A History of London, Vol. II

Loftie, W. J.
1883

CHAPTER XXII:THE SOUTHERN SUBURBS.

CHAPTER XXII:THE SOUTHERN SUBURBS.

 

 

THE manors and estates which form the southern suburbs have, with one exception, very little of the historical interest which still hangs round Marylebone and Tyburn, and . They lie for the most part on land which has always been suited for villa building. Had it not been for a peculiarity of the position opposite , even suburbs would hardly have been made on ground which can only be called dry because the incursions of flood tides are kept out by artificial means, if they are kept out at all. As we had occasion to see in going over the geographical aspect of the so-called [1]  the ground opposite and is a kind of peninsula, half surrounded by the river. Before reaching the Thames makes a great bend to the north at Reach. It bends again, this time to the south, after is passed, at Limehouse Reach. The space thus inclosed, some four miles in width from Lambeth to Greenwich, is bounded on the south by low hills, of which the best known is crowned by the Crystal Palace. The peninsula bears evident traces of having but recently emerged, and we have a kind of historical evidence as to part of it, as "royal foreshore," and a more tangible proof in the frequent floods which alarm the inhabitants. In short, we are constantly reminded, as well by local

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names, such as Lambeth Marsh and Newington Causeway, as by such outbursts of the tide as that of , that the greater part of the district is only a few feet above, and a considerable part of it is actually below high water mark.

But if we look for a moment at a map we shall see that Southwark forms, as it were, the handle of a fan, with and its suburbs spreading all round it. We also observe that the Thames, which is more than feet wide at , is only 900 feet between the extreme north point of the peninsula and the opposite shore at Billingsgate. Even before the bridge was built, the spot at which it spans the river must have been of importance, for it is nearer the city than any other point on the southern or right bank for several miles above or below.

Confining our attention for the present to the outer ring of the southern suburbs, we find early evidence as to the lowness and dampness of the site of Lambeth, Kennington, and Bermondsey. It will not do to press too far the argument that Kennington was always the king's property, because it was "foreshore," and was occasionally submerged at high tides. But a considerable number of acres in the manor must have been under water before the river bank was raised; and it is certain that kings did claim foreshore at a very early period.

There is also another point which, though like the former one, it must not be pressed too far, is yet worth mentioning. In the 'Domesday Survey' we read that Kennington-there spelled Chenintun-was assessed in the reign of the Confessor for five hides, but that it now contains only a hide and three virgates; in other words, the land of the manor was not more than a quarter after

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the Conquest of what it had been in the peaceful times of Edward. We find precisely the same state of things in the adjoining manor of Lambeth, which had declined from ten hides to two and a half. Even if we did not know of the probability of a great irruption of the river to cause this discrepancy, a flood of some kind would be one of the most obvious explanations.

If we suppose, therefore, that after long occupation and cultivation by the hard-working churls of the little "Suther Rige," or Southern Kingdom, the land had gradually been won for the king; that great embankments had been made, and annual labour bestowed to keep them in repair; but that, under the oppressions of the Normans the land was allowed again to fall a prey to the restless tide, we may, it is more than probable, have formed a good working theory for the early history of the southern suburbs.

Kennington and Lambeth are both in the same great parish of St. Mary. It would almost seem, when we remember all the St. Mary's we have enumerated on the northern and western sides of , as if it had been determined to surround the city with a circle of churches dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. The name of Lambeth-almost obviously Lamb-hithe-has given rise to the most amazing guesses. In Domesday it is oddly spelled Lanchei, probably by a mistake of the scribe.[2] 

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But in a charter of king Edward (1O62) it is Lambehith,[3]  and the name seems very suitable in this form to the circumstances of the situation, an embarking place for agricultural produce, whence easy access could be obtained by ferry to the more densely populated districts of the left bank. King Edward's charter, which seems to relate to a portion only of Lambeth-that now known as Stockwell-and speaks of the fields, pastures, meadows, woods, and waters belonging to it, grants them all to the abbey of Waltham.

This was but four years before the Conquest, and the charter took effect under Harold, but Edward's sister, " the Countess Goda," seems to have been in possession of the original manor, and before her death she and her husband, Eustace of Boulogne, joined to give it to the bishop and monastery of Rochester. This gift seems to have failed; but it is impossible to unravel the confusion which exists between the different statements ancient and modern, the more so as we can seldom feel quite sure which manor is referred to, until William Rufus,[4]  by one of the few acts of the kind recorded of him, gave Lambeth to the convent at Rochester, in avowed reparation of the injuries he had done the church there in his siege of the place. This gift may have been merely a confirmation of the previous gift of Goda; but from it as certain, we may date the connection of Rochester and Lambeth.

