John Britton.

The Beauties of England and Wales, or, Delineations, topographical, historical, and descriptive, of each county online

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court, paved. With flat ^ues ; the Hdll, which forms the south sidc^
of the court, is a vei^ spacious and lofty apartment, handsomely
fitted up, with a capacious gallery going round the whole intC'*
rior. At the upper end, behind the seat of the Prme^wdrden,
IB an ornamental niche, wherein is a friU sized statue, carved in
wood, and painted, of the brate Sir William Wahowth, ^nU
who was a member of this Company, and is represented in the
dress of his time, his right hand grasping a real dagger, reputed
to be the identical weapon with which he struck Wat Tyler from
(lis horse. Below the niche are inscribed the following lines :^

Bcsve Walworth, Knight, Lord Major, yt slew

Rebelltont Tykr in Jiis alarmes.
The King tliercfore did gi?e in iieu
The dagger to the Cyiyes armes*.
In the 4th yeare of Richard II. Anno Donini, 1382.

* If there be not much poetry ia this artless lem, there is at least some
fiction ; for the dagger as it is called, in the first qoarter of the City armv
was certainly intended for the sword of St. Paul, the chosen patron of the
Corporation, and was borne centuries preTious to the age of Walworth, and
bis compatriots. Walpote says that the abore statue was madd by Edward
Pijerce, the Statuary and Architect, who died in 169S.

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There is tti expression of strong muscular energy in Aa eovi*
tenance of this statne^ which was probably carved from soine
genuine likeness : the . eyes are large, and the beard dark anf
bushy, with whiskers. Sir William was buried in the neigh-
bouring Church of St. Michael : his funeral Pall which ia curi-
liously embroidered with gold, is yet carefully preserved by this
Company; who have likewise an exact plan of the splendid
Show that was exhibited at the time of his inauguration aa
Mayor, in 1380. lu the windows at this end of the Hall, is. some
good painted glass, displaying the arms of different benefBustors;
and under the gallery are numerous shields properly emblazoned,
of the arms of the successive Prime-Wardens.'*^ In front of the
gallery, also, is a very large and clever picture . of the gallant
Admiral, Earl St. Vincent, which was put up at the expense of
the Company, in veneration of his great talents and services. It
ought to be remarked that the great Nelson, and many other of
the brave chieftains, whose heroism and ability have entwined
the naval annals of this country with never-fiBuling laurels, ao*
quired the major part of their sea-education, under the command
of this much esteemed Veteran.

In the Court Room, are full lengths of the Sovereigns Wil-
Kam the Tliird, Mary, his consort^ &c. and eight curious pic-
tures apparently from the Dutch School, of various kinds of Fish,
which are grouped with much skill, and excellently coloured.
An apartment above, contains two other pictures, full lengths, of
the late Margrave, krA the ^reaeni Margravine, of Anspach, exe-
cuted in 179T, by Romney r these are ih a loose, sketchy style,
but of colouring, are regained as good likenesses : the connection
of the Margravine with the Company, arose from a ball, and the


• The Fithmongen ' armt are asare, three dolphins* oaiant in pale, betweeo
two pair of Lucies laUirewise, proper, crowned* or ; on a chiefi gules, thre»
couple of keys crossed, as the crowns ; supported on the dexter side by' a
merman armed, and on the sinister a mermaid, holding a mirror in her left
hand; crest, twe arms softaining a crown; the motto, < All Worship be t»
Qod only/

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Msembly hrmffAj held in the great Hall> under the patronage of
,thia Lady. The chief part of this ed^ce, is of hridc, but the
finont next the Thames, is ornamented with stone window cases,
quoins, &c. the latter being wrought in rustic: and the sum-
mit of the building is terminated by a cornice, having a large
central pediment, in the tympanum of which are the Royal arms
of Charles the Second: from the wharf, is an ascent to the
portal of the Hall, by a high flight of stone steps. This Com-
pany consists of a Prime, and five other Wardens, a Court of
Assistants, and a livery. About fifty Lord Mayors have been
members of it, and many persons of eminent distinction are en-
rolled among its freemen. Their expenditure for benevolent
purposes, as the support of Alms-Houses, Hospitals, Sfc. is
stated to amount to about 80(M. yearly. The Fishmongers
were anciently accustomed to make a considerable display of
pageantry, whenever a memb^ of their Company was advanced
to the Mayoralty.

