W. J. (William John) Loftie.

Rambles in and near London : or, London afternoons online

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Yet we know that access could be had from the Templars'
tilt yard into the " City " by various ways, as numerous,
probably, as they are now, between Carey Street and
Chancery Lane. The ground, Fickett's Field, or Little
Lincoln's Inn Field, as it was called, on which the religious
knights took their diversion, is now covered by the New
Law Courts and that part of Lincoln's Inn which was known
aa Searle's Court. Here long stood a pillar attributed to



TEMPLE BAR. 117

Inigo Jones, and a fountain. Among the thirty-three
streets and courts pulled down there was a Shire Lane,
whose very name is interesting, marking as it did the
exact boundary between what was then the County of
Middlesex and the City of London. The name had,
however, for some years been lost in that of Searle's Place ;
but Stow, who says it " divideth the cittie from the shire,"
adds that it adjoins Temple Bar ; and this is all the
mention he accords to the " gate." He stumbles over the
name of Fetter Lane, which shows us where some of
the armourers made rests, or feutres, for the lances of
the knights in the adjoining tilting ground.

Shortly after Stow's time a wooden building, some-
what like a toll-house, was placed across the narrow
street, and on its removal hi a ruinous state the archway
of stone was made by Wren, and adorned with statues
of the two Kings Charles, and of King James I. and
Queen Anne of Denmark, by Bushnell. It was worth
preserving, and everyone is glad to hear of its re-erection
at Theobald's Park, near Waltham Cross, though a place
on the Embankment at the gate of the Temple Gardens,
for instance would have been preferable. It was designed
for a City site, and is to some extent literally out of place
in the country, though it looks well, surrounded with fine
old oak trees, in its new home.

Street, the architect, in one of his earlier designs for
the Law Courts, proposed a kind of Eialto reaching
from the new buildings into the Temple, and affording
the lawyers a safe conduct over Fleet Street. It
would have been a very picturesque feature in the view,
and would have commemorated Temple Bar very worthily.
But other counsels prevailed, and it is impossible to feel
much regret that the noble street is uninterrupted
forming as it does a much more imposing entrance to



118 LONDON AFTERNOONS.

the greatest city in the world than any archway, short
of an edifice equalling the Arc de 1'Etoile itself, could do.
As a memorial, and as a boundary stone, Sir Horace Jones's
refuge in the centre of the carriage way is perfectly effectual.
There can be no hesitation as to the true site of the " bar
of the new Temple," and, historically speaking, a mere
monument is more appropriate to the site than a mock
gateway. At first it can have been only a toll-bar.
The removal of the " Gate " is of the nature of a
" restoration," as restoration is understood nowadays.

Although the Middle and Inner Temples are within
the Bar, it is a question which has often occurred whether
they are in the jurisdiction of the Lord Mayor. No
settlement has ever been arrived at ; one or two Mayors
have been mobbed for driving into the Temple with the
State Sword held erect. If we remember that when
the Templars removed from their house in Holborn,
and came to the wider site by the river's edge, in 1118,
the suburb of Fleet Street had not yet been made, it is
quite intelligible that their house was never reckoned
in the City. When they built it a marsh and a tidal
estuary were between them and Ludgate, and to get
within the wall it was necessary to go up " Show Well
Lane," now Shoe Lane, through a newly built street
on the high ground round the church of St. Andrew.
When the " Friars Preachers " came to England, in 1221,
they first made good their footing on this hill, and gradually
pieced together a little estate, which, when they removed
in 1276, like the Templars, to a riverside site, they sold
to the Earl of Lincoln. Thus, bit by bit, the ground
was occupied on the north side of Fleet Street. Then,
between the Black Friars and the Templars, the inter-
vening riverside site was taken by the White, or Carmelite
Friars ; and so the chain of houses, on both sides of



TEMPLE BAR. 119

Fleet Street, was completed, from the outlying village on
the hill, crowned by St. Clement Danes, to the bottom
of the valley, over which the towers of the postern at
Ludgate looked out.

