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
The Old Town Hall, St. Margaret's Hill, Southwark: In the Ward of Bridge Without, In the County of Surrey.
In the reign of Edward the Confessor, about A. D. , the Borough of appears to have been a separate Corporation governed by a Bailiff, and to have continued so for nearly centuries afterward; during which time it seems to have acquired the character anciently common to extra-judicial places and unfinished suburbs, of a kind of legal refuge for criminals and lawless persons. The consequent evils led to its connection with the City of London. since in A.D. , the Citizens made complaint to King Edward III. that "felons, thieves, and other malefactors, and disturbers of the peace, who in the said City and elsewhere have committed manslaughters, robberies, and divers other felonies, privately departed from the said City after those felonies committed, into the Village of , where they cannot be attached by the officers of the said City, and are there openly received: and so, for default of punishment, are more bold to commit such felonies." The Citizens therefore besought the King, for the conservation of peace within the City, and for the restraining of such evil without,—that he would grant to them the Village of , for ever; at the accustomed farm and rent, to be yearly paid by them at .[a] In consequence of this petition, the charter was granted for the annexation of London to , dated , , in the year of the reign of Edward III., . In the year of Henry IV., , the Citizens received another patent conveying the privileges of Clerk of the Market, the return of writs, and the power of arresting offenders within the Borough, and of carrying them to their gaol of Newgate; against which the inhabitants of petitioned, stating it to be to the disherison of the King, and the impoverishing of the Ville. It appears, however, that their complaints had no effect, since in A.D. , the City received from Edward IV. a confirmation of the charter of Edward III., with several additional privileges: including the holding of a Fair on , , and , having a Court of Pie-Powder, power of arrest, &c. The Sheriff of Surrey seems to have been dissatisfied with this authority, as being an encroachment upon his jurisdiction; for in -, the year of Edward IV., a writ was directed to him from the King commanding him to allow the liberties and jurisdictions already granted to the Mayor and Citizens of London.
After the dissolution of Religious Houses, when all the conventual property in reverted to the King, and the whole Borough became his, the Corporation petitioned Henry VIII. and his Privy-Council to annex that suburb to the City, which, however, was not then granted: and it was not until -, the year of the reign of Edward VI., that the very copious charter was issued conveying the government, rents, and property, of the same to the Mayor and Commonalty of London. This charter is dated at , , and is stated to have been granted partly in consideration of the sum of , paid to the King's use: the Lord Mayor has never been effectually dispossessed of the authority bestowed by it, and it has continued in force to even the present time. About a month after the receipt of this charter, on Tuesday, , the corporation erected the Borough of into an additional Ward, by the name of the Ward of Bridge Without, and elected Sir John Ayliffe, Knight, Citizen and Barber-Surgeon, to be the Alderman; the appointment of whom it was determined, , the and years of Philip and Mary, should be in the Lord Mayor and Court of Aldermen.[b] At the present time, this Ward is usually represented by the senior Alderman, called the Father of the City, who is removed thither upon a vacancy as an honourable retirement from the fatigue of office: and Mr. Bray adds that he has been sometimes allowed per annum for the duties which he is supposed to perform there.[c]
By the charter of Edward VI. the Lord-Mayor, the Recorder, and all the Aldermen , were appointed Justices of the Peace for ; and it is probable that at even an early period the Lord Mayor held his Court there, by virtue of the authority with which he had been long previously invested. As this part of Surrey, however, began to increase in population and improvement, the government of was exercised partly by the County-Magistrates; though the Lord-Mayor of London still continued to hold a session at certain periods, at the Town-Hall on Hill in the Borough. From the earliest notice of such an edifice in , in , the year of Henry VIII., it appears to have existed on the same spot as that which it still occupies, the north, or upper end of Hill, beyond the . In the same place formerly stood the Parish-Church of St. Margaret, which Henry I, gave to the Priory of St. Mary Overie. After the erection of the new Parish of St. Saviour in , by the union of those of St. Margaret and ,—a part of this Church was used as a Court, and the other part as a prison; but it is stated to have been then taken down, and the site granted to John Pope, , the year of Henry VIII.[d] It is possible, however, that this destruction and grant were only partial, and that some portion of the building remained altered into a Court-House; such a place being noticed here years previous, and also as having continued until , when it was burned down, and the building represented in the annexed View erected on the spot.
The Court-room of this edifice stood over a low and deep colonnade, and consisted of a brick building nearly square, covered with plaster, with a high-pointed tiled roof, an ornamental cornice, and stone quoins at the angles.
