A History of London, Vol. II

Loftie, W. J.
1883

CHAPTER XIX:THE TOWER AND THE TOWER HAMLETS.

CHAPTER XIX:THE TOWER AND THE TOWER HAMLETS.

 

THE occasion which William the Conqueror seized for building the Tower has been already described.[1]  The situation, close by the river's bank, favours the supposition that a part at least of the ground within the precinct was reckoned royal property as foreshore. But another part was undoubtedly taken from the citizens, and the circuit of the city walls was broken. It has recently been ascertained, not only that a considerable quantity of Roman brick was used in the buildings, but that the foundation of the White Tower itself overlies that of a great and solid bastion. When Gray therefore talked of the

towers of Julius,

he was not so very far wrong as has sometimes been thought. Had he said

towers of Caesar,

there would have been little fault to find.

While the western half of the tower precinct thus belongs to the ancient circuit of the city, the eastern half belongs to the original parish of . It is perhaps on this account that the parliamentary borough which has been formed of the parish is called, not Stepney, but, somewhat absurdly, the The boundaries of the precinct are very sharply defined, and for many ages the city looked with great jealousy at any encroachment. When Edward IV., for example, set up the gallows on Tower Hill, the citizens immediately

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took alarm, and the jurisdiction of the sheriffs was acknowledged by the king.

In the reign of James I. a similar question arose, but in this case the citizens were apparently the aggressors. The lord mayor in ordered

a prison or cage

to be constructed on Tower Hill. Sir Allen Apsley, who was then lieutenant of the Tower, remonstrated in a letter[2]  in which he pointed out that if the new building could be removed a few yards it would stand within the City boundary. He uses the curious word with reference to the site chosen. It had too much disburbance. As far back as the time of Elizabeth a controversy sprung up between the lord mayor and the lieutenant as to the removal of a boundary stone, and as to the lord mayor's right to have the sword borne before him upright until a certain point was passed.[3] 

The gradual growth of the buildings as we see them now may be briefly traced. When William died the works were far from complete. At the close of the reign of Stephen there was only the White Tower within its wall, forming what we now know as the inner ward, the royal palace being on the south-east side.

No doubt there was a ditch, but probably not a very formidable one.

[4]  The outer ward was the creation of Richard I. and his minister, William Longchamp, bishop of Ely.[5]  The bishop deepened and enlarged the ditch, hoping to fill it from the Thames, an object in which, however, he failed. In his excavations he encroached on the land of the priory of Holy Trinity, , and on

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that of St. Katharine's Hospital. These trespasses were the cause of much complaint, which was not finally allayed until Edward I. made compensation. The " royal chapel in the Tower" is mentioned in the records of Longchamp's rule, and this may be the chapel of St. Peter. King John spent much money in buildings, and the chapel is distinctly mentioned in , when Osmund, a knight bound for Poictou, received a gift of ten marks, and, to buy a horse, a hundred shillings from the king in the

church of St. Peter at the Tower of London.

But to Henry III. must be given the credit of having made of the Tower the extensive fortification we now see. At his accession the wall of the inner ward was complete, but the quay along the river's edge, and the water gate known as St. Thomas's Tower, had not been constructed. The wall probably abutted on the water, and the principal entrance was directly on the river. The palace, or was built before , and the Bell Tower probably soon after, work going on constantly. There are many entries as to the making of a chimney for the king's chamber, a piece of domestic engineering which seems to have taxed the ability of the builders. At this time the Wakefield Tower, which had formed part of the Norman work, was raised and completed, and the adjoining. Close to it was the great hall of the palace, destroyed during the Commonwealth. It is in the Wakefield Tower that the modern visitor inspects the crown jewels, but it was long used for the storage of records. Unfortunately the old building has here been almost completely renewed, the chapel-the third which is known to have existed in the Tower of London-having been destroyed, not, indeed, under the Commonwealth, but under the direction of the

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Office of Works. Here, in all probability, the unfortunate Henry VI. worshipped during a great part of his long reign, and one cannot but regret to see that the same want of consideration for ancient association is busy in every part of the venerable fortress.

In , Henry III., the new-built Traitor's Gate, or Water Tower, fell down suddenly. It was rebuilt, and again fell. No doubt the foundation in the bed of the river was not sufficiently strong or deep. But superstition accounted for the two occurrences in a much more satisfactory way. On the night of the second fall the great Archbishop Thomas appeared to a certain priest and told him that he resented these great works as prejudicial to the citizens. Nevertheless, the king had them renewed, and compounded with the saint by calling the new tower after him. On this his sympathies with the citizens ceased to agitate him. An oratory in the upper storey, the fourth building of the kind, was dedicated to St. Thomas of Canterbury.

A good many of Henry III.'s descendants passed through the archway, some of them under sad circumstances. We cannot forget the figure of the lady Elizabeth, who was sent to the Tower on the outbreak of Wyatt's rebellion. When the boat came to the stair the princess refused to land. The lord in charge of her peremptorily told her she had no choice. It rained, and he offered her his cloak, which she refused,

putting it from her with a good dash,

[6]  and as she set foot on the steps she cried with momentary spirit,

Here landeth as true a subject, being a prisoner, as ever landed at these stairs.

But her courage forsook her again when she saw the guards drawn up to receive her. The soldiers kneeled down as she passed, and prayed God bless her,

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for which, it is said, they were all dismissed. The princess, unwilling to go further through the gloomy portals, sat down on a stone in the rain. The lieutenant entreated her to rise and go on.

