Category Archives: Post-Medieval

Greenford

Another in the occasional series on historic sites on the “Capital Ring” walk …

Greenford was first recorded, as Grenan forda, in the ninth century, in an Anglo-Saxon charter of 845.  It takes its name from the Old English grene, and ford, referring to a vegetated area around a  ford over the River Brent.  The manor was in the hands of Westminster Abbey from the time of the Norman Conquest in the eleventh century until that of the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the sixteenth.  It remained essentially rural until the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and the arrival of the railway.

Church of Holy Cross

General view - Holy Cross Greenford

Weatherboarded tower

Old gravestone with skull and crossbones motif

The old church of Holy Cross on Oldfield Lane is thought to have been founded in  the twelfth century, around 1157.  The oldest surviving parts of the present church, though, are thirteenth- to fourteenth- century, and the main body of it  is late fifteenth- to early sixteenth- century, with some nineteenth-century  modifications.  There are a number of surviving fifteenth- to early seventeenth- century memorials and monuments in the church, alongside a font dating to 1637.  There are also some interesting stained-glass windows acquired from King’s College, Cambridge, and inserted in the nineteenth century, although dating to the fourteenth to sixteenth.

The neighbouring new church was built in 1943, to cater for the then rapidly growing population of local factory workers and commuters.

A Virtual Tour of Early Modern London, Part Two.

Map

19 – Bell Inn Yard (off Gracechurch Street)

19

The site of the “Cross Keys Inn”, built in the fourteenth century, and burned down in the Great Fire of the seventeenth.   Plays were performed here at least as long ago as 1576.

20 – Royal Exchange

20bOriginally built by Thomas Gresham between 1566-9, as a rival to the bourse in Antwerp, and burned down in the Great Fire of 1666.  Subsequently rebuilt in 1669, and again in 1842-4.

21 – 80B Cheapside

21a

21b

The site of the Cheapside Conduit, a part of the Medieval water supply system.  The water supply was considerably improved by the construction of the “New River” by Hugh Myddelton in the seventeenth century.

22 – St Mary-le-Bow, or Bow Church, Cheapside

22

In the churchyard here is a – modern – statue to Captain John Smith, parishioner and merchant-adventurer, “first among the leaders of the settlement at Jamestown in Virginia [in 1607] from which began the overseas expansion of the English-speaking peoples”.

23 – Bread Street

23

The site of the Mermaid Tavern, where Shakespeare, Ben Jonson and Christopher Marlowe  were wont to gather, Francis Beaumont memorably  writing of their encounters: “What things have we seen|Done at the Mermaid!|Heard words that have been|So nimble, and so full of subtle flame|As if that every one from whence they came|Had meant to put his whole wit in a jest|And had resolv’d to life a fool the rest|Of his dull  life”.  Also of the  birthplace of John Milton (at the sign of the “Spread Eagle”).

24 – Cheapside/Wood Street

24b

The site of the Cheapside Cross, demolished by “furious and zealous” Parliamentarians during the Civil War.  The Cheapside Hoard, the greatest collection of Elizabethan and Stuart jewellery ever found, was buried nearby, on the eve of the war.

25 – Milk Street

25

The site of the birthplace of the Renaissance Man and “Man For All Seasons” Thomas More.

26 – Guildhall, Guildhall Yard

26

The site of a number of important trials in the post-Medieval period, including those of Anne Askew in 1546, Nicholas Throckmorton, Lady Jane Grey and Archbishop Thomas Cranmer in 1554, and Father Henry Garnet in 1606.

27 – Masons Avenue, off Basinghall Street

27

The site of a row of houses built in 1928  in the “Mock Tudor” or “Tudor Revival” style, and giving some sense of how much  of pre-Great Fire London might have looked.  The architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner evidently rather disapproved of the quality of the twentieth-century craftsmanship, and the “flimsy applied half-timbering”.

28  – Aldermanbury Square

28

The site of a bust of Shakespeare,  also commemorating his fellow-actors John Heminge and Henry Condell, who, on his death, gathered together all his unpublished manuscripts, and had them published, by Edward Blount and Isaac and William Jaggard, in the “First Folio”, in 1623.   The inscription on the bust reads, in part, “They alone collected his dramatic writings regardless of pecuniary loss and without the hope of any and gave them to the world.  They thus merited  the gratitude of mankind”.

29 – Site of St Olave Silver Street

29a

Originally built in around 1181, and burned down in the Great Fire of 1666.