It is not so difficult to picture the state of the " suburb "
at that time if we remember the fluctuations of level which
are still encountered between Temple Bar and Ludgate
Circus. Opposite Chancery Lane the roadway is thirty-
eight feet above high-water mark, but only 20 feet at
St. Bride's, and fifteen feet where it crosses Bridge Street.
There is a depression also just outside Temple Bar, a de-
pression probably marking the place where a little brook
once ran, of which Milford Lane recalls the memory.
A brook and a mill and a ford would look strangely out
of place there now, but the names preserve them as matters
of history ; just as the City still pays rent for a certain
tenement called the Forge, probably burnt by Wat Tyler,
which stood over against Milford Lane, and was the
armourer's shop a natural adjunct when the knights
tilted in Fickett's Field. One ingenious writer has sup-
posed that Milford Lane marks a ford over the Thames,
while another cites a discovery of mediaeval pottery in
Chancery Lane as a sign that Fleet Street was occupied
by the Romans. It is somewhat strange that so many
books have been written about Old London, and that
so few writers have followed the good example of Stow,
who both made up as far as he could the early records
and also walked over the ground.

In many books about Temple Bar there is not so much
as a single mention of the Outer Temple. It would stand
to reason, we might suppose, prior to experience, that,
if there is a Middle Temple, and if there is an Inner Temple,
there must have been an Outer one. It was not given
to the lawyers, but was occupied first by a Bishop, and



120 LONDON AFTERNOONS.

afterwards by a line of Earls, one of whom, Essex, was
here besieged after his abortive rebellion towards the
close of Elizabeth's reign, lint perhaps the most im-
portant fact in the history of the Outer Temple is that
the first streets and lanes on its site were those built by
Dr. Nicholas Barbon, or Bare bone, the son of the too
famous IVaise-dod Barebone, M.P., and nephew of If-
Christ-had-not-<lied-for-thee-thoii-hadst-been-danined Bare-
bone, a man bast known to his contemporaries at Cambridge
as " Damned Barebone." The family was of French,
probably Huguenot, descent. Wren built Dr. Barebone
a house in Crane Court, a few doors east of Fetter Lane,
and in 1710 it was purchased by the Royal Society, who
held their meetings in it until they removed to Somerset
House in 1780. The house was destroyed by fire in 1877.
The western boundary of the Outer Temple must be
sought in Essex Street, which with Devereux Court and
some other local names still commemorates " Queen Eliza-
beth's earl," beheaded within the Tower on Ash Wednesday,
the 25th of February, 1601.




INNER TEMPLE IN 1796.
(From the Print by Malton.)



121



CHAPTER XI.

THE OLDER CITY CHUBCHES.

Churches Built before 1666 Churches since Destroyed
Parochial Divisions St. Bartholomew's and Its Founder,
Rahere The Church as it was in the Fifteenth Century
Prior Bolton: His Pun and His Window The Monuments
in the Church St. Giles's, Cripplegate Its Churchyard
The Parish Guest House The Monuments St. Helen's,
Bishopsgate : " The Westminster Abbey of the City " Crosby
Hall St. Ethelburga's St. Andrew Undershaf t St.
Katharine Cree Where did Holbein Die? Allhallows,
Barking St. Olave's, Hart Street Pepys A Curious
Relic.

THE whole number of City churches older than 1666 is
exceedingly small. At present, placing them alpha-
betically, they are Allhallows, Barking ; St. Andrew
Undershaft ; St. Bartholomew the Great ; St. Ethelburga ;
St. Giles, Cripplegate ; St. Helen ; St. Katharine Cree ;
and St. Olave, Hart Street. In addition to these, which
may be reckoned parish churches, there is the Dutch
church, the old chapel of the Austin Friars, which has
been so ruthlessly " restored " as to have practically lost
its interest. If Ely Place is not outside the City boundary,
another fine example of the old Pointed style may be
found in the Roman Catholic chapel of St. Etheldreda,
which, in spite of some very obvious, therefore not very
hurtful, novelties, has been carefully and reverently



122 LONDON AFTERNOONS.

restored, in the less invidious sense of that misused term.
The porch and some other parts of St. Sepulchre's, and
the lower part of the tower of St. Mary Aldermary, are
also ancient.

Though these are all the Gothic churches that survive
the Great Fire, five others, now rebuilt or pulled down,
were spared by the flames. First there is St. Bar-
tholomew the Less, which is really the hospital chapel,
as the hospital is a parish in itself, and was partly rebuilt
by Dance in what he considered a Gothic style in 1789 ;
further altered by Hardwicke in 1823 ; and finally, a
few years ago, renewed and redecorated in a very fair if
somewhat unpicturesque and stiff manner. Next we
have St. Katharine Coleman, which is close to Fenchurch
Street Station, and, notwithstanding the unanimous oppo-
sition of a large resident population, has been condemned
to be destroyed. It was built on the site of a semi-ruinous
old church in 1734, and cannot be admired. In St.
Peter-le-Poor, in Broad Street, we have a much more
favourable example of the style which was in vogue in 1791,
when, the old church having become dangerous, a new
one was erected by Gibson. St. Andrew, Holborn, was
rebuilt by Wren, with the exception of part of the tower.