Better sit here than in a worse place,

she answered, significantly.[7] 

The impression which St. Thomas's Tower used to make on the visitor is now much weakened. The upper storey consists of a new, nay, a novel building in the style of a country cottage; and the water is no longer permitted to approach the steps. Few of the stones, if any, that Elizabeth saw in are to be seen now. Everything has been

Perhaps the most curious commitment was that of the abbot of , who, with forty-eight monks and thirty-two other persons, was sent to the Tower by Edward I. on suspicion of having stolen the king's treasure. The crime was brought home at last, after a long trial, to the sub-prior and sacrist.[8]  Their skins were nailed on the doors of the treasury and of the sacristy, where they still remain, a warning to evil-doers.

Edward III. did much for the Tower, which was the site of a powder factory in , to the great danger of the buildings, though, in all probability, the quality of the explosive compound was not such as to make it very formidable. There are entries in the records for saltpetre and sulphur,

ad opus Regis pro gunnis.

In this reign, too, the Tower saw the first of a long line

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of royal prisoners. David, king of Scotland, taken at Neville's Cross, was brought here to linger out eleven years of captivity and ill-health. In , the then large sum of 2£. 12s. 9d. was paid for his medicines. John of France, Richard II., Henry VI., Edward V., queen Anne Boleyn, queen Katherine Howard, queen Jane, and queen Elizabeth, are among the royal personages in the sad procession, but Charles I. was never confined in the Tower.

When James I. came to the throne the palace within the Tower had fallen almost into ruin. According to one account, he removed the great hall. In Wren was commissioned to repair the White Tower, which he did in a way worthy of a modern restorer, and only a few traces remain of the old Norman windows.[9]  In a fire destroyed the armoury which Wren had built for James II. and William III., and the painfully substantial Wellington Barracks in a gothic style, as gothic was then understood, were placed on the site. The Beauchamp Tower was in , and all traces of antiquity carefully removed: the inscriptions on the walls were taken down and placed together in one room, so that they have lost half their interest and all their historical value. During the past few years other changes have taken place, of which it may safely be said that few of them are improvements. The curious building, dating from the reign of Edward III., which adjoined the eastern side of the White Tower, has been removed, as have the great stores which stood on the site of the old palace.[10] 

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The interior of the White Tower still retains the fantastic arrangements of old arms, but we no longer enter it through a window, and has become what it was before, the crypt of St. John's Chapel. The chapel has been very thoroughly scraped, renewed, paved, and otherwise robbed of any appearance of age it had acquired in eight centuries. Something has also been done with the long-ruined towers along the quay. They were buried in modern buildings, and the process of extrication has, of course, been accompanied by great destructions. On the whole, however, this is the most satisfactory of all the modern operations, and the only one which has in any way added to our interest in the Tower of London.

The chapel of St. Peter's has suffered more from than even the Beauchamp Tower. It only dates from , when an older church was burnt, and was still new when interments were first made within its walls. Few churches have undergone greater vicissitudes than St. Peter's. It may be described as either a collegiate church, a parish church, a royal chapel, or a garrison chapel. The intentions of Edward III. to place it under a dean and three canons, were never carried out. A similar scheme formed by Edward IV. went further, but was eventually dropped. It has, however, been continually served by a whose office, instituted perhaps when the church was first built, has survived until now. Even when the arrangements for a college were in progress, the parson of St. Peter existed, and in gave very powerful proof of his existence when he slew a certain Friar Randolph, as Stow tells us without further comment. Philip and Mary found

no parson abyde to have cure sowle,

and

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declared their royal pleasure

the same to be established into perfecyon.

[11] 

The position of the Tower parson is, nevertheless still anomalous. The bishop has no jurisdiction within the precincts, says one authority.[12]  Godwin and Britton report that it is under the control of the bishop of , which is probably correct; but Bayley calls it a chapelry, and in the next line speaks of

the chaplain or rector.

archbishop Whitgift and his successor

would not meddle with it,

but archbishop Abbot excommunicated

the rector and his son, the curate

for solemnising marriages without license. The reader turns with satisfaction to the precise statement of Newcourt.[13]  The chapel was formerly exempt from the jurisdiction of the bishop of , but Edward VI., by letters patent dated 1 April, , subjected it to the episcopal supervision, and this order was confirmed by queen Mary, on the 2nd March, .

But,

adds the judicious Newcourt,

whether ever any bishop of

London

, did by virtue of these letters exercise any jurisdiction within the Tower, I have not found.

We have all read and reread the affecting words in which Stow notices the chapel.

Here lieth before the high altar in St. Peter's church, two dukes between two

queens, to wit, the duke of Somerset, and the duke of Northumberland, between queen Anne and queen Katherine, all four beheaded.

We have also read Macaulay's comment.

Thither have been carried through successive ages, by the rude hands of gaolers, without one mourner following, the bleeding relics of men who had been the captains of armies, the leaders of parties, the oracles of senates, and the ornaments of courts.