29b

Silver Street itself was destroyed during the Blitz.  Shakespeare once lodged here, with a family of Huguenots.

30 – St Paul’s Churchyard

30a

The site of Paul’s Cross, a sort of open-air pulpit, where one Dr Beal incited the “Evil May Day” riots in 1517, and Dean John Donne gave his famous “Gunpowder Sermon” in 1622.

30b

Mary Frith, aka Moll Cut-purse, the model for Dekker and Middleton’s “Roaringe Girle”, was brought here for punishment in 1612.

31 – St Paul’s Cathedral

31a

31b

“Old”  St Paul’s was built beginning in  1087 by Bishop Maurice, and extended in succeeding centuries, before being  burned down in the Great Fire of 1666 (image, Museum of London).

31c

The memorial to John Donne survived the fire, although, if you look carefully, you can still see scorch-marks around its base.

32 – St Andrew’s Hill

32a

32b

32c

The site of “Shakespeare’s House” – the former gate-house of the dissolved Blackfriars Priory.  According to the Deed of Conveyance in the London Metropolitan Archives, it cost him £140, at a time when the annual salary for a teacher was £20.

33 – Playhouse Yard (off Blackfriars Lane)

The site of the Blackfriars Theatres.  The first was built by Richard Farrant in 1576 on the site of the Great Hall of the dissolved Blackfriars Priory;  and the second by James Burbage in 1596-1600 on the site of the Parliament Hall (in which, incidentally, the Legatine Court had met in 1529 to discuss the proposed annulment of Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon).

33a

The “Second Blackfriars” was an indoor theatre, capable of being used throughout the year, and both during daytime and after dark, when it was lit by candles, and it was also an “all-seater”, seating some 6-700 in some – although not  much – comfort, at a cost of 6d a head.  In time, it became extremely popular with the fashionable set, and equally profitable.

33b

33c

The “Wanamaker” on Bankside is a modern replica of a Jacobean indoor  theatre,  and its interior conveys a real sense of what an indoor theatre     such as the “Second Blackfriars” would have been like.  A   sense of enclosed space, of intimacy, of proximity to the players, of exclusiveness perhaps.  Of  being surrounded by the shadowy  light of dancing candles, and the reflecting costumes and  jewellery of the actors and audience, “So  Glisterd in the Torchy Fryers”.  And, perhaps even more particularly,  of being surrounded by sound; and in enforced interludes in which the wicks of the lighting-candles are trimmed, by the sound of music.  Note in this context that the music in certain of Shakespeare’s later  plays, such as   “Cymbeline”, “The Winter’s Tale” and “The Tempest”, was not only well suited to, but probably also  specifically written for, performance in the indoor arena of the “Second Blackfriars”.

34 – Apothecaries’ Hall, Blackfriars Lane

34a

34b

34c

Originally built in 1633, and burned down in the Great Fire of 1666.  Subsequently rebuilt in 1668.

35 – New Bridge Street

35a

35b

The site of Bridewell Palace, originally built by Henry VIII in 1520, and granted by his son, Edward VI, to the City of London in 1533, and burned down in the Great Fire of 1666.

36 – Queen Victoria Street

36a

The site of the Second  Baynard’s Castle, built in 1338, rebuilt in 1428, and burned down in the Great Fire of 1666.  Lady Jane Grey and, nine days later, Mary (Tudor) were proclaimed Queen here in 1533.

 

A Virtual Tour of Early Modern London, Part One.

Map

1 – Monument, Monument Street

1

Built by Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke as a  monument to the Great Fire of 1666.  Archaeological excavations at Monument House uncovered a layer of debris from the fire, including charred imported Dutch and Spanish tiles – and a waffle iron!

2 – Old London Bridge

2

“Old  London Bridge” was finally demolished, after having stood for over six hundred years,  in 1831.  One of its most famous buildings was the palatial residence known as Nonsuch House, built between 1577-9.

The Port of London lay to either side of the bridge.

3 – Eastcheap

3

The site of the “Boar’s Head”, where, in Shakespeare, Falstaff frolicked with Mistress Quickly.

4 – Custom House, Thames Street

4b

The site of the original Custom House, built at least as long ago as 1377, close to the centre of activity on the waterfront, and burned down in the Great Fire of 1666.

5 – All Hallows Barking, Byward Street

5

This church survived the Great Fire (although it was badly damaged during the Blitz).  The diarist Samuel Pepys watched  the progress of the fire from the church, and noted how it “burned the dyall [of the clock]”, but “was there quenched”.