The GOLDSMITHS' COMPANY is of very remote institu-
lion, as ahready noticed, it having been fined as adulterine so
early as the year 1180; yet it was not incorporated till 1327
when Edward the Third, in consideration of the sum of ten marks,
granted the members his Letters Patent, under the title of ' The
Wardens and Commonalty of the Mystery of Goldsmiths,' &c.
with power to purchase estates to the value of 201. annually, for
the support of their indigent and superannuated brethren. This
grant was coii^med by Richard the Second, in ld94, on the
further payment of twenty marks; and a further confirmation
was granted in 1462, by Edward the Fourth, who also constituted
this Company ' a body politic,' &c By the last grant also, they
were invested with the privilege of inspecting, trying, and regu-
lating all gold and silver wares, not only within the City, but also
in all other parts of the Kingdom; with tlie power of punishing all
ofilmders in working adulterated gold and silver. This appears to
have been an extension of a statute made in the twenty-third of
Edward the First, which empoweredjthe Warden to ' assay gold and

2 B silver

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870 HinDLBSBX.

silver manafactores ;* which " shall he of good andtme^ altoy, and
he marked.'^ iThe privileges of the Goldsmiths have since been
•Confirmed under various Acts of Parliament, and many judicious
'Enactments made to support their authority.

Fabian, under the fifty-third yearof Henry the Third, anno 1239,
gives the following relation of a violent afiray between the Gold*
smiths' and Tiaylors' Companies. '' In tiiis liii. yere in ye
mon^th of November fyll a varyaunce atwene the felysshyppes of
Goidsmytkes and Tay/Zovref of London, whiche grewe to makynge
"of parties, so that wth the Goldsmythes take partie the felysshep or
craft of , and with the Taylloures held ye craft of

Stay hers*; by mesne of this moche people nyghtly gaderyd in
the stretes in barneys, and at length, as it were prouyded, the
thirde nyght of the sayd parties mette vpon the nombre of V.C.
men on both sydes, and ran togyder, with such vyolence that
fiome were slayne, and many wonded. Then outcry was made,
80 that ye shyreffes, with strengthe of other comors, came to tha
ryddynge of theym, and of theym toke certayne persones, and
sent the3rm vnto dyvers prysons : and upon the mmrowe, such
serche was made, yt the moste of the chief causers of that fray
were taken and put ui warde.~Then- vpon the Fryday folowynge
saynt Katteryns daye, sessyons were kepte at Newgate by the
the Mayre and Lawrence de Broke iustice and other : where xxx.
of the sayd persones were arregned of felony, and xiii. of theym
caste and hanged: and for. one Godfrey de Beuyrley holpe to
arme one of the sayde persones, he was also caste amonge the
others t."

Goldsmiths' H^^ll, is an extensive and handsome pile, stand-
ing in Foster Lane, on the site of a more ancient flail, which
had been founded for the use of the Company in 1407, by Sir
Drew Barentyne, Lord Mayor in 1398. That edifice which Stow
calls " a proper house, but not large/' was destroyed in the
<ireat Fire, and the present fabric arose in its place within a

• ' Cordewayners*. MS. of FaU Cbron. in the Brit. Mot.

t Fab. Chron. p. 364, £]lii'f Edit. 1811.