The first exercise of the new authority is characteristic at once of the times and of the condition of the manor. Bishop Gundulf ordered his vassals to supply him annually with

half a thousand

of those lamprey-eels, to which we have so many references in medieval history, for the better exercise of episcopal hospitality. Ernulf, the next bishop but one, added a salmon to the requirements of the monastery, for the anniversary of bishop Gundulf. Ascelin claimed too much personal interest in Lambeth, and the higher authorities determined that the bishop had only his share of the manor with the monks, although, when business required his attendance in , he had a lodging assigned him in the manorhouse, with forage and fuel.

The convenient situation of this manor-house at Lambeth with regard to the court at is thus already indicated. Very soon the archbishop of Canterbury began to see that what was convenient for the bishop of Rochester was convenient also for him. He rented the house from the bishop, and at a synod here in the lawfulness of the marriage of Henry II. with Maud of Scotland was determined. A consecration took place at Lambeth in , when archbishop Ralph was assisted by five bishops, his own successor in the see of Rochester, which he had held between and , being among them. This identity of the primate with the late bishop of Rochester may have given rise to the archbishop's regular residence in the suburban manor-house.. The archbishop continued to live where he had lived when he was only bishop. To judge by the frequency of Lambeth consecrations[5]  in the succeeding years, not only Ralph, but William of Corbeuil, and Theobald, his successors in the primacy, habitually resided here.

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Of Thomas Becket two consecrations only are recorded, and they are both at Canterbury. There is, in fact, nothing to connect the great martyr of the twelfth century with Lambeth, though by one of those curious coincidences which history so constantly offers, the sole institution dedicated to St. Thomas of Canterbury which has survived the zeal of Henry VIII. is now, so to speak, next door to the manor-house of Lambeth. A house belonging to Geoffrey Becket, the saint's father, at Southwark, where, according to some accounts, the saint himself was born, had been made, in the reign of Henry III., into a hospital. At the dissolution, St. Thomas's Hospital, purchased by the citizens, became an infirmary for the poor. In it was removed[6]  to its present situation, over against the Houses of Parliament, where the fragment of an embankment protects it, and the archbishop's house beside it, from the incursions of the tide. Strange that the hideous redness of its ungraceful pavilions should spoil the best views of the time-worn towers of St. Thomas's successor at Lambeth !

Many public ceremonials took place at Lambeth during the primacies of Richard and Baldwin. The place gradually became identified with the archbishops; so much so, indeed, that Baldwin, during his quarrel with the priory at Canterbury, actually proposed to remove the bones of St. Thomas and to found a church in his honour, some say at Lambeth itself, some say at Southwark close by. A church of St. Thomas is spoken of about this time as being among the possessions of the canons of Rochester. It may be the same with the church of St. Thomas When Hubert Fitzwalter had been three or four years

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seated in the chair of St. Thomas, a negotiation was begun and partly completed, by which, in exchange for the manor and advowson of Darenth, in Kent, the bishop and monastery at Rochester gave Lambeth, manor and church, pastures and woods, salmon and lampreys, absolutely to the archbishop and his successors, by whom it was speedily annexed to the see of Canterbury.

The manor-house of Lambeth has continued ever since the chief residence of the archbishops.[7]  Archbishop Potter (-) was the first to call it a palace, but official documents are still dated apud domum, at Lambeth. When Addington was bought, Lambeth had been for some years the only remaining residence of a prelate who, in the middle ages, had been able to travel from Harrow to Canterbury and from Canterbury far into Sussex without resting a night in any but his own houses. The difference between an episcopal palace and a seems to have been correctly drawn in the definition of a palace as

a term appropriated to the mansion of the bishop in the city that gave name to the see.

[8]  If it be so, the archbishop of Canterbury has no palace; and the bishop of is in the same predicament unless London House, in St. James's Square,

in the city of

Westminster

,

can in any sense be described as

in the city that gives name to the see.

The great state kept here in old times and down almost to the present by the archbishops is often noticed in contemporary accounts. When Laud was appointed, in , the king expressly ordered him to carry himself with the same state and dignity as his predecessors had

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before used and enjoyed; an injunction which he took, as it was probably meant, to refer not to his immediate predecessors, but to the great archbishops before the Reformation, when, to speak of the hospitality alone, there were generally three tables spread in the hall-one for the -archbishop and his guests, persons only of the upper nobility or high in office; the second, at which sat the upper clergy, such as bishops and abbots, under the chairmanship of the almoner; and the steward's table, at which sat ordinary people, such as mere gentlemen. It was thought very condescending of Cranmer that he admitted his suffragan, Thornden, bishop of Dover, to his own table. Parker had a table set at the lower end of the hall,

whereat was dailie entertained eight or ten of the poor of the town by turns.