6 – Tower Hill

6a

6b

6c

The site of the executions of, among others, John Fisher, Thomas More, Thomas Cromwell, Thomas Wyatt, Robert Devereux, Thomas Wentworth, William Laud and – regicide – Harry Vane.

7 – Tower of London

7

Used in the post-Medieval period less as a royal residence and more as a secure store and a prison.

8 – Seething Lane

8

The site  of a mansion owned by Elizabeth I’s spymaster Francis Walsingham in the Tudor period, and of the Navy Office in the Stuart period.   The Navy Office survived the Great Fire of 1666, but burned down in another fire in 1673.

9 – St Olave Hart Street

9a

This church survived the Great Fire (although it was badly damaged during the Blitz).

9b

Among those buried here are the Florentine merchant – and supposed spy – Piero Capponi, who died of the plague in 1582, …

9c

… and Samuel Pepys, who died in 1703.

10 – All Hallows Staining, Mark Lane

10a

10b

This  church survived the Great Fire of 1666, but its nave collapsed in 1671, due to undermining of the foundations by Great Plague burials.

11 – Lloyd’s of London Building, Fenchurch Street

11

The site of East India House, the London headquarters of the East India Company, built in 1648, and demolished in 1861.  Image, National Maritime Museum.

12 – St Andrew Undershaft, Leadenhall Street/St Mary Axe

12a

12b

Among the memorials here is one to the amateur antiquarian John Stow, the author of “A Survay of London”, who died in 1605.

13   – St Katharine Cree, Leadenhall Street

13a

13b

13c

Originally built in the Medieval period, in the Gothic style, and subsequently partially rebuilt in the post-Medieval, in 1628-31, in the Renaissance style.

Contains a memorial to the Merchant-Adventurer and sometime Mayor John Gayer, who died in 1649, and each year houses the “Lion Sermon” in remembrance of his having being spared by a lion in Syria in 1643.

14 –  Creechurch Lane/Bury Street

14

The site of the first synagogue after the Jewish resettlement in 1656.  The synagogue was demolished in 1701, and replaced by a larger one on an adjacent site just off Bevis Marks, which still stands.

15 – Bishopsgate

15

The site of one  of the gates in the Medieval city wall.  Through the gate to the north is Shoreditch, the site of ”The Theatre”, built in 1576, on the site of the dissolved Holywell Priory.

16 – Bishopsgate/Old Broad Street

16

Tower 42 now stands on what was the original site of Gresham College, founded through the bequest of the financier Thomas Gresham in 1597.

17 – Austin Friars, off Old Broad Street

17

The site of Thomas Cromwell’s lodgings from the 1520s until his execution in 1540.  Many of the scenes in Hilary Mantel’s “Wolf Hall” trilogy, fictionalising  Cromwell’s life, are set here.

18 – St Michael’s Alley (off Cornhill)

18

The site of “Pasqua Rosee’s Head”, the first coffee-house in the City, established in 1652, burned down in the Great Fire of 1666, and rebuilt as the “Jamaica” in the 1670s (the site is marked by a “Blue Plaque” on the present “Jamaica Wine House”).

Cromwell cancels Christmas (John Evelyn, 1657)

2 - The church of St Margaret, Westminster - where the warden was fined for celebrating Christmas  in 1647.JPG

On this day in 1657, under the Commonwealth and Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell that followed the Civil War, John Evelyn wrote in his diary:

“I went to London with my wife, to celebrate Christmas day, Mr Gunning preaching in Exeter chapel … .  Sermon ended, as he was giving us the Holy Sacrament, the chapel was surrounded with [Parliamentarian] soldiers, and all the communicants and assembly surprised and kept prisoner by them … .  It fell to my share to be confined to a room …, where yet I was permitted to dine with the master of it … and some others of quality who invited me.  In the afternoon came Colonel Whalley, Goffe, and others … to examine us one by one; some they committed to the marshal, some to prison.  When I came before them, they took my name and abode, examined me why, contrary to the ordinance made, that none should any longer observe the superstitious time of the nativity (so esteemed by them), I durst offend …, and … pray for  Charles Stuart … .  I told them we did not pray for Charles Stuart, but for all kings, princes, and governors.  They replied … with other frivolous and ensnaring questions, and much threatening; and, finding no color to detain me, they dismissed me with much pity of my ignorance.  These were men of high flight and above ordinances, and spake spiteful things of our Lord’s Nativity.  As we went up to receive the sacrament the miscreants held their muskets against us as if they would have shot us  at the altar, but yet suffering us to finish the office of Communion, as perhaps not having instructions what to do in case they found us in that action.  So I got home late the next day, blessed be God”.

