; Vere, Earl of Oxford, beheaded ; the lords barons slain at Barnet, in , who were interred together in the body of the church;

poor Edward Bohun,

Duke of Buckingham, beheaded ; with several other noblemen, many knights and ladies, and a countless number of less distinguishable persons.

Of the churches enumerated in the preceding paragraph, it will be necessary to notice in detail only the more important. The name of Barking church, Allhallows, was evidently a great favourite with our ancestors; our list exhibiting no less than metropolitan buildings similarly dedicated; a circumstance no doubt to be attributed to the great popularity of the holiday of All-hallowmas, which having, it is supposed, its origin in pagan times, seems to have been incorporated into the Christian system by Pope Boniface IV. in

167

the century. The Pope's object in so doing is stated in a passage from an old manuscript transcribed by Strutt, in his

Horda Angel Cynnan,

to be the correction of

our omissions for many a Saint's day in the year we have unserved, for there be so many that we may not serve them all;

but Mr. Forster, in his

Perennial Calendar,

says that

the Church, in this great festival, honours all the Saints rising together in glory:

so when a new church was to be dedicated in the earlier ages of Christianity, and the perfections of the different apostles, saints, and martyrs were canvassed, whenever there was much difficulty of choice, we may easily imagine how Saints would carry the day. What better watchers and warders, too, either for the living or the dead, could be desired? Some such feeling possibly it was that led Richard I. to found a

fair chapel

here, on the north side, apparently with the intention of being buried in it; and it is said that his heart was actually interred in the church under the high altar. Legend connects another monarch with Allhallows, Barking, in an interesting point of view. Edward I., when Prince of Wales, is said to have been admonished in a vision to erect an image to the Virgin, and told at the same time, that if he visited the said image times a year, he should be victorious over all nations, and more particularly over those which he most yearned to conquer, Scotland and Wales. He did erect accordingly, as well as further augment the revenues and establishment of the chapel; and the image became so famous, that pilgrimages were regularly performed to it, down even to the period of the suppression: days' indulgence was the reward for all such pilgrimages. The chapel continuing still an object of royal solicitude, we find Edward IV. calling it

the King's,

and empowering his brother John, Earl of Worcester, to found a brotherhood in it; whilst Richard III. rebuilt it, and founded a regular college of priests there. All these notices indicate great antiquity, as well as great interest in the structure in early times; and the sight of the interior confirms, in some degree, all that the enthusiastic antiquary might be apt to imagine from them. The church generally is of the Gothic style prevalent in the Tudor era, but there are certain pillars on each side of the nave, toward the western extremity, that at once attract the eye by their dissimilarity to the remainder: these are low, massive, round--in a word, Norman. The antique inscriptions, monuments, and brasses too, all about us, point far backwards over the stream of time. If from among the latter, where all are so interesting, we select for mention, the best perhaps is the brass plate of John Rulche, , who appears in a close-fitting gown, with long hair, hands clasped upon his breast, a pouch at his girdle, and a rosary on his arm. have already mentioned that the Earl of Surrey, and the Bishops Fisher and Laud, were interred here after their executions, but it was only for a limited period in each case. Surrey's remains were removed in. to Framlingham; Fisher's, buried in the churchyard here, were taken to the chapel in the Tower, and placed by the side of his murdered friend the great Chancellor More; and Laud's, whose temporary resting-place was the chancel, were afterwards taken down to College, Oxford. A terrible and, in respect, curious accident injured the church in ]-the explosion of a quantity of gunpowder, which at the same time destroyed or of the neighbouring houses with their inhabitants: of these was an alehouse full of people at the time. The

168

person who ascended the steeple afterwards was not a little surprised at what he saw there--a female infant in a cradle, unhurt. The parents could not be traced, and in consequence some good Samaritan stepped forward and brought her up as his own. To the repair of the injuries done on this occasion was added the erection of a new and ugly steeple.

