John Diprose.

Some account of the parish of Saint Clement Danes (Westminster) past and present (Volume 1) online

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Online LibraryJohn DiproseSome account of the parish of Saint Clement Danes (Westminster) past and present (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 33)
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_^_o M E Account




Ssin? Clement dim^





I/. /

DIPROSE AND BATEMAN, 13 & 17. Portugal Street, Lincoln's Inn.

Dirnosii &, Pkinteks, 13 & 17, Portugal Street. Lincoln's Inn Fields.




^ B. H H -H- €r E.

HE compiler of this volume of Topography and History
of St. Clement Danes trusts that his book will be found
of interest both to the antiquarian and general reader, as
giving — so far as it goes — a faithful account of one of the most
remarkable parishes in the metropolis.

At the present moment, when the character of the parish is being
rapidly changed by the wholesale demolition of houses and streets,
to make room for the erection of a Palace of Justice, it becomes the
duty of the chronicler to record the ancient features of some of the
houses and streets, once so intimately connected with the literary
and political history of our country.

He cannot presume to offer it to the pubHc as a History of St.
Clement Danes, in the usual sense of the word History, but chooses
rather to submit it (as its title bears,) as " Some Account of the
Parish." A mere casual perusal of the various articles and notes
here collected will show that St. Clement Danes is no mean parish.
In it have been enacted some of the most noteworthy events in the
history of our country ; in it many great and worthy men, as authors,
actors, statesmen, or lawyers, have been born, flourished, and died.
On the other hand, time has unravelled in the parish many a plot
against the Throne and the People, and it is not a little curious to
find that on this very spot, which has been the scene of many a crime


and deed of infamy, will be erected one of the most magnificent
buildings ever dedicated to the great cause of justice. •

In conclusion the compiler feels it his bounden duty to acknow-
ledge the great services he has derived from the many authors Avhose
able works he has consulted, and which he hopes, in all cases, are
duly mentioned. He also desires to acknowledge the help afforded
him by the London Newspaper Press ; and, further begs to acknow-
ledge, with feelings of the deepest gratitude, the valuable assistance
he has received from many gentlemen both in and out of the parish.
In particular his warmest thanks are due to the following : — J. W.
Anson, D. Betts, D. Bruton, W. B. Brook, J. Bullock, W. Burnett,
J. F. Clarke, G. Crossley, R. Dansie, E, Du Bois, C. L. Gruneisen,
R. Hardwicke, E. Hart, J. B. Hopkins, J. F. Isaacson, J. Johnson,
Rev. R. H. Killick, J. Kilner, T. C. Noble, J. Prout, J. Reddish,
W. H. Spilsbury, T. M. Stone, A. Wilkinson and E. T. Wood,


November^ 1868.

^\}t i;tto f a:kr Cniirt^,


|oR many years there had been gradually fomiing in the minds
of the members of the various branches of the legal profession,

' and perhaps still more in the minds of those whose fortune it is,
more or less frequently, to become litigants before any of the superior
tribunals, an impression of the desirability, which ultimately grew into a
conviction of the necessity, of a concentration of the Law Courts of the
Metropolis. Englishmen are proverbially fond of justice : therefore, if
they think they have suffered wrong-doing of any kind, they are prone to
repair to the fountain of English law ; for they believe that its princi-
ples, precepts, and practice, constitute an embodiment of the primal
foundations of justice. We. have ever loved our Common Law —
a term even more dear to us than our statutory glories of 12 15 and
1688 — since the day when Edward the Confessor devised the
pregnant and significant term, to indicate the fusion of the three pro-
vincial codes which had hitherto held in the dominions of his much-
loved and much-loving subjects. After his great act of codifying
amalgamation, there was no longer one code for the Mercian, a
second for the West Saxon, a third for him or her — whether of
Teutonic or Scandinavian blood — -who dwelt in those counties which
retained most largely the Danish imprint.

Rough, but actuated by most just intent, were our Saxon ancestors
in their notions of legal amercement and compensation. They be-
queathed to us the animating spirit of our law — we have but improved
tipon its letter. No longer do we assess the fine for cutting off a human


being's ear at the fixed sum of thirty shillings — a pecuniary penalty to
be multiplied if the hearing were lost in consequence of the brutality.
Nevertheless, the nice exactness of the statutory and other provisions
which stipulate graduations of jKuiishments in proportion to the
heinousness of offences, is but a more civilised and improved expan-
sion and outgrowth of the old root represented by the Saxon usage.