The rebuilding of London after the Great Fire of 1666  (Samuel Pepys, 1666)

View-of-the-River-Thames-and-the-City-of-London

On this day in 1666, Samuel Pepys wrote in his diary:

 “[T]hrough the City … , observing the ruins … .  So … to the [rebuilt] Upper ‘Change, which is almost as good as the old one; only shops are but on one side”.

Remarkably, a matter of mere  weeks after the devastating Great Fire of September 2nd-6th, the City was already getting back on its feet and beginning to function as normal again.  It would be well over forty years, though,  before the  rebuilding process was completed, with Christopher Wren’s St Paul’s Cathedral only officially opening on Christmas Day, December 25th, 1711.

The  new City was to differ  from the old one in several  important respects.  The old narrow streets were to be replaced with new wide ones, designed to  simultaneously hinder the spread of fire and unencumber the flow of traffic.  In accordance with the Royal Proclamation of 1666 and the  “Act for the Rebuilding of the City of London” of 1667, the old  houses were to be be replaced by new ones of four categories of standard build, of fire-proof stone and brick rather than timber: those of the first category, fronting “by-streets and lanes”, of two storeys; those of the second category, fronting “streets and lanes of note, and the Thames”, of three storeys; those of the third category, fronting “high and principal streets”, of four storeys, with storey heights specified; and those of the fourth category, designed for” people of quality”, also of four storeys, although with storey heights unspecified.      The old  breeding-grounds for disease would  be swept aside in the process, although incidentally rather than  by design.  And, as another incidental, the old organic economy would be replaced by a modern mineral economy, considerably ahead of its time, fuelled by (sea-)coal rather than wood.  The cost of the entire enterprise, incidentally, would be covered by an emergency  tax on coal imposed by Act of Parliament.

London Bridge Waterworks (1582)

An engineering drawing of the water wheel

On this day, December 24th,  in 1582, the Dutchman Pieter Maritz’s London Bridge Waterworks began supplying fresh water from the Thames to private houses in the City of London.  His rather rickety-looking apparatus actually worked well, and indeed, in the original demonstration to City officials, forced a jet over the spire of the church of St Magnus the Martyr!   It was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666, but thereafter replaced by his grandson, and  it continued in use, after a fashion, until the early nineteenth century.

An eighteenth-century paiting of Old London Bridge showing the water wheel

Fall from grace (Archbishop William Laud, 1640)

Laud - Copy

On this day in 1640, Archbishop William Laud was arrested, and wrote in his diary:

“I was accused by the House of Commons for high treason, without any particular charge laid against me … .  Soon after, the charge was brought into the Upper House [of Lords] … .  I was presently committed to the Gentleman Usher, but was permitted to go in his company to my house in Lambeth for …  such papers as pertained to my defence … .  I stayed in Lambeth till the evening to avoid the gazing of the people … .  As I went to my barge, hundreds of my poor neighbours stood there and prayed for my safety and return to my house, for which I bless God and them”.

Laud was later imprisoned in the Tower of London, early in 1641.

Laud's trial in the House of Lords

After the outbreak of the Civil War in 1642, he was tried  for and convicted of high treason in the House of Lords, in 1643-4, and eventually executed on Tower Hill, in 1645.   Among the charges levelled  against him were:  “That, by false erroneous doctrines, and other sinister ways and means, he went about to subvert religion, established in this kingdom, and to set up popery and superstition in the church … .  […] That to suppress preaching, he hath suspended divers good and honest ministers, and hath used unlawful means, by letters, and otherwise, to set all bishops to suppress them.  […] That, to save and preserve himself from being questioned and sentenced from these and other his traiterous designs, from the first year of his now Majesty’s reign, until now, he hath laboured to subvert the rights of parliamentary proceedings, and to incense his Majesty against parliaments … .”

Laud had previously been made Bishop of London in 1628, and Archbishop of Canterbury in 1633, and become known for his “High Church” views, and his fierce opposition to and persecution of Puritans.

Robbing Peter to pay Paul (Westminster Abbey)

On this day in 1540, the Abbey Church of St Peter Westminster was made a Cathedral with its own See.   Not long afterwards, it was incorporated into the Diocese of London, and much of its estate was sold off to pay for repairs to St Paul’s – hence the expression, “robbing Peter to pay Paul”.  It is now a “Royal Peculiar”.