|The principal apartment was lighted by tall and narrow transom-casements, arched at the top; of which were in the front of the Hall towards Hill, and between them was a handsome stone niche, with Corinthian columns, and a circular pediment and pedestal, containing a statue of Charles II. with the following inscription. "COMBUSTUM AN. . RE-AEDIFICATUM ANNIS ET . JACOBO SMITH, MIL. ET ROBERTO GEFFERY, MIL. PRAETORIBUS IMPERIS S. P. Q. L. RIC. BRACKLEY, THO. NICHOLAS, GUARD. THO. ODDY, CLERICO CONTRA ROT. PONTIS." In , after a repair of the Hall by order of the Lord Mayor and Committee of City Lands, the following addition was made to this inscription. "REPAIRED AND BEAUTIFIED ANNO DOMINI . THE RIGHT HON. SIR ROBERT KITE, LORD MAYOR, S. P. Q. L. JOHN SHEWELL AND JOHN TOVEY, BRIDGE- MASTERS. PETER ROBERTS, ESQ. COMPTROLLER OF THE WORKS AND REVENUES OF ." In the pediment over the statue, were originally inserted the royal arms, and on the top of the pediment a double sun dial, on which were the following mottoes. "Dum spectas fugio—whilst you look I flie—Tempus Edax Rerum—Time is a Devourer of things." Beneath the windows on side the niche, was a shield with the City arms; and on the other the device of , connected by wreaths. The interior of the Hall was also decorated with the same armorial ensigns over the Lord Mayor's seat, which was likewise ornamented with carved wooden figures of Justice and Wisdom, and a stand for the City Sword, carved and gilt.|
For some years previous to its demolition, the Old of was in a very ruinous state; and at a sessions holden there in , Sir James Sanderson, the Lord Mayor, stated to the Grand Jury that proper notice had been taken of its dilapidations, and that he hoped in future to meet them in a more convenient place. In April the workmen began to demolish the building, and the next Sessions were holden on at the Tuns Tavern, on Hill; where the Jurors were only sworn and dismissed with a speech from the Recorder. The Lord Mayor, however, addressed them rather as principal inhabitants of , and stated that it had been suggested to the Committee for building the , that it would be of great utility to have a clock erected on the front of it, and enquired their sentiments on the subject, which were given in the affirmative. Before the meeting dispersed it was stated to the Court by Mr. Muggeridge, that he had formerly presented a memorial to the Committee of City Lands recommending the consideration of the propriety of rounding the corner turning into , on the western side of the , to render the entrance more convenient and free from danger. The Lord Mayor promised to represent this request, but added that as the colonnade which formerly rendered that avenue so inconvenient, would be omitted in the new building, he did not think it would be complied with. Mr. Ellis contended that though this projection were to be avoided, the same evil, or a greater would still remain; since in the old building the colonnade could be used as a shelter above, whilst in the new edifice the same space of ground was to be inclosed within an iron railing to preserve the City's right, without any corresponding benefit. The Lord Mayor only repeated his former promise, and the Court broke up.[a]
The present , was erected in , and consists of a plain, though handsome building of brick, with stone ballustrades on the parapet, entablature, pilasters, panels, and ground floor which is channelled. It rises storys above the street, the of which is lighted by lofty semi-circular windows, and contains the court-room; the lower floor being occupied chiefly by offices. Between the windows in front is a flat stone arched recess, containing a clock; which in , was made transparent with a glass dial and metal figures, and illuminated behind with gas. In building the present Hall the front was made level with that of the handsome modern house on the eastern side of it represented in the annexed Engraving; which was also erected in , upon the site of some very mean buildings, and once imparted a great degree of ornament and dignity to this part of the Borough. It was at occupied as a banking-house, under the firm of Sir James Sanderson, Harrison, Brenchley, Bloxham, and Co.; which, after some alterations, was succeeded by that of Wilkinson, Polhill, Bloxham, Pinhorn, and Bulcock. About , the building was entirely removed, together with the whole of the western side of , Borough, for the formation of the south approach to the , called ; when a small part of the ground occupied by this house was added to the width of the Town-Hall, enclosing the stair-case to the court-room.
On taking down the old Court-House the statue of Charles II. was bought by some inhabitants of the vicinity, and erected as an ornament in the centre of King Court, in the , upon a pedestal of brick and stone-work, containing a watch-box. This figure was also removed in ; and at the present time () stands in a garden in , . The effigies of Justice and Wisdom from the Lord Mayor's Seat in the Old , were taken to the Crowns Coffee-House kept by a Mr. West, and set up near the bar: upon the several changes in the situations of all which figures, the following contemporaneous epigram has been preserved.
[a] It is recorded in the Memoranda of the Exchequer, "inter Recorda de Termino Sancti Michaelis," "that Edward III. in the second year of his reign, 1328, granted to the Mayor and Commonalty of London Ballivam de Suthwerk, id est, the Bailiwick of Southwark; which they held of the King at Fee-farm, paying 101. a year; and their Bailey was Thomas Clopham; who seems to have been put in by the Mayor and Commonalty of London." Rev. J. Strype's Stow's Survey of London. Lond. 1720, fol. Vol. II. book iv. chap. i. p. 2.
[b] Strype's Stow's Survey of London, Vol. II. p. 2.
[c] History and Antiquities of the County of Surrey, by Rev. Owen Manning and William Bray, Esq. vol. iii. Lond. 1814. fol. p. 552.
[d] Hist. of Surrey, vol. iii. p. 553.
[a] The description of the Old Town Hall, and the account of its removal, are derived from The History and Antiquities of the Parish of St. Saviour, Seuthwark; by M. Concannen, Jun. and A. Morgan, Deptford, 1795, 8vo. pp. 62—66, 68.
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.