Nothing can add to the mournful interest of the place; and though we must sympathise in the indignation which Macaulay expressed against the

barbarous stupidity

which had transformed the chapel into

the likeness of a meeting house in a manufacturing town,

it is not possible to approve of the works recently carried on. The only satisfactory restoration would have been one which removed the seats and galleries, and which left undisturbed the sacred ashes under the floor. The reredos was ugly, but it had seen the burial of the Scots lords, and perhaps of Monmouth. It was much more appropriate than the fine new one, which, if it was really what it pretends to be, of the fourteenth century, would be 200 years older than the church in which it stands. A church built in would almost certainly have had a renaissance reredos, if any.[14] 

But the alteration of the reredos was a small matter. There was not a more interesting piece of ground of its size in England than that which lay under the broken pavement of the chancel. It is almost incredible that a

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committee of government officials and military officers. unassisted by the advice or supervision of a single antiquary or historian, were permitted to dig over every part of it, to remove the ancient stones, to sift the earth, to re-arrange and classify the bones, and, in a word, to ruin the historical associations of this most sacred spot. A gaudy inlaid pavement bears the names, worked into ornamental patterns, of the nobles and ladies whose dust was so sacrilegiously disturbed; and the church itself, if it once resembled a Methodist now resembles much more a Congregational meeting house, and the is as far away as ever.

Before the building of the Record Office in Fetter Lane, the national archives were deposited in the Tower. Latterly the accumulation was so great that not the chapel in the White Tower only, but several other buildings, as the Wakefield and Bloody Towers, for example, were filled with documents. The chancery records were kept here at a very early period.[15]  In the reign of Elizabeth, the first attempt to reduce the records to order was made by William Bowyer,[16]  but his digest is lost. His successor, William Lambard, usually called compiled a calendar[17]  of the records under his charge and intrusted it to the countess of Warwick to lay before the queen. But Elizabeth desired that Lambard should present it in person, saying,

If any subject of mine do me a service, I will thankfully accept it from his own hands.

In , John Selden became keeper of the records.

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He was succeeded by Prynne, who though he had suffered so much under Charles I., was a promoter of the restoration of Charles II. Astle, who wrote the history of writing, also held the office, but the greatest of the keepers was Samuel Lysons, to whom, and to his brother Daniel, modern topographers are so deeply indebted. Under his supervision the systematic calendaring was commenced, and the names of Sir Harris Nicolas and Sir Francis Palgrave may be mentioned among those who have carried on the great work inaugurated by Lysons.

A different kind of interest attaches to the Tower menagerie, the nucleus of the great collection now in the gardens of the Zoological Society in Regent's Park. has become a proverb. People who visit the ancient fortress now do not go to study natural history, but is still the phrase employed. The first wild beasts were kept in the Tower almost as soon as it was built.[18]  Henry I. had a collection of lions, leopards, and other strange animals. Three leopards, in allusion perhaps to the royal heraldry, were presented to Henry III. by the emperor Frederick II. This king indulged his zoological tastes at the expense of the city, whose greatest oppressor he seems to have been in so many other respects. The sheriffs had to arrange in for the safe-keeping of a white bear from Norway. They "provided four pence daily, with a muzzle and iron chain, to keep him when 'extra aquam' and a stout cord to hold him when a-fishing in the Thames."[19]  Two years later an elephant arrived from France. He landed at Sandwich and the sheriffs

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had to provide for him

a strong and suitable house,

and to support him and his keeper.

At the time when the allowance for an esquire was one penny a day,

remarks Mr. Clark,

a lion had a quarter of mutton and three halfpence for the keeper; and afterwards six- pence was the lion's allowance; the same for a leopard, and three halfpence for the keeper.

In the reign of Henry VI., the office of keeper was held by men of superior rank, and sometimes by the lieutenant of the Tower. In the collection consisted of four large lions and two leopards. In there were six lions in the Tower, and by , the list of wild beasts had increased to eleven lions, two leopards or tigers, three eagles, two owls, two cats of the mountain and a jackal.[20]  Fifty years later the menagerie attained very large dimensions. Maitland[21]  gives us many curious particulars of the

wild beasts and other savage animals,

and seems to have heard and believed some very extraordinary tales. The

man-tyger,

which was probably an ape, specially interested him. It could throw stones with surprising strength and accuracy, and seems to have been deemed most valuable on account of its having killed a boy by throwing a cannon-ball at him. It had many other actions

nearly approaching to those of the human species.

Among other wonderful animals was a golden eagle which had been in captivity more than ninety years. There was only one lion, Pompey, and one lioness, Helen. After this period the collection dwindled, and in , when Mr. Cops became the keeper, he found nothing but a grizzly bear, an elephant, and some birds. Mr. Cops must be regarded as the true

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founder of the present Within a few years the collection grew too large for the Lion Tower, and it was transferred in , to the Regent's Park, where a few animals had already been gathered by the Zoological Society.[22] 

The Lion Tower was an outwork in advance of the Middle Tower, now the principal entrance for visitors. It stood on the site of the present ticket office, and had a smaller tower adjoining it, and a drawbridge of its own.[23]  The whole of the outer space was called the Bulwark, and sometimes Spur Yard. Close to it was the sluice by which water was admitted to the Tower Ditch. During a visitation of cholera, in , the death of lord Jocelyn, then on duty at the Tower with his regiment, called attention to the unwholesomeness of the great surface of stagnant water, and the duke of Wellington ordered it to be drained. The bottom was partially filled and levelled so as to form a parade ground, and the sloping sides, north and west, were laid out with shrubs and walks, and surrounded by a railing. A curious accident happened here some years later, but escaped public notice. A fire-engine driven at great speed to the succour of a conflagration at St. Katherine's Dock beyond the Tower, emerged from Tower Street, and in the darkness was dashed against the railings. Engine, horses, and men fell headlong into the ditch, yet, strange to say, the engine only was injured.