The abbey was originally founded, as the Benedictine monastery of St Peter, by the Bishop of London, Dunstan, under the Saxon King Edgar, in 960, on what was then Thorney Island – according to legend, on the site of a church founded by Sebert in around 604 (the same year that St Paul’s was founded).  It was rebuilt under Edward, “The Confessor”, in the years up to 1065, rebuilt again,  in the Early Gothic style, under Henry III, in the mid thirteenth century, and extended, in the Late Gothic style, under a succession of kings, including Henry VII, in the late fourteenth to early sixteenth (in part by the master mason Henry Yevele).

1 - Henry III's thirteenth-century north entrance with Rose Window

3 - Henry III's thirteenth-century Chapter House (left) and Henry VII's early sixteenth-century Lady Chapel (right).JPG

4 - Henry VII's early sixteenth-century Lady Chapel

5 - Wonderful grotesques on Henry VII's early sixteenth-century Lady Chapel  .JPG

The present structure is essentially surviving thirteenth- to sixteenth- century,

 

6 - Hawksmoor's eighteenth-century west towers.jpg

7 - Twentieth-century martyrs' memorial

although with some eighteenth-century additions in the form of  the west towers,  by Hawksmoor, and some twentieth-century  additions and restorations.

There are a great many important monuments in the interior, including those of no fewer than seventeen monarchs.  An equally large number of important state occasions have been held in the abbey, including all of the Coronations since that of the first Norman King, William I, the Conqueror, in 1066.  The fore-runner of Parliament, the “Great Council”, first met in the Chapter House here in 1257, only later moving to nearby Westminster Hall.

5 - Wonderful grotesques on Henry VII's early sixteenth-century Lady Chapel  .JPG

Sir Martin Frobisher (1535-94)

1-frobisher-portrait-note-the-baggy-trousers-called-venetians.jpg

The merchant-adventurer, privateer and naval commander Sir Martin Frobisher died on this day in 1594, of wounds sustained in a naval action against the Spanish (he was  knighted for his service in seeing off the Spanish Armada in 1588).

2-frobisher-memorial-st-giles-cripplegate

His organs were buried in the church of St Andrew in Plymouth, and the rest of his body  in the church of St Giles Cripplegate in London, where there is a memorial to him.

Frobisher had previously set sail on board the “Gabriel” from Ratcliff in 1576 on the second of three ultimately unsuccessful voyages in search of the North-West Passage to China, returning from Canada with a cargo of what turned out to be worthless “fool’s  gold”.

3 -frobisher-plaque-ratcliff.jpg

4 -close-up-of-frobisher-plaque-ratcliff.jpg

The site in Ratcliff is marked by a “London County Council” plaque of 1922 in King Edward Memorial Park.

 

Some of the many executions in Tudor and Stuart London

Site of Tyburn Tree.JPG

On this day in 1541, according to the account given by Charles Wriothesley in his “Chronicle of England during the Reigns of the Tudors …”:

The Executions of Thomas Culpeper and Francis Dereham

“Culpeper [Thomas Culpeper, Gentleman of the Privy Chamber] and Dereham [Francis Dereham, Secretary to Henry VIII’s fifth wife Catherine Howard] were drawn from the Tower of London to Tyburn, and there Culpeper, after an exhortation made to the people to pray for him, he standing on the ground by the gallows, kneeled down and had his head stricken off; and then Dereham was hanged, membered, bowelled, headed, and quartered [for high treason against the King’s majesty in misdemeanour with the Queen].  Culpeper’s body buried at St Pulchre’s church by Newgate, their heads set on London Bridge”.

Also on this day in 1541, according to Wriothesley:

“Rafe Egerton, … one of my Lord Chancellor’s servants, and … Thomas Herman, sometime servant with Fleetwood, one of my Lord Chancellor’s gentlemen, were drawn from the Tower … to Tyburn, and there hanged and quartered for counterfeiting the King’s Great Seal”.

The Execution of John Roberts

And on this day in 1610, the Roman Catholic Priest – and since 1970 Saint – John Roberts was taken to be hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn for contravening the “Act Forbidding Priests to Minister in England”.  In the event, the crowd, who revered him for the work he had done among them during an outbreak of  the plague in 1603, saw to it that he died by hanging and was spared  the suffering of drawing  and quartering.  What could be  salvaged of his body was taken to the Benedictine priory he had founded at Douai in northern France.  One of his finger bones is preserved as a holy relic in Tyburn Convent.