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* Tanner, 239.



CHURCH OF ST. JOHN. 203

censed by Edward III. in 1340, for a fraternity
of brethren and sisters, with a warden, or master,
to be elected out of the body, who might make
chauntries, bestow alms, and do other works of
piety ; constitute ordinances, and purchase lands
to the value of .20 a year, within the liberty of
the city, for founding a chauntry of six priests, to
sing mass every day in the churches of the holy
Trinity and St. Michael, for the soul of king Ed-
ward, queen Philippa, their children, and for the
souls of the gild, and others. Soon after, Isabel,
queen-mother, assigned the land on this spot,
then called Bablake, for building a chapel, in
which masses were to be sung daily for the same
purposes, which was finished and dedicated in
1 350. At length, in 1 399, licence was given for
celebrating divine service here, provided it might
be done without injury to the mother-church r .

On the dissolution, its revenues were found to
be . 1 1 1 1 3s. 8d. which supported a warden and
eight priests, who had chambers in the precinct,
a master of a grammar-school, two singing-clerks,
and two singing-boys, and several poor men, who
had been brethren of the gild. The church has of
late years been rebuilt ; made a rectory by act of

r Dugd. W. i. 188.



Bablake
Hospital.



1204 COVENTRY: BABLAKE HOSPITAL.

parlement, in 1734, and settled on the master of
the free-school of Coventry \

Behind this church is Bablake hospital, an old
building, Avith a court in the middle : one part is
occupied by Bond's alms-houses, founded in 1506,
by Thomas Bond, mayor of Coventry in 1497, for
ten poor men and one poor woman, with a priest
to pray for the soul of the founder, his grandfa-
ther, father, and all Christian souls. At that time
the revenues were .49. 11$. Id. In the first 1 of
Edward Vlth's time, they were vested in the city.
The revenues being improved, they maintain at
present eighteen old men and a nurse, each of
whom has three shillings a week, a black gown,
and other emoluments. About the year 1619,
an infernal ambition of becoming chief of the
house, seized one of the alms-men ; who, to attain
his end, poisoned eight of his brethren; five of
whom instantly died. On detection, the wretch
effected his own destruction by the same method,
and was buried with the usual marks of infamv.

J

Had his fortune flung him into a higher station, his

deeds would have paralleled him with Cesar Borgia,

or his more monstrous father, Pope Alexander VI.

The other part of the building is allotted for

* Ecton, 93. * Dugd. W. i. IPS.



COVENTRY : CANAL. 205

the blue boys : a foundation owing to a very sin-
gular accident. Mr. Thomas Wheatly, mayor of
Coventry in 1556, and ironmonger and card-maker
by trade, sent his servant, Ought on, to Spain, to
buy some barrels of steel gads ; which he thought
he did, in open fair. When they were brought
home and examined, they were found to contain
cochineal and ingots of silver. Mr. IVheatly
kept them for a considerable time, in hopes of dis-
covering the owner ; for his servant did not know
from whom he bought them. At length he applied
the profits, as well as much of his own estate, for
the support of poor children.

From thence my walk was continued along the Canal.
west side of the city, to Bishopsgate-street. A little
without is the head of the great canal, which, pass-
ing by the neighboring collieries at Hawkesbury,
is to extend to Brinklow, Hill-Morton, Braunston
in Northamptonshire, return into Warwickshire,
and, after passing by Banbury, conclude at Ox-
ford*. By another branch, likewise begun near
to Coventry, it is to pass by Atherston and Tam-
worth, and to unite with the great Staffordshire

Distances. Coventry to Hill-Morton, 20 1

Napton Napton Field, 17 15, rise 88 f.
Claydon, - 8 5 1

Oxford, - 36 7, fall 204.



206 COVENTRY: FREE-SCHOOL.

canal on Fradley heath, three miles N. E. of Licit-
Jield % ; which, by means of the Stour Port canal,
would have become the uniting spot of the com-
merce of the Thames, the Severn, and the Trent,
had Britain flourished in the manner it did when
these vast designs were undertaken, in the full in-
toxication of its prosperity. At present it is only
finished as far as Atherston y .
Free At the lower end of this street is the free-

OCHOOL,

once St. school, dedicated to St. John Baptist : it sprung
Hospital, out of an hospital, founded in the beginning of the
reign of Henry II. by Laurence, prior of Coven-
try, and his convent, at the request of Edmund,
archdeacon of Coventry, for the reception of the
sick and needy. At the dissolution, John Hales,
clerk of the hanaper in the time of Henry VIII.
a gentleman who had a large share in the plunder
of the church, and having neither wife nor child,

x Distances. Staffordshire canal to Atherston, 21 0, rise 95.

