W. J. (William John) Loftie.

Rambles in and near London : or, London afternoons online

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and Garner were at work on the reredos, they recom-
mended that the committee should consult Mr. William
Blake Richmond, A.R.A. Mr. Richmond, who has since
become a Royal Academician and a Knight of the Bath,
had made a careful and critical study of the mosaics at
Ravenna, and he recommended that the bold method
of the ancient artists should be adopted rather than the
smoother modern work, such as we see under the dome.
Furthermore, he made the committee an offer so dis-
interested and self-sacrificing that we read of it with
astonishment. He offered to provide suitable designs
and to superintend the work for three years, ending in
1894. " The arrangement," says the present Bishop of
London, " recalls some of the most artistic periods of the
Middle Ages."

Sir William Richmond's scheme was very carefully
thought out, and he specially stipulated that the mosaic
should be made under his own supervision by Messrs.
Powell, of Whitefriars. He worked at it personally,
and, so far as can be judged, has been most successful.
The roof of the choir and of the apse now glows with colour
and gold, great care having been taken not to introduce
proportions which can in any way interfere with those
of the building. The English mosaic has proved to be
exactly what was wanted, and the result is remarkably
satisfactory, fully justifying the confidence reposed by the



WRENS ST. PAUL'S. 185

Dean and Chapter in Sir William's taste and power.
" The brilliancy of the refracting surface of mosaic work,"
says Mr. Gilbertson, " its permanence, its capacity for
bearing cleaning without risk of injury, all mark it out
as the ideal material for the decoration of London
buildings." Sir William has reverted to the ancient way
of placing the cubes which compose his pictures. They
are separately placed in position upon the wall itself, and
are not arranged in the studio and applied in blocks.
This method has enabled the artist to judge of the effect
at every stage. For example, in the case of the head of
the principal Person represented, he re-laid the mosaic
seven times before he obtained the exact character he
required.

The " Authorised Guide," or the " Account," written by
Bishop Winnington Ingram may be consulted for particu-
lars of the design. The figure of our Lord, seated, with
uplifted hands, fills the central panel at the extreme east
end of the church. It is above life-size, but produces no
dwarfing effect, so carefully is the design managed. The
Recording Angels, with their accessories, fill the adjoining
panels, and below in the stained-glass windows we see the
four-and-twenty elders, disposed in three groups of eight
each. The rectangular panels, north and south, have
historical scenes, and represent, among others, Job,
Abraham, Cyrus, and Alexander the Great, together with
the Persian and Delphic sybils, exquisitely drawn and
brilliantly coloured. The small cupolas of the roof and
their pendentives are all works of the highest art in them-
selves pictures, hi fact, worthy of the most careful
examination. The triangular spaces hold herald angels,
somewhat conventionalised, each with an appropriate text
inscribed in black. In the cupolas, designed in such a
way as to increase the apparent height of each dome,



186 LONDON AFTERNOONS.

are the da} ? s of the creation of beasts, fi slips, and birds,
while the rectangular panels represent Adam, Eve,
Melchizedek, and Noah. Mere description fails, and we
may diverge to mention the gorgeous harmony, the golden
glow, the way in which everything has been subordi-
nated to the artist's obvious desire to enhance the size
as well as the beauty of the whole building. As a matter
of minor importance, it may be mentioned here that
anyone who visits St. Paul's, armed with a good glass,
will bo astonished by the exquisite loveliness of the faces
of the angels, and, in particular, of the sybils. The face
of the Persian sybil may be singled out as an example,
in this respect, of the highest pictorial art of our day.



187



CHAPTER XIV.

TWO RIVERSIDE PALACES.

The Savoy Palace and the Hospital The Ohapel Thomas Fuller
His Epitaph His Ministry at the Savoy Follows the
King to Oxford A Royal Chaplain His Last Sermon
Northumberland House The Percys and their Fortunes
The Interior of Northumberland House Its Ugliness and
Inconvenience The Site, and what was done with it.

