Post-Medieval London, Pt. VII – Surviving Structures

Another in the series on the history of London up to the time of the Great Fire of 1666, largely taken from my book, “The Flower Of All Cities” (Amberley, 2019) …

Surviving Structures

Essentially nothing now  remains of the majority of the post-Medieval seats of power, religious houses and secular  buildings that stood within and without the walls of the City of London before the Great Fire.   

Gate-House, Lambeth Palace
Gate-House, St James’s Palace

However, from  Tudor London, of the seats of power, parts of Whitehall  Palace, Lambeth Palace, and St James’s Palace survive still, as does the Savoy Chapel, part of the Savoy Hospital.  Much of Tudor Whitehall Palace was destroyed in fires in 1512  in 1698, but “Henry VIII’s wine cellar” in the what is now the Ministry of Defence building in Horse Guards’ Avenue still survives; as does the site of his tilt-yard in Horse Guards’ Parade; and part of his tennis court  in the Cabinet Office at No. 70 Whitehall.  The Holbein Gate, built in 1532, and notable as the probable  place of the clandestine marriage of Henry and Anne Boleyn in 1533,  survived  both fires, but was demolished in 1759. 

The exterior of the Henry VII Lady Chapel in Westminster Abbey. The pinnacle of Perpendicular Gothic.
The interior of the Henry VII Lady Chapel by Canaletto. Note the miraculous pendant vaulting.

Of the religious houses, the Henry VII Lady Chapel in Westminster Abbey; …

Exterior, St Mary, Stoke Newington
Interior, St Mary Stoke Newington

… and the church of St Mary, Stoke Newington. 

The Great Hall in the Charterhouse
The Great Chamber in the Charterhouse

Of North’s Elizabethan Charterhouse, the Great Hall and  Great Chamber.  Queen Elizabeth I once held court here, at great cost to her host (in 1558, Henry Machyn wrote in his diary “[T]he queen removed to the Tower from the Lord North’s palace, [which] was the Charterhouse.  …   And there was such shooting of guns as never was heard afore  … ”). 

Lincoln’s Inn Old Hall

Of the Inns of Court, the  Henrician  Lincoln’s Inn “Old Hall”; …

Exterior, Middle Temple Hall
Interior, Middle Temple Hall

… the Elizabethan  Middle Temple Hall; …

Staple Inn Buildings

… and the Elizabethan Staple Inn Buildings. 

Note in this context that Lincoln’s Inn “Old Hall” was built on the site of the Medieval Bishop of Chichester’s Inn, incorporating into its structure a Gothic arch from the  old inn. 

Canonbury Tower

Of the private residences, Canonbury Tower in Islington; …

Exterior, Sutton House
Interior, Sutton House

… and Sutton House in Hackney.   Of the places of business, the “Olde Mitre” in Ely Court. 

Whitgift’s alms-houses

And of the charitable dwellings,  George Monoux’s alms-houses in Walthamstow, and John Whitgift’s ones in Croydon. 

The Old Curiosity Shop

The building on Portsmouth Street known since Charles Dickens’s time as “The Old Curiosity Shop” is also thought to date in part to the sixteenth century.  Sadly, though, nearby entire streets of Elizabethan  houses, including the particularly picturesque Wych Street, at the south-eastern end of Drury Lane, were cleared to allow for the construction of Aldwych and Kingsway in the early twentieth century. 

Exterior, Banqueting House
Interior, Banqueting House. The ceiling is by Rubens.

From  Stuart London, of the seats of power, we still have the Renaissance Banqueting House, part of Whitehall Palace; …

Queen’s Chapel

… and the Queen’s Chapel, part of St James’s Palace. 

St Paul Covent Garden – “the handsomest barn in England”.

Of  the religious houses, the churches of St Paul, Covent Garden; …

Interior, Poplar Chapel

… Poplar Chapel; …

St Paul Shadwell

… and St Paul, Shadwell; and  the Renaissance additions to St Helen and St Katharine Cree (also the  – fire-damaged – memorials to Nicholas Bacon, Thomas Heneage and John Donne in St Paul’s, and that to Lancelot Andrewes in Southwark Cathedral).  St Helen also contains a memorial to Martin Bond (d. 1643), together with some brasses with their “superstitious inscriptions” deliberately defaced by order of the Puritans in 1644.  St Katharine Cree has associations from that same Civil War period with the Royalist cause, and even contains a wooden statue of Charles I, depicted as a martyr and saint.  Archbishop William Laud, who reconsecrated it  in 1631, was executed for his support of  Charles, his High Church views, and his persecution of Puritans, in 1645.  And famously, St Olave Hart Street contains memorials to not only Samuel Pepys but also his  long-suffering wife Elizabeth (whose expression suggests she is “admonishing her wayward husband”). 

The Chapel in the Charterhouse

Of Sutton’s Jacobean  Charterhouse,  we have the Chapel.   

Gate-House, Inner Temple

Of the Inns of Court, the Jacobean Gate-House in Inner Temple, including  “Prince Henry’s Room”; …

… and the Jacobean Chapel in Lincoln’s Inn.    

Lincoln’s Inn Chapel. Inigo Jones does Gothic.

Of   the Livery Companies’ Halls,  parts of the Apothecaries’. 

41/42 Cloth Fair

Of  the  private residences, 41/42 Cloth Fair (1614); …

York House Water-Gate

… Master Mason Nicholas Stone’s York House Water-Gate (1626); …

59/60 Lincoln’s Inn Fields

… 59/60 Lincoln’s Inn Fields (1640); …

Newington Green Terrace

… and Newington Green Terrace (1658). 

Of the places of business, parts of the “Olde Wine Shades” on Martin Lane, the “Seven Stars” on Carey Street, and the “Wig and Pen” on the Strand (the “Hoop and Grapes” on Aldgate High Street is described by the architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner as “possibly post-Fire, but unmistakably of an older type”). 

Trinity Hospital

And of the charitable dwellings,  Thomas Ingram’s alms-houses  in Isleworth, Bishop Wood’s ones in Clapton, and Trinity Hospital in Greenwich. 

Alleyn’s “College of God’s Gift”

Edward Alleyn’s “College of God’s Gift” in Dulwich also survives, alongside a “New College” dating to the nineteenth century.

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