This archbishop dined in state three times a week, when he would invite, among others, the state prisoners whom queen Elizabeth had quartered on him, such as Essex, before he was sent to the Tower, and Sussex, his friend, and a brother of the duke of Norfolk. Melancholy parties they must often have been, with Westminster Hall in sight and Tower Hill in a not very distant perspective. The archbishop lodged them handsomely and charged them nothing,

saving at their deths he had from them some part of their libraries that thei had thar.

[9] 

The collection of a library by other means than the impounding of the books of poor noblemen who had lost their heads was the care of many archbishops. At the great rebellion, when the manor-house was sold for £. to Scott and Hardy, who speedily quarrelled over their bargain, the books were with difficulty saved. Selden claimed them for the University of Cambridge,

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under some forgotten provision in archbishop Bancroft's will, and though they had already gone to Sion College, and many had been lost, a fair number survived to return after the Restoration and remain still at Lambeth. One volume only bears the arms of the unfortunate Laud,[10]  and one those of Parker, but many must have belonged to both, being sometimes religious works of doubtful orthodoxy retained by the archbishop when they were sent for his imprimatur. Among them are of course books which occur nowhere else, and are for that reason, if for no other, very valuable. Old accounts of the library always notice a volume[11]  among the manuscripts which was supposed to contain a portrait of Caxton, the first English printer, though how his likeness could come to be in an unprinted book written by another person was not explained. Another book which bore a false character was only identified a few years ago as a portion-the New Testament-of the famous Bible, undated, which is believed to have been the first book printed with movable type. After passing for centuries as a manuscript, for it is printed on vellum and beautifully illuminated, it was found to be a printed book in .[12] 

The chapel is probably the oldest of the existing buildings, being always attributed to Boniface of Savoy, who is sometimes said to have built it as a reparation

275

for the scandal he had caused by his assault on the prior of St. Bartholomew. It is difficult to see how a chapel at Lambeth could atone for an injury at Smithfield, and it is very possible that Boniface only completed what others had begun. At Canterbury his contribution to the rebuilding of the palace was the payment of the expenses left him by his predecessors:

I seem, indeed,

he complained, with some reason,

to be truly the builder of this hall, because I paid their debts.

Laud found the old windows very much broken, and set himself, with the help of his secretary, to make out the story of each and repair them. The Commons, at his trial, alleged against him that he had taken the pictures out of a mass book. They contained the whole history of the world from the Creation to the Day of Judgment, with types and antitypes, and must have closely resembled the windows which still in part remain at Canterbury of a slightly earlier date. All were destroyed in , when, as one historian quaintly says in the words of Scripture, the Reformers

under pretence of abhorring idols, made no scruple of committing sacrilege.

They were not content with this desecration, but Hardy, the first purchaser of the house, dug up the body of archbishop Parker, which had been buried at

that part of the chapel where he used to pray,

and selling the coffin for old lead, deposited the remains in the stable yard, whence they were afterwards recovered by the care of Sir William Dugdale, under the orders of Juxon, and are now buried under a plain altar tomb at the south side of the western end.

A complete history of the archbishops' residence at Lambeth would be a history of England. Many ancient chambers perished when archbishop Howley rebuilt the domestic part of what must have been a very inconvenient

276

dwelling-house. But we can still identify the court into which More looked down from a window while the clergy pressed to take the new oath of allegiance,[13]  though the chamber, in which he assured Cranmer of his own final refusal, is gone. It was probably from the same gallery that queen Elizabeth heard a sermon when a movable pulpit was placed in the court for the preacher. The gate is much as it was left by cardinal Morton, the Chancellor of Henry VII., but it has recently been scraped and pointed by way of

restoration.

The hall is Juxon's, and now contains the library, but in the original building Pole's body must have lain in state for the forty days before it was removed to Canterbury; and here, long before, the duke of Brittany did homage to Edward III., and the rebels of drank the archbishop's wine.

Of the memorable scenes at Lambeth in later times it would be impossible to make even a catalogue here. But it is not easy to pass the corner by the gate and the church tower and not remember the winter night in when queen Mary of Modena cowered with her infant beneath the old walls, while the rain beat on her head for an hour before even a common coach could be procured to take her to Gravesend; or that June evening, three years later, when Dr. Sancroft, sometime archbishop, walked out from under Morton's archway, and took a boat for the Temple, on his way into the retirement of his native village; or the strange scene presented by the appearance of czar Peter in the chapel at the ordination of a priest by archbishop Tenison.

In Lambeth church were buried archbishops Bancroft, Tenison, Secker, Hutton, and Cornwallis, as well as bishops Thurlby and Tunstall, who had been prisoners

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in charge of archbishop Parker. Ashmole, the antiquary, was buried in the church, and Tradescant, whose collections went to augment those of Ashmole at Oxford, in the churchyard.