PEOPLE may pass along the crowded and busy Strand,
some of them for years, without any acquaintance with
the quiet little church, surrounded by green grass and trees,
which hides itself behind the rows of dingy houses. When
the mob under Wat Tyler broke into the Savoy, rich palace
of John of Gaunt, they burnt the greater part of the build-
ings, if not the whole. They may have spared the chapel ;
but if they did, it has not been recorded, and but for the
fact that during the hundred and twenty years in which
the site lay desolate some burials took place here, we
should have nothing to go upon in concluding that any
part of the chapel, in which very probably Wycliffe may
have ministered, still remained. When Henry VIII., in
obedience to the dying commands of his father, rebuilt
the Savoy as a Hospital, he put it on record that he re-
built it from the foundation ; and there is nothing in the
masonry or mouldings of the architecture to lead us to
any conclusion but what this would indicate.



188 LONDON AFTERNOONS.

The chapel was consecrated in or before 1516, but its
history as a London church, strictly speaking, does not
begin until the following reign. Tho Protector Somerset
has been often found fault with for pulling down the church
of St. Mary-le-Strand, but since the congregation took refuge
at the Savoy Chapel, and since this double employment,
both as the chapel of a collegiate foundation and as the
church of a parish, led to its being connected with some
remarkable men and some memorable events, and perhaps
also saved the chapel from utter ruin, those who are
interested in it do not regret the connection. The
parishioners of St. Mary's elected a chaplain for them-
selves, and, by the permission of the Master of the Hospital,
he preached and ministered in this chapel. Some famous
men held the office of Master, and some famous men that
also of chaplain, but of them all no name now stands
out so prominently as that of Thomas Fuller, who held
the chaplaincy in the first year of the reign of Charles II.

As the quaint epitaph on his monument at Cranford
states, he spent his life making others immortal, and
thereby attained immortality himself ; a sentence which
is true of him in a double sense, for though the reference
is there first to his great work, the " Worthies of England,"
it also holds good of the work he performed as a clergy-
man, and especially of that part of his work which was
performed in the Savoy, and among the predecessors of
the congregation which still assembles where he for the last
time preached the gospel of peace.

Born in 1608, Thomas Fuller was in the prime of life
when the great troubles of the Civil War broke upon
his country. He lived one year only after the Restoration,
and died at the comparatively early age of fifty-three.
His career was thus passed among events and trials
sufficient to make most men partisans, and to agitate the



TWO RIVERSIDE PALACES. 189

most even temperaments. But it is Fuller's greatest
praise that, living in the midst of strife, he took no part
in it ; that nothing shook his faith ; that no employment
caused him to deviate from the strict path of duty ; that
the end of his labours was to spread abroad the knowledge
of truth, to comfort the fatherless and the widow, to show
the cheerfulness of an undaunted Christian spirit, and to
make all men know the possibility of moderation, when
passion and prejudice were the ruling powers. What
his faith was may be learnt from the quaint sentence he
has put into one of his epigrams. It refers to his own
name, and is a fair specimen of the solemn play on words
in which he so much delighted. It is headed " A
Prayer" :

" My Soul is stained with a dusty colour
Let thy Son be the sope, I'll be the Fuller."

And elsewhere, speaking of his infirmities being known
to God, he says, most devoutly, " As for other stains and
spots upon my soul, I hope that He (be it spoken without
the least verbal reflection), who is the Puller's sope, Mai.
iii. 2, will scour them forth with His merit, that I may
appear clean by God's mercy." And when asked to make
an epitaph for himself, it is said that he humbly replied/
" Let it be, ' Here lies Fuller's earth.' "

Fuller began his ministrations in the Savoy in the
year 1641, and he remained here at first for three years.
He was in London, therefore, in the most exciting times ;
and his preaching was thought so much of that it was
said he had two congregations, one within the church,
and the other consisting of those who could not get in,
but crowded about the windows and doors to get within
reach of his voice. It is possibly in reference to the hour-
glass in the pulpit here that he says, speaking of another



190 LONDON AFTERNOONS.

preacher, Dr. Holdsworth, that " whereas the London
people honour their pastors for a short hour, his was
measured by a large glass " : a sentence which may well
be applied to his own preaching. He used his influence
not in adding to the violence of party feeling, which then
ran so high, but in endeavouring by all means in his power
to make peace among the contending factions ; and among
the sermons of his which are still extant there is one,
preached here with this aim in December, 1642, just
as the terrible war broke out. He chose for his text
the words, " Blessed are the peacemakers," and said,
" We used to end our sermons with a blessing : Christ
begins His with the beatitudes ; and of the eight my text
is neither the last nor the least." The best work, he says,
is peace-making, and the best wages, that they who make
peace are " blessed." Advocating peace, then, he is care-
ful to be moderate even in this, refusing to ask for peace
at any price, but peace without any sacrifice of truth.
Yet the sword, he says, is the worst way of finding truth,
for " it cannot discern between truth, error, and falsehood ;
it may have two edges, but it hath never an eye."

