W. J. (William John) Loftie.

Rambles in and near London : or, London afternoons online

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case in the barest way thus : A number of gentlemen of
great wealth and great respectability have agreed to com-
bine and form themselves into, a kind of club. They have
obtained leave to hold lands and accept legacies. Old
members have made them trustees of money and estates
for charitable purposes, and these, at great trouble and
expense to themselves, they administer for the public
advantage. Not losing sight of the invariable practice
in England of, so to speak, hallowing any serious under-
taking with a dinner, they keep an excellent cook, have
an old cellar of wine, and give a great deal of employment
to waiters and other estimable people, in addition to the
army of clerks who look after the trust funds, estates,
and charities. These gentlemen have a perfect right to
meet, and when they meet to dine, if they can pay for it.
The 100,000 a year they are said to spend in hospitality
comes from three sources : it is partly a voluntary subscrip-
tion, it is partly corporate money, and it is partly money
specially left for the purpose by the same testators who
have bequeathed the trust funds for charitable purposes.
The Company exists for the purpose, among other
things, of dining. All the funds would be diminished
if the dinners were omitted, and only a very small sum,
if any, would be saved. The diners are the Company.
It is chiefly at the dinner table that they meet and discuss

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or broach or contribute to those magnificent charities for
which they are notable.

These dinners are themselves relics of a most remote
antiquity. The first item in the history of the long-
extinct Guilds was the name of the saint on whose day
they dined. It is the same with the Companies, and, as
might be supposed, all that is curious and quaint about
them seems to culminate in the dinner. First, there
is the Hall with its portraits and its solid old furniture,
and the parcel-gilt cups and beakers gifts and bequests
of old members. Pepys gave a cup and cover to the
Cloth workers in 1677, and they use it still. The Skinners
treasure five silver-gilt cups in the form of fighting-cocks,
each standing on a tortoise, the bequest of William
Cockayne in 1598. The Merchant Taylors possess a pair
of grand silver tankards with a text hi Latin, " Naked,
and ye clothed me." The Milkmaid Cup of the Vintners
is famous, and dates from 1568. The Barber-Surgeons
received a Koyal Oak Cup from Charles II. In short,
the number and beauty of these ornaments of the dinner
table scattered among the London Companies are marvel-
lous. The most singular cup is perhaps that of the Mercers.
It is Gothic, or at least Tudor, in style. The arms of
the Company represent a " Demi- Virgin " with her hair
dishevelled, and the cup is covered all over with a
fretwork enclosing, at intervals, representations of the
maiden's head. But the top of the cover is the most
curious part of the composition ; it consists of a hexagonal
boss, richly ornamented, on which is seated the figure of
a maiden, with a unicorn reposing its head in her lap.
This cup dates from before the reign of Queen Elizabeth,
which began in November, 1553, so that the popular idea
mentioned above that the Mercers' arms represent the
Queen is erroneous. There cannot be any doubt that the


Virgin Mary is intended. At Mercers' processions and
feasts, down to 1686, there was always present " a young
and beautiful gentlewoman " who, with hair dishevelled,
sat on a lofty chariot, drawn by nine white Flandei's
horses. She was attired in silk, covered with jewels, and
wore a coronet of gold on her head. This " fair one with
the golden locks " also sat at the banquet, at a table by
herself, where she had nothing to do but to eat her
dinner and look pretty . They " remunerated her assiduity
with a pecuniary consideration," and she took her dress
and her jewels as a perquisite.




Little Fragments of a Great Place Age of the Castle The Earl
of Cornwall Memories of the Castle Richard, King of the
Romans Abbot John of Berkhampstead The Black Prince
at Berkliarnpstead " Proud Cis " Lord Falkland Decay of
the Castle The Church Dean Incent Birthplace of William