If Englishmen love Law — that is///c7;-Law — because they believe it
to be just, another characteristic of our busy and frugal people is a
dislike, which amounts to abhorrence, of needless waste of time and
■money. That such waste, in both senses, has been abundantly and
painfully caused by the wide isolation and severance of our various
Courts of I^w and Equity over a considerable section of the metro-
polis — a section large enough to cover all but its suburban por-
tions — is a fact too trite to demand more than passing reference.
The truth of this fact having become recognised by all concerned,
the only question which remained was — How, when, and where to set
about the remedy? Cost, also, was an element of judicious con-
sideration. And, accordingly, the legal profession, the nation, and
its legislatorial representatives, acting on the truly national maxim,
festina lentc, spent a considerable, but not an excessive, period in
deliberation ere the final details of the remedial plan were matured.
The first step towards the conclusion ultimately arrived at, was
the issuing, in 1858, a Royal Commission for the purpose of
inquiring into the expediency of bringing together in one place or
neighbourhood all the superior Courts of Law and Equity, the Pro-
bate, Divorce, and Admiralty Courts, with their various offices. The
( Commission was directed to investigate the means for providing a
site, and for erecting suitable buildings. The inquiry ended in a
recommendation that the site of the proposed edifice should be an
area ofground lying between Lincoln's Inn and that part of the Strand


between Temple Bar and St. Clement's Church. In 1861, a Bill was
introduced for the purpose of carrying out the recommendation of
the Commissioners ; but, from causes on which it is not here neces-
sary to dilate, it was thrown out in the House of Commons by the
narrow majority of 181 to 180. The further consideration of the
matter was postponed until 1865, in which year two Acts of Parlia-
ment were passed to carry out the well-matured recommendation.
The first Act provided funds for the cost of the buildings, partly by a
parliamentary grant, partly by a contribution of one million un-
claimed interest on stock standing to the account of suitors in
Chancery, and partly by a slight taxation of litigants in other courts.
The second Act empowered Her Majesty's Commissioners of Works
and Public Buildings to acquire the requisite site, to purchase the
houses standing on it, and to provide the necessary accommodation
for the New Courts and Offices.

Besides the authority given to the Commissioners of Works,
Parliament called into existence another body, designated the
" Courts of Justice Commission." By one of the enactments to
which we have referred, the plan of the new buildings was to be deter-
mined upon by the Treasury, "with the advice of such persons as
Her Majesty shall think fit to authorise in their behalf;" and the
Queen, in the exercise of this power, issued her Royal Commission
to that effect.


1. The Right Honorable the Lord Chancellor for the time being.

2. The Right Honorable the Lord Cranvvorth, 40, Upper Brook Street, W.

3. The Right Honorable the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Treasury, Whitehall.

4. The Right Honorable the Lord Chief Justice of England, 17, Park Lane.

5. The Right Honorable the Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, 12, Prince's

Gardens, Prince's Gate, Kensington, W.

6. The Right Honorable the Lord Chief Baron, Hatton, near Hounslow, W.

7. The Right Honorable Lord Justice Cairns.


COMMissiONT.RS. — (Continued ).

8. The Right Honorable the Judge of tlie High Court of Admiralty, 18, Eaton Place, S.W.

9. The Right Honorable Sir James P. Wilde, 2, tJrafton Street, New Bond Street, W.
JO. The Right Honorable the First Commissioner of Works, 12, Whitehall Place.

11. The Honoral)le Vice-Chanccllor Stuart, 5, Queen's Gate, Kensington, W.

12. The Honorable Vice-Chancellor Wood, 31, Great George Street, Westminster, S.W.

13. The Honorable Vice-Chancellor Malins.

14. 'I'he Honorable Mr. Baron JSIartin, 75, Eaton Square, S.W.

■ 15. The Honorable Mr. Justice Mellor, 16, Sussex Square, Hyde Park, W.
t6. The Honorable Mr. Justice Smith, 119, Park Street, Grosvenor Square, W.