Of all the manors connected with St. Paul's, Stepney was the greatest, and we have now to tell the story of its alienation and disintegration. A little further on a similar story will be concerned with the estates of the

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prebendaries or canons of the cathedral church. If the abbot of had the manor of St. Margaret's, extending west from the wall to , the bishop of had a counter-balancing estate in the east: for extended from Aldgate to the Lea, and from the Thames to the northern hills. In Domesday the bishop's holding is set down at thirty-two hides, and he had besides eight tenants, some of whom held as much as five hides. One of them was Engelbric, a canon of St. Paul's, and another William, the chamberlain, presumably of the city, whom we have had occasion to notice more than once.

This great estate comprised at least seven different modern parishes and innumerable smaller ecclesiastical divisions, being in fact itself the district so often referred to as the great and terrible Whitechapel was the first district separated. An ancient church, whose name, " St. Mary Matfelon," has been the subject of some wild guessing, had subsisted here-as St. Clement Danes had subsisted on the manor of the abbot of -from time immemorial. The rector of Stepney had the gift of the living in the time of Stow, but since the beginning of the eighteenth century even this connection with the mother parish has been severed and the advowson is now held by an Oxford College. The church was recently pulled down, and a new one in a very florid style of gothic built, but almost immediately burnt. It is now being rebuilt.

was separated in the reign of Charles II. by Act of Parliament, when the church, also probably an old chapel of ease, was consecrated as St. Paul's, the gift being in the dean and chapter of the cathedral. One by one after this, Spitalfields, Limehurst, Stratford, and Bethnal Green have followed,

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and the mother church has now but a moderate district left.

The dedication to St. Dunstan is almost manifestly later than the church itself; and we find, accordingly, " All Saints " added to the English archbishop, and even in some authorities an assertion that to them alone the parish was originally assigned. The old church has been much molested, but is the old church still, and contains a fine series of ancient monuments. So far back as the beginning of the last century the fame of Stepney in this respect had penetrated westward, and we find its epitaphs quoted in both the ' Spectator' and the 'Tatler.' Built into the west porch is a stone carved with an inscription commencing,

Of Carthage wall I was a stone,

and signed,

Thomas Hughes,

1663

.

It may very well have been brought by a traveller from the African ruins.[24]  The fine houses which once surrounded the church have all perished; the neighbourhood is composed of very miserable tenements. Pace, who succeeded Colet, first at Stepney and afterwards at St. Paul's, was the well-known diplomatist, one of Wolsey's favourite tools, especially in his intrigues for the papal crown.[25] 

Of the other churches in this vast parish it would be impossible to give a detailed account. With one exception, all were in the classical style, until St. Philip's was built in , the first example of the gothic revival; but one old gothic church survived, namely, at Stratford, near the "Bow " or arched bridge over the Lea, a chapelry of

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Stepney till , when it was made parochial. It retains many pointed features, and is mainly as it was when built in the fifteenth century. It stands well in the middle of on a site specially granted by bishop Baldock. St. George's-in-the-East has superseded the old name of Wapping, which now only belongs to a small riverside district, the church of which, perfectly modern, is dedicated to St. John. St. George's was designed by Hawksmoor, the pupil of Wren. It was one of the fifty parish churches of queen Anne's time, but was not finished and consecrated till . Limehouse, formerly Limehurst, was made parochial in , and the dedication of the church to St. Anne was probably intended as a compliment to the queen. It also was designed by Hawksmoor, but cannot be considered a favourable example of his powers. In St. George's and St. Anne's he appears in fact to have been trying experiments in a style already bound down by hard-and-fast rules. If we judge him by St. Mary Woolnoth, or St. George's Bloomsbury, we may think he approached very near to his master Wren: but these conspicuous riverside churches show that his genius was limited. Architects have been slow to learn, if indeed they have ever learnt, that eccentricity is not necessarily picturesque, while it is often unpleasing. Vanbrugh, who went even farther than Hawksmoor in this direction, succeeded more often, yet his best works are those in which he adhered most strictly to the conventional rules. Of St. George's-in-the-East there is not much to be said. Its tower is a monument of ugliness well known to any one who has occasion to go up or down the Thames below . It is 160 ft. in height, and bears a little spire and weather-cock rising from among eight objectless columns. The interior is spacious, but insufficiently

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lighted, and the construction is so ingeniously concealed as to excite a feeling of insecurity very much out of place in ecclesiastical architecture.