TRAVELLERS from London on the North- Western Railway
may observe, after emerging from great cuttings and a
tunnel, and passing Boxmoor, a thick wood on the right
of the line and facing the long straggling town which
occupies a slope on the left. The town is Berkhampstead,
or as it is sometimes spelt, Berkhamsted ; indeed, some
fifty other ways of spelling the name are given in Mr.
Cobb's " History and Antiquities of Berkhamsted." Just
before we pass the railway station, twenty-six miles from
London and five from Tring, two fragments of a double
wall standing parallel to each other near the edge of the
wood catch the eye for a moment. In another moment
the wood is out of sight, and the open country, pleasantly
undulating, extends to a distant horizon on both sides.
But those two little fragments of flint masonry have a
history worth pausing over. They have their place
even in the history of the nation. To keep the passage
between them was once a charge worthy of the greatest


subject in the realm. Through the gateway whose place
they mark, in peace or war many a noble procession has
passed. They admitted in turn John of England and
Louis of France ; John of France and Richard King of the
Romans. Here the Black Prince lived, and here, in the
days of his son, Chaucer was clerk of the works. Froissart
was here with the Queen in 1361, and probably again in
1394, with Richard II.

But all the glory is now departed ; except the site
little is left, and it looks to-day probably much as it did
when, in 1087, Robert of Mortaigne came at the Con-
queror's bidding to build the castle. The earthworks
and the mound were there then as they are now, but
hardly anything besides, unless some wooden sheds for the
shelter of the soldiers. At what date the mound was made,
and the ditches were first opened, it is not possible to say.
When the Conqueror came they were there, and his coming
is perhaps the first authentic event in the history of Berk-
hampstead, unless we accept it as the scene of St. Brith-
wald's Council in 697, and not rather Bearsted near
Maidstone, or Brasted near Sevenoaks. But if authentic
history is silent, tradition is not. St. Paul was here when
he had journeyed into Spain, and, according to the same
authority, he signalised his visit by an act of exorcism
similar to that, some three centuries later, performed by
St. Patrick in Ireland. Both serpents and lightning
have visited the parish since, and seem to regard the
exorcism from the sceptical point of view which is now
generally considered appropriate to the pleasant fables of
local tradition. We only know that before the Conquest,
Berkhampstead was a place of importance perhaps on
account of its military position and because it was one
link of a complete chain of fortresses which surrounded
and guarded the valley of the Thames. Though it had

(From a Print by B/ore, 1815.


previously been inhabited, and possibly strengthened by
the Kings of Mercia, and afterwards .by the successors
of Alfred, it owes its first regular fortification to William,
whose military genius recognised it as one of the series
of which Rochester, Guildford, Farnham, Windsor, and
Wallingford were the other members.

William was here before he reached London, and,
as we have seen, he probably found here already the cone
on which the keep of his castle was to rise, as similar cones
had been found and turned to account at four out of five
of the other places. In some respects the Berkhampstead
keep may have resembled that of Windsor, being sur-
rounded by a moat of its own, partly within the moat of
the whole fortress and partly conterminous with it. The
mound was used to support a hollow shell of masonry,
as at Cardiff, but only the saucer-like configuration of
the summit now remains to indicate its existence. And
all the rest of the buildings which made up the Castle
have shared the fate of the keep. There was once a
chapel near the foot of the mound, one of three with which
the Castle was sanctified. Of it there remain only some
fragments of brass-work, discovered lately on the site.
The two decaying walls near the railway station are all
that is left of the entrance gateway, and a key dug up
when the road was made is all that is tangible of the
gate itself.

Whether the builder of Berkhampstead Castle was ever
Earl of Cornwall is more a matter of nomenclature than
of actual historical question ; but it is certain that from
his time the Castle has followed the fortunes of the Earls
and Dukes of Cornwall. The Duke of Cornwall and
York is its present inheritor. To the first duke, better
known as the Black Prince, it was a favourite residence ;
here, in 1361, he took his last leave of his mother, when


Froissart was told of the prophecy of Merlin that the
crown would never rest on the head of Edward or of the
next prince, Lionel, but descend to the son of the third
brother John. While living at Berkhampstead, before
the sad days which closed his father's glorious reign, he
fell ill, and when but half recovered set out from here
to meet the Parliament at Westminster, only a few days
before his death. Of older memories than these the
Castle has no lack. We may choose between such names
as those of the FitzPiers and the Mandevilles, Lords of
Berkhampstead ; of Thomas Becket, sometime its cus-
todian ; of King John, who granted the town its first
charter ; of Louis of France, his siege of the Castle, and
the fruitless bravery displayed by the defenders ; but
the two most interesting names in the list of its occupants
are perhaps those of Richard King of the Romans and
of Cicely Duchess of York.