Toward the middle of 1643, Fuller was forced to fly
from the Savoy. He did so with the utmost regret,
following King Charles to Oxford. His last sermon
preached in this church before his departure is still
extant, and prefixed to it is an epistle " to my dear parish,
St. Mary, Savoy," full of touching allusions to his sorrow
at leaving it, and his hope that peace might at length
return. " The longer," he says, " I see this war, the less
I like it, and the more I loath it. Not so much because
it threatens temporal ruin to our kingdom, as because it
will bring a general spritual hardness of hearts. And
if^this war long continues, we may be affected for the
departure of Charity as the Ephesians were at the going



TWO RIVERSIDE PALACES. 191

away of St. Paul, sorrowing most of all that we shall see
the face thereof no more."

Fuller followed the King's army to the field, and en-
deavoured to do what he could to succour the wounded
and comfort the dying. Another preacher took pos-
session of his pulpit here, and he himself, like many of
the clergy of his time, when the war was over, wandered
from one place to another, patronised by moderate men,
and loved by all. He says : " For the first five years
during our actual civil wars, I had little list or leisure
to write, fearing to be made a history, and shifting daily
for my safety. All that time I could not live to study,
but did only study to live." Yet during this time he
projected and in part composed his works, the " Church
History * and the " Worthies of England " ; the latter,
however, not being finished till just before his death.
In 1645 he came back to the Savoy for a time, but his
own flock was dispersed by the troubles, and it was said of
him, as of his Divine Master, " He came to his own, and
his own received him not." The few who remained
were overawed by the factions which divided London,
and were in daily fear between the Presbyterians and the
Independents. Yet he preferred a London congregation
to any other, for he said that some clergymen wished for a
Lincolnshire church, as best built, and others for a Lan-
cashire parish, as the largest, but he liked a London
audience, as consisting of the most intelligent people.
He did not stay here long, however. He would not give
up the Liturgy, and the penalties for using it were fixed
that very year at 5 for the first offence, 10 for the
second, and a year's imprisonment for the third. He was,
therefore, thrown on his own resources, and his means
were very small, and wholly insufficient for the support
of himself and the education of his son. Brighter days



192 LONDON AFfERNOONS.

were in store, and he was allowed to remain unmolested
as Vicar of Waltham, and afterwards as Rector of Cran
ford .until the Restoration, when we find him again at
the Savoy.

Fuller's second return to the Savoy at the Restoration
was marked by such a welcome as few preachers have ever
been accorded. His sermons, in wlu'ch he had formerly
endeavoured to preserve peace, now that the war was over
were directed to the mitigation of the cruelties of the
party in power. Their influence is mentioned by many
of his contemporaries, and among others by Pepys the
diarist. Witty as all his utterances were, they were always
within bounds. As his biographer says, his wit is all
but invariably allied to wisdom, " and very few would rise
from the perusal of his pulpit utterances with a feeling
that they had been in the company of one who was ir-
reverent or undevout." ^Craik said of him, in his " History
of English Literature," that " there is probably neither
an ill-natured nor a profane witticism in all that Fuller
has written." He was strongly of opinion that sermons
should be short, and in his account of an ideal " Faithful
Minister," he speaks of him as " one who makes not that
wearisome which should ever be welcome " ; adding, in
his quaint way, an anecdote of a certain professor, " who
being to expound the prophet Esay to his auditors, read
twenty-one years on the first chapter, and yet finished
it not."

And now we come to the close. Fuller was made,
without solicitation, a Royal Chaplain, and prepared a
sermon to preach at court. But it was otherwise ordered.
Before the day appointed for its delivery the preacher
had left the pulpit for ever. A greater King had sum-
moned him. On the 12th of August, 1661, being Sunday,
he preached in the Savoy. It was for the last time. He




CHAPEL ROYAL, SAVOY, BEFORE THE FIRE, 1864.
(From a photograph by Poulton, in the possession of Messrs. Stalman & Co.)