17. The Attorney-General, 11, New Square, Lincoln's Inn.

18. The Solicitor-tleneral, i, Mitre Court Buildings, E.C.

19. The Queen's Advocate, %, Arlington Street.

20. Sir Roundell Palmer, Knight, M.P.

21. Hugh C. E. Childers, Esq., M.P.

22. James Clarke Lawrence (Alderman', 18, Cannon Street, Mansion House, E.C.

23. The President of the Law Society for the time being.

24. Pearce William Rogers, Esq., Registrar's Office, Chancery Lane.

25. George Hume, Esq., Taxing Master's Office, Staple Lin, Holborn.

26. C. F. Skirrow, Esq., Staple Lin, Holborn.

27. Charles Manley Smith, Esq., Master's Office, Temple.

2$. William Morgan Benett, Esq., Common Pleas Office, Serjeants Inn, Chancery Lane.

29. William Henry Walton, Esq., 7, Stone Buildings, Lincoln's Inn.

30. H. Cadogan Rothery, E.sq., Doctors' Commons.

31. Augustus Frederic Bayford, Esq., Doctors' Commons.

32. William (ieorge Anderson, Esq., Treasury, Whitehall.

33. Sir Alexander Young Spearman, Bart., National Debt Office, Old Jewj-y.

34. Henry .\rtlnir Hunt, Esq., 44, Eccleston Square.

35. R. P. Amphlett, Esq., Q.C., 7, Old Square, Lincoln's Inn.
3O. D. D. Keane, Esq., Q.C., 4, Brick Court, Temple.

37. Thomas Southgate, Esq., Q.C., 4, New Square, Lincoln's Inn.

38. H. Bliss, Esq., Q.C., 6, Paper Buildings, Temple.

39. John Young, Esq., 6, Frederick's Place, Old Jewry.

40. William Strickland Cookson, Esq., 6, New Square, Lincoln's Inn.

The Commissioners having instituted elaborate ine|uiries into the
sufficiency of the proposed site, and the amount of the accommoda-
tion to be i)i"Ovided for the several courts and offices proposed to be
concentrated, they were enabled to prepare instructions for the guidance
of the architects who might be invited to send in designs for the new
buildings. It became necessary at this stage to consider how the
comjjetitors were to be selected, and in what manner their designs
should be adjudicated upon. It was ultimately determined to call a
third body into existence, for the purpose of discharging these very


important duties. It was decided that this third body should consist
of five members, and that they should be designated "Judges of
Designs." Two were nominated by the Treasury, viz., The
Chancellor of the Exchequer, and William Stirling, Esq.,
M.P., now Sir William Stirling Maxwell, Bart, M.P. Two were
appointed by the Commissioners, viz., The Lord Chief Justice of
England, and the Attorney-General. The fifth member, and
chairman of the body, was The First Commissioner of Works. In
order, however, that a change of Ministry should not change the
tribunal, all the members were appointed by name and not by office.
It may as well be stated here, although not chronologically in order,
that an addition of two members of the architectural profession was
subsequently made to the body, at the repeated request of the com-
petitors and the demand of the House of Commons. The Judges,
therefore, as now constituted, are : — The Right Honorable W.
Cowper, M.P. ; The Right Honorable W. E. Gladstone, M.P. ;
The Right Honorable Sir Alexander Cockburn, Bart. ; Sir
RouNDELL Palmer, M.P. ; Sir William Stirling Maxwell, Bart.,
M.P. ; John Shaw, Esq. ; and George Pownall, Esq.

The Judges of Designs nominated six architects whom the
Commissioners invited to send in designs ; more than one declined
on the ground of large existing engagements. The number,
however, was speedily made up and the competitors set to work,
when the House of Commons interfered and required that the
number of the competitors should be increased to twelve. Their
names are as follows : — Mr. H. R. Abraham ; Mr. E. M. Barry,
A.R.A. ; Mr. Raphael Brandon; Mr. W. Burges; Mr. T. N.
Deane ; Mr. H. B. Garling; Mr. John Gibson; Mr. H. F. Lock-
wood ; Mr. J. P. Seddon ; Mr. G. G. Scott, R.A. ; Mr. G. E.
Street, A.R. A. ; and Mr. Alfred Waterhouse. Each of the com-


l)etitors to receive £800. One of the number — Mr. John Gibson—
withdrew from the contest, reducing the number to eleven.