Richard seems to have been formally invested with
the title which his father had borne. As Earl of
Cornwall, he lived much at Berkhampstead. From
it he set out on his expeditions, first to the Holy Land,
and afterwards on a scarcely less unreal errand : this
was to Germany, in quest of the crown of the Romans,
which, when he had lavished much of the treasure
gathered from the English Jews, he obtained in 1257.
As King of the Romans, he lived and died here ; and
here he brought successively three wives. The first was
one of the co-heiresses of the Marshalls, Earls of Pembroke,
and the widow of Gilbert de Clare. She died in child-
bed at Berkhampstead, and perhaps it was owing to his
grief that he assumed the cross. On his return, after
three years' widowerhood, he married Sanchia, one of the
four queens, daughters of Raymond, Count of Provence.
After sixteen years' exile from the sunny skies of her


native land, she too died at Berkhampstead, having lost all
her children successively except one, Edmund, who sur-
vived his father, but eventually died childless. The
King's last wife was perhaps better suited to the climate
of Hertfordshire. According to most accounts, she was
Beatrice von Falkestein, the niece of Archbishop Conrad
of Cologne, and she survived her husband. In April, 1272,
the body of Richard, King of the Romans, Count of
Poictou, and Earl of Cornwall, was carried from Berk-
hampstead to Hales Abbey for interment, and his heart
to the church of the Friars Minor, at Oxford. In 1300
his only son died, and the county of Cornwall, with the
Castle of Berkhampstead, reverted to the Crown.

Edward I. made it the dower of his second wife,
and is further posthumously connected with the place,
because one of the letters of Edward III., dated from
the Castle, relates to the removal of the cerecloth of
his grandfather, " de eera renovanda circa corpus
Edwardi Primi." Six picked men from Berkhampstead
served at Crecy, but this reign is signalised in the
annals of the town by an event of a different character.
In 1291, John of Berkhampstead, a native, was
elected Abbot of St. Albans. During his rule it was
that the remains of Queen Elinor rested at St. Albans
on their long journey from " Herdeby " to Westminster,
and he was the Abbot who, in 1295, succeeded in obtaining
for the church protection from the additional taxes levied
to support the King's wars. There is a curious manu-
script record of the Abbots of St. Albans and their
benefactors in the British Museum (Nero D7), from
which we gather that Abbot John of Berkhampstead
offended his monks by insisting on their keeping their
vows. They revenged themselves on his memory by
representing him wringing his hands with an expression


of deep remorse, and add this sentence for his epitaph :
" Since he did nothing memorable in his life we shall
place nothing respecting him in the present page ; but
we warn the reader that he be converted to works of
piety, and pour forth prayers " for the Abbot's soul.

Under Edward III. the Castle attained its greatest
splendour, or rather under his son the Black Prince, of
whose tenure of it we have already spoken. Richard II.
gave it to his favourite Vere, but on his attainder it
returned to the Crown. Edward IV. gave the town a
fresh charter, which was of more real importance to the
inhabitants than even the presence of Chaucer and Frois-
sart. It is not many years since the exemption of the
tradesmen from serving on juries was acknowledged by
the law courts, in accordance with the privileges of this
charter. And thus we reach the name of the King's
mother, the last and one of the greatest of the denizens
of the Castle. This was Cicely Duchess of York, the
daughter of the head of the Nevilles, the niece of Henry IV.,
the aunt of the King-maker, sister of five peers of the
realm, mother of two kings, and for many years the greatest
lady in the land. " Proud Cis " has passed into a proverb,
and no one can wonder if she was proud. Whether she
was or not, one thing is certain : she was a woman of
sufficient talent to keep her high position all her life, and
of sufficient strength to survive the misfortunes which in
those days seemed appropriate to high rank. Her hus-
band, her brother, and her second son all perished after
the fatal field of Wakefield ; yet she survived to see another
son put to death by his own brother, and a third slain
in battle. She outlived Bosworth nearly eleven years.
Before her death she saw her eldest son's heiress on the
throne, and the young Henry who, after bearing for a
time the title which had been her husband's, was destined

(From Cotton MSS., Nero D 7.)


to extinguish in the blood of her granddaughter the last
fading glimmer of the great Plantagenet name had
reached the age of five years. She lived and regulated
her household, at Berkhampstead, until 1496, when, after
seeing her granddaughter's husband put her grandson
to death and her daughter take up the cause of an impostor,
she died, full of honours and of all the attendants of honour,
after a life which, viewed in the perspective of four cen-
turies, appears, according to the light turned upon it,
either such a long tragedy, or else such a course of pros-
perity, as is unexampled in our annals. The arms of the
Duchess Cicely are still to be seen in a window of the nave
of the church. She died here in 1495, and was buried at
Fotheringay beside her husband, whom she had survived
nearly thirty-five years.