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Jew yean ailenrardi. The traildings are of brick, and surround
a/sfuare courts paved ; the front being ornamented with stone
fiomers wraight in matic, and a large aiehed entrance, which
exUhits a high pediment, supported on Doric columns, and open
At. the top,, to give room for a shield of the Company's arms.*
The Hall itself, which is on the east side of the court, is a
spamos and lofty sqnrlment, paved with black and white mar-
lile, and. most • elegantly fitted up. The wmnscotting is very
liaadBome, and the ceiling and its i^ypendages are richly stuc-
coed; an eaormoos flower adorning tbe centre, and the City and
Goldsmilihs' arms, with various decorations, appearing in its other
compartments. A richly carved screen, with Composite pillars,
pilasters, ^ca » balustrade with vases, terminating in branches
fn lights, (between which are displayed the banners and flags
4ised on public occasions,) and a beanfet of considerable size, with
white and. gold ornaments, form part of the embellishments of
this splendid room.

. The balustrade of the stair-case is elegantly carved, and the
walls exhibit numerous reliefs of scrolls, flowers, and instruments
of music The Cotirl JRoom is another richly wainscotted apart-
ment, and the ceiling is loaded with embellishments, which give
it a grand, though somewhat heavy efiect. The chimney*
piece is of statuary marble, and very sumptuous ; the sides be-
ing adorned with male caryatides, and the whole enriched by
scrolls, grapes, &c. Above it is a painting of St. Dunstan, the
Patron saint of the Company, in conversation with the Holy
Vii^in, having in the back ground a representation of the
Saint burning the Devil's nose, as described in the ancient le-

2 B 2 gend,

• The Gdcbmithi' arms, are qoaiteriy, gnlet and siare, in the fint ao4
fourth, a Leopard's head. Or, in the second and third, a cop covered, be«
tween two hncklet, all of the last : crest, a demy Goldsmith, in the dress of
Elizabeth's reign, his riglit hand sustaining a pair of scales, his left hand
holding an ingot; supporters, nnicorns ; motto, " To God only be all Glory."
The crest and supporters, were granted by Robert Cooke, Clarencieux,
in 1571.

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gend, when assailed by the fiend with temptation. Here, also,
are the following portraits : Sir Martin Bi»wes, Goldsmith, Lord
Mayor in 1545, said to be by Holbein ; this gentleman presented
his Company with an elegant Cap, (still carefully preserved
among their plate,) which is thought to hare been originally a
Royal gift. Sir Hugh Middletan, Bart, the illustrions character,
who expended his entire fortune in forwarding the noble design of
supplying the Metropolis with water, by means of the New Ri-
VPT. This is a fine picture, in the style of Vandyke. Sir Hugh
is pourtrayed in a black habit, with his hand resting upon a shell:
near him the words ' Fotiies Fodina' are inscribed. He bequeath-
ed a share in the New River to this Company, for the ben^t of
its decayed members. Sir Thonuu Viner, Goldsmith, Lord
Mayor in 1653; and Charles Hosier, Esq. In the Ball Roam,
which is a large apartment, very handsomely decorated, is a por«>
trait of his Majesty, George the Third : in another apartment is
a large picture by Hudson, containing likenesses of six Lord
Mayors, all Goldsmiths, namely. Sir Henry Marshall, Lord
Mayor in 1745; William Benn, Esq. 1747; John Blaehford,
Esq. 1750; Robert Alsop, Esq. 1752; Edmund Ironside, Esq.
and Sir Tliomas Rawlinson, both in 1 754, the former having
died during his Mayoralty: these gentlemen are represented
seated at a table, at which Blaehford presides. The Assay
Office, belonging to the Goldsmiths' Company, adjoins to
the Hall on the south side, the firout entrance being in Cary

This affluent Community is governed by a Prime, and three
other Wardens, and a numerous Court of Assistants. Its re*
venues arc very considerable; and its disbursements for charitable
purposes, are stated to amount to more than 10001. annually :
tiiis sum is principally expended in the support of Alms-houses
and Free-schools, Before the business of Banking became are^
gular trade, about the middle of the seventeenth century, and
also for many years afterwards, the Goldsmiths were the chief
Bankers, their general opulence occasioning them to be regarded

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«s the most trnst^worihy of the various classes of Tradesmen,
that inhabited the City.