It was held by some, tliat only gentlemen directly responsible to the
country, by virtue of their position of Cabinet Ministers, should be en-
trusted to discharge the duties of Judges of Designs. The question was,
very properly, brought fonvard for discus.sion in the House of Commons.
In March, 1867, in going into Committee of Supply, Mr. Cavendish
Bentinck moved in his place in the House — "That, in the opinion of
this House, it is expedient that all arrangements respecting the build-
ing of the New Courts of Justice, should be effected under the sole
responsibility of Her Majesty's Government." Mr. Beresford Hope,
a gentleman of equal eminence as a standard of architectural taste
and an ensample of personal honour, rose to support (though not in
every detail) the honorable and learned gentleman's proposition. Mr.
Cowper, although not then an official, inasmuch as he had been
Minister of Public Works when the bill was passed, justified the
principle on which the selection of the Commissioners had been
based. He disclaimed altogether the suggestion that the appoint-
ment of non-Ministerial Commissioners had either been intended to,
or would have the effect of, relieving Ministers themselves of direct
Parliamentary responsibility for every iota of their transactions. The
Commission (said he) had been appointed "simply to consider and
report on the subject." As it comprised judges and others specially
interested in the successful issue, and acquainted with the exigencies,
of the project, he could not but still justify the policy and utility of
its appointment. Lord John Manners, who had succeeded Mr.
Cowper on the accession of Lord Derby's Administration, expressed
his entire concurrence with the opinion of Mr. Cowper, and with the
considerations by which that gentleman had supported his views. He
stated, distinctly, that Mr. Bentinck's motion, if carried, would in-


tercept altogether the action of the Commission, and constitute a "great
misfortune." On this, Mr. Bentinck at* once withdrew his motion.

The architects having responded to the invitation given to them,
the result is seen in the production of designs, which were hung in
the temporary building erected for the purpose in New Square,
Lincoln's Inn, designed and admirably arranged by the Architectural
Clerk to the Commission, Mr. W. Burnet. The building of this fabric
cost £1,500. All the architects exceeded in their estimates the
costs contemplated by the Commissioners. The latter required that
the building should not, if possible, exceed in cost £750,000. The
lowest estimate is £1,074,278. The Commissioners specified the area
on which the buildings were to be erected, but the architects require
more space, thus adding probably £250,000 to the £750,000 already
devoted to the purchase of the ground. The highest estimate for
the buildings is £2,379,046, and the average excess over the stipu-
lated amount is £570,506, irrespective of the quarter of a milhon
extra for the additional land. The Commissioners require that there
should be 1,100 courts and offices of certain dimensions, and for
this they allow a space of about eight acres. The architecture con-
templated is, in all instances, Gothic, unless we except one " alter-
native design."

So much for a brief narrative of the course of discussion and legis-
lation which has eventuated in the result now so happily attained.
Ere long, one of the most historically interesting and socially squalid
localities of the Metropolis will have been cleared of every one of its
ancient or recently built tenements — the latter but few in number ;
and gradually will there arise, on the now desolate waste, what can
hardly fail to be the noblest and most truly imperial building
in the Metropolis of the World — a Palace of Justice worthy of
the premier amongst peoples.


Hiose traditionary and romantic feelings, which are as much
KngUsh as are olu- oaks and ehns, cannot fail to enable us to revere
and cherish certain of the associations of this historic site — a site on
which are centred some of the richest recollections of the City of
AN'estminster, along with some of the most curious of those of the
City of London. Old London is fast disappearing, and he who
attempts to fix in letterpress some of its fading memories, ere they
quite vanish, discharges a task neither thankless nor unpleasant.

The impending Law Courts have already so cast their shadow-
before their coming, as to clear away, not a rookery, but a very nest of
rookeries. Above 400 houses in all have been destroyed, or are in
rapid process of demolition ; or, in the case of some few, are only
awaiting their earl)' doom. Above 4.000 persons have been rendered
homeless ; but of these, the great majority, wherever they may migrate
with their families and slender household goods, must necessarily
inhabit homes much more healthy than the houses in which they
recently dwelt. In all, above thirty courts, lanes, and streets have
been demolished. Even this will be only the beginning of the end ;
for it is a matter inevitable, that the existing approaches to the mag-
nificent edifice must be entirely remodelled. Accordingly, many
more houses must be ultimately cleared away. From every part of
the town there must be direct approaches to the noble building.