After her death the Castle fell into decay, and her
descendant Queen Elizabeth granted it, at the annual rent
of a red rose to be paid on the feast of St. John the Baptist,
to Sir Edward Carey, the father of the first Lord Falkland,
and cousin of the Queen's cousin Henry Carey, Lord
Hunsdon. It was already ruined, as Leland describes it,
and when Sir Edward built the house on the hill just
above it, the old walls no doubt formed a convenient quarry
for the supply of building stone.

After it had thus mounted the hill piecemeal its
connection with great folk and great events continued
as before the translation. Here Lucius, Lord Falkland,
spent much of his boyhood ; and when the Careys ceased
to live here the house was occupied by some of the house-
hold of James I. Prince Charles was here in 1616, and
as Duke of Cornwall obtained from his father a charter
for the town by which its privileges were enlarged and a
baih'ffjand burgesses appointed. Camden, the King of
Arms, granted the corporation a coat of arms, in which


the Castle figures prominently " within a border of Corne-
wall, viz. Sables, bezanted." But, after lasting less than
fifty years, the trouble of electing and sustaining a
corporation grew too great for the sleepy little town, and
though they still claim some of their privileges, the
charter has long been a dead letter to the burgesses of

Under the Commonwealth, the house which had
succeeded the Castle was again prominent. During the
Protectorate it was occupied by Colonel Axtel, the Regicide ;
after the Restoration, by Weston, Earl of Portland, the
Chancellor, in whose day the greater part of it was destroyed
by fire. In its reduced state it was rented by John Sayer,
who, as his epitaph in the church informs us, had been
" Archimagirus," or chief cook, to Charles II., and who
at his death in 1682 left houses and a weekly pension to
six widows. It still belongs to the Duchy of Cornwall,
and is now under a lease, with the Castle, or its site in the
valley below, to the owner of the neighbouring park of

The Castle and its successive occupants have left less
mark upon the church of Berkhampstead than might have
been expected. None of the royal and princely folk seem
to have selected it as a burial-place, and the only monu-
ments which connect it with the Castle are those of John
Raven, esquire to the Black Prince, of King Charles's
cook, already mentioned, and of Robert Incent, " late
s'vant unto the noble princesse lady Cecyle duchesse of
Yorke, and mother unto the worthy King Edward the
IIII and Richard the thyrde, whych sayd Robert lucent
dyed of the grete swetyng sykenesse the first yere of the
Reygne of King Henry the VII." Dean Incent was his
son, and founded the Grammar School in 1541 ; dying
in 1545, he was buried in the church, but his monument


is no longer extant. The name of Incent or Innocent
lingered till lately in the parish, and the quaint arms of
the Dean are still to be seen on stained glass in the Head -
master's parlour. They are alluded to in lines preserved
by Weever, but now no longer to be seen ; and the descrip-
tion, "Argent, on a bend gules an Innocent or," seems to
mean an infant holding a rose.

The last event connecting Berkhampstead and royalty
seems to have been the residence here of Peter the Wild
Boy, who had been found and sent over as a curiosity to
George II., and lived here till his death in 1785. The
collar with his guardian's name and address is still at
Ashridge, " Peter the Wild man from Hanover. Who-
ever will bring him to Mr. Fenn, at Berkhampstead,
Hertfordshire, shall be paid for their trouble." But
the modern traveller will be more interested by another
and worthier association. In the Rectory House was
born, in 1731, the great Christian poet, William Cowper,
and in the east window of the church, recently filled with
stained glass in honour of his memory, we may see him
depicted, and at his feet the three tame hares which he
immortalised. The house is now pulled down, and the
only tangible relic of the poet seems to be the garden and
the old well-house. His mother's tomb is in the chancel
the mother whose picture, received in after life, drew
from him some of the most touching lines in our language.




