Londina Illustrata. Graphic and Historical Memorials of Monasteries, Churches, Chapels, Schools, Charitable Foundations, Palaces, Halls, Courts, Processions, Places of Early Amusement, and Modern Present Theatres, in the Cities and Suburbs of London and Westminster, Volume 2Wilkinson, Robert
Sir Andrew Judde's Alms-Houses, Great St. Helen's, Bishopsgate Street Within.
In the , Lond. , folio, compiled by Arthur Collins,—there is a passage denying that this charitable establishment was in reality founded by the benevolent and magnificent Citizen whose name it uniformly bears. Its original design and endowment are there attributed to the testamentary directions and bequests of Elizabeth, daughter of John, or Thomas, Scopeham, and wife of Sir William Hollys, of St. Helen's, Alderman and Mercer;[a] who died , and whose last Will is dated , in the same year, and the Probate .[b] "She therein orders," says Collins, page , "her body to be buried in the same monument with that of her husband, Sir William Hollys, in the Parish of St. Ellyn's, London. She bequeaths, beside other legacies already mentioned, to her brother, Thomas Scopeham; . To Joan Wedon, her grand-daughter, ; ,[c] x Which alms-houses were accordingly erected; yet Stow and others[d] attribute the work wholly to Sir Andrew Judde, not mentioning this pious lady who was the true founder of them. But it appears clearly, by her Will, that she was the foundress of alms-houses, which, perhaps, the dishonesty of Sir Andrew Judde hath defrauded her the honour of; our histories ascribing them only to himself. However, Dugdale in his ,[e] after giving his relation of Coventry-Cross, hath these words. And having thus taken notice of his magnificence in erecting so noble a monument, I hope the mention of his lady's charity, though the poor of London were the object thereof, will not be thought impertinent, considering that it is not elsewhere taken notice of. Which was that, by her testament, Alms-houses, &c., as before specified, were erected in St. Hellen's Parish, by Andrew Judde, Alderman of London, &c. Howbeit, it hath not been publicly known that she was the foundress; as Stow and others do attribute the work wholly to the same Sir Andrew Judde, without any memorial for this pious lady."[f]
It is generally stated that Sir Andrew Judde established these Alms-houses and his celebrated Free-School at Tunbridge, under the authority of the same Letters-patent, dated , in the Year of Edward VI., ; but, independently that such an instrument was probably not required for the foundation in St. Helen's, the record of the original license for that School in the Rolls Chapel, contains no reference to the former charity. Whether Sir Andrew were the actual founder of this establishment or not, it is evident, by the ensuing extract from his Will, that he considered himself as such; and that he at least augmented the original endowment of the members, and vested the funds and government in the Company of Skinners of London. This instrument is dated , and was proved the following ; and is recorded in the register of the Prerogative Office, Noodes, Quire .
"Also I will that the said Master and Wardens, for the time being, shall for ever weekly pay, or cause to be paid, unto the poor Almsmen inhabitants in aforesaid, for their relief, ; that is to say, to every of them , weekly: and I will the same to be paid every Sunday in the year, by the hands of the Rent-Warden of the said Company of Skynners for the time being. And I will that the said Rent-Warden for his pains to be taken in and about the payment of the said Alms-men, as is aforesaid, shall have yearly out of the rents and profits of the premises And farther I will that the Rent-Warden of the said Company of Skynners, shall bestow yearly out of the rents and profits of the said premises upon Coals; which Coals so bought, I will shall be yearly distributed and divided, by the said Rent-Warden, to and amongst the said Alms-men, for their farther relief and comfort. And I will the residue of all the rents, issues, and profits, yearly coming and growing of the said messuages, tenements, lands, gardens, and other the premises bequeathed to the said Master and Wardens, shall be employed by the said Master and Wardens for the time being, upon the needful reparations of the messuage or tenements aforesaid; and the overplus thereof remaining I will shall be to the use and behoof of the said Company of Skynners to order and dispose at their wills and pleasures."