Stockwell and Vauxhall are ancient manors in the parish, which extends uphill from the river's bank to the Crystal Palace, and is a good example of the long, narrow pattern after which so many old parishes were modelled, comprising a piece of high ground, a belt of forest, and a meadow in the valley. A third manor is more interesting. Kennington has undergone greater vicissitudes than Lambeth. In its earlier history it is usually connected with the death of Harthacnut in , and sometimes with the coronation of Harold. But it is quite certain that Harold was crowned across the water at , and it may be considered more than probable that Harthacnut died at the house of Osgod Clapa, perhaps in the adjoining manor of Clapham.[14]  At the wedding feast of Gytha, Osgod's daughter, with Tovi, a noble Dane, he fell down and died suddenly, after an excessive draught of wine. The chronicle places the event at Lambeth.

At the time of the survey Kennington belonged to Teodric, the king's goldsmith,[15]  who held of the king, as he had held in the time of the Confessor. In the reign of Richard I. the king had possession of it, and made Robert Percy his steward. Henry III.[16]  gave the office

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to Richard Freemantell. Edward I. sometimes resided at Kennington, which must have been one of the most convenient hunting grounds within easy reach of . It belonged a few years later to the king's cousin, the earl of Surrey; but Edward II. obtained it from the earl in , and gave it shortly after to one of his foreign favourites. Three years later he granted it away again, it having probably reverted to the crown at one of the periodical banishments of aliens, and in , having a third time resumed it, he gave the manor to the Despencers. The heiress of one of the previous grantees obtained it on the attainder of the Despencers, and it came back to the crown for the last time when Edward III. exchanged for it some lands in Suffolk. He made it a portion of the endowment of the duke of Cornwall, and it still belongs to the lands of the duchy.

After the death of the Black Prince, the young Richard and his mother lived at Kennington, and here, just before the old king, his grandfather died, a strange scene, recorded by several annalists, took place in the manor-house. It was early in the year, in Lent. The duke of Lancaster, Richard's uncle, had been at a feast in the city at the house of William de Ypres,[17]  a Flemish merchant of great wealth. As they were about to sit down to eat oysters, we are told, a soldier burst in with the news that the mob, incensed at the duke for his behaviour to bishop Courtenay in St. Paul's at a Synod to which Wycliffe had been cited,[18]  were assembled at the gates of his house at the Savoy, clamouring for his blood. Leaving their oysters untasted, the duke and his companion lord Percy, who had also made himself unpopular, rushed to the river-side, and took a boat for

279

Kennington, on the opposite bank. Arrived there they threw themselves on the protection of the princess and her son, who, young as he was, had a few days before been commissioned to open Parliament in his grandfather's name, and who was already a personage of consideration. The princess comforted them as best she could, "promittens," says one chronicler, in very English Latin,

se facturum talem finem de hiis omnibus, qui foret eis satis accommodus.

And she appears to have been as good as her word.

A little before this event Kennington had seen a more cheerful sight. A hundred and thirty of the principal citizens rode out on Candlemas night disguised as mummers

to Kennington, besides Lambeth,

and made presents to the prince and his mother, who was still

the Fair Maid of Kent

in their eyes, though a few years later her popularity had waned. The maskers had provided themselves with loaded dice, and having by dumb show indicated their desire to throw on the table with the prince, they so arranged that he

did alwais winne when he came to cast at them. Then the mummers set to the prince three jewels, one after another, which were a boule of gold, a cup of gold, and a ring of gold, which the prince wonne at three casts.

Richard, to the end of his life, seems to have thought the dice were always loaded in his favour.

Though 's rebels four years later sacked Lambeth they spared Kennington, and we do not hear much of it until Henry VII. rested there just before his coronation. Queen Elizabeth on her way to Greenwich does not seem to have honoured Kennington with a visit, but stayed with the archbishop at Lambeth; and the house probably fell into decay, for in the next reign it was completely rebuilt by James I. for Henry, Prince of

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Wales. A few years later we find a survey made of the manor of Kennington, with the rights, members, and appurtenances thereof lying and being in the county of Surrey,

late parcel of the possessions of Charles Stuart, eldest son of Charles Stuart, late King of England, as part of his Duchy of Cornwall.

The house was probably pulled down at this time, and we hear no more of Kennington as a royal residence, though as late as two large vaults were discovered;

but whether of Saxon or Gothic architecture is out of the power of any person living to determine,

says Allen, writing in , when he should have known better. A long barn and a few other outbuildings remained almost down to our own day, but rows of houses, terraces and villas, taverns, shops and churches, have obliterated even the ground plans.[19]  The house stood near what are now Park Street and Park Place.

The Vauxhall Gardens, mentioned by Addison as having been visited by Sir Roger de Coverley, were situated close to the foot of Vauxhall Bridge, and had a longer lease of life than is usual with suburban places of amusement, as they subsisted until a few years ago from the reign of Charles II. Hogarth in his day, was employed on the decorations, and designed the tickets, which, cast or chased in precious metals, are still sought after by collectors of curiosities.

