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 2

Wilkinson, Robert
1819-1825

An Account of the Ruins Discovered, in 1821, at the Corner of Whitcomb Street, Formerly Called Hedge Lane.

An Account of the Ruins Discovered, in 1821, at the Corner of Whitcomb Street, Formerly Called Hedge Lane.

Ruins discovered at the Corner of Whitcomb Street, near Charing Cross, in December 1821; Plan of the Neighbourhood; Plan of the Ruins.

In 1821, the workmen employed in digging for the foundation of the intended new houses on the north side of Cockspur Street, on opening the ground at the south-west corner of Hedge Lane, or Whitcomb Street, and near the west entrance of the King's Mews, they observed several rude and unshapen pieces of sculpture, which suggested the idea of parts of a Corinthian capital; also a large stone of a conical form (placed in the fore-ground of the annexed view) on whose top were remains of sculptured foliage, &c. On further excavation, and clearing away the earth, were discovered the fragments of three walls, evidently of great antiquity, and which no doubt were remains of some eminent building; though of such remote date as to forbid any positive decision of the time or purpose of its erection. The largest of these fragments, which measured about six feet in thickness, lay east and west, and stood by itself; and opposite, on the west side, were the other two, which lay north and south, the southern end of the first touching the northwest end of the other, in a parallel direction; these did not exceed four feet in thickness. The distance from the east end of the larger fragment to the outside of the other two walls was about sixty feet. The were in good preservation, particularly the northmost of the two, which rose nearest to the surface of the ground, and so very compact, that it was with great difficulty they could be broken by driving into them large iron crows. The parts had evidently been connected by others, decayed and gone, and the ruins altogether made a venerable and interesting appearance, though we presume they had formed but a small part of the original structure.

The materials that composed these mural fragments were various, and well worthy of notice, consisting of ragstone, some chalk, a few bricks, and particularly of silicious substances, that had no doubt contributed much to their durability; the bricks in the composition prove them to be of very ancient date, as well as the circumstance that Hedge Lane ran immediately by the site of these ruins, and was about two centuries ago a lane bounded by a hedge, that in all probability these ruins were buried, if not entirely unknown at that time.

Their discovery has given rise to numerous conjectures as to the original building: the most prevalent (and, perhaps, the best founded) of which is, that they were the remains of the Royal Mews burnt in 1534,For an account of which see Pennant's London, edition 1813, page 151. in the reign of Henry the Eighth, and became neglected and buried after the fire: this idea is supposed to account for their concealment so many years; but if even this were the case, they certainly had been connected with a still older building, of which, perhaps, we have not the smallest account. They are by some supposed the remains of a religious edifice, from the circumstance of human bones having been dug up among the ruins. Pennant mentions a hermitage dedicated to St. Catharine, which anciently stood near Charing Cross, as also a small church near the same spot; but the latter is said to have been west of the foundation, nor did the place of the former exactly agree with them. Some conjecture them to be remains af an obscure chapel, fallen into decay through neglect, want of money, or from some other cause, and of which no memorial has been preserved; while others think them to have been the base of the ancient Charing (originally called Cherè Reine, or dear Queen's) Cross, set up in honour of Eleanor, queen of Edward the First,Queen Eleanor, on her journey to Scotland, died in Lincolnshire, whence her body was brought for interment in the Abbey; and every place where it rested was made to perpetuate her memory by the erection of a Cross, which distinguished marks of respect are well known to have been gained by her conjugal affection, so brilliantly displayed in a hazardous exposure of her own life to save that of the King, when they were in Palestine. as the last place where her corpse rested on its way to be interred in Westminster Abbey. All these are, however, mere suppositions; and it can only be added, that the reader, presented with these surmises, and a faithful representation of the ruins and their locality, is left to form his own opinion respecting them.

 

In , the workmen employed in digging for the foundation of the intended new houses on the north side of , on opening the ground at the south-west corner of Hedge Lane, or , and near the west entrance of the , they observed several rude and unshapen pieces of sculpture, which suggested the idea of parts of a Corinthian capital; also a large stone of a conical form (placed in the fore-ground of the annexed view) on whose top were remains of sculptured foliage, &c. On further excavation, and clearing away the earth, were discovered the fragments of walls, evidently of great antiquity, and which no doubt were remains of some eminent building; though of such remote date as to forbid any positive decision of the time or purpose of its erection. The largest of these fragments, which measured about feet in thickness, lay east and west, and stood by itself; and opposite, on the west side, were the other , which lay north and south, the southern end of the touching the northwest end of the other, in a parallel direction; these did not exceed feet in thickness. The distance from the east end of the larger fragment to the outside of the other walls was about feet. The were in good preservation, particularly the northmost of the , which rose nearest to the surface of the ground, and so very compact, that it was with great difficulty they could be broken by driving into them large iron crows. The parts had evidently been connected by others, decayed and gone, and the ruins altogether made a venerable and interesting appearance, though we presume they had formed but a small part of the original structure.