Coventry, 14 4
Branches to coal mines, 14

y These great undertakings are now completed ; the former
is distinguished by the name of the Oxford, the latter by that
of the Coventry canal. Near Braunston the Oxford unites with
the Grand Junction canal, which forms a more ready commu-
nication with the Tliames, and serves to supply the metropolis
with coal from the central parts of the kingdom. The shares
in the Coventry canal, originally of one handred pounds, now
sell for eight hundred guineas. Ed.



COVENTRY: FREE-SCHOOL. 207

converted this foundation, which he had purchased
at a very cheap rate, into a free-school, and en-
dowed it with CC marks a year in land. At first,
the boys were instructed in the church of the
White Friars ; but the magistrates finding that
Mr. Hales had bought the lands but not the
church, took advantage of the flaw, removed the
scholars to the present place, and pulled down
the church 2 . The chapel, now reduced to one
aile, is the present school ; and the master resides
in the house belonging to the antient master of the
hospital. The school has also a library belonging
to it. Mr. Hales died in 1572 : his fortunes,
which chiefly lay in Warwickshire, devolved to
John, son of his eldest brother Christopher, who
made his residence at Hales Place, the antient
house of the White Friars in this city, and in
1660 was dignified by Charles II. with the title
of Baronet.

Pass by Cookstreet Gate, on the outside of the
city, and a little further, by the Three Virgins, or
Priory Gate, between which there is a complete
part of the wall. On the outside was a paved
road, in imitation of the military way from turret
to turret on the famed wall of Severus * : and be-
sides, here were four other similar roads, which
went a mile each way from the city.

* Dugd. W. i. 170, 130. a Tour Scot!, vol. iii. 288.



208 COVENTRY: PRIORY.

At a small distance without the Priory Gate,
is Stvanszvell Pool, which works the wheel that
supplies a part of the city with water. This did
belong to the priory, but was at the dissolution
purchased by the corporation from the crown b .
Priort. From hence I returned to the priory, seated
on the south side of the brook Sherburn. What
bears that name is an uninhabited house c , of much
later date than that monastery ; but built on some
part of the site of this great foundation.

About the year 1043, earl Leojric and his fair
countess more than repaired the loss in 1016, in
the destruction of the famous Sazo?i nunnery, by
founding in its stead a magnificent monastery.
They placed here an abbot and twenty-four monks
of the Benedictine order ; enriched the very walls
and the church with massy gold and silver, and
endowed it with half the town and twenty-four
manors. All this they did with the advice of king
Edward the Confessor and the reigning pope, and
dedicated the church to the honor of God and his
blessed mother, St. Peter, St. Osburg, and all
saints. The pious founders were buried, accord-
ing to the custom of the times, in the porches ; for
the distasteful custom of church interment did not
prevale till long after.

b Dugd. W. i. 14-6. c It is now occupied. En.



COVENTRY: PRIORY. 209

The first abbot was Leofrin ; but that dignity
was of short duration, for, on the removal of the
see of Lichfield to this place, in 1095, by Robert
de Limisie, the office was suppressed, the bishop
being in such cases always esteemed supreme of
the house d in his stead; a prior was appointed,
but without derogating from the honor of the
house ; for the priors were barons in parlement as
well as the preceding abbots, and the place a
mitred abbey. This first prelate was more at-
tracted by the wealth of the house than by any
spiritual call ; for he at once scraped from a single
beam five hundred marks worth of silver, in order
to carry on the intrigue at Rome against the poor
monks. He reduced them to such short com-
mons, that he depressed their spirits, discouraged
all sorts of knowlege among them, and, in short,
rendered them too dejected to think of obtaining
any redress.

This was a prelude to greater misfortunes. In
the latter end of the following century, Hugh No-
vani, a Norman, became bishop. He soon quar-
relled with the monks ; who, in a synod held be-
fore the high altar, doubtless on some high pro-
vocation, broke his head with the holy cross.

Tantsene animis coelestibus irae !

* Willis's Abbeys, i. 70.
P



410 COVENTRY: PRIORY.

This enraged the proud prelate (as he was called
by those meek monks) to lay his complaint against
them at Rome. The pope attended to it, expelled
the antient inhabitants, and placed in their room
a set of secular canons. The monks, now driven
into the wild world, had only the satisfaction of
seeing their persecutor struck with deep remorse ;
for, in 1198, lying on his death-bed, in the abbey
of Bee in Normandy, he was seized with fierce
horrors at his conduct towards those holy men ;
implored forgiveness, and desired their interces-
sion with the Almighty in his behalf. He re-
quested to be buried in the habit of the order,
that he might receive the benefit of its protection
in the other world, and finally consigned himself
to purgatory, ibi in diem judicii cruciandus.