The SKINNERS' COMPANY was incorporated by Edward
the Third, in the year 1327, by the appellation of ' the Master
and Wardens of the Guild or Fraternity of the body of Christ, of
tile Skinners of London/ At that period, the Skinners, who
ImuI long formed a very affluent and respectable class of citizens,
were divided into two brotherhoods, one at St Mary Spital, the
other at St. Mary Bethlehem, but Richard the Second, in his
eighteenth year, consolidated the two bodies, and Henry the
Sixth, in 1438, confirmed their former grants, and directed that
every person when admitted to the freedom of the Company,
should in future be presented to the Lord Mayor ; this custom is
tUll observed.*

The Skinners' Company was particularly flourishing when
sables, lucems, and other rich furs were accustomed to be worn
by the Monarchs, Nobility, and Gentry of England ; but as com*
merce extended in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, other garments
came into use, and the trade declined. Henry Lane, a corre*
spondent of Hackluit, the collector of Voyages, in a Letter
written in 1567, remarks, thai it was *' a great pity but it [the
wearing of furs] should be renewed ; especially in Courts and
among Magistrates, not only for the restoring of an old worship-
ful Art and Company, but also because they are for our climate
wholesome, delicate, grave, and comely, expressing dignity, com-
fi>rting age, and of long continuance ; and better with small cost

2 B 3 to

• In the times of Catholic supersiiiioii, it wu ciutomary for the Company
of Skinwirt, to make a grand processiou through the principal streets of the
City on Curpiu ChrM day in the afternoon, in which, says Stow's Continuator*
Monday, " were home nio|-e than one hondred torches of wax (co&tly gar-
nished, horning light,) and above two hundred Clerks and PriesU in sur-
plices and copes, singing : after which came the Sherifis' servanU, the Clerks
of the Compters, Chaplains for the Sheriffs, the Mayor's Serjeants, the
Councell of the City> the Major and Aldermen in scarlet, and then the
Skinners in their best liveries." Stow's Sur. p. (48. Edit. 1633.

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to be preserved than those new silks, shags, and rags, vherein a
great part of the wealth of the land is hastily consumed."

The fur trade still continuing to decline, and particularly after
the incorporation of the Eastland Merchants in 1579, who pur-,
chased skins from pedlars and others for the purpose of exporta-
tion, a controversy arose between those Merchants and the Skin^
ners' Company, and the latter in consequence petitioned Queed
Elizabeth, that. " no pedlars or petty chapmen might gather er
engross any skins or furs of the breed of England, but under
licence of the Justices of the Peace; that those who were thus
licensed should not make sale of any such skins or furs so ga»
thered by them, except to some persons known to be of the trade
of Skinners, and that all others might be restrained to buy and
transport them." This petition was opposed by the Eastland
Company, who, on the other hand, required, " to have free licence
to buy, provide, and engross, in any place whatsoever, all manner
of coney-skins, raw, or tawed, [that is, prepared as white lea-
ther, by artizans hence called tawers"] and at their pleasure to
transport them in any bottom whatsoever, unto any place, yield*
ing the ordinary custom."

The claims of the Skinners' Company were also powerfully re-
sisted by the Lord Mayor and Aldermen, who in the height of the
dispute wrote a letter to the Lord Treasurer, urging, " that this
practice of the Skinners, that all the skins of the breed of Eng-
land must first pass through the hands and property of some free-
man of that Company, before they should be transported, would
be to the exceeding great prejudice, not only of the City, but of
all other traders into foreign ports within the whole Realm," they
therefore prayed, that the intended new Patent to the Skinners,
which was then nearly ready to be signed by the Queen, '' might
be stayed, till such time as he should be better informed, touch-
ing the great inconvenience which would grow thereby, and for
which purpose they had appointed a deputation of Aldermen and
others to attend upon him." Through this application, the Pe-
tition of the Skinners' Company was rendered ineffectual, and the

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ytiDiBJUBSBX. 375

fur tcade got into fresh vhao^eb, as coii)inereui: righto were ex-
tended, and became better understood. These re^ulto lowered
the-inflaence of the Company^ as a trading society^ though in all
other respects it is still one.^f the most respectable ai^d affluent
beloBgingto the City. . . i .