Yet a third category remains to be noticed. Of the
churches spared by the Fire and destroyed hi our own day
the most remarkable was Allhallows Staining, in Mark
Lane. Of this curiously patched and interesting little
church the tower still remains behind the houses ; but
St. Martin Outwich was utterly destroyed in 1877, and
the monuments it contained were removed to St. Helen's.
It was, in its last years, a singular example of architectural
taste. It was designed by Cockerell, and to use the words
of Godwin and Britton, writing in 1839, it was " exceedingly
heavy and ugly, and would not be readily recognised as



THE OLDER CITY CHURCHES. 123

a church by casual observers." It would be no great
loss, if its place had not been taken by a still uglier building.
In St. Michael, Wood Street, destroyed a very few years
ago, there were considerable remains of a mediaeval church.
It adds to our regret when a building of Wren's is re-
moved that it is invariably succeeded by something which
cannot be described as worthy of the City. I need only
mention the bank which has succeeded St. Michael's, or
the shops which now disfigure the ground once occupied
by a masterpiece the tower of St. Antholin, Watling
Street.

One other old City church is well known, St. Peter
ad Vincula. It seems to have been the parish church
of the district which Henry in. included hi his curtain
wall, but was in existence and is mentioned in documents
much earlier as " apud Turrim."

When was the City divided into parishes ? On another
page (72) I have spoken of the great church building
age which followed the Great Fire of 1136. Before that
time there is evidence of the existence of a very small
number of churches. There are several theories on the
subject of parochial divisions which need not delay us
here, further than to notice one which affords us a clue
to go by a clue, however, which does not guide us very
far. According to it the early divisions were of the
simplest character. The east end, within as well as
without the wall, formed the parish of Allhallows, the
church of which may have been Allhallows Stepney,
(afterwards dedicated to St. Dunstan), or Allhallows,
Barking, in Tower Street, or All Hallows Staining, in Mark
Lane. The centre of the City was St. Mary's on both sides
of the Wall brook, and included the Cheap, or market-place,
the parish church being still distinguished as St. Mary
" Aldermary." The whole west end was under St. Paul's,



124 LONDON AFTERNOONS.

and may or may not have been a parish of that name.
Even before the time of Alfred there had been encroach-
ments on this simple arrangement. St. Alban's, in Wood
Street, marks the site of the royal burgh, bury, or palace,
and was given to his great abl>ey at St. Albans by Offa.
Whether this church with its parish was then made, or
whether, as Maitland conjectures, it was not till the time
of Alfred, St. Alban's, Wood Street, remains the oldest
parochial division, besides the three mentioned above,
about which we have even conjecture worthy of notice.
It has been assumed that the great St. Erkenwald, who
is said to be commemorated in Bishopsgate, built St.
Ethelburga's Church close to the gate as a monument
to the piety of a lady of the royal family of Sebert, the
first Christian King of Essex. We shall have occasion to
notice this church more at large. Another church which
may be connected with this period, but which much more
likely belongs to that of Alfred, is St. Osyth's, now St.
Benet Sherehog. The old name survives in " Size Lane,"
and the odd name of Sherehog commemorates a citizen
named William Serehog, who was living in the year
1122, and probably rebuilt and rededicated the church of
St. Osyth.

With these exceptions, if they are exceptions, most
London churches belong to a period later than the
Conquest, and are evidence of the rapid increase in
wealth of the " barons " of the City, each one of whom,
when he had made for himself an estate, desired for
it a separate church ; and to this we may ascribe
confidently, first, the very small size of the churches
and parishes ; and, secondly, the number of personal
names used to distinguish the various dedications.
Though Allhallows and St. Mary " Staining " may be
references to the rare use of stone in building, as



THE OLDER CITY CHURCHES. 125

St. Mary " le Bow " is to the use of arches, though St.
Mary "Woolnoth" and St. Mary " Woolchurch Haw"
refer to the woollen hithe and market, as St. Mary Bothaw
refers to a little harbour on the Wall brook, yet in such
names as St. Martin Orgar, St. John Zachary, St.
Katharine Coleman, St. Martin Outwich, St. Benet Fink
now commemorated by Finch Lane St. Nicholas Aeon,
St. Andrew"Hubbard, St. Laurence Pountney, St. Margaret
Moses, St. Margaret Lothbury, St. Mary Montalt or
Mounthaw, St. Nicholas Olave, and othei-s, we have the
founder or rebuilder indicated, and can, in a majority
of cases, ascertain when he lived.