Kennington Common has been kept tolerably open, and the Oval is celebrated now for cricket matches. The church, St. Mark's, is said to stand on the old place of public execution for the county, the scene of Shenstone's coarse but affecting ballad, "Jemmy Dawson."

Opposite , and a little higher up the river than Lambeth, is Battersea. The name has been almost as much the subject of guesswork as that of Lambeth. It is given in the Domesday Book as Patricesy, for which reason Aubrey derives it from St. Patrick. But the church is dedicated to St. Mary. A much more probable derivation therefore, is that offered by Lysons:

as the same record which calls it Patricesy, mentions that it was given to St. Peter, it is not improbable that it was so called in consequence of that donation.

[20]  This is not, however, quite satisfactory, because it must have had a name before it was

given to St. Peter,

and that name appears even then to have been Battersea, or Peter's Ey. But the name may have been that of an ancient owner, Peter; or it may have arisen from the fact that at a much earlier period than the date of the compilation of the Domesday Book, a considerable portion of the parish belonged to another abbey of St. Peter, that, namely, of Chertsey. But by a curious coincidence the most eminent in the list of vicars was the famous bishop Patrick, who held Battersea from to , and was vicar here when he and Dr. Jane had a conference in the presence of James II. with two priests of the Church of Rome. The Protestant divines got so much the better of their opponents, that the king

retired in disgust, saying, that he never heard a good cause so ill defended, or a bad one so well.

The parish of Battersea in its original state reached to Penge, and was bounded on the east by Lambeth, and on the west by Wandsworth: a part of Clapham

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Common belonging to the inhabitants. Penge Common, of which but little now remains, was once two miles in circumference, and joined Battersea on that side to Beckenham. Here we are only concerned with that part of the old parish which is near the river-side. Strange to say, though it is so much nearer , it has retained its rural appearance better than the more distant Penge. Battersea Park, which lies along the Thames bank from the Suspension Bridge to the Albert Bridge, which crosses at Cheyne Walk, is very accessible to the inhabitants of both banks, and is admirably laid out. It was formed in , after some six years of delay and preparation, and occupies 185 acres of what was previously in great part low marshy ground. The colonnade which once adorned the courtyard of Burlington House, in , was removed to Battersea Park, but by some strange neglect on the part of the authorities, the numbered stones lie there to suffer decay from damp and frost, and have never been set up.

A little way south-west from Battersea Park formerly stood the mansion of the St. Johns: and here Henry St. John, the statesman, lived and died in retirement, after his return from abroad. He had been living at Dawley, near Harlington, in Middlesex,[21]  for ten years or more, when, after a few years in France, on the death of his father, he became possessed of Battersea, being already sixty-four years of age. The St. Johns were a long- lived race. Bolingbroke's father lived to be almost ninety. His story was even more strange than that of his son: for he was under sentence of death for upwards of half a century. During an after-supper quarrel at the Globe Tavern, in which he and several other young gentlemen took part with drawn swords, Sir William

283

Estcourt[22]  was killed. It was, and always remained, a question who had killed him, but Henry St. John, as he was then, and another youth were accused. Finally, as proof was weak, St. John was advised to confess, and promised lenient treatment if he did so. He complied, was convicted, and sentenced to die. It was then found that by some legal technicality the king could not pardon him. He was, however, indefinitely reprieved, but his estates were forfeited, and he had to pay 16,000£. for their redemption. There is a proverb about threatened lives, and certainly lord St. John's was no exception. In his son Henry, the statesman, was made viscount Bolingbroke, with remainder to his father. In , the viscount was attainted, and his title forfeited during his lifetime at least: but in old Sir Henry was himself made a viscount as lord St. John, and the son, after losing the title he had acquired for himself, inherited that of his father in . Both are still extant, and are held by a descendant of his brother, for the attainder did not affect the Bolingbroke peerage after its original grantee was dead, owing to the clause of remainder. There would be something more than usually strange in the whole story, even if the people concerned were of the most ordinary character. But, stranger still, it seems as if it was at one time the normal state of the St. John family to be put under sentence of death and afterwards to attain a viscountcy: for in the reign of Elizabeth Oliver St. John killed one Best, of the queen's bodyguard, and had to fly. He joined the army in Ireland, performed prodigies of valour, was given the manor of Battersea by James I., and was made viscount Grandison.

284

He left no children, and bequeathed Battersea to a nephew, whose grandson was also in trouble with the authorities, but not till after his death, for his funeral at Battersea was conducted with so much state and solemnity, that the heralds prosecuted his executor.[23]  Magnificent as the ceremony was, more becoming a duke than a baronet, there is no entry of the burial in the parish register.