As there is not any distinction between the property left for the support of the Tunbridge School and that intended for these Alms-houses,—a description of the whole as given in another part of the same Testament, will be found in the notices of the life and principal charitable establishments of Sir Andrew Judde, attached to the Engraving of his Monument in St. Helen's Church, also inserted in the present work. years after his decease the Almshouses in St. Helen's received an additional endowment by the Will of Alice, his only surviving daughter and heiress, who was married to Thomas Smythe, Esq., of Westenhanger in Kent, Farmer of the Customs under the Queens Mary and Elizabeth. That instrument is dated , and was proved ; it is recorded in the register of Prerogative Office, Lewyn, and the passage relating to this establishment is as follows:
"Item I will that of the money that afterward shall come to the hands of my Executors, that they do bestow, with all convenient expedition, so much upon the purchase of lands as will buy to the value of . per annum, at the least, of estate of inheritance in fee-simple; which I will to be conveyed and assured to the Company or Corporation of the Skinners of London, and their successors, for this intent: That after such assuring shall be passed to the same Corporation, whom I put in trust for it, I will that of the said . per annum, to be purchased as aforesaid, there shall be bestowed and given to them the sum of and per annum, to the increasing of the pensions of the [a] to wit, to every such house a week. Item. Moreover out of the said . per annum of lands to be purchased, I will to be given the sum of and per annum for the relief of poor women in the Parish of All Saints in , by a piece, every month to be paid unto them. And for that purpose the Church-Wardens of the same Parish for the time being to call for it of the Wardens of the Corporation aforesaid. Item. More out of the said . per annum, I will that there be the sum of and per annum paid by the Wardens of the said Corporation to the Church-Wardens, for the time being, of the Parish Church called Gabriel Fen Church, in London, to be bestowed upon poor women of the same Parish, having most need, by a month to each of them, and the rest and residue of the said . per annum I will shall be bestowed by the Wardens of the Corporation aforesaid, to and among the poor of the said Corporation."
In the statement relating to this Charity given by the Skinners' Company in answer to the enquiries of the Parliament Commissioners, it is observed concerning the above bequest, that "there is nothing in the books of the Company to shew that any such purchase or conveyance was ever made, as directed by the Will of Alice Smith, nor does it appear that any annual receipt of a sum of . is distinctly applied as Mrs. Alice Smith's donation; but the several payments, as directed by the Will of Mrs. Alice Smith, are, in fact, made by the Company. They pay annually the sum of . to the Churchwardens of the Parish of All Saints, who receive the same at Skinners' Hall; and at the same time and place the other sum of , given by the Will to the Parish of St. Gabriel, is paid to the Churchwardens of that Parish."[b] The present benefactions of this charity, as related in the same Report, are stated to be per quarter, to each pensioner, in conformity to the Will of Sir Andrew Judde; and paid at the same time under the Testament of Alice Smith. "By a resolution of the Court of Assistants," continues the same authority, "on the , the Company added to the above donations a gift of . per annum out of their own funds; and another of . per annum, was resolved to be given to the Alms-house, by an order of Court, dated , being together . , and making the amount of the total vearly sum enjoyed by the alms-people . ; but the money given by the Company out of their own purse is understood to depend entirely on their own pleasure. The Company also take the repairs upon themselves, the expense of which is defrayed out of their own funds." In satisfaction of the sum of , directed by Sir Andrew Judde's Will to be laid out in coals, "the Company give chaldron of coals to each alms-man annually; which, of course, must greatly exceed the amount given by the Will."[c] —The inhabitants of the Alms-house consist of poor and aged freemen of the Skinners' Company, appointed by the Court of Assistants as vacancies occur.
Beneath the annexed Engraving of the present front of this edifice, is a small Ground-plan shewing the presumed site of the original Alms-houses, as it appears to be indicated in the large -sheet Map of London by Radulphus Aggas, about the year ; wherein at "St. Elen's" is shewn a line of small low buildings, under a connected roof, with a centre house having a gable-front rising above them. But whatever might be the original site and form of these buildings, as they stood considerably beyond the extent of the ravages of the Great Fire, they remained until they fell into decay with years; and in the Skinners' Company erected the present Alms-house, on the west of the former, and on the north side of the approach to Great St. Helen's from Bishopgate Street, opposite the back of Crosby Hall. It seems probable that this spot immediately adjoined to the old buildings, and that it was fixed there that the pensioners might remain undisturbed until the new Alms-house was quite completed. In its arrangements the increased value of the ground on which it stands is made particularly evident, since the Alms-men are placed in distinct apartments and floors only, instead of separate dwellings. The rooms are in number, on each side of the door-way and passage in the centre; and consist of a bed-chamber and sittingroom for each person, with closets and other conveniences. Upon entering, the doors of the apartments on the ground-floor are on the right and left of the passage, and those to the upper-chambers are from the landings of staircases ascending from the back part of the house, communicating with a paved yard behind. The apartments of the basement-story are used for coal-cellars.
