William Benham.

The letters of Peter Lombard (Canon Benham) online

. (page 13 of 16)
Online LibraryWilliam BenhamThe letters of Peter Lombard (Canon Benham) → online text (page 13 of 16)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

the Archbishops of Canterbury. On the north, facing
the river, which, be it remembered, here runs north
and south, is a heavy brick tower, called, though
inaccurately as we shall see hereafter, " Lollards'
Tower." At right angles to it, presenting its long side
to the Thames, is a low picturesque building, with a
turret in the middle surmounted by an enormous
weather-cock, on which are the arms of Juxon im-


paled with those of the see, and above that again is a
mitre. This was the " Great Hall " rebuilt by Juxon
after the destruction of the Great Rebellion. Arch-
bishop Howley turned it into the " Lambeth Library."
Southward of this again is the fine brick gateway of
Cardinal Morton. This is the southern extremity of
the Palace ; immediately outside it is the stately grey
tower of Lambeth Parish Church. In front of it all
is the beautiful Thames Embankment, I can
remember when the Thames came over the site of
this Embankment, and a footway shaded by trees all
along by the wall of the Palace, and called the
" Bishop's Walk," was the only thoroughfare on the
river-side to Westminster Bridge-road.

When Lambeth Palace first emerges out of the
darkness into the light of written history, namely in
Domesday Book, it belongs to the sister of Edward
the Confessor. She gave it to the Bishop of
Rochester, but it seems to have been tenanted by the
Archbishop, who thus held it from his suffragan.
William the Conqueror gave it, or part of it, to his
brother Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, but his son, Rufus,
restored it to Rochester. But London was growing in
importance and superseding Winchester as the chief
royal residence, and when Edward the Confessor


built his palace at Westminster, the Archbishops of
Canterbury were also drawn from their Cathedral
City to London. Archbishop Hubert Fitz Walter
exchanged lands with the Bishop of Rochester about
the year 1200, and from that time Lambeth became,
and has ever since remained, the residence of the
Primate of All England.

Look at the recess here under the gateway. On
Sunday night, Dec. 9, 1688, a woman with a baby in
her arms is crouching under this shelter from a fierce
storm of wind and rain. Who is it ? It is Mary of
Modena, Queen of England, wife of James II., and
her baby is the unfortunate Prince of Wales, just six
months old, known afterwards, because he was
unfortunate, as " The Pretender." The King, on the
near approach of William of Orange, had hastily
sent them across from Whitehall in a boat, the storm
tossing the water into threatening waves, and there,
under the gateway, sheltering herself under a shawl
which the French Ambassador lent her, she waited
for the harnessing of the horses to the carriage which
carried her away to the coast, to leave England for
ever. What a strange parallel and contrast it all is
to that flight to Varennes a century later ! We enter
the palace by the gateway of Cardinal Morton's


Tower. It is one of the finest specimens in existence ;
of brick, with stone dressings ; two square towers
flanking the gateway and postern. On the second
floor is a recess, closed in with oaken doors, where
the Cardinal Archbishop's folding-bed is said to have
stood. There is no doubt the rooms here were very
frequently used for imprisoning, and it would seem
not unkindly. Some of them are comfortable, and
many a good man was kept there in safe and well-
meant detention, in the hope that good words would
convert him to loyalty or orthodoxy. Thus in 153 1,
Hugh Latimer, then rector of West Kineton, Wilts,
preached a somewhat wild sermon in which he
declared that almost all the clergy, including the
Bishops, were thieves whom there was not hemp enough
in England to hang. And at St. Mary Abchurch, in
London, he said that St. Paul, if he lived in that day,
would be convicted of heresy, and obliged to bear
a fagot at Paul's Cross. For these things, and also
for denouncing the worship of saints, he was confined
in Morton's tower, but after an interview or two with
Archbishop Warham, he acknowledged he had been
indiscreet and was released. Sir Thomas More,
visiting Warham, says he saw Latimer walking in the
garden with the Archbishop's chaplains, and they
were all laughing merrily together. Latimer, after


his release, visited Bainham in Newgate, then under
sentence as a heretic, and urged him in vain to