Battersea church was rebuilt in , but the monuments of the St. Johns and others were carefully preserved, an example to the professing restorers of our own day Among them is one to lord Grandison; and one to Sir Edward Wynter, who died in , having performed some remarkable feats of strength, which are carved on his tomb, and celebrated in his epitaph :[24] 

Alone, unarm'd a tyger he oppress'd,

And crush'd to death the monster of a beast;

Twice twenty mounted Moors he overthrew,

Singly on foot; some wounded, some he slew,

Dispers'd the rest.-What more could Sampson do ?

But the visitor will look with most interest at the monument of queen Anne's great minister and its untruthful inscription. If he wrote it himself, as is probable, it cannot be considered a good specimen of his celebrated style :

Here lies Henry St. John, in the reign of Queen Anne, Secretary of War, Secretary of State, and Viscount Bolingbroke: in the days of King George the First and King George the Second, something more and better. His attachment to Queen Anne exposed him to a long and severe persecution; he bore it with firmness of mind, the enemy of no national party, the friend of no

faction; distinguished (under the cloud of a proscription, which had not been entirely taken off) by zeal to maintain the liberty, and to restore the ancient prosperity of Great Britain.

Some fragments of Battersea house remained in the occupation of a miller till very lately. The estate was sold soon after Henry St. John's death to the Spensers, who had already inherited the almost adjoining manor of Wimbledon. The archbishops of York had for some centuries a villa at Battersea, the site of which is still pointed out.

East of Lambeth and Kennington, and occupying the centre of the peninsula, is Newington. A farm or settlement outside the walls of Southwark was very early known as Walworth, a name sufficiently indicative of the situation. It is called Waleorde in Domesday Book, and having been given by king Edmund to his jester, "Nithardus," perhaps Neatherd, in English, was by him, on his repentance, and on the eve of a pilgrimage to Rome, given to the church of Canterbury, to which, or to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, it still belongs. Walworth was the only manor in Newington, which, indeed, seems to have sprung into a separate existence since the Conquest. It is not mentioned in Domesday, and the name may signify In the land on which or as it seems to have been called at first, was actually under water. It still lies very low, though it has been greatly banked up, but such a name as that of Newington Causeway, which still belongs to one of the streets, is enough to betoken the nature of the site.[25]  The parish is often called Newington Butts, to distinguish it from Newington, or Stoke

286

Newington, at the other side of . The butts were used by archers when Walworth and Newington were open fields. They are first mentioned in .

The eastern side of the peninsula, which I have described as being formed by the great bend of the Thames at , was occupied by a monastic manor, now covered by, perhaps, the most noisome and unsavoury corner of the suburbs. There are no offensive smells in any other town which may not be matched or surpassed in Bermondsey, among the tanners, the floorcloth makers, the soap-boilers, the candle-moulders, and a hundred others, some of whose trades are too offensive for mention, yet here a few centuries ago invalids came on account of the purity of the air, and one king, at least, with several queens, may be named as having resorted to Bermondsey and Rotherhithe for health.

Who was the Bermond[26]  that gave his name to the "ey," or "ait " ? What is the meaning of Rotherhithe? Was there an island here, a refuge of rowers, or an archipelago or a peninsula? It is evident from the map that the Roman road to Dover passed by Bermondsey and left it well to the east. There was, therefore, less embanking of the Thames shore here than at Southwark, and the ground must have naturally stood higher to have been reclaimed at all. No doubt the monks did much to improve their rich lands and to let in no more water than was good for their crops. The vinegar-makers profit by their labours, but Bermondsey must always have lain very low and been very damp.[27] 

Bermondsey belonged before the Conquest to Harold,

287

and has special mention in Domesday Book for its

new and handsome church.

[28]  It continued to be a royal demesne till ,[29]  and when William Rufus gave it to the priory of St. Mary, he retained that part which is now Rotherhithe, though in his charter there is no special exception made;

Rodereyam

goes to

Bermondesia

as well as

Dilewich,

and a hide in Southwark. Camberwell was also in the estate, and Henry I. formally added Rotherhithe, so that the priory of St. Saviour, which had been founded in , became extremely wealthy, and its early importance is shown by its selection as his retreat from the world by the earl of Mortaign, whose name occurs so frequently in Domesday. He had a hide of land and a house worth 8s. in Bermondsey at the time of the survey. Another great noble, Robert Marmion, in , gave the monks a piece of ground named Withifleet; and in 1434 we can identify it with the mills of Widfleet and

a certain garden called Paris Garden.

The Cluniac monks at Bermondsey remained subject to the abbey in Normandy, from which Aylwin Child,[30]  a rich citizen of , had brought them, until at the request of Richard II., in 1390, John Attilburgh was made first abbot by Boniface IX. The pope, however, did not leave him long at Bermondsey, for towards the end of the same year he was promoted to a bishopric in Germany.[31]  The abbey was surrendered to Henry VIII. in 1538,[32]  but some of the monastic buildings were still standing at the beginning of this century, and the last vestiges only disappeared within living memory.