That the majority of the earliest churches built in London were of wood seems sufficiently probable, if we consider merely the length of time that structures of greater pretension must have required for their erection, and how unwilling the enthusiastic builders must frequently have been to wait any longer than was absolutely necessary for a temple in which to worship; and the name of Allhallows points no doubt to some such state of things. Stane is the Saxon word for stone, and was most probably applied to this church to distinguish it from the others of the same name of wood; and if the view be a correct , the choice of the word shows how uncommon was the use of the more durable material at the time. Looking at the modern front of this church in , a model of plain deformity, would never suspect there was aught behind it worth a single glance; but if we step through the little court close by, the eye at once rests upon a tower of unmistakeable antiquity. Sad reverses that tower has known! The body to which it belonged fell in , and was replaced by the structure, of which the front already mentioned is a worthy representative; and, as if that was not enough degradation for a venerable steeple which could possibly date its birth from the days of the Henry, they have actually thrust of those abominable round-headed windows into its walls. But it has had its consolations too. If tradition speak truly, it was the merry peal of its bells pouring forth their congratulations to the parish on the release of Elizabeth from the Tower, that attracted the Princess herself hither, as the most agreeable place in which to perform her devotions. Whether it was that the parish had not previously coquetted much with princesses, or that Elizabeth had in truth won their entire hearts and souls, who shall say? but certain it is that in

The King's Head

tavern adjoining, certain dishes of pork and peas appear once a-year in commemoration of the visit, Elizabeth having regaled herself on the occasion with such delicacies from this very house: witness those dark-looking vessels that hang up over the fire-place in the coffee-room, the dish and cover used by her, with an inscription between, detailing the circumstances, from Hughson's

London,

and a print above of the Princess from a painting by Holbein, where the future Virgin-Queen appears in all the pride of high shoes, square waist, and outswelling petticoats. But apart from personal considerations, Elizabeth could hardly have come to a more beautiful or more interesting, or, therefore; a more suitable place. The entries of the churchwardens in their parish books, dry and succinct as they are, conjure up many a vision of surpassing ecclesiastical splendour which we should else little dream of attributing to the apparently insignificant-looking church of Allhallows Staining--this thing of yesterday, as its aspect seems to speak it. We read of a high altar dedicated to Allhallows, with

carved tabernacle

work, and drapery of red Bruges satin, bearing a representation of the Ascension; of a silver gilt cross on the high-altar, with small statues at its base of the Virgin Mary and St. John; and another (very large probably) of wood, plated with silver and-gilt, having silver figures of our Saviour, the Virgin, and

169

St. John, the wounds of the ed by as many precious stones (rubies perhaps), and having at its base a piece of inserted crystal covering, but not concealing, the word JESUS. We read of other altars similarly decorated; of a statue of St. Katherine, with a lamp constantly burning before it; of a --rood-loft, with a great crucifix, and tapers of extraordinary size burning about it. Then, to people the scene, come the priests in their robes of red damask with leaves of gold, red velvet embroidered with golden roses, white, green, and crimson satin, with their cross-banners lifted high, their streamers, their incense, their choral songs; and lastly, shutting in the whole picture, the kneeling, devout, adoring crowds of worshippers. Then the festivals: where, it may be asked with allowable parochial pride, were these observed with greater regularity and zeal than at Allhallows Staining, though its reputation in this matter be now dwindled away into a line in the register? The simplest statement of some facts, however, produces eloquence; and so it is with this passage, reviving all the jovial hilarity of the ecclesiastical Saturnalia, the rule of the boy-bishop:

Paid unto Goodman Chese, broiderer, for making a new mitre for the bishop ayenst St. Nicholas' night,

2s. 8d.

;

and this, referring to another and scarcely less popular festival,

Paid for the hiring of a pair of wings and a crest for an angel on Palm Sunday,

8d.

,

when the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem was dramatised, though by no irreverent artist, nor before an irreverent auditory; and when Allhallows, like many other churches, would present some such spectacle as that here shown. The parish books so frequently referred to show noticeable

170

signatures-Sir Cloudesley Shovel's, in connexion with his own marriage; and Ireton's, as the alderman and justice of the peace, who married certain parties in pursuance of the Marriage Act of the time, which made the ceremony a civil, instead of a religious contract, as before, and which, subsequently annulled, has been again and in all probability permanently revived of late years.