Luckily at the time of this event, Thomas, a
monk of Coventry, happened to be at Rome soli-
citing the cause of his brethren : but Innocent III.
(then pope) was so enraged by his importunities,
as to order him to withdraw. The poor monk,
with tears, replied, Another pope will come, to

* whom I shall not sue in vain. I therefore will

* patiently wait your death, as I have that of your
' two predecessors.' " Here is a devil of a fel-
" low" (says his Holiness, in high wrath, to his
attendants) "by St. Peter! he shall not wait
" for my death ; so I will not put him off any



COVENTRY: PRIORY, 211

** longer, but make out the purpose of his petition
" before I put a morsel more into my mouth V

This troublesome affair ended, they were re-
placed with double advantage; their privileges,
as if by way of atonement for their short suffer-
ings, increased beyond all reason ; for in the time
of Edward III. they obtained, that they and their
tenants, except those who held by knight service
more than half a knight's fee, should be quit of
murder, robbery, suit to the county or hundred
courts, aid to the sheriffs, view of frankpledge,
and repair of the king's castles or pools f . Reign
after reign they received fresh emoluments; so
that in the end they became possessed of revenues
to the amount of ,75\. 19s. 5d., or, after re-
prises, A99. 7s. 4</. g

Among the sacred furniture was an image of
the Virgin Mary, adorned with a chain of gold
enriched with gems, bestowed by the Countesa
Godeoa on her death-bed : to which the devotees
were to say as many prayers as there were in it
precious stones.

And besides this, an arm of St. Augustine of
Hippo, which Agelnethus, archbishop of Canter-
bury, in 1020, bought at Rome from the pope, for

e Dugdale, W. i. 161. . f Dugdale, i. 161.

s Tanner, 567.

P 2



212 COVENTRY: PRIORY.

the small sum of C talents of silver, and one of
gold \

But even this arm had not power to ward off
the blow given by the more irresistible one of
Henry VIII ; who, not content with the expul-
sion of its inhabitants, and seizure of the revenues,
directed this noble pile to be levelled with the
ground ; which he did, notwithstanding the earnest
prayers of its bishop, Rowland Lee, one of his
most servile tools. A deed equally wanton and
impious !

The loss is the more to be regretted, as this
cathedral is supposed to have been built on the
model of that of Lichfield, and to have been equally
beautiful. Nothing remains except a fragment,
constituting part of a private house, to be seen
with difficulty, and after some search. The pa-
lace stood between the priory and St. MichaeVs,
and was sold in 1 65 1 , for its materials, to Natha-
niel Lacy and Obadiah Chambers, for the sum of
one hundred guineas. The last prior, Thomas
Camsel, in 1538, was prevaled on to make a sur-
render of the house, either through fear of death
for withstanding the tyrant's pleasure, or through
lucre of 'pension ; for he had not less than

h Dugdak W. i. 158. Goodwin, 78.



COVENTRY: S T - MICHAEL'S CHURCH. 213

-.133. 6s. Sd. annuity, besides other allowances
to the monks f . The site was then granted to
John Combes and Richard Stansjield, after flou-
rishing under monastic government above five
hundred years.

When the cathedral was standing, Coventry
possessed a matchless group of churches, all within
one ccemetery. St. Michael's at present is a spe- St. Mr-
cimen of the most beautiful steeple in Europe : a Church.
tower enriched with saintly figures on the sides ;
an octagon rising out of it, and that lengthened
into a most elegant spire. Every part is so finely
proportioned, that it is no wonder Sir Christopher
Wren spoke of it as a masterpiece of architecture.
The outside is extremely handsome; the inside
light and lofty, consisting of a body and two ailes,
divided by four rows of high and airy pillars and
arches. The height of the steeple and length of
the church are the same, three hundred and three
feet ; the width of the latter a hundred and four.

In king Stephens time, this church was a chapel
to the monks; it became afterwards a vicarage,
and on the dissolution fell to the gift of the crown.
This, Trinity, and St. Johns, form the parishes of
this great city ; so numerous are the dissenters.

Its beautiful steeple was begun in the reign of

* Stevens, i. 223. Willis's Abbeys, i. 72.