That Bermondsey should have been selected as a health resort is one of the strangest facts in the history of mediaeval medical practice. Its reputation was, however, established by the accidental residence in the abbey of a monk who was supposed to understand the art of healing in an eminent degree.

The princess of France, whom Henry V. had married so shortly before his death, and whose little son was already king of England and France, died at Bermondsey Abbey in . Her husband, Owen Tudor, the progenitor of the great dynasty of that name, is one of the most mysterious personages in English history. He was a prisoner in Newgate while his wife lay dying at Bermondsey.[33]  We can only suppose that Katharine must either have gone to Bermondsey to consult a physician, and of her own free will, or because she was sent there by the government of her brother-in-law and placed in a kind of mild captivity. She left her three little sons to the charity of their half-brother the king, himself then only a boy of sixteen.

Half a century later another queen came here to die. Elizabeth Wydvile, already the widow of a simple knight, had married a king, as Katherine, the widow of a king, had married a soldier. Owen Tudor's grandson, the son of one of the orphan boys bequeathed to Henry VI. by his mother, was now on the throne of the Plantagenets,[34]  and Elizabeth Wydvile's daughter was his wife. So had the world gone round. But neither physicians nor the Redriff air could cure her malady, and in 1492 her body was conveyed with sumptuous

289

ceremonies from Bermondsey to the grave of Edward IV. at Windsor.

The abbey church was taken down very soon after the suppression by Sir Thomas Pope. He bought the lease, at 10s. a year rent, which Sir Robert Southwell, Master of the Rolls, had obtained, with the advowson of the parish, from Henry VIII. Pope made himself a noble mansion out of the relics of the monastic buildings. After ten years, however, Southwell, longing perhaps for the fine air of Bermondsey, persuaded Pope to let him have the house back. Eventually Pope sold the manor and advowson to one Robert Trapps, a person whom history has not distinguished except as the ancestor of a family which retained the estate for a century and a half. Sir Thomas Pope's house was afterwards the property of the Ratcliffes, earls of Sussex, of one of whom, the father of Shakespeare's friend, who died here in 1583, we read that he directed his executors to spend 150£. in keeping his house open to all for twenty-one days after his death. They actually spent 159£. 8s. 2d.

The parish church, another St. Mary, but this time St. Mary Magdalene, has been so repeatedly altered and rebuilt and restored, that it retains nothing of its ancient features. The parish register contains some curious entries, as of the re-marriage in of a couple who had long been separated, presumably by the sea, and the woman married to another man.

The unpleasant sights and smells of the district, the crowd of small and miserable houses, and the general fogginess of the situation are such that even enthusiastic antiquaries hesitate to visit Bermondsey, though, from the passage through it of the great modern highway, the railroad to the south coast, its general features are but

290

too familiar to most of us; and the local names may occasionally be studied from a carriage window. Neckinger Road,[35]  for example, recalls the creek which connected the abbey with the Thames, and which was said to have been made by a great flood in . It occurred on the 18th of October, and is commemorated in various chronicles as Maze Pond was probably in the garden of the abbot of Battle, whose town house was on a site in the track of the railway, and was long commemorated by Battle Bridge. Sellenger Wharf recalls the residence at Bermondsey of Sir Anthony St. Leger, the lord deputy of Ireland in the reign of Henry VIII., who had a grant of the town-house here of the abbot of St. Augustine's, Canterbury. Abbey Road and Grange Road lead to the little court known as Bermondsey Square, which was once surrounded by monastic buildings second in magnificence only to those of .[36] 

Rotherhithe had a short separate existence when Edward III. gave his land here to the abbey of St. Mary of Grace on Tower Hill; but the grant was probably disputed by the abbot of Bermondsey, as the land was eventually given to him, perhaps we might say given back to him. Up to the dissolution there is constantly some confusion as to abbot's land and king's land; and a grant from Henry VIII. to one Gerard Danett was cancelled by an amicable agreement with the abbot in . Henry IV. resided at Rotherhithe for the benefit of his health, and two of his charters are dated there in . The church is not remarkable. It is, almost

291

as a matter of course, dedicated to St. Mary, and was built in , when Rotherhithe became a parish. Here lies buried a hero of our nursery legends, Prince Lee Boo, the son of Aba Thulle, King of Goo-roo-raa, in the South Pacific. He died in Paradise Row in , and his epitaph is in the turgid style of the day:-

Stop, Reader, Stop ! Let Nature claim a tear,

A prince of mine, Lee Boo, lies buried here.

 
 
Footnotes:

[1] See chap. i. vol. i.