Lud Gate and its Origin The Ward of Farringdon The
Successive Temple Bars Sir Horace Jones's Monument
Are the Middle and Inner Temples in the Lord Mayor's
Jurisdiction ? The Outer Temple Dr. Barehone.

IN the early history of London nothing is more difficult
than to assign a date to Ludgate. If we believe the old-
fashioned writers, it is the oldest of the City gates. If
we accept the newer lights, it is the latest. The latter
view is probably the true one ; the old story of King Lud
is brushed aside like that of King Belin ; and it is, at any
rate, not very difficult to find a time, which may be chrono-
logically determined, when there was only one way out of
the City over the Fleet, and that was by Newgate. When
Lud Gate was connected with a bridge, the road to West-
minster at once joined the suburbs about Shoe Lane and
St. Clement Danes with the City; and, in accordance
with the custom of the time, these suburbs became wards,
and had their aldermen, who, however, answer rather
to the modern idea of lords of manors than aldermen.
A very curious and interesting account of the descent
of the ward of Farringdon, gathered from the Hustings
Rolls at the Guildhall, may be found in Dr. Sharpe's
first volume (pp. 112, 397). Stow had an inkling of the
story, but appears to have misread the documents. They

(From a Print by Dayes.)


are too technical for quotation here. But it would
appear that Farringdon's heiress and her husband took
the name instead of that of Le Pevre, and so puzzled
posterity. In 1223, Joce Fitz Peter was the alderman
of Ludgate. One of his successors, John, the son of
Ralph le Fevre, sold the ward of Ludgate to William
Farringdon, and it was joined to the other suburban estate
of that wealthy alderman, becoming, what it continues
after the lapse of six hundred years, the great ward of
Farringdon Without. The one person whose rights were
invaded by this extension of the Liberties of London was
the Abbot of Westminster. His manor of St. Margaret's,
he contended, reached to the Fleet ; and the truth of this
allegation is proved by the fact that he presented to the
churches of St. Dunstan's and St. Bride's ; yet it was at
the same time closely connected with the City, for, in
1278, Thomas Auverne had an annual quit rent from
" the baily of Ludgate, which he bequeathed to the church
of ' St. Brigid ' for candles at the altar of St. Mary." The
Dean and Chapter of Westminster are still the patrons
of St. Bride's ; but in the thirteenth century Henry III.
persuaded the Abbot to give him St. Dunstan's that he
might annex it to the house in Chancery Lane which he
was then founding for converted Jews. Henry little fore-
saw the day when a Jew would reign in the same house
as the Master of the Bolls, and the Abbot as little foresaw
the day when Temple Bar would be gravely described
as one of the City gates.

The ward, indeed, can hardly be said to have been
recognised before 1346, when its representatives were
first admitted to the Common Council. The word
Ludgate in Anglo-Saxon, properly Lydgate, denotes a
postern* a small opening in a wall, or fortification. The
Legend of King Lud was invented when the meaning


of the name had been forgotten. The Fleet Bridge
was in existence before 1228, and the " bar of the New
Temple" is mentioned as early as the first year of the
fourteenth century. Keeping these meagre facts in
mind, it is curious to inquire for the mention of a time
when there was no bar there. Even this may be obtained,
for in the grant of a piece of ground to Peter of Savoy
in 1246, it is described as lying in the Strand outside
the walls of London. In all subsequent documents it
is described as lying outside Temple Bars. There were
Wards without and bars in other places Bishopsgate,
for instance, and Holborn. We know, then, that Temple
Bars came into existence after 1246 and before the end
of the century, and in all probability some further in-
formation may come to light on the subject before very

That the Temple Bars formed a City gate that is to
say, a fortified opening in the wall probably few would
now assert. But when the triumphal arch, erected in 1670,
was removed a little time ago, there was much lamentation
in certain quarters at the loss of " the last of our City
gates." Considering that the boundary between the
Ward of Farringdon Without and the parish of St. Clement
Danes was absolutely unmarked by any defence, it would
be hard to say what the gate, if it was a gate, was situated
in. A gate implies a wall, or fence, or something of the kind.

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Online LibraryW. J. (William John) LoftieRambles in and near London : or, London afternoons → online text (page 9 of 23)