214 COVENTRY: TRINITY CHURCH.

Edward III. in 1372, by two brothers, Adam
and William Botener, at their own charges, which
amounted annually to one hundred pounds ; nor
was it finished in less than twenty years. By the
stile of architecture, I agree with Sir William Dug-
dale, that the present body was built in the reign
of Henry VI. Some ornament was also added
to the steeple at the same time. Coventry seems
to have been particularly favored by Henry, or,
to speak more properly of that meek prince, by
the heroine Margaret ; for this city used to be
stiled the secret harbour of that queen.
Trinity Trinity church, and its spire, would be spoken
of as a most beautiful building, was it not eclipsed
by its unfortunate vicinity to St. Michael's. With-
in are two epitaphs, which I give for their singu-
larity. One is on Philemon Holland, the famous
translator. He was schoolmaster and physician
in the city. A wag made this distich on one of
his labors :

Philemon with translations doth so fill us,
He will not let Suetonius be Tranquillus.

He was called translator-general of his age;
acquired much credit by his fidelity, but none
greater than by his translation of Camden, in that
great antiquarian's life-time, and by his consent;
to whose work he made considerable additions.



COVENTRY: CHURCHES. 215

He wrote a great folio with one pen, and, as
he tells us, did not wear it out :

With one sole pen I writ this book,

Made of a grey goose quill :
A pen it was when it I took ;

A pen I leave it still k .

At length (if I may be allowed to pun with
Fuller) death translated this translator to the
other world, in 1636, at the good old age of
eighty-five ; leaving behind this epitaph of his own
composition :

Nemo habet hie, nemo' ? hospes salveto, Philemon
Holland hac recubat rite repostus lmrao :
Si quairas ratio quasnam sit nominis, haec est,
Totus terra fui, terraque totus ero :
At redivivus morte tua servabor, Iesu,
Una fides votis, haec est via sola salutis.
Hac spe fretus ego, culpa poenaque solutus
Jamque renatus, et inde novo conspectus amictu,
Coetu in sanctorum post redimitus ero.
Claudicat incessu senior mea musa, videsne ?
Claudatur capulo mecum simul ipsa, valeto.

Valedictio
Ad liberos et nepotes superstites.
Dantque omnes una. dudum de stirpe creati
Henrice ah ! septem de fratribus une superstes
Orphanici patris Oulielmi nuper adempti
Et mihi (bis puero) nutricis Anna, Maria
Cumque tuis angelis Elizabeta ; valete l .

k Fuller's Worthies, 127, 128. ' Copied from Dugdale.



216 COVENTRY CROSS.

The other, which is in St. MichaeVs church,
commemorates a Captain Gervas Scrope, written,
as the proem tells you, in the agony and dolorous
pains of the gout, soon before his death.

Here lies an old tennis-ball,
Was racketted from spring to fall,
With so much heat and so much haste,
Time's arm for shame grew tir'd at last.
Four kings in camps he truly serv'd,
And from his loyalty ne'er swerv'd.
Father ruin'd, the son slighted,
And from the crown ne'er recruited.
Loss of estate, relations, blood,
Was too well known, but did no good.
With long campaigns, and pains of gout,
He could no longer hold it out.
Always a restless life he led ;
Never at quiet till quite dead.
He married, in his latter days,
One who exceeds the common pAise ; *
But wanting breath still to make known
Her true affection and his own,
Death timely came, all wants supply'd,
By giving rest, which life deny'd.

On leaving these churches, I surveyed with
indignation, such as antiquaries experience, the
Cross, site of the elegant and antient cross, till of late
years such an ornament to the city. I am not
furnished with an apology for the corporation who
destroyed this beautiful building; so must leave



COVENTRY: SAINT MARY HALL. 217

it doubtful, whether the gothic resolution was the
result of want of money, or want of taste. In
169,9, the city paid it such respect, as to expend
t&33 4*. 6d. in its repair 1 ".

It was built, or rather begun, in 1541, to re-
place another cross, taken down some years be-
fore. The founder was Sir William Hollies, lord
mayor of London, and son of Thomas Hollies, of
Stoke near this city, who left by his will two hun-
dred pounds towards the design. The base was
hexangular, finely ornamented with gothic sculp-
ture ; above, rose three stories of most light and
elegant tabernacle-work, lessening to the summit.
In the niches were saints and English monarchs,
from Henry II. to Henry V. and around each
story a variety of pretty figures with flags, with the
arms of England or the rose of Lancaster ex-
pressed on them : and on the summit of the up-
permost plate Justice, and other gracious attri-
butes.

A little south of St. Michaels, stands St. St. Mart

Hall.
Mary Hall, at present used for corporation-as-
semblies. This place was built in the beginning
of the reign of Henry VI : a venerable pile, whose
entrance is beneath a large gateway, over which
are the figures of a king and queen sitting ; pro-

n Dugdale W. i. 146.