Passing through the gate, we find ourselves in a
small quadrangle, with grass in the middle ; on our
left is the street wall, on our right Juxon's Great Hall,
in front is a doorway leading to a square chamber,
paved roughly with tiles, the roof supported by a
strong oak post in the middle of the chamber.
Consequently the room is known as the "post room,"
and there is a foolish tradition that the Lollards were
tied to it to be whipped. On the north side is a door
leading into the so-called Lollards' Tower ; on the west
side is another door leading into the chapel. Instead
of entering either at present, let us recross the grass
quadrangle as far as Morton's Tower. At the further
angle eastwards is another gateway leading into a
very large quadrangle, across which is the great
doorway of the Archbishop's residence. Now the
basement of the great part of the building is Norman,
but the portion above ground was practically rebuilt
by Archbishop Howley, the architect being Mr. Blore.
It is therefore modern Gothic, and though there are
plenty of faults to be fairly found with it, the effect
is certainly imposing. We need not go into the


house at this moment ; at the further corner is an
open archway, and if we go through that we are
on the fine lawn, with the beautiful gardens beyond,
and on the right a great meadow which the two last
Archbishops have freely allowed to be a playground
for cricket matches and other sports. A good view
of this meadow is obtained from the windows of the
trains of the South Western Railway. Over that
wall the Pope's nuncio once jumped to offer Laud
a Cardinal's hat if he would turn Papist.

Nov. 20.

The real Lollards' Tower, for a most interesting
account of which I must refer the reader to Dr.
Sparrow Simpson's learned books, was at the south-
west corner of Old St. Paul's. That which goes by
the name in Lambeth Palace is never so-called in any
writer of the 16th or 17th century. Its old name was
the " Water Tower," so given because formerly the
river washed close up to it. It has been used for a
prison undoubtedly, but not for Lollards, as far as any
evidence goes. However for our present purpose we
adopt the now general title. It was built by Archbishop
Chicheley (1434- 1445). On the outside, facing the
river, the passer-by may see an empty niche in the
wall. That formerly contained a statue of St. Thomas



of Canterbury (Becket), and the Thames watermen, as
they rowed by, used to doff their hats to it. You
ascend into the tower from the post-room by a narrow
circular stair, the stones of which are much worn. A
rope which you can hold in your ascent is not un-
acceptable. A door on the first landing leads to three
sets of apartments which Archbishop Tait and his
successor allotted for as many Bishops who have no
town-house. They lodge there comfortably, I believe.
Passing up, we next come to a little door from which
we may emerge, if we choose, on to the leads and get
a striking panoramic view of the City, of Westminster,
and of South London., Once more we ascend and
enter the prison room, 12ft. by 9, and that it was such
there is abundant proof at first glance. There are two
doors to the single doorway, both of thick oak, and
thickly studded with iron fastenings. Along the
wainscot are a number of large iron rings firmly fixed.
On the wainscot are carved several names and broken
sentences — " Chessam Doctor " ; " Petit Jouganham " ;
" John Worth " ; "IHS keepe me out of el companye,
Amen " ; " Jesus est amor meus " ; " Deo sit gratiarum
actio " ; " Nosce Teipsum." Perhaps the most touching
evidence of all is that beside the narrow slit of a
window at the north-west corner. When there is
light enough to see it the visitor may observe a vast


number of holes prodded by some sharp instrument in
the wood, and at first view there is not much to notice.
But look again. Some poor lonely prisoner, con-
demned to inactivity, stood there and made a map of
the stars as he could see them from that window. The
stories of the Bastille that one reads are hardly more
pathetic than this. Then who were the prisoners?
There may have been some at the Reformation period,
but those of whom there is any record were in
Morton's Tower. It was in the days of the Common-
wealth that the room before us was thus used. Such
a crowd of royalists and dispossessed clergy were
gathered here in 1645 that a deadly fever broke out
among them. The registers of the parish church tell
of burials over and over again of " prisoners in Cant.
House." Bishop Kennet says that " nearly a hundred
ministers were brought up from the West and clapt
in Lambeth House, where almost all of them were
destroyed by a pestilent fever." At the time of
Cromwell's death there were a great number still
confined there. Mr. Cave-Browne, in his valuable
history of the Palace, offers an explanation of the
misnomer, " Lollards' Tower," which certainly com-
mends itself to one's judgment. The real Lollards'
Tower had been swept away, like St. Paul's, by the
Great Fire of 1666. Twenty years later James the