, like , at the time of the Conquest and long after, was a centre of fashion. Domesday Book contains a list of the bishop's tenants, from which we gather that some great men of the court, some of the city, and some of the church lived here, though it would be difficult to identify their holdings. Ralf Flambard must have overshadowed the bishop himself. Hugh Berners was a Norman noble. William de Vere became the progenitor of the long and illustrious line of the earls of Oxford. Beside the bishop of Lisieux and several canons of St. Paul's, there were some eminent citizens- Roger, the sheriff,[26]  for example, and William, the chamberlain. These great persons probably lived either about , outside the wall, or at itself, near the church of St. Dunstan. One or two of the holdings may still be identified. In the same paragraph with the bishop's home manor the estate of a canon of St. Paul's is described. This was probably Holywell or Finsbury, since the bishop's house was north of the city and near Bethnal Green. Sired, a canon, held it in the days of king Edward, and could sell or lease it. Another prebendal manor is mentioned, and as it is in the same paragraph, it was presumably at the same place, and would answer to the modern stall of [27]  A

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third estate was the property of

Engelbric, a canon,

presumably of St. Paul's. He could not sell it, and it was probably not one of the prebendal manors. In a humbler walk of life we find Doding, the miller, who held a

virgate

of the bishop's own manor, and who seems to be commemorated in the name of " Dodding Pond," in East Smithfield.[28] 

The bishop's manor house was at Bethnal Green. Its site, close to the western entrance of Victoria Park, is still indicated by some of the local names, such as Bishop's Road, Bonner's Road, and Hall Bridge. Names alone are ancient now in this quarter. All else is modern and moreover shabby. The Beggar's Daughter has multiplied a hundred thousand fold. Only public houses and pawnbrokers' shops seem to flourish, everything else has an air of poverty, which here and there puts on a still more melancholy look of gentility. There are a few private houses, surrounded by straggling gardens, and coarse weedy grass. There are great hospitals, one of which occupies part of the site of the bishop's manor house. There are some modern churches built in the early years of the gothic revival, and the handsome, if useless Columbia Market,[29]  looks strange and out of place in all its finery of pinnacles. An occasional board school rises above the low roofs and looks pleasant and pretty by contrast.

There is an old Joe Miller about Bethnal Green which used to puzzle commentators. It related to some coarse joke made by Rochester or Charles II. as to a causeway constructed of the skulls and horns of cattle which

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here carried the Newmarket road across a marsh. The citizens it was said, laid their heads together to form the road. At the present day the marsh is drained, and there are many roads in the district and many streets, but very few breathing spaces.

In one of them stands the museum, conspicuous among the east end buildings as the only example of what future ages may call the South Kensington style of architecture. The pilgrim from the west end if he is not very young may see another memento of Brompton in the majolica fountain which was so conspicuous an object in the exhibition of . The raw colours are as bright, as inharmonious as ever. Glazed pottery, indeed, enjoys perpetual youth. The interior of the museum is more pleasing: the specimens of manufacture of different kinds being well arranged, and loan collections of china and pictures being constantly on view.

Before bishop Ridley surrendered to Edward VI., or rather to the greedy courtier who coveted it, the manor house had seen some very fine company at times. There is not much to connect Bonner with it during his first incumbency of the see, but before him several bishops had made it an occasional residence. Braybrook, who was chancellor of England in the beginnings of troubles under Richard II., found it convenient to live for months together half-way as it were between town and country. The hunting grounds of Hornsey and Highgate with their woods stretched away over the hills towards the great forest on one side, the busy city that, literally,

kings and priests were plotting in,

was close by on the other. Before Braybrook, another chancellor, Baldock, was much at Bethnal Green, and died here in . Bishop Roger the Black

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(cognomine Niger) died here in . But after the grant of Stepney to lord Wentworth the house declined. We seek in vain for any vestiges of it. A century ago it was divided into tenements. Hospitals, asylums, streets and squares cover all the bishop's land.

Near the church of St. Dunstan was another old house. In Edward I. held a parliament in Stepney at the house of the mayor of , Henry le Waleys. The mayor's country villa must have been a palace. Its exact site is not certain, but it was probably the same as that occupied by mayor Pulteney in . He was the representative of a great city family still commemorated in St. Lawrence one of whom at a much later period was an eminent statesman, and earl of Bath. Sir Henry Colet, the father of dean Colet, had a house here also, probably the same; it stood a little west of the church[30]  and was known as the Great Place. Some fragments were still to be seen in the present century. The monument of Sir Henry Colet, repeatedly restored, is in the church. It is the special care of the Mercer's Company. The house which Sir Henry left to the company, was by them leased to the great vicar-general, Cromwell, earl of Essex. Colet's son, the celebrated dean, was vicar of the parish. It is seldom that so many great associations cluster round one such place. Here More and Erasmus must have visited Colet-whether in the vicarage, or at his father's house-and there are many allusions to the place in their letters. He died in , and so did not witness the reign of terror under which More lost his head, nor did he see his father's house desecrated by the presence of Cromwell. When Cromwell in his turn was attainted the lease of Stepney was allowed to descend to his nephew, Sir Richard

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Williams, who assuming the surname, became an ancestor of the Lord Protector.

Stepney was privileged to have both a rector and a vicar. The rectory was a sinecure, but the rector nominated the vicar who paid him the rent of a red rose for the vicarage house. Colet was not rector, as he is sometimes called, but vicar: he lived in a house of his own, which he bequeathed to St. Paul's School, as a villa for the Its site is marked by Colet Place. Pace, the friend of Erasmus, succeeded Colet as vicar of Stepney, and after some years, also as dean of St. Paul's. Rectory and vicarage have long been united, and the living is now in private patronage.[31] 

The greater part of the manor of must, however, have been very little better than a fen until a comparatively late period. We find a prioress of St. Helen's just before the Dissolution granting a lease of land in Stepney called Hare Marsh; and even so late as the time of Stow, much of the parish was completely open. There were fair hedges, he tells us, and long rows of elms and other trees. The name of Wapping may be that of a Saxon mark, but the old addition

in the Wose,

or wash, sufficiently indicates its condition.[32]  Nightingale Lane, Bramley, Ratcliffe (said to have been called from a bank of red clay), Limehurst, and other rural names occur by the river's edge. But already in the middle of the sixteenth century, the houses were springing up. The old place for the execution of pirates was at Wapping

at the low water mark, there to remain, till three tides had overflowed them.