218 COVENTRY: SAINT MARY HALL.

bably Henry and his consort Margaret. Within
this building is a fine old room : in the upper end
is a noble semicircular window, divided into nine
parts, elegantly painted with figures of several of
our monarchs, with coats of arms and ornaments,
but now very imperfect : those in the windows on
the one side are lost ; several of those on the other
are entire, and were designed to represent some
of our great nobility, who had honored this hall
with their presence as brothers and sisters of the
gild, for whose use this hall was founded. This
had been the gild of St. Katherine, established by
certain citizens of Coventry, in 1343, by licence
of Edward III ; after which it was united to those
of the Holy Trinity, Our Lady, and St. John the
Baptist.

The illustrious personages represented here,
are William Beauchamp, lord of Abergavenny,
and fourth son to Thomas Earl of Warwick ; and
by him is his countess Joan, daughter of Richard
Earl of Arundel.

Richard Beauchamp Earl of Warwick, and his
second wife Isabella, daughter of Thomas Lord
D'Espencer ; Humphry Earl of Stafford, with a
battle-ax in his hand ; and one of the John Mow-
brays Dukes of Norfolk. All those great men
are dressed with the magnificence and luxury of
the east, in long robes lined with ermine, and with



VERSES IN SAINT MARY HALL. 219

large and singular hoods. These were the gar-
ments of peace, when they passed the festive day
in honor of their fraternity.

Along the walls are ranged a number of Latin
verses, with a sort of Sternhold translation oppo-
site. I shall only give the latter, as Doctor
Stukely has already preserved the former in his
Itinerary.

Edward the floure of chivalre, whilesome the Black Prynce hyghte,
Who prisoner tooke the French king John, in claime of grandames

right ;
And slew the kyng of Brame in field, whereby the ostrich penn
He won, and ware on crest here first; which poesie bare Ich Dien.
Amid their martial feats of arms, wherein he had no peere,
His countie eke to shew this seate he chose and lov'd full deer.
The former state he gat confirmed, and freedom did encrease ;
A president of knyghthood rare, as well for warre as peace.

Since time that first this antient town Earl Leqfrike feoffed free,
At Godines suite and merit strange, or else it could not bee.
In princes grace by long descent, as old recordes do date,
It stood manteind, until at length it grew to cities state.
Quene Isabel, sole heire of Frannce, great favor hither caste,
And did procure large fraunchises by charter ay to last.
We owe, therefore, in loialtie our selves, and all wee have,
To Elizabeth, our ladie liege ; whom God in mercy save.

When florishing state gan once to fade, and commonwealth decay,
No wonder that in cities great ; for what endureth aye ?
John, late Duke of Northumberland", a prince of high degree,
Did graunt faire lands for commons weale, as here in brass you see.

n John Dudley, beheaded in 1553: a character as wicked
as that of his son.



220



COVENTRY: GREY FRIARS.



Drapiers
Hall.



Grey
Friars.



And Leicester mid thos great affairs, whereto high place doth call.
His father's worthy steps hath traced to prop, that his might fall
On forth in prince and countrie's cause hold forth this course your

days:
Such deeds do noble bloud commend, such bring mortal praise.

In the apartments of this building are held the
balls and assemblies of the city. In one of the
drawing-rooms is to be seen, in high preservation,
a piece of antiquity equally delicate and curious ;
an unique, which Coventry alone has the happi-
ness of possessing. Here it is known by the name
of The Lady's Spoon, but is doubtless no other
than the Scaphium of the antients, described by
Ccelius Rhodiginus and Pancirollus, Rerum me-
morabil. deperd."

The front of the Drapiers Hall is very elegant,
ornamented with Tuscan pilasters, and does much
credit to the city. It was lately rebuilt on the
site of the antient hall, founded by certain dra-
piers, whose names have long since perished.

From hence we crossed the city to the Grey
Friars, which stood on the south side. This order
arrived in Coventry before the year 1234, when they
had only an oratory, which was covered with shin-



As quoted by the learned author of The Dialogue on De-
cency, &c. &c. 40, 41. I greatly lament that the citizens of
Coventry, mistaking my panegyric for ridicule, have destroyed
this matchless morsel.



CORPUS CHRISTI PLAYS. 221

gles from Kenelworth wood, by an order of Henry
III. to the sheriff of JVarzvickshire. Both the house
and church, of an order devoted to poverty, were
built by pious alms, on a spot of ground bestowed
on them by the last Randle Earl of Chester, out
of his neighboring manor of Cheylesmor. The
church seems not to have been built till the time
of Edward III. when the Black Prince permitted
the friars to take stone out of his park of Cheyles-
mor for that purpose. A beautiful steeple, with
a spire springing from an octagon, is all that re-



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