The materials that composed these mural fragments were various, and well worthy of notice, consisting of ragstone, some chalk, a few bricks, and particularly of silicious substances, that had no doubt contributed much to their durability; the bricks in the composition prove them to be of very ancient date, as well as the circumstance that Hedge Lane ran immediately by the site of these ruins, and was about centuries ago a lane bounded by a hedge, that in all probability these ruins were buried, if not entirely unknown at that time.

Their discovery has given rise to numerous conjectures as to the original building: the most prevalent (and, perhaps, the best founded) of which is, that they were the remains of the Royal Mews burnt in ,[*]  in the reign of Henry the , and became neglected and buried after the fire: this idea is supposed to account for their concealment so many years; but if even this were the case, they certainly had been connected with a still older building, of which, perhaps, we have not the smallest account. They are by some supposed the remains of a religious edifice, from the circumstance of human bones having been dug up among the ruins. Pennant mentions a hermitage dedicated to St. Catharine, which anciently stood near , as also a small church near the same spot; but the latter is said to have been west of the foundation, nor did the place of the former exactly agree with them. Some conjecture them to be remains af an obscure chapel, fallen into decay through neglect, want of money, or from some other cause, and of which no memorial has been preserved; while others think them to have been the base of the ancient Charing (originally called Cherè Reine, or dear Queen's) Cross, set up in honour of Eleanor, queen of Edward the ,[*]  as the last place where her corpse rested on its way to be interred in . All these are, however, mere suppositions; and it can only be added, that the reader, presented with these surmises, and a faithful representation of the ruins and their locality, is left to form his own opinion respecting them.

59

 
 
 
Footnotes:

[*] For an account of which see Pennant's London, edition 1813, page 151.

[*] Queen Eleanor, on her journey to Scotland, died in Lincolnshire, whence her body was brought for interment in the Abbey; and every place where it rested was made to perpetuate her memory by the erection of a Cross, which distinguished marks of respect are well known to have been gained by her conjugal affection, so brilliantly displayed in a hazardous exposure of her own life to save that of the King, when they were in Palestine.

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 Title Page
collapseCourts, Halls, and Public Buildings
collapseSchools
collapseAlms-Houses, Hospitals, &c.
collapsePlaces of Amusement
collapseMiscellaneous Objects of Antiquity
collapseAncient and Modern Theatres
collapseTheatres
The Bull and the Bear Baiting,
The Red Bull Playhouse, Clerkenwell.
Fortune Theatre
Lincoln's Inn Fields Theatre
D'Avenant's Theatre Otherwise the Duke's Theatre, Little Lincoln's Inn Fields
Theatre Royal, Drury Lane
Destruction of Drury Lane Theatre by Fire
Opening of Drury Lane New Theatre
Theatre Royal, Covent Garden
The New Theatre Royal, Covent Garden.
Theatre Royal, Haymarket
New Theatre Royal, Haymarket
The King's Theatre, or the Italian Opera, Haymarket
Theatre in Goodman's Fields. The whole of Goodman's Fields was formerly a farm belonging to the Abbey of Nuns, of the Order of St. Clare, called the Minories or Minoresses, from certain poor ladies of that order; and so late as the time of Stow, when he wrote his Survey in 1598, was let out in gardens, and for grazing horses. One Trolop, and afterwards Goodman, were the farmers there. But Goodman's son being heir by his father's purchase, let the grounds in parcels, and lived like a gentleman on its produce. He lies buried in St. Botolph's church, Aldgate.
The Royalty Theatre, Wellclose Square
The Tennis Court Theatre, Bear Yard, Little Lincoln's Inn Fields
Olympic Theatre, Newcastle Street, Strand
Sadler's Wells.
The Pantheon Theatre, Oxford Street
Strand Theatre, the Sans Pareil
Astley's Amphitheatre, Westminster Road
The Regency Theatre. Tottenham Street Tottenham Court Road
The Cobourg Theatre
Royal Circus or Surrey Theatre
Lyceum Theatre, or English Opera, Strand.
Theatre in Tankard Street, Ipswich
Checks and Tickets of Admission to the public Theatres and other Places of Amusement.

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.

This object is in collection:
Edwin C. Bolles papers
Subjects
London (England)--Antiquities
London (England)--Description and Travel
Wilkinson, Robert, d. ca. 1825
Bolles, Edwin Courtlandt
Permanent URL
http://hdl.handle.net/10427/53839
ID: tufts:MS004.002.057.001.00001
To Cite: DCA Citation Guide
Usage: Detailed Rights