Th^ .original ^Skinners' I^all^ which Stowe ^escribesas *' %
very feyre houBei sometime called Copped Hall/' was pur^h]|8«d
by tlie Oompany^ together witii several small tenem^iitff i^jfi^c^^
M eArly $6 the reign of Henry the Thirds and th^ Skinnerf altera-
nrfltrds held H under ^litence of mortmain granted by ^^t King.
Itwras ailerwards alienated,' though by what meajis is uncertain;
«iid in the .nineteenth of Edward the Second, waa possessed hy
Ralph de Cobham> the braT< Kentidi. warrior, whp having made
Edward the Third hisheh'/was thus the cause of t)ie Skinners
being reinstated in their ancient purchase, which the Monarch
restored about the time of the legal incorporation of the Com*

The present Skinnsrs' Haix, is a very (landsome ^d copve*
nieut structure, standing on Dpwgate Hill, on the site of the an*>
cient* building; The front, which includes tlie dwelling of the
Clerk, &c. has been new built within these twenty* years, from de^
sign^ by the late Mr. Jupp, architect, who also made,ci>usidend)l6
alteratjions in the other parto. It is a regular builc^ing of the
Ionic order^ the basement part, to the level of the firsjt ,^tory; ii
of stone, and rustii^ted ; from this rise six pilasters, sustaining
an entablature and pediment, all of the same material, and in the
tympanum are the Company's arms^''^ the supporters being repre-
sented as couchant> in order to adopt them the better to the spaces
they occupy : the frieze is ornamented with festoons, and lion's
headSk A small paved court separates this frt>nt from the more

2 B 4 ancient

• The Skinners' armi are ermines, on a chief, gnlcs, three crowns, or, with
caps, of the first ; crest, a leopard coochant; supported on the dexter side by
a leopard, and on the sinister by a fox ; motto " To God onl^' be all Glory.''
The arms are ancient; the crest and supporters were granted by WUlios
Harvey, Clarcacieazj iu 1561.

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376 MlDDLStBX*

andent part of the fitbrie, vhich is of bride and neallj wroogbf:
The Hail, is a light and el^fant apartment, having an lonie
screen, and other adornments proper to that order; it is also
handsomely fitted up in the modem style. In the dmri Roam,
which was formerly wainscotted with the red, or ' odoriferous,'
cedar, but is now altered, and neatly modernized, is a good head
of Sir Andrew Judde, .Knt Lord Mayor in 1560, who was a
native of Tunbridge, in Kent, and founded the free Grammar
School there, of which the very able and learned Dr. Yioesimus
Knox is now master. For the support of that establishment^ Sir
Andrew, on his death in ld68, directed by his will, that oartain
lands, of the annual value of 561. Os. 4d. and situated in the pa*
rishes of St Pancras, AU-HaUows, Graceehurch Street, St Jaw*
rence Pountney, St Peter, and St Helen, should be peipetnaUy
vested in the Company of Skinners ; and in consequence of this
bequest the members visit the School every year, in May, at a
great expense, attended as the statutes direct, by some eminent
Clergyman, whose business is to examine into the progress made
by the different classes; after the examination, which is oondaelad
with much ceremony, honorary rowards aro distributed to the
best scholars. The rental of the lands bequeathed by the founder,
as well as of other estates given by bis son-in-law. Sir Thomas
Smith, Knt to augment the endowments, and establish six exhi-
bitions to the University, has been vastly increased, and is yet in
a course of progreasive augmentation; the land in St. Paneras
parish, having been recently covered with houses to a consider-
able extent, under the direction, and principally at the charge of
Mr. Burton, the architect, who, a few y^ara ago, obtained a
lease of the ground from the Company, for the purpose^*