[2] Allen, ' History of Lambeth,' 1827, says of the name: " In the ancient historians it is spelt Lamhee, Lamheth, Lambyth, Lamedh, and several other variations, the principal of which were probably occasioned by the errors of transcribers. Most etymologists derive the name from lam, dirt; and hyd or hyde, a haven. Dr. Ducarel differs with this explanation of the name, and considers that it is derived from lamb, a lamb; and hyd, a haven; but that eminent antiquary, Dr. Gale, derives it from the circumstance of its contiguity to a Roman road, or leman, which is generally supposed to have terminated at the river at Stangate, from whence was a passage over the Thames."

[3] 'Codex Diplom.' No. 813. One William Lamhith was clerk of the works in the Tower in 1360. See Britton and Brayley, 337, and 'Close Rolls,' 34 Edw. III. m. 15.

[4] We may dismiss altogether a notion supported by some writers that Harold ever held Lambeth. Mr. Freeman has shown the improbability of the story that he placed the crown on his own head at Lambeth. The countess Goda held it till the Conquest, and gave it, perhaps ineffectually, to Rochester. William Rufus makes a new grant, which is perhaps to be taken as in reality a confirmation. His charter is in the British Museum. It is signed with a cross, but is undated.

[5] See Stubbs, ' Episcopal Succession,' p. 26, &c.

[6] To make room for the railway from Charing Cross to London Bridge and Cannon Street.

[7] A very interesting account of archiepiscopal Lambeth, in its political aspects more particularly, may be found in Mr. Green's ' Stray Studies.'

[8] Denne. quoted by Allen, 'History of Lambeth,' p. 183.

[9] Parker, quoted by Allen, p. 239.

[10] I have seen at a sale a folio prayer-book with the arms of Laud quite visibly impressed on pasteboard covers from which the leather had been stripped.

[11] 'The Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers,' translated by earl Rivers, who is represented introducing his scribe or illuminator to Edward IV. Dated 1476.

[12] 'Arch. Journ.,' 1872. It was a complete copy of this book which fetched 3600£. in the Perkins sale in 1873. For a full description of the MSS., see Kershaw's 'Art Treasures of Lambeth Library.'

[13] Green's 'History,' vol. ii. p. 168.

[14] It has been objected to this derivation of Clapham, Clapa's home or ham, that in the register of Chertsey Abbey a gift of 200 pence from lands at Clappeham in the time of king Alfred, is recorded. But the register is of a date many centuries later than the gift, and the name may have been used, in reciting it, for convenience.

[15] ' Teodricus aurifaber tenet de rege Chenintune.'

[16] This king is said to have held a Parliament at Kennington (Wilkinson, i. 149), but it was probably only a council or conference.

[17] In Great St. Thomas Apostle, City.

[18] See above, vol. i., chap. viii.

[19] Mr. Henry MacLauchlan published a map of the old roads and boundaries and an interesting paper on the last remains of the manor-house in the ' Archaeological Journal' in 1872.

[20] 'Environs,' i. 19. A recent writer contrives to sum up both derivations in a single ambiguous sentence;- Battersea, or Patrick's-eye, is said to have taken its name from St. Patrick or St. Peter, because in ancient days it belonged to the Abbey of St. Peter at Westminster.

[21] There is an interesting account of Dawley in Thorne, i. 138.

[22] He was the third baronet of Newton, Wilts, and at his death the title, created in 1627, became extinct. His elder brother, Sir Giles, had been killed in Italy.

[23] Lysons, 29. A similar prosecution is mentioned in chap. xix.

[24] Cunningham, i. 65.

[25] Lysons mentions a flood in 1755, during which people were conveyed from the church to St. George's church in boats.

[26] Bermond has a Danish sound. Rotherhithe would seem to be the ancient form of the second name, and to point very directly to redhra, a rower, or mariner in general.

[27] See Chapter i. for some remarks on the levels.

[28] Nova et pulchra ecclesia.

[29] The charter is undated, but must be of that year.

[30] Aylwin Child is sometimes supposed to be the father of Henry Fitz Aylwin or Eylwin, first mayor of London.

[31] Of Athelfelden ?

[32] 1st January, 1537-8

[33] See above, vol. i. chap. ix.

[34] I use this name here for convenience and in contradistinction to Tudor, though it would be easy to prove that none of the Angevin kings called themselves by it. Edward IV. gave it as a surname to his illegitimate son, Arthur, Lord Lisle.

[35] Some ridiculous suggestions have been made as to the meaning of this name: thus in 'Notes and Queries' (11 s. vol. 3, p. 417) it is derived from The Devil's Neckerchief, a dangerous narrow road between two ditches.

[36] See Wilkinson's 'Londina Illustrata,' vol. i., for a series of views of the abbey as it appeared sixty years since.