It was in the eleventh century and the beginning of
the twelfth that church-building activity was at its height.
The cathedral of St. Paul ceased to be used by the
parishioners, for whom the dean and chapter provided
St. Faith's, St. Gregory's, and other small and compara-
tively late churches. They likewise accepted from various
citizens the charge of new churches. Orgar, probably
a goldsmith, near the beginning of the twelfth century,
gave them two, St. Martin Orgar and St. Botolph
Billingsgate. A priest named Daniel gave them St.
Edmund the King, in Lombard Street, on condition that
his son Ismael should have the living after him. Eobert,
the son of Ralph, the son of Herlewin, gave them St.
Michael-le-Querne, which stood in the corn market where
Sir Eobert Peel's statue is now. It would be tedious to
go through all the list.

We must remember that, owing to a variety of causes,
the old City churches were probably little better than
wooden sheds. A stone church was something remarkable.
The Norman arches under St. Mary-le-Bow, in Cheapside,
are still visible to the curious who obtain permission to
visit the vaults. But of all the relics of this period the



126 LONDON AFTERNOONS.

noblest in the Gity is St. Bartholomew the Great. The
story of its founder, Rahere, has been often told. He may
have been a professional jester at the Court of Henry I.,
or may, as the late Mr. Walcott thought, have been the
same Rahere who was a companion of Hereward, and
who " rescued four innocent persons from Norman execu-
tioners, who, owing to his ingenious disguise, mistook
him for a heron, an honourable nickname which continued
to cling to hun through life." This curious and puzzling
passage I have extracted from a broad-sheet published
by the vicar, with a very pretty view of the churchyard
on the first page. It is part of a paper contributed to a
magazine by the late Precentor Walcott in 1864. If any
of my readers have studied ecclesiastical archaeology they
will know how cautiously we should accept Mr. Walcott's
authority ; and indeed this very paper contains a passage
calculated to shake our belief in it, for in speaking of
Smithfield as the scene of Wat Tyler's death he says, " here
Sir W. Walworth won the distinctive dagger which figures
in the City arms." As there is no dagger in the City
arms, though possibly Mr. Walcott thought the sword of
St. Paul was a dagger, this statement is not calculated to
reassure us.

However, we may follow Mr. Walcott's account of
St. Bartholomew's and its founder in certain particulars.
Rahere " is said to have led a sinful life as a young man
at Court : on his earnest repentance he went upon a pil-
grimage to Rome ; and on his return, in a dream he saw
St. Bartholomew direct him to found a church in his name
on the present site." This is the received account. There
is reason, however, to believe that either on this site or
that of St. Bartholomew the Less a parish church already
stood, and an early tradition, which indeed Mr. Walcott
mentions (and of which full particulars may be found in



THE OLDER CITY CHURCHES. 127

Malcolm's * Londinum Kedivivum "), connects with it
the name of Edward the Confessor. How far Kahere was
concerned with the hospital I do not know, but probably
at first the interests of the priory and the hospital were
more intimately connected than they afterwards became.
As their separate wealth increased, their independence
increased, and latterly the prior had little to do with the
hospital except to control the election of a master. Mean-
while the parishioners used an aisle of the nave of the
canons' church, and at the Dissolution received the choir
itself instead of their former place of worship, which had
become ruinous. The hospital shared the fate of the
priory, but towards the end of the life of Henry VIII. it
was re-granted to the citizens, and became what it still is.
The hospital chapel became the church of a parish which
comprises only the hospital itself within its boundaries.

The modern visitor has to exercise what may be called
his " historical imagination " if he would picture to himself
St. Bartholomew the Great in the fifteenth century. He
stands facing the narrow Early English archway, which
now admits him to the churchyard, and which before the
Dissolution would have admitted him to the south aisle
of the nave. Facing him there would have been probably
three tall gables of the same style* To his right a narrow
street, Duck Lane (now Duke Street), flanked on one side
by the hospital wall and on the other by the conventual
buildings, would have run up to the City wall. Behind
him would be the wide, grassless expanse of Smithfield,
decorated near its further margin with an old gibbet or
two, and close by, opposite the main entrance of the nave,
with a tall, half-charred post and chain, surrounded,
according to the season, with white wood ashes or with
black mud. Of the buildings forming the square on the
west and north sides, none would be tall enough to hide



128 LONDON AFTERNOONS.

the view of the Charterhouse beyond, and, still further
in the background, the nunnery of Clerkenwell and the
great house, a small town in itself, of the Hospitallers of
the order of St. John. Far away on the green wooded
hills in the distance, beyond the river Fleet and the Hole-
burn, would have been the tower recently built by Prior
Bolton to mark conspicuously his country house at Canon-
bury ; the tower is standing yet (p. 234).