P 2


Second's ill-advised endeavour to restore Romanism
in England roused the Protestant feeling to fever heat,
and there is no doubt that public opinion went into
ecstasies over the success of Dutch William's invasion.
Every memento of Papal tyranny was looked up and
gloated over, and historical accuracy was not nicely
attended to. There had been a Lollards' Tower, and
there had been Lollard martyrs. Here at Lambeth
were relics of imprisonment, and the inscriptions
showed that it was for religious convictions. And so
the conclusion was rushed at, of course they must
have been Lollards. And from that day, namely 1688,
this became Lollards' -Tower. Let me not omit, in
passing, that this room once contained two notable
prisoners, whose romantic tragedy finds place in our
English histories. The ill-fated Earls of Essex and
Southampton, when arrested at Essex House, Strand,
on the night of February 8, 1601, were brouqht hither
for the night, instead of being carried straight to the
Tower, because the shooting of Old London Bridge
was such a dangerous business at night time and with
an unfavourable tide. Richard Lovelace, the Cavalier
poet, author of the oft-quoted line, " Stone walls do not
a prison make, nor iron bars a cage," was confined
here in 1648. I wonder whether it was he who
mapped the stars on the wainscot. He talks more


than once of the " sentinel stars watching in the

The chapel, one of the most perfect specimens of
Early English in this country, was built by Archbishop
Boniface (i 244-1 270), the Savoyard uncle of Eleanor,
Queen of Henry III. She brought over her three
uncles, Peter, Amadeus, Boniface, enriched them with
lands, and endeavoured to make them supreme in the
national government. And thereby she did much to
bring on the righteous rebellion of Simon of Montfort.
Boniface, by being made Archbishop, held the highest
post next to the Crown. The hatred which he
gathered upon himself from the nation was not solely
because he was a foreigner ; so were Lanfranc and
Anselm, but they became Englishmen in thought and
sympathy. Boniface hated England to the end.
His armed retainers plundered the City markets, he
with his own fist knocked down the Prior of St.
Bartholomew's, Smithfield, and the Londoners were
in such a rage that he fled across sea, having first
pronounced sentence of excommunication against
them. He found it was no use, they were too strong
for him, so he took off his ban, returned to Lambeth
repaired some damage which they had done, and
settled down into comparatively quiet life. But it


was so clear to the people that he was their enemy
that when the civil war began he had again to go
beyond sea. However, he built this beautiful chapel.
It is 72 feet long, 25 wide. At the east end are five
lancet windows, and on each side three triplets. Few
spots have deeper historical interest. It was a
momentous event in our ecclesiastical annals when
Wycliffe appeared before Archbishop Sudbury and
his assessors in the early part of 1378, in Lambeth
Chapel. He had already, about a year before,
appeared before Courtenay, Bishop of London, at St.
Paul's, and was so warmly supported by John of
Gaunt, that the Bishop was powerless before the
tumult that was raised. However, the people who
crowded into the church were evidently on the Bishop's
side. At Lambeth it was quite the contrary. Wycliffe
stood his ground ; he knew that he was secure. Both
sides, however, were rather fencing with blunt weapons
than fighting in earnest. The Archbishop knew that
WyclifTe's accusers were taking ground much of which
was not tenable, and the reformer knew that the
nation was not ripe for the acceptance of his root and
branch views. Angry citizens crowded round the
doors, Sudbury dismissed his prisoner with a formal
injunction, and that scene closed. Three years later
the Archbishop was dragged forth and beheaded in


Wat Tyler's rebellion. The little ante-room under
the organ which serves as the vestry of the chapel is
said to have been Cranmer's study. There are two
scenes in Cranmer's life connected with Lambeth Chapel
on which one has no choice but to pause for just a
moment. The unhappy Anne Boleyn, the day after
her condemnation to death, was brought hither in
order that Cranmer might pronounce, not her divorce
from Henry, but the sentence that she had never been
lawfully married to him. The grounds remain
unknown. No shorthand notes either of the trial or
of this judgment are known to exist : omnes
illacrimabiles urgentur ignotique longd node. And
the world is none the poorer. And the other scene is
the fierce controversial encounter between Cranmer
and Bonner, in the beginning of the reign of Edward
VI., for which the reader must turn to the pages of
Foxe. The first Archbishop of the reformed Church,
Parker, was buried in the chapel in 1575. No other
Primate rests there ; of Parker's successors some are
buried in Lambeth Church, some in Croydon, five at
Addington, Archbishop Benson, the first since Pole,
in Canterbury Cathedral.