The staircase displays some of the massy carving, and rich
ornaments, in vogue at the time of the rebuilding of the Hall af-
ter the Great Fire, the expense of which is said to have been


* See before, p. 102. Some furtliev particuUrs of the School atXnnhridgei
may be leen uuder the dewription of Tunbridge, in Beaotiei of Eoglan^^

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< ■

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fttiDDLBsfesr. 377

I8;0CXH, Before the erection of tLe ManBion-HotiBe^ aeTeid
liord-MayorB resided here^ during tbe year in irhich they hM
their office; and the general Courts of the New East India Com*
{»aiiy were also held in this stracture, pre'vionsly to the union of
the two Companies in I7t0.

The Skinners' Company is governed hy a Master, four War-
dens^ and a Court of ahout sixty Assistants, whose disbursements
for the support of Schools, Alms-houses, Exhibitions, Lectures,
tux, amount to between one and two thousand pounds aa-

mn ancient Guild or Fraternity, dedicated to St. John Baptist,
mod called " time out of mind,'' says Stow, *' of Taylors and
Unen Armourers of London/' This Guild received a confinna-
fkon from Edward the First, in his 28th year, with power to
' hold a feast, at Midsummer, to choose a master,'' &c. At that
period, and during a long succession of years, the master was
denominated ' the Pilgrim,— as one that travelled for the whole
Companie, and the foure Wardens were then called Purveyors of
Alms.'* In the year 1466, a more regular incorporation of this
Company took place, under the authority of the Letters Patent
of Edward the Fourth, who was himself a freeman, as all his
predecessors in the sovereignty had also been, from the time of
Edward the Third. Henry the Seventh, who was likewise a
member, re-incorporated the Company in the year 1d03, by the
new description of " The Master and Wardens of the Merchant
Taylors, of the Fraternity of St John Baptist,'' &c. This was
done, according to the above Historian, '' for that divers of that
Fratemitie had beene great Marchants, and had frequented all
aorts of marchandises into most partes of the world, to the ho*
nor of the King's realme, and to the great profit of hi» subjecte8>,
and of his progenitors; and the men of the said mistirie, had,
during the time aforesaid, exercised tUe buying and selling of all
wares iind marchandises, especially of woolen clothe, as well in

• Stow's 6ur. p. U9,

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gnofi as by rtUjXe, throaghoot all this realmeof England^ 9mi
chiefly mthin the said Citie/'*

The members of this Company compose a very afflnent hpdj,
coDsifltiQg priacipaUy.of Merchants^ MerceiB, Drapeifi^ Taylop^
lcc» to the amoant of upwards of 600 m xramher. Th^y Art
gov^fmeil by a Master, four Wardens, and about forty,. AssistaatB.
lUf the long lisi of distingiii^bed. characters, who haire been out
lotted among the freemen of this mo^ respectable Community,
are included eleren Sovereigns, about as many Princes of tbe
Blood Royal, thirteen' Dukes, two Duchesses, nearly thirty
Archbishops and Kshops, fifty Earls, fire Countesses, between
seventy and eighty Lords and Barons, upwards of twenty^Lwd
Wa(yqi», fifteen Abbots and Priors, many Knights, &c.

One of the most eminent Taylors (professionally so) on re*
cord, was Sir John Hawkwood, a native of Essex.t He wajs
usually stiled '- Johannes Acutes,* and is stated, in the jocidar Ian*
guage of Fuller, to have ' turned his needle into a. sword, and

Online LibraryJohn BrittonThe Beauties of England and Wales, or, Delineations, topographical, historical, and descriptive, of each county → online text (page 34 of 78)