[33]  Here, says Stow, there was never a house standing

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within these forty years. He is writing in , and adds that since the gallows have been removed further off, there has been

a continual street, or filthy strait passage, with alleys of small tenements, or cottages, built, inhabited by sailors' victuallers, along by the river of Thames.

This district, which began at the Tower with East Smithfield, was known as Ratcliffe Highway. Of late it has been called St. George Street, the name of Ratcliffe, except in the vulgar tongue, has disappeared, and Wapping is restricted to the corner cut off between the river's bank and the docks. These docks commence on the site of St. Katharine's Hospital, and are continued as London Dock, and Shadwell Basin right across the peninsula. To the north of them runs the highway so feelingly described by Stow; it is continued east until it becomes High Street Shadwell, and is finally lost near Limehouse Basin. Further inland is a vast thoroughfare, entirely modern, known as Commercial Road; and still further north, the old thoroughfare, leading to Stratford and its bridge over the Lea. The whole district is a labyrinth of small houses, and sustains an enormous population, almost entirely employed in docks, breweries, match factories, and other establishments of the kind. The efforts which have been made, by such institutions as the Bethnal Green Museum and the public libraries, to influence these people have had a fair measure of success, and deserve more than a passing mention, if only because of the amount of wholly disinterested labour which has been bestowed upon them by clergymen and employers in the district.

The bishop of has still the gift of a majority of the livings in this immense parish, but he is no longer lord of the manor of Stepney. In , Nicholas Ridley, then bishop, and afterwards martyr, surrendered

158

it to Edward VI., and for the last time we may connect with . Both the abbot's house and the bishop's manor were conferred on lord Wentworth. He retained his hold on Stepney, even during queen Mary's reign, and his descendants till were reckoned lords of a manor which included all the modern Tower Hamlets, except the Tower itself, and a small portion of , which having been alienated during the Commonwealth was never restored. A wealthy merchant named Daniel bought much property in the parish. Another named Tyssen imitated his example, and by degrees the greater part of the original manor was acquired by one family or the other. A union took place between them by marriage, and their present representative may be looked upon as lord of the manor, since he has not only the land as the Wentworths had it, but also the advowson of the church. There is on record a curious protest of the Heralds College against the unauthorised pomp of the funeral of Mr. Francis Tyssen of in . He was a goldsmith and his body lay in state at Goldsmiths' Hall, and was conveyed at night with a great torchlight procession to its last resting place. The heralds issued an advertisement in the Gazette, censuring

the manner in which the body was set forth,

as being far above

the quality of the deceased.

[34]  Two or three days after this great ceremony Tyssen's widow was delivered of a son, who eventually inherited the estate.

, which forms the chief part of the Tyssen estate, lies at the northern extremity of the old manor of . In the marshes of the Lea there was from time immemorial a village named Hackney Wick. It was on an island or of the river named

159

in all probability after some Danish Hacon who settled there. Various neighbouring landowners acquired tracts of marsh land, as the wide-spreading waters were gradually canalised or banked up, and eventually the bishops, the Knights Templars, the hospital of St. Mary, (called St. Mary Spital) outside Bishopsgate, and the priory of , had all estates here, each of which was reputed a manor. In addition Hoxton, previously Hoggeston, and in Domesday Hochestone, was a manor of the canons of St. Paul's, really owned by the Aspale family in the fourteenth century; and the Gernons held Hergotestane, now called Haggerston. These two last were long reckoned part of the parish of St. Leonard, Shoreditch, which also includes, or included, a manor named Norton Folgate, or perhaps, "Forth-the-Gate," which belonged to the dean and chapter of St. Paul's and lay, as its name denotes, north of the city and outside Bishopsgate.[35]  It is mentioned, but not by name or as a manor, in Domesday, as containing ten cottages on nine acres, and being situated at the Bishopsgate.[36]  Clapton, which lies on the way to , is remarkable as the birthplace and residence during the intervals of his long journeys, of John Howard the philanthropist. He sold his house in , and it was pulled down before the end of the century.

At the dissolution of the monasteries, the Temple manor in was granted to the earl of Northumberland.[37]  It is one of the historical puzzles of that puzzling period to know how this earl Henry kept his head on his shoulders and survived to die in his bed,

at

his manor of

Hackney

, now the king's house, between two and three in the morning, on the 29th of June in

1537

.