Laud takes a conspicuous place in the history of
the chapel. The screen which divides the chapel into


two is his. And as he found the windows of the
chapel broken and " pieced together," " patched like a
beggar's coat," to use his own expressions, he pro-
ceeded to fill them with stained glass representing
Scriptural subjects, and copied from the simple
woodcuts of the Biblia Pauperum. When the last
frail cords which held the peace between Charles I.
and Parliament were snapped, a placard, said to have
been written by Lilburne, was fastened upon 'Change
calling on the London apprentices to rise in arms and
attack Lambeth Palace, and an angry mob of some
five hundred responded to the call (May II, 1641).
Laud, however, who was never deficient in courage,
fortified himself, and the insurgents retired after
smashing a few windows. But the demon of destruc-
tion was abroad. Laud was seized next year, and
carried off to the Tower, and bad times fell on the
Palace. The bones of Parker were dragged from
their grave and buried in a dunghill. Prynne on
Laud's trial made a furious attack upon him in
respect to the " Popish windows," one specially ob-
noxious one representing our Lord upon the cross.
Needless to say that the windows themselves were
broken to pieces, to be restored as nearly as could be
to their original appearance by Archbishop Tait.
The Puritans put the Palace up for sale in 1648, and it


was bought by Thomas Scot and Matthew Hardy w for
£7,073 os. 8d." They destroyed Chicheley's Great
Hall, and sold the materials, turned the chapel into a
dancing-room, and outraged the remains of Parker,
as we have seen. At the Restoration Hardy was
compelled to exhume them, and bury them again in
the chapel and to build a handsome monument over
them at his own cost. That monument is now
removed to a corner in the ante-chapel ; the Arch-
bishop's resting place, at the foot of the altar steps,
is marked by the simple inscription cut on the floor : —




tandem hic


The first Archbishop of Canterbury consecrated in
this chapel was Morton, afterwards Cardinal in i486.
Subsequently there were several, and it was the usual
place for the consecration of the Bishops of the
province from Cranmer to far into the time of

November 27.
As already mentioned, the Puritans made fearful
havoc with Lambeth Palace on getting possession of


it when Laud was sent to the Tower, and one of their
Vandal acts was to destroy Chicheley's " Great Hall."
It had witnessed some important events. For example
Chicheley himself had shown high hospitality in it.
The Palace in his time is said to have comprised " a
great chamber, a little chamber, a study, a prolocutor-
ium (shortened form, "parlour"), a great hall, a
steward's chamber, a registry, a registrar's chamber
{camera armigerorum\ Archbishop's oratory, great
oratory, clerk of the kitchen's room, cook's room,
chandry (room for the candles and other lights), store-
room, pantry, larder, great and little cloisters." His
successor, John Stafford, is said to have built the
stables. To Chicheley's Great Hall Cranmer sum-
moned the London clergy to take the oath of the
king's supremacy in 1534. Here "the Bishop's Book "
(or "The Godly and Pious Institution of a Christian
man ") was drawn up. Cranmer, as well as his suc-
cessor, Pole, seems to have kept up the hospitality.
Here is a list of Cranmer's palace officials given in an MS.
in the Library : — " Steward, Treasurer, Comptroller,
gamators (gamekeepers), clerk of the kitchen, caterer,
clerk of the spicery, yeomen of the ewry (scullery),
bakers, pantlcrs, yeomen of the horse, yeomen ushers,
butlers of wine and ale, larderers, squillcrics ("dysshe
wescherers "), ushers of the hall, porters, ushers


of the chamber, daily waiters in the great chamber,
gentlemen ushers, yeomen of the chamber, carver,
server (head waiter), cup-bearer, grooms of the chamber,
marshall, groom-ushers, almoner, cooks, chandler,
butchers, masters of the horse, yeomen of the ward-
robe, and harbingers (officers who attended on guests)."

But to return to the Great Hall. When the Puritan
Commonwealth was followed by the Restoration of the
Monarchy, and Juxon was made Archbishop of
Canterbury, he restored the Great Hall, as nearly as
possible after the old pattern. It is 93 feet in length,
38 in breadth, and has a very fine roof, and some
interesting heraldic pictures in the windows. When
Archbishop Howley made his great alterations in the
Palace he turned this Hall into the Library, and the
Library it remains. Previously the books had been
stowed in galleries over the cloisters. The valuable
MSS. which enriched those shelves in the days of
Parker are now the property of Corpus College,
Cambridge. The present library owes its origin to
Bancroft, but Abbot, Tenison, and Seeker, all made
large additions to it. Most of Laud's books are in the
Bodleian, Sancroft gave his to Emmanuel College,
Cambridge, and Wake his to Christchurch, Oxford.
Sheldon and Cornwallis made some useful additions.