The Government, which of course had to pay the amounts for
legal or beneficiary compensation, was well represented by George
PowNALL, Esq., their appointed surveyor, and his able assistant,
Mr. Walker. The best proof of the skill with which they dis-
charged duties which to some seemed to partake of harshness,
is the fact, of which we are well assured, that on reflection, every-
one was satisfied. When the wrath occasioned by the removal from
old haunts and habitations, and the too lamenta!)le difliculty of

acquiring new, had been appeased by the interval of a httle time,
every one, whether dwelHng in street or alley, in high-rented shop
or misery-haunted garret, acknowledged, not alone that justice had
been done, but that it had been liberally tempered by dignity, integ-
rity and gentlemanly consideration.

As may well be supposed, even by those who are the least person-
ally acquainted with the habits and belongings of the lower strata of
society, many pages of the most interesting character — half saddening,
half amusing — might be written about the steps which were neces-
sary to be taken to procure the eviction of the tenants ere the tene-
ments were overthrown ; and about the negotiations for pecuniary
compensation in the cases of those inhabitants who had equitable
claims for the loss incurred by compulsory removal. The whole
of the intricate arrangements so involved were intrusted by the
authorities to the eminent legal firm of Field, Roscoe, Field and
Francis. These gentlemen discharged duties of the utmost difficulty
in a manner which evoked admiration from all who were spec-
tators, interested or otherwise, of their prolonged exercise. They
also found fit representatives in Messrs. Brownlow and White,
of whom we say enough — and we could not in many sentences say
more— when we state that they were worthy delegates to act for
worthy principals.

A concrete example always brings most clearly to the mind's eye
the general and generic statement of which it is the particular
instance. How great, then, must have been the difficulties to en-
counter — how great the tact and delicacy necessary to the successful
and harmonious conclusion of the operation — in rendering tenantless
over 400 houses, considering that in one court alone — Yates' Court —
there were six small houses, tenanted by no less than 48 fami-
lies, including, besides the ordinary complement of adults, 150


children ! Much of the rougher and more repellant work involved
fell upon a Mr. Whatlev, an able and judicious assistant of
Messrs. Field and Roscoe. He could many "a tale unfold"
of the miseries disclosed to his necessarily close inspection
and prying vision. He could tell our readers, for example,
in terms more vivid than we could emulate, how the poorer class
of tenants invoked blessings upon the heads of the donors of
the liberal compensation which was given in all cases, even where,
as in the case of weekly tenants, there were no legal claims. He
could also tell how, when the donations so bestowed had been
expended by some of the recipients in a few days of indulgence,
the blessings were changed into cursings, and male and female
mouths which erst had smiled beatifically, were now disfigured by
imprecatory scowls. But all these subsequent and supervening
difficulties were overcome by Mr. Whatley's wonderful tact and
good nature, for we can speak from our own observation of the
many instances in which his good advice, humanity, and kindness
aided him in performing his unpleasant duties in a manner which
might well be considered worthy of the eminent firm he represented.
Messrs. Capes and Harris, the accountants, of Old Jewry, were re-
tained by the Commissioners for the examination of the books and ac-
counts of all parties claiming compensation ; we believe we are correct
in stating that the last i8 months' profits were allowed in most cases.

Court of Chancery. — The annual return relative to the funds of the Court
of Chanceiy, issued March i6th, 1867, shows that the receipts, including the
previous balance, of the Suitors' Fund in the year ending Oct. i, 1866, amounted
to £i^y,^i6 OS. 4d. in cash, and ^4,451,739 us. 5d. stock. The total payments
were — cash, ^93,988 4s. 7d., and stock, ^,^'232,750 9s. gd. The largest item of
payment (more than ;^200,ooo) was on account of the New Courts of Justice. The
.Suitors' P'ee Fund account shows a total receijjt of ^141,286 2s. 2d., making with
balance from previous year, ^280,593 i8s. 7d. Tiie total payments for the year
amounted to ;^I94,932 17s. iid., a considerable amount of which was spent under
the Courts of Justice Building Act.


The Site of the New Law Courts is situate in three parishes, viz. —



The following Table shews the Names of the Places forming the Site, and also the

Number of Houses and Families occupying the same: —






Bailey's Court ...

Bell Yard




Boswell Court (Old) ...
Boswell Court (New) ...



Boswell Yard ...



Brick Court



Carey Street

Chair Court



Clement's Court



Clement's Inn ...



Clement's Inn (Foregate)
Clement's Lane




Cromwell Place



Crown Court ...



Crown Place ...



Fleet Street



Hemlock Court



Horse Shoe Court



Horse Shoe Court (Little)

Online LibraryJohn DiproseSome account of the parish of Saint Clement Danes (Westminster) past and present (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 33)