He it was who, as lord Percy, was contracted to Anne Boleyn: and his name was freely used at the unfortunate queen's trial, when this precontract was among other things adduced against her. The engagement led to a very curious scene, detailed in Cavendish's life of Wolsey, where the cardinal by the king's secret order, endeavoured to detach Percy from the lady. His course was to disparage her, to call her a foolish girl and an unsuitable match for the heir of one of the greatest earldoms in the kingdom, and though Percy at first protested that she was of

right noble parentage, for her mother is high of the Norfolk blood, and her father descended of the earl of Ormond,

he eventually yielded, and submitted himself to the will of the king and the cardinal. It is to be observed that his subsequent marriage with lady Mary Talbot, daughter of the earl of Shrewsbury, proved unhappy, and that he died childless little more than a year after the queen's execution. His monument which was formerly in church, has long disappeared.[38] 

The manor reverted to the crown, the reversion having already been secured by a deed. It obtained, short as was the time it belonged to any sovereign, the name of kingshold, in contradistinction to "lordshold," the estate remaining to the bishop out of his original lordship. Kingsland and Kingsland Road still indicate the site, but there is little air of antiquity left in any part of . Here and there a "Queen Anne" or early Georgian house may be seen, with a heavy cornice and

161

deep-set windows, and perhaps a wrought-iron garden gate, but gardens are themselves becoming every day more rare as the town creeps on. A little chapel once stood by the turnpike at Kingsland. It was only twenty-seven feet long, but sufficed for the wants of a small branch "Lazar House" attached to St. Bartholomew's. The "loke" was removed in the last century, but the chapel only disappeared in . It stood actually within the boundary of Islington.[39] 

The bishop's land was termed as the bishop was the original lord of the whole manor of . It went with Stepney to the Wentworths, but after the Commonwealth was not restored to them, and passed through the hands of various owners, chiefly as I have said, Daniels and Tyssens, many of whom were commemorated in church. Both came originally from Holland and were great in the city. There are still some fine old houses to be seen at Hackney, but most of those we read of in the last century have disappeared. Among them was Balmes or Baumes, now only commemorated by Balm Road. It was built about and had a high picturesque roof.[40]  The estate on which it stood was sold to Richard Beauvoir in , and belongs or lately belonged to his descendants the Benyon family. Balmes became eventually a madhouse, but has long disappeared, though the streets and squares of the neighbourhood preserve the names of some of its successive owners. A family named Perwich who kept a boarding school for young ladies at Hackney after the Restoration obtained celebrity on account of the beauty and accomplishments of Susanna Perwich, who was buried in the middle aisle of the church in ,

162

having died

in the 25th year of her age, of a fever which she caught by sleeping in a damp bed.

This paragon of perfection might have proved a rival to the lovely and clever Anne Killigrew, almost her contemporary, on whose death Dryden wrote an ode. But Miss Perwich's poet did not attain the lofty pitch of Dryden. His verses, indeed, have about them an echo of Hudibras which mars their elegiac character,[41]  and he himself seems to have been aware of their deficiency as he offers an alternative narration in prose. A few couplets will suffice to show the character of Mr. Batchiler's poetry. He begins with

a description of her person,

from which we learn that

mix'd curiously,

it

gave great delight,

and must conclude that with him meant complexion or face, like the French He goes on, after an account of her hair and temples, which he compares to

alabaster rocks

:-

From her black jetty starry eye

Ten thousand sparkling Lustres flie.

Brave gen'rous spirits siderial

Move quick about each nimble Ball

"- and so on. She was a great musician. Perhaps Samuel Pepys may have joined a chorus occasionally

163

at Balmes, and seen

her handsom sitting at her musick

:-

No Antick gestures, or bold face,

No wriggling motions her disgrace.

While she's at play, nor eye, nor head,

Hither or thither wandered.

Nor nods, nor heaves in any part,

As taken with her own rare Art.

Several pages are occupied with an account of her religious state, from which we gather that Mr. Batchiler was probably a nonconformist preacher of the Calvinistic school, and we then reach her last illness and death. She went to stay a few days with a friend.

-- Behold damp sheets

Cling close about her in the bed,

At which she waking said, I'm dead:

And so it prov'd, alas ! for wo !

At thought on't I'm afflicted so !

That briniest tears drop from mine eyes

My heart with throbs and inward cryes,

All broken is ! what shall I say ?

She's thus untimely snatcht away !

Shall I the careless Maid go blame ?

And tell her what a horrid shame,

It is, that by her negligence

So choice a one is lost from hence?

She died of acute rheumatism, or rheumatic fever, to judge by Mr. Batchiler's account of her sufferings, and her father's scholars wept round her bier, the maid servants of the school, all dressed in white, carried her coffin covered with a white pall, to the church, and

a rich costly garland of gum work, adorned with banners and scutchions was borne immediately before the hearse, by two proper young ladies, that entirely loved her.

The Reverend Dr. Spurston preached a funeral sermon

164

on the text "Death is ours :"[42]  and the coffin was let down into a grave in the centre of the church. The same grave already held the remains of

Mrs. Anne Carew, one of the greatest beauties of England in her time, and formerly a Gentlewoman of the School.

Mr. Batchiler takes care to add an advertisement on the healthiness of Balmes: for Mrs. Anne Carew was

the second of those five Gentlewomen onely, which have dyed out of her Father's House, among those eight hundred, that have been educated there, within the compass of seventeen years.

The moral is drawn in lines which remind us of Bunyan's introductory doggrel. "

Now you young Ladies of the School

Lest your affections grow too cool.

Sit down, consider well your case-"

are the opening lines of this

serious exhortation,

and the poet ends with an allusion to Death:-

Shall we not count it our best friend

That brings us to so brave an end.

Perhaps the quaintest thing in this quaint book, besides some acrostics, chronograms, and odes by the fair Susannah's school-fellows, is a long series of "Practical Queeries," with which her biographer, proposing to fill up the remainder of a sheet,

left void for want of matter,

contrives to go on, or rather, cannot contrive to stop, for a hundred pages, the greater part filled with questions like this, from which the whole may be judged:

Whether he that affirms total and final falling away from special grace be not a downright Arminian, and Cozen-German to a Papist.