Archbishop Sumner gave two volumes, and two only,
to it during his fourteen years' primacy, one a book
about butterflies, the other a treatise on the gout.
Archbishops Tait and Benson made large additions.
There are 1,200 volumes of MSS. among the registers
of the see since Archbishop Peckham (1279). His
predecessor, Kilwardby, having been made a Cardinal,
is said to have carried off the previous ones as a present
to the Pope. Nemesis fell upon him, for he had hardly
settled down in Italy before he was poisoned. The
library, thanks chiefly to Archbishop Tait, is now
available for readers, and the courteous librarian
is always ready to show his treasures. There
are MSS. and autographs of famous men, and fine
Caxtons ; there is a pane of glass brought from the
old palace of Croydon, on which Laud has written
with his signet ring, in his own beautiful hand :
Memorand: Ecclesice de Michem, CJieme et Stone, cum
aliis fulgure combustce sunt. Jan. 14, 1639. Omen
avertat Deus." He was always somewhat superstitious
about omens. We shall have another presently.
While I was writing these notes, the following very
interesting letter reached me : —

During Archbishop Howley's occupation of the See
of Canterbury, some fishermen dredging in the river


near Lambeth caught in their nets the original seal of
Archbishop Laud, which the latter was reported to
have thrown into the river whilst being rowed as a
captive to the Tower. The seal was in good condition
with the arms of Canterbury and Laud on either side,
and, curiously enough, as the Christian names of Laud
and Howley were the same, was appropriate to either
Archbishop. The original seal is believed to be now
in the possession of the Kingsmill family, Sydmonton
Court, Newbury. The late Mr. Kingsmill married one
of the three daughters of Archbishop Howley.

But we must mount upstairs into the " Guard
Room." It used to be stocked with arms. It is now
the principal dining-hall. Its special feature is the
magnificent collection of portraits of the Archbishops
from Warham (by Holbein) to the present day. The
portrait of Laud is by Vandyck, and the Archbishop
records in his Diary how, at the close of his last year
in Lambeth, he found the picture one day " fallen
down upon the face and lying on the floor, the string
by which it was hanged against the wall being
broken." And he adds, " God grant this is no

1 8 9 7

October 8.

Five hundred and fifty years ago the awful pestilence,
known in history as " The Black Death," carried off
more than half the population of England. So
terrific was the mortality in London that the Bishop,
Ralph Stratford, finding -that the churchyards were
all full and that corpses were being hurried away into
unconsecrated ground, bought and consecrated a piece
of land to the north of the City Wall of London.
Sir Walter Manney, a brave soldier, whose name will
be remembered in connexion with our Black Prince,
added to the Bishop's gift. The new burial ground
was known as " Pardon Churchyard," and speedily
there lay buried in it 50,000 bodies. In 1371 the
successor to Bishop Stratford, Northburgh, gave it to
the Carthusians, a body of monks almost the strictest
of the order, men devoted to a life of prayer and
meditation, and on the site they built a monastery,
which they called " The Convent of the House of the


Salutation of the Mother of God of the Carthusian
Order." And this house flourished for many a year
before the evil days came. Sir Thomas More lived
the monastic life there for four years, though he never
took the vows. He felt that his energy for work and
his acquirements and talents called him to go out into
the busy world, and he therefore abandoned the
monastic life. The assertion that he left the monastery
because he was disgusted by the bad life of the
monks is a gratuitous slander, for which there is no
foundation whatever. That amongst the multitudes
of brethren who lived in this seclusion, all the years
that the monastery lasted, some were " black sheep "
is probable enough, but the general charge of
immorality is altogether false, if we may believe the
common consent of their contemporaries, before the
brutal greed of Henry Vlllth offered a shameful
temptation to hirelings to slander them. One name
is prominent in the annals of the house before the
thunderbolt fell ; it is that of Andrew Boorde (he
jocosely latinised it into "Andreas Perforatus "),
a monk who found himself like a fish out of water,
or, in other words, discovered that he had mistaken
his vocation. So he got a dispensation from his vow,
for he was " nott able to byd the rugorosite off ye

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 13 15 16

Online LibraryWilliam BenhamThe letters of Peter Lombard (Canon Benham) → online text (page 13 of 16)