The objects of our inquiry now grow thick around us: here we see the low but elegant Gothic exterior of , in , there the more imposing range of pointed windows belonging to St. Katherine Cree, in , and scarcely a stone's-throw distant, the modern and beautiful tower of St. Andrew , looking so light and so lofty that could almost fancy the architect had the idea of the famous May-pole floating in his mind as he designed it. The interior of St. Andrew's forms a very interesting specimen of the Tudor architecture of the century; and is rich in large fresco paintings of the Apostles, in its stained glass, with portraits of Edward VI. and succeeding monarchs down to Charles II., in its monuments, its noble organ, and its painted and gilded roof. But thinks little of these things on the spot, for there in the north-east corner is Stow's monument. Poor Stow! the fate that followed him in life deserted not his remains in death; the story of the removal of his bones from his own monument to make room for some wealthier new-comer, forms the appropriate pendant to that of his begging his bread in his eightieth year,--is equally disgraceful and equally true: it occurred, states Maitland, in . The history of St. Katherine Cree's--the latter word being a corruption for Christ's-church, like many others of the metropolis, impresses upon the mind the dateless antiquity of its foundation; the original edifice was pulled down about , with other churches, to make way for the great convent of Trinity, and the church of the latter, under the appellation of Christ's, having been made parochial, was devoted to the use of, the united parishes. The body of this church having become, it is said, old and crazy, was pulled down and rebuilt in ; if so, there must have been a very praiseworthy determination on the part of the architect to follow in some degree the style of the preceding building or of some of the neighbouring churches; but it was probably only an extensive repair of the exterior that took place at the times mentioned, for the interior exhibits proofs that there was no such self-denial in the artist's thoughts: here Gothic and Corinthian jostle in strange, but certainly picturesque confusion. It is said that Inigo Jones was the author of the repair or rebuilding in . We hope he is not answerable for walling up the magnificent western window, the tracery of which is just visible at the top. That it was magnificent any may easily assure himself by stepping up the narrow alley in , at the eastern extremity of the building, and gazing, as well as the place will permit, upon the correspondent work that there lies before him. Within, among other noticeable dead, we are reminded of Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, the gallant spirit who so baffled the hunters in , by the sight of his canopied effigy, and we remember without such aid that in all probability somewhere beneath our feet, or in the adjoining churchyard, lies all that remains of Hans Holbein. In the beautiful monument to Samuel Thorpe, , by Bacon, St. Katherine Cree possesses another claim to the attention of the lovers of art. It was after the repair or rebuilding of , that the consecration took place by Laud, who having

171

caused all necessary preparations to be made for the extraordinary scene he meditated, appeared before the church on the -. At his approach persons stationed near the door called out in a loud voice,

Open, open, ye everlasting doors, that the King of Glory may enter in.

The archbishop then entered, and, falling upon his knees in the church and extending his arms, exclaimed

This place is holy, the ground is holy; in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, I pronounce it holy.

Rising, he went towards the Chancel, throwing dust from the floor into the air on his way, bowed, went in procession round the church, repeated psalms and a prayer. He then cursed all who should profane the place, bowing at the close of every sentence, and blessed all who had advanced the erection. What took place after the sermon is best described in the words of Prynne, every sentence of whose pungent and humorous satire must have cut deep, and given earnest of the coming retribution for the bold Puritan's cropped ears and slit nose. He says,

When the bishop approached near the communion-table, he bowed with his nose very near the ground some

six

or

seven

times; then he came to

one

of the corners of the table and there bowed himself

three

times; then to the

second

,

third

, and

fourth

corners, bowing at each corner

three

times; but when he came to the side of the table where the bread and wine was, he bowed himself

seven

times; and then, after the reading of many prayers by himself and his

two

fat chaplains (which were with him, and all this while were upon their knees by him, in their surplices, hoods, and tippets), he himself came near the bread, which was cut and laid in a fine napkin, and then he gently lifted up

one

of the corners of the said napkin, and peeping into it till he saw the bread (like a boy that peeped into a bird's-nest in a bush), and presently clapped it down again and flew back a step or

two

, and then bowed very low

three

times towards it and the table. When he beheld the bread, then he came near and opened the napkin again, and bowed as before; then he laid his hand upon the gilt cup, which was full of wine, with a cover upon it; so soon as he had pulled the cup a little nearer to him, he let the cup go, flew back, and bowed again

three

times towards it; then he came near again, and, lifting up the cover of the cup, peeped into it; and seeing the wine, he let fall the cover on it again, and flew nimbly back and bowed as before. After these and many other apish, antick gestures, he himself received and then gave the sacrament to some principal men only, they devoutly kneeling near the table; after which, more prayers being said, this scene and interlude ended.