Prior Bolton put the same punning device, of which
he was evidently very proud, on the side of his tower
and on the front of his oriel window within the church.
There is a similar window in Westminster Abbey, near
the western end. It is of dark oak, and may be approached
from what is now the Deanery ; and from it, without
leaving his own chambers, the Lord Abbot could see mass
performed below him in what is now the baptistery.
Prior Bolton's window at St. Bartholomew's is more
ambitious. It is of stone, and looks into the choir of the
church, tilling up one of the old Norman triforium arches.
The prior's house from which it opened is gone, but the
window serves to identify its site for us. On a panel in
front is carved the " Bolt in Tun," an arrow transfixing
a barrel, which I mentioned above. There was another
prior after Bolton Trafford, who surrendered the house
to Henry's commissioners, and the site was granted to
Sir Richard (afterwards Lord) Rich, the ancastor of the
Earls of Holland. The advowson of the church con-
tinued in the hands of his descendants until a compara-
tively recent period, but now belongs to a private gentle-
man. Queen Mary for a short time interrupted Rich's
tenure by giving the house to the returned Black Friars,
but their occupation did not last long ; and Rich, to make
sure and stablish his position, took out a new grant from
Queen Elizabeth. It was under his auspices, no doubt,



THE OLDER CITY CHURCHES. 129

that the nave and the parish church were pulled down ;
and even the choir, which he left to the parishioners,
was intruded upon. A warehouse or something of the
kind long occupied the east end of the triforium, and
necessitated the use of iron pillars on either side of the
communion table.

The tomb of Rahere bears the impress of Prior Bolton's
hand, being in a style many centuries later than that of
the massive Norman piers and arches which surround
it. To see these well and judge of their picturesque effect,
it will be necessary to walk round behind the altar, where
an arrangement will be found of which the only parallel
now remaining in London is that afforded by the chapel
of St. John in the Tower. St. Bartholomew's, being on
a much larger scale and of a slightly later period, is finer,
except for the destruction (now repaired) of a part of the
vaulting by the intrusion above mentioned.

There are several fine monuments of a later date than
that of Rahere. The largest is in the south aisle, and is
a very typical example of the style in vogue in the reign
of Queen Elizabeth. Sir Walter Mildmay, whom it
commemorates, was her Chancellor of the Exchequer.
There is a very singular but powerful piece of sculpture,
placed too high up to be seen well, as a memorial of Percival
Smallpace and Agnes Tebowld, his wife. It is dated
1588, one year before Mildmay 's monument, and consists
of the busts of the old couple : he with a double-pointed
beard, and she with a goodly and imposing ruff.

The south transept remained roofless and ruined
until the end of the nineteenth century, but it is now
very cleverly " restored." The old walls with their Nor-
man arches are gone. The present tower was built in
1628. Part of the cloister was long occupied as a stable.
" Can London," asks Malcolm, " boast such another stable ?
j



130 LONDON AFTERNOONS.

I hope not ! " And he adds, writing in 1802, " Mr.
Wheeler keeps his cloister stable roof as clean as whitewash
will make it, and is very obliging." The cloister, I have
to note, was destroyed in 1833.

When Rahere had succeeded in founding and peopling
his monastery, " he joined to him a certain old man,
Alfune by name, to whom was sad age and sadness of age,
with experience of long time. This same old man not
long before had builded the church of St. Giles at the gate
of the City that in the English tongue is called Cripplegate,
and that good work happily he had ended." So says the
writer of a curious manuscript life of Rahere (Cott. MSS.,
Vesp. B ix.) from which Malcolm givessome long extracts.
There are few parish churches in London of which the
history is so complete as is that of St. Giles, Cripplegate.
Alfune built it during the lifetime of Rahere, but it may
well be considerably older than St. Bartholomew's, for
the priory was founded in 1102, according to most


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Online LibraryW. J. (William John) LoftieRambles in and near London : or, London afternoons → online text (page 10 of 23)