“The Fatall Vesper”, or “A pittiful accident in the black friers” (John Chamberlain, 1623)

A contemporary engraving of the incidentOctober 26thOn this day in 1623, Father Drurie preached to a great multitude in an upper room in Blackfriars, with dire consequences.

John Chamberlain wrote about it in a letter to Dudley Carleton:

“The next day after I wrote last here fell out a pittiful incident in the black friers, where the papists had hired a house next to the French Ambassadors (that so they might be as it were under his protection) to hold …  masse, … and perform all other their exercises and rites after the Romish manner; a great multitude being met there on the 26th of the last month to heare father Drurie a famous Jesuit among them preach in an upper roome, the floore sunke under them, or rather the beames and joystes not able to bear the weight brake in the midst.  Many [possibly as many as one hundred] perished, partly battered and bruised, but for the most part smothered, for the first floore fell with such violence that it brake down a second undfer it.  A number were hurt …, which found little helpe or comfort at first, our people being growne so savage … that they refused to assist them … in their necessitie, but rather insulted upon them with taunts and gibes in their affliction …, but there was as much goode … to represse the insolencie and inhumanitie of the multitude, and for reliefe of the distressed”.

A contemporary engraving of the incident

A contemporary engraving of the incident

Blackfriars is visited on our “London Wall“ standard walk, and on our “Tudor London” themed special.

Further details of all our walks are available in the Guided Walks section of this web-site.

Bookings may be made through the “Contact/Booking” section of the web-site, by e-mail (lostcityoflondon@sky.com), or by phone (020-8998-3051).

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