When Prynne applied the epithet interlude to these ceremonies, he was no doubt aware that it derived fresh force from the associations of the place; the churchyard of St. Katherine Cree seems to have been a popular place for the exhibition of dramatic interludes properly so called. Among entries of a similar nature in the parish books we read, under the date ,

Received of Hugh Grymes, for licence given to certain players to play their interludes in the churchyard, from the feast of Easter, An. D'ni.

1565

, until the feast of Saint Michael the Archangel, next coming, every holyday, to the use of the parish, the sum of

27s. 8d.

Scaffolds, it appears, were erected all round the churchyard. Performances took place on Sundays, but in connection with this point, and the sacred character of the place, it is to be observed that the pieces performed would be of a religious

172

character, though with a plentiful admixture of the ordinary jests and practical fun. Of the churches pulled down with St. Katherine's on the erection of Trinity Priory, we have probably a remnant of of them--St. Michael's, in the beautiful crypt that still exists beneath a house near the pump at , a most curious and interesting piece of antiquity.

Let us now turn into , and from thence into the area at the back of Crosby Place, where a path runs between the fine young trees just putting forth their delicately green foliage, and through the centre of the bright level sward of the churchyard of St. Helen's to the church. The remarkable aspect of the exterior must strike every . The ends of naves or bodies of separate churches placed side by side, with a little turret at the intersection above, is the idea at once impressed. The interior shows us that this is no fanciful notion; the double church being there still more evident, although intimately connected together. An irregular, but far from unpleasing or unpicturesque effect is thus produced. set of lofty pointed arches differs from another, ranges of windows extend along walls for a certain distance, and then unaccountably stop; the long aisle--as the northernmost of the churches appears to be--on side, is balanced by a chancel occupying merely the eastern extremity of the other; the great eastern windows extending side by side from the floor to the roof are not alike, yet is neither subordinate to the other; but every individual form is beautiful, and constructed of the same elements; and it

173

is surprising the harmony that may be thus produced even where the artistical laws of combination are violated. An air of indescribable antiquity, too, prevailing over and through all, tends powerfully to the same effect. In the part that now appears as an aisle, a long row of carved seats against the wall catches the eye, and the inquiry into their use explains the peculiar architectural exhibition around us. Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great, and discoverer, in her own belief, of the very cross on which Christ was crucified and the very sepulchre where he was entombed, and who built on the spot a church, was of course canonized, and enjoyed all the honours pertaining, all the Christian world over, to that state of beatitude. Here there was a church dedicated to her from a very remote period, of which the nave of the present building is the descendant. About William Fitzwilliam, a goldsmith, founded on the same locality a priory of Benedictine nuns, and probably built a church for them, against that of St. Helen's; when the latter came into the possession of the nuns, which it did at no very distant period, it may have been thought desirable to lengthen the nuns' church to range with that of St. Helen's (hence the blank wall in the north-east corner, on which are the Bonds' and other monuments), and to throw them open to each other, or divided at least merely by the screen between the intercolumniations, which we know to have existed here until the Reformation. The seats we have alluded to were those used by the nuns. Among the monuments of St. Helen's which most imperatively demand notice, we may mention the oldest and most valuable-Sir John Crosby and his lady's, an exquisite specimen of the sculpture of the century, exhibiting their effigies side by side, on a table monument; the costume is remarkable, particularly the head-dresses, and in all its details carefully defined. On side near him, beneath an ambitious-looking Elizabethan canopy with double arches, lies Sir W. Pickering, of the courtiers of the virgin queen, who is said to have aspired to a share of her throne, and who could plead as a justification of his hopes the possession of qualifications which make Strype call him the finest gentleman of the age in learning, arts, and warfare. Still farther, on the same side, directly before the great window of the nuns' church, and with the coloured rays from his own arms in the said window falling upon his tomb, lies Sir Thomas Gresham; that tomb, as becomes the eminent man whose remains it guards, is simplicity itself--a very large square slab, raised table high, bearing his sculptured arms, but no adornments, no inscription. Of the tablets and other memorials on the wall beyond Gresham's monument, the most remarkable are those to Sir William Bond, a distinguished merchant adventurer, who died in , and his son's, Martin Bond, of Elizabeth's captains at Tilbury. A still more interesting feature of this wall is the beautiful niche, with a row of open arches below, through which the nuns, according to Malcolm, heard mass on particular occasions (during punishment?) from the crypt below. By the way, the nuns of St. Helen's seem to have been somewhat wild and unruly, if we may judge from the complaints made by Kentwode, Dean of , who visited them in . He makes many suspicious remarks about the employing of some