[a] Sir William Hollys was the ancestor of the noble family of Holles, Dukes of Newcastle. He was Sheriff of London in the 19th Year of Henry VIII., 1527; was Knighted in the 25th of the same Sovereign, 1533-34; was elected Mayor of London on St. Edward's day, in the 31st Year of the same, Oct. 13th, 1540; and died in October, 1542, and was buried in St. Helen's. The beautiful Cross of Cross-Cheaping at Coventry, was erected at the sole expence of Sir William Hollys, and was begun in the 33rd Year of Henry VIII., 1541, and finished in his 36th, 1544; as recorded in a MS. Chronicle of Mayors belonging to the Corporation, cited by Dugdale in his Antiquities of Warwickshire, first edit. pages 94, 95. By the Will of Sir William Hollys, dated Dec. 25th, 33rd Henry VIII., and proved Dec. 18th, 1542, registered in the Prerogative Office, Spert, Quire, 14,—the sum of £ 200 is bequeathed to the Mayor and Aldermen of Coventry, to make a new Cross: of which £ 20., in ready money, had been delivered to Mr. Warren, Draper, in that City, on the preceding 24th August; £ 70. to Mr. Over, by the hands of — Salt, Sir William's Bailiff of Yoxall; and the remaining £ 110. were to be paid to the Corporation within one year after the Testator's decease.
[b] Register in the Prerogative Office, Pynnyng, Quire 5.
[c] Sir Andrew Judde had been also Executor to the above mentioned Sir William Hollys. Testamenta Vetusta, by Sir N. H. Nicolas, Lond. 1826, 8vo. Vol. II. p. 710. They had likwise held their Mayoralty in the same "fair house" on the West side of Gresham College. Stow's Survey of London: Edit. Strype, 1720. Vol. I. Book ii. p. 106.
[d] Survey of London: Vol. I. Book i. p. 263, Book ii. p. 106.
[e] Antiquities of Warwickshire illustrated, first edit. Lond. 1656, fol. p. 95.
[f] In the account of the charitable foundations belonging to the Skinners' Company contained in the Eighth Report of the Commission appointed to enquire concerning Charities, page 359, it is stated that "it appears there are Alms-houses in the Parish of St. Helen, which are called Sir Andrew Judde's." In Little St. Helen's, Bishopgate Street, on the site of which the present St. Helen's Place is erected, there also stood seven Alms-houses for poor Widows of Members of the Company of Leathersellers, the original institutor of which appeared formerly to be in as much obscurity as that of the present establishment; as Edward Hatton in his New View of London, Lond. 1078, Vol. ii. p. 746, says, "the founder's name the clerks think fit to conceal, for reasons, I suppose, best known to themselves." The Alms-houses, however, were endowed out of a donation made to the Company for that purpose, called "Hasilwood's Gift," mentioned in the Will of John Hasilwood, dated Jan. 16th, 1544, amounting to £ 300. sterling, a silver bason and ewer, valued at 20 marks, £ 13. 6s 8d., a cup valued at £ 6., and 11 3/4 cwt. of lead. Farther Report (Tenth) of the Commissioners appointed to enquire concerning Charities, dated 28th June, 1823. Page 242.
[a] In Stow's abstract of this Will given in Strype's edition of the Survey of London, edition 1720, Vol. I. Book ii. page 106,—it is stated that the bequest was "for the augmenting of the pensions of certain poor inhabiting in eight Alms houses erected by Sir Andrew Jud, Knight, her father."—The whole of the paragraph containing an account of Alice Smythe's legacy, was expressly ordered, says Strype, "by Stow himself to be here inserted, whatever the reason was that it was left out in the after-editions."
[b] Farther Report (Eighth) of the Commissioners for enquiring concerning Charities, dated 13th July 1822; City of London, Chartered Companies. Skinners Pages 358, 359.
[c] In 1512 a chaldron of the best coals was sold for 5s., and an inferior kind at 4s. 2d.; and in 1551 a load of coals was 12s. It is observed by Dr. William Fleetwood, Bishop of St. Asaph, in his very curious Chronicon Preciosum, Lond. 1745, 8vo. page 95, that "whenever you meet with coals in old accounts you are to understand thereby charcoal, not seacoal; which has not been in common, as well as I can guess, 150 years; at least not in London: though I find them in M. Paris, under the name of Carbo Marinus, in the time of Henry III. in Additamenta."—In 1512 seacoal appears to have been but little used, since the main stratum was not then arrived at, and many complained that it would not burn without wood; and in the seventeenth century the consumption of it was confined to blacksmiths and poorer persons, who could not afford to procure wood.
Title page of Vol. 2 reads: Theatrum illustrata. Graphic and historic memorials of ancient playhouses, modern theatres and other places of public amusement in the cities and suburbs of London & Westminster with scenic and incidental illustrations from the time of Shakspear to the present period.