 
 
Footnotes:

[1] See above, vol. i. chapter iv.

[2] 'Remembrancia,' p. 442.

[3] See 'Remembrancia,' passim.

[4] Clark, ' Old London,' 101.

[5] See vol. i. chapter v.

[6] ' The Tower of London,' by Lord de Ros, 71.

[7] Lord de Ros mentions a tradition to the effect that certain of the city church bells having been rung on Elizabeth's release, she afterwards presented those churches with silken bell-ropes. He goes on to say that silken ropes long existed in the vestry chest of the church of Aldgate. This may refer to St. Botolph's.

[8] Stanley's 'Westminster Abbey,' chapter v.; and Scott's ' Gleanings,' p. 283, where will be found an account of the trial by the late Mr. Burtt.

[9] I regret to hear that it is proposed to restore Wren's work. The authorities who have charge of the Tower have no more reverence for historical association than the dean and chapter of a gothic cathedral.

[10] It is understood that a further falsification of the record is to be carried out shortly by the erection of a building here which will harmonise with its surroundings.

[11] ' The Chapel in the Tower,' by D. C. Bell, p. 6. Mr. Bell carefully and approvingly details the vandalism and sacrilege which were perpetrated in 1876 and the following year.

[12] Mr. Bell.

[13] i. 530. Mr. Bell's assertion that this arrangement was abrogated upon the establishment of the Protestant succession in the following reign, is somewhat puzzling. What Protestant succession did Elizabeth establish ? And what abrogation was ever formally made ? There cannot, in short, be any reason for doubting that the chaplaincy is of the nature of a perpetual curacy in the diocese of London. The constable is the patron. The stipend is paid by the Exchequer.

[14] Mr. Doyne Bell mentions the resolution of the committee who carried on this unfortunate work. It is so typical of the state of mind which makes this kind of restoration possible that I quote it: The chapel should be as far as possible restored to its original condition, and also suitably arranged as a place of worship for the use of the inhabitants and garrison of the Tower. It did not strike anybody that the two objects were incompatible the one with the other.

[15] The name of William Lamhith, clerk of the works, is on record as having been ordered to see to the repairs of the house in which they were kept in 1360. The spelling of his name is interesting in connection with the controversies mentioned in chapter xxii.

[16] Was Bowyer's Tower called after him ?

[17] Brayley and Britton, 'The Tower of London,' p. 338.

[18] ' The Tower Menagerie,' with cuts, by William Harvey, published in 1829, a pretty book.

[19] Clark, 'Old London,' p.96>

[20] 'Tower Menagerie,' p. xv.

[21] 'History of London,' i. 172. His list commences with Two Egyptian night walkers, perhaps some species of monkey, or lemurs.

[22] ' Gardens and Menagerie,' with Harvey's cuts, 2 vols. 1831.

[23] It may be seen on the extreme left-or west--of the accompanying view.

[24] It was just twenty years after that Mr. Huntingdon brought home from Egypt to Oxford the oldest monument now in England. See 'Catalogue,' Ashmolean Museum, No. 794.

[25] See ' Handbook to St. Paul's,' pp. 156-168, for notices of Colet and Pace.

[26] He was probably sheriff of Middlesex, but he may have been sheriff of London. The Essex sheriff seems to have been Sweyn. On the whole it seems likely that Rogerius, vicecomes, as he is described in the MS., was not the successor of Gosfrith, to whom the charter had been granted, as the title of William the Chamberlain seems to answer best to that of Portreeve.

[27] See above, chapter i. p. 4. Neither Holywell nor Ealdland is mentioned by name in Domesday.

[28] 'Steven's Continuation of Dugdale,' p. 83.

[29] Intended by lady Burdett-Coutts for a local market, but, perhaps, too good for the place, and a failure. The architect was Mr. Darbishire, and the building cost about 200,000£.

[30] Lysons, ii. 685.

[31] The gift is in the Tyssen-Amherst family.

[32] The Wap Ing may have been a meadow by the river.

[33] A similar custom existed in the liberty of Castle Baynard.

[34] See a similar case under " Battersea," chapter xxii.

[35] The prebend of Holywell was in both St. Giles' Cripplegate, and St. Leonard's Shoreditch. There is still a Holywell Street in Shoreditch.

[36] Riley (' Memorials,' p. 12) speaks of Fall-gate.

[37] Henry, 6th earl.

[38] His only brother, Thomas Percy, had been beheaded a few months before for participation in Aske's rebellion. The earldom became extinct, but was revived twenty years later in favour of a son of Thomas.

[39] Wilkinson's ' Londina Illustrata,' i. 121.

[40] Lysons, i. 320.

[41] The book is somewhat scarce, and most modern writers have been content to borrow the lines which Lysons copies. The title runs as follows:- The Virgin's Pattern: in the exemplary life and lamented death of Mrs. Susanna Perwich, daughter of Mr. Robert Perwich, who departed this life, every way a rarely accomplished virgin, in the flower of her age, at her father's house in Hackney, near London, in the county of Middlesex, July 3, 1661. Published at the earnest request of divers that knew her well, for the use and benefit of others, by John Batchiler, a near relation, that occasionally had an intimate converse in the family with her, more or less, the greatest part of her life.

[42] I Cor. iii. 22.