sad woman and discreet

to shut cloister doors, and keep keys, about not using nor haunting

any place within the priory [the precincts of which were extensive], through the which evil suspicion or slander might arise,

about

174

forbearing to dance and revel except at Christmas,

and other honest times of recreation,

and so on.[n.174.1]  At the other end of the nuns' church, an immense square mass of masonry, with urns rising at intervals, marks the place of interment of Richard Bancroft, founder of the almshouses at Mile End, and who is understood to have exhibited this generosity in his last days as an atonement for conduct of a very different nature previously. His monument, we need hardly state, was a provision of his own, and from it yearly, for some time, his body was taken out (for which conveniences had been made), on the occasion of the preaching of the commemoration sermon (also founded by himself), and exhibited to the almsmen. Returning to the eastern part of the church, we find in the chancel, that occupies the south-east corner, the remarkable monument of Sir Julius Caesar, Master of the Rolls, who died in . It is a beautiful tabletomb, the workmanship of Nicholas Stone, who received for it guineas, and on the top exhibits a piece of black marble in the form of a parchment deed, inscribed with writing, and having a dependent seal. On reading the inscription we find it is truly in form a legal document, applied to an odd purpose: Sir Julius Caesar gives his bond to Heaven to resign his life whenever it shall please God to call him, and the whole is duly signed and sealed.

Of the remaining churches, St. Giles Cripplegate, , and , that alone our space will allow us to mention, we can speak but briefly. St. Giles was built by Alfune, the man who rendered Rahere such efficient assistance in the erection of St. Bartholomew's Priory, Smithfield, and derives the concluding part of its designation from the gate in the great wall, near which it was erected ( of the finest remaining pieces of that wall is still preserved in the churchyard), and which was called the gate, from the number of deformed persons who haunted it to beg. The church was partially burnt in the century, but a single glance at the tower and exterior walls shows how much remains of a date anterior to that event. Here rest, in addition to Milton and his father, Fox the martyrologist, Speed the historian, and

Sir Martyn Furbisher, Knt.,

who is generally, but incorrectly, said to have been buried at Plymouth, where he was brought after receiving his death-wound in the assault on Croyzon, near Brest. His name is entered as we have transcribed it (from Malcolm) under the date -. Numerous other interesting recollections of St. Giles might be mentioned; we must confine ourselves to : here, on the , were married Oliver Cromwell and Elizabeth Bouchier; and in connexion with Cromwell's friend and secretary the great poet before mentioned, we cannot but feel interested in observing in the parish registers the frequent mention of the names of Brackley, Egerton, and Bridgewater, dear to the lovers of Milton and

Comus;

the family of Bridgewater having had a house in the immediate neighbourhood.