TWO RIVERSIDE PALACES. 193

felt unwell, and his friends would have kept him from
making the exertion. But a member of the congregation
was to be married on the following day, Monday, and
Fuller lovingly undertook to wish the wedding couple
well in a special sermon, a good custom which still obtains
in the Savoy. He said he " had often gone into the pulpit
sick, but always came down well, and he hoped he should
do as well now by God's strengthening grace." Before he
began, he told his congregation he felt ill, but by a strong
exertion he got through, and, as his biographer records,
" he very pertinently concluded." A christening was to
have followed, and he would have made an effort to officiate,
but the fever had now taken its hold. He was carried
from the church half fainting, and, being taken to his
lodgings close by, he was put to his bed, and never rose
from it again. So Monday and Tuesday passed, and
on Wednesday he was much worse. He had been in-
sensible, but as his strength abated his senses returned.
Many friends stood round him. He begged them to
pray for him, and joined fervently with them, " recom
mending himself, with all humble thankfulness and sub-
mission, to God's welcome Providence." He would not,
as the last scene drew near, allow anyone to weep. He
begged them to restrain themselves, to refrain from tears,
and spoke of his departure as a translation to a happy
eternity. Though he had before counselled men to make
their wills early in life, " that so, when they came to die,"
they might " have nothing to do but to die," he had made
no will himself, having probably little to leave. And
now he refused to be disturbed by any thought of worldly
affairs. Even the book by which his name has chiefly
lived, and which was still unpublished, he did not speak
of at all. His thoughts were all engaged on the world
to which he was hastening. No regret for the career

N



194 LONDON AFTERNOONS.

which had go lately been re-opened to him no sorrow
for the loss of the bishopric to which he was already
designated nothing but love to those around him, and
hope of the heaven before him. One more night he
lived, and on the morning of Thursday, the 18th, passed
away in peace ; and so, as his biographer says, " The last
view of the faithful minister represents him as assuming,
in place of the lawn of the Prelate, the shining raiment,
exceeding white as snow, so as no fuller on earth can white
it : a whiteness mixed with no shadow ; a light dimmed
with no darkness."

Of all the riverside palaces, Essex, Arundel, Somerset,
the Savoy, Burleigh, Buckingham, and other houses,
Northumberland House survived longest. It was one
of the latest in date, and one of the least beautiful in
architecture, yet most of us were sorry that the designs
for making a new street on its site could not have included
the preservation of the old gate, the oriel above, and the
straight-tailed lion of the Percys over all. No reason,
except that destructive passion which seizes all public
boards, such as cathedral chapters, parochial vestries,
municipal councils and offices of works, at intervals, was
assigned for their removal, and it cannot truthfully be
asserted that anything beautiful has been placed on the
site.

If ever a building could be said to have put its best
foot first, it was this. The centre of the Strand front,
and the turrets at either end, were all that was beautiful
or interesting in the whole house. After them, any
enthusiasm which might have been felt for its preserva-
tion had to depend on the historical, sentimental, and
archaeological associations of the place, though they are
but meagre. , The fact that Northumberland House is



TWO RIVERSIDE PALACES. 195

the last of a row of palaces which once began at Baynard's
Castle, in the City, and ended at Westminster Hall, gave
it a claim to our regard. Within the walls one or two
remarkable events took place, and General Monk here
held some of his meetings with the Royalists before the
restoration of Charles II. And the plan, which was of
the type known in France as entre cour et jardin, became
almost extinct among us with the demolition of the building.
It would not be easy to say any more than this in its favour.
It was as ugly, as inconvenient, and probably as uncom-
fortable a family residence as any hi London. Many
people were by no means convinced of the expediency of
removing it ; and it may be thought that the public did
not gain materially by the sacrifice. It must be remem-
bered that not only did we take away a relic of antiquity
with a fair amount of historical interest attaching to it,
but we did so at the expense of half a million of money ;
and no very commendable design for utilising the site
acquired at such an expense both of feeling and of cash
was substituted.