The present is of the period of Edward IV. From its connexion with the palace adjoining, several of the archbishops have been interred in it, including Bancroft, Tenison, Hutton, and Seeker. Bishops Thirlby and Tunstal also repose within its walls. A military-looking memorial to Robert Scot records the services of of Gustavus Adolphus's English followers, and

175

the inventor of leathern artillery, which he used with great effect in the service of the Swedish monarch. In of the windows is a painted figure of a man (said to be a pedlar) and a dog; according to tradition, the piece of land known as was given to the parish by the individual here commemorated. The churchyard has a monument to the Tradescants, famous antiquaries during the reigns of the Charleses, who lived at , and formed there the Museum of Curiosities of which we have any record in England. Their garden also was very valuable for the amazing number and variety of plants they had collected in it, from all parts of the world.

The erection of , , was owing to the desire of the Confessor to relieve the monks of the Abbey that he had so magnificently rebuilt from the inconveniences attending its use as a parish church: hence that proximity to the grander structure, which would hardly have been permitted under any other circumstances, and which almost makes it seem a part of it, viewed but from a short distance. has been twice rebuilt;--in the reign of Edward I. by the princely-minded merchants of the Staple, and again in that of Edward IV.: from which period we may justly date the present structure, in spite of the extensive repairs that have taken place in and in S. Here lies the illustrious Printer, of whom we read in the parish registers:

1478

. Item, the day of burying William Caxton, for ii. torches and iiii. tapers at a low mass;

and a similar entry, under the year , shows the fitting honours that were paid to his memory: a handsome tablet has been placed in the church of late years by the Roxburgh Club. Here also was buried Skelton, the satirical poet of henry VIII.'s reign, who was fain to take and to keep the Abbey sanctuary, out of Cardinal Wolsey's way; Lord Howard of Effingham, Elizabeth's gallant Lord High Admiral, who had the chief defence of the kingdom intrusted to his charge, at the period of the Spanish Armada, and to whose and to his lady's memory there is here a sumptuous monument, with their effigies; Sir Walter Raleigh, brought hither after his execution in the neighbouring Palace Yard; that

great man,

as Malcolm twice calls him, Sir Philip Warwick, who, if our readers remember him at all, will most probably recollect him merely as giving an interesting description of Cromwell's appearance in the , as a young member; and, lastly, Milton's wife, Catherine, buried here, , the

late espoused saint

of his pathetic and beautiful sonnet. The church, as the place of assemblage for the Members of the during the sittings of Parliament, is kept in excellent order, and exhibits many interesting features. The architecture, where ancient, is beautiful; and more particularly the altar recess, with its lofty groined roof, its panelled niches, and fresco designs. But the painted eastern window is the grand attraction of . This represents the whole history of the Crucifixion in what is considered the most masterly style of the art, and the effect is truly gorgeous. The history of this window is worthy of commemoration. It was made by the orders of the magistrates of Dort, in Holland, as a suitable present to Henry VII., for the chapel erected by him in the Abbey; hence the figure of that monarch at his devotions, and the red and white roses introduced into the picture. Henry, however, dying before it was completed, the window fell into the hands of the

176

Abbot of Waltham, who kept it in his church till the dissolution. Then began a series of hairbreadth escapes, through which it is wonderful the work should have reached its present home. The last Abbot of Waltham saved it from destruction by sending it to New Hall, a seat of the Butlers, in Wiltshire; from whence it was purchased, with the seat, by Thomas Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, whose son sold them to General Monk. The war against all such superstitious exhibitions of artistical skill was now raging hotly, and Monk knew there was no chance of his window escaping, except by its strict concealment; accordingly he buried it. At the Restoration, it was restored to the chapel at New Hall. Again danger threatened it: the chapel was destroyed by a new possessor, who, however, hoping to sell the window to some church, preserved it, cased up, and after some time sold it to Mr. Conyers, for his chapel at Epping; by this gentleman's son it was finally sold, in the last century, to the committee for repairing and beautifying . Had ever window before so moving a history?

 
 
 
Footnotes:

[n.162.1] Stow, ed. 1633, p. 211.

[n.163.1] Stow p. 951.

[n.164.1] For a picturesque general view of these buildings in old times, see Something about London Churches at the Close of the Fourteenth Century, in vol. iv. p. 209, No. LXXXIX.

[n.164.2] Stow.

[n.165.1] Stow, p. 276.

[n.174.1] See Dugdale's Monasticon, and Malcolm, vol. iii. p. 54S.