There is little to tell about the history of the building.
Only the street front towards the Strand bore any traces
of the work of Bernard Janson or Gerard Christmas,
and even this was altered and not improved. It had
over the oriel the initials and badges of Algernon Seymour,
who was Duke of Somerset for fourteen months, from
1748 to 1750, and who had inherited the representation
of the Percys on the death of his mother some five-and-
twenty years before. His daughter, Lady Elizabeth
Smithson, carried on the reparation and alteration of the
house in conjunction with her husband, who was the
first Duke of Northumberland of the present family.
In their time probably the corner turrets were lowered
to the height they had before the demolition. Towards



196 LONDON AFTERNOONS.

the end of the eighteenth century any marks of antiquity
remaining were carefully wiped off the exterior, and a fire
a few years later completed the transformation of the
interior.

The side next the Strand had originally an open-
work parapet, formed of the letters of a motto, probably
that of the busy and scheming Henry Howard, Surrey's
second son, who was Earl of Northampton during ten
years before 1614, and who built the house. A letter
fell down in 1619, during the passage of the funeral of
Queen Anne of Denmark from Somerset House, and killed
a bystander, for which reason the other letters were re-
moved. At least, so runs the story, with the impossible
addition that it was the letter S from Espdrance en Dieu ;
how the Percy motto came on the parapet more than
twenty years before the Percys themselves came into the
house, we are not informed. In fact, to judge from a letter
quoted in a Report of the Historical Manuscripts Com-
mission, the family had no town house at this time, for
one of them writes in 1623 to Lord Middlesex to excuse
himself from calling on him, because he has no house
nearer town than Syon. There is some difficulty, too,
in the received accounts of the descent of Northampton
House, first to Suffolk and then to Northumberland.
Mr. Craik expressly states that the Earl who built it gave
it as a New Year's gift to his grandnephew, the second
Earl of Suffolk ; but it is not easy to believe that North-
ampton did anything so generous except for a consideration.
Lord Suffolk again gave it away. Perhaps it was a kind
of white elephant. It must have always been expensive
to keep up. But Suffolk's son-in-law was well able to
make use of the gift. From his time it is identified with
the fortunes of the Percys, and during the Commonwealth
and afterwards was the scene of many of those dubious




NORTHUMBERLAND HOUSE, CHARING CROSS.
(From Malton's Print, 7795.)



TWO RIVERSIDE PALACES 197

but apparently successful efforts which the tenth Earl
made for keeping himself in power under any form
of government. His granddaughter, the wife of the
" Proud " Duke of Somerset, and the favourite of Queen
Anne, is immortalised as much by Swift's hatred as by
her strange history and great possessions. It was when
the Irish Dean lampooned her for her red hair, warning
England to beware of carrots from Northumberland,
and accusing the Duchess of complicity in the murder
of her second husband, the victim of Kb'nigsmark, that
he cut himself off for ever from all chances of a^seat on
the bench of Bishops.

Northumberland House must have been singularly
unsuited to the requirements of family life at the present
day. The street front was practically separated from
the rest of the house, and contained at least two uncon-
nected residences. The rest of the house resembled an H
in plan. The cross-bar was formed by an entrance-hall
or corridor, with some reception rooms towards the garden.
This was said to have been originally built by Inigo Jones,
but it retained no traces of his handiwork. Two wings
at the back partly enclosed the garden, that on the west
containing a great gallery upwards of a hundred feet
in length, but badly lighted ; the east wing consisted
only of offices. There was a low wall beyond the garden
towards the Embankment, but the view over the river
was neither extensive nor attractive, its chief feature being
the dome of Bedlam, which rose conspicuously in the
background, flanked by tall chimneys. Bedlam, by the
way, has travelled nearly all round Charing Cross. It
stood three centuries ago near the site of the present
National Gallery, whence it migrated to Bishopsgate, and
at last went across the river and settled clown exactly
opposite its original station.



198 LONDON AFTERNOONS.

The garden of Northumberland House, owing to the
slope of the ground, was at a much lower level than the
Strand front, and had the cheerful and verdant appearance
of other London gardens where the grass has grown long
and rank, and only half covers the naked clay below, while
the trees were miserably stunted and black with smoke.


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Online LibraryW. J. (William John) LoftieRambles in and near London : or, London afternoons → online text (page 15 of 23)