Category Archives: Stuart

Erith

Another in the occasional series on “Far-Flung Lost London” …

Erith was first recorded in Saxon times, in 677, as Earhyth, from the Old English ear, meaning muddy, and hyth, meaning landing-place (although it is thought to have been first settled in prehistory).

The Manor of Erith was held by the Norman Odo, Bishop of Bayeux and Earl of Kent at the time of the Domesday survey in 1086.  The Lord of the Manor during the reign of the first Plantagenet King, Henry II, was Richard de Luci, Justiciar of England, who, as an act of penance for his complicity in the murder of Thomas Becket, founded Lesnes Abbey nearby in 1178 (see also posting of August 10th, 2015).  The first leader of the Peasants’ Revolt, which took place during the reign of Richard II in 1381, was one Abel Ker, from Erith.

Erith grew further in size and significance in the post-Medieval period.  The  Tudor  King  Henry VIII founded  a naval dockyard here, where warships built at Woolwich, notably the Great Harry,  were fitted out (see also posting of November 26th, 2016).   And it was here that the Gunpowder Plotters gathered to plot the overthrow of the Stuart King James I in 1605.

The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries witnessed still further expansion, with the  Wheatley family as Lords of the Manor.  The North  Kent Railway arrived in 1849, and with it urbanisation and industrialisation.

Historically part of Kent, since 1965 Erith has been part of the London Borough of Bexley.

Church of St John the Baptist

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The church of St John the Baptist was originally built  in Saxo-Norman times.  It was subsequently rebuilt in the post-Medieval period, in part out of materials salvaged from Lesnes Abbey after it was dissolved by Henry VIII in 1525 (the abbey would have been but  a short cart-ride away to the north-west).  It was substantially rebuilt again in 1877.

 

Dagenham revisited

Another in the occasional series on “Far-Flung Lost London” …

Dagenham (see also posting of October 19th, 2016) was first recorded in an Anglo-Saxon charter of 677 as Daeccenham, from the old English personal name Daecca, and ham, meaning homestead or village.  Throughout much of its later history, it remained essentially rural, only beginning to become  (sub)urbanised and industrialised in the early  twentieth century.  It is now part of the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, created in 1965.

Valence House

The Manor of Valence was first recorded as long ago as 1269.  There was evidently a manor house here at or around that time, which further records indicate was occupied by Agnes de Valence after the death of her third husband in 1291 (*).  The estate was sold to St Anthony’s Hospital in London in 1435, and then granted by Edward IV to the Dean and Chapter of Windsor in 1475.  It was rented out to a succession of tenants in the post-Medieval and later periods, including the Bonham family in the seventeenth century, the Mertons in the eighteenth, and the Mays in the nineteenth, before being acquired by Dagenham Urban District Council in 1926.

1 - Distant view of exterior, including moat.JPG

2 - Close-up view of exterior.JPG

3 - In situ fragment of Medieval wall.JPG

4 - Medieval wattle and daub.JPG

The surviving manor house, which is now  home to the Valence House Museum, shows evidence of building or rebuilding activity from every century from the fifteenth onwards.

5 - Model of Valence House.JPG

The museum features a number of fine displays on the history of the local area, including one on Valence House itself …

6 - Model of Barking Abbey.JPG

7 - Moulded stones from Barking Abbey.JPG

… and another on  Barking Abbey, which lay approximately three miles to the south-west  (see also posting of January 5th, 2015).

It also houses a famous collection of portraits of the Fanshawe family (Lords of the Manor of Barking for many generations).

(*) Agnes de Valence was of noble birth, being the grand-daughter of Isabella of Angouleme, wife of King John.

 

The execution of Archbishop William Laud (1645)

Portrait of Laud, church of St Katharine Cree

On this day in 1645, during the Civil War, Archbishop William Laud was executed on Tower Hill for high treason (see also December 18th posting).  After his execution, his headless body was temporarily buried in the church of All Hallows by the Tower before being moved to its final resting place in the chapel of St John’s College, Oxford.

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.  While Bishop of London, he had consecrated the newly-rebuilt church of St Katharine Cree in 1631.  He had also commissioned Inigo Jones to undertake restoration works on St Paul’s Cathedral.

Site of Laud's execution, Tower Hill

Tower Hill  is visited on various of our walks, including the “Rebellious London” themed special.

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

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

 

“The Thames is quite frozen over” (John Chamberlain, 1608)

Frost fair diorama, Globe Theatre

In the January of  1608, the Thames froze over  in London, as described  in a letter written on this day, by  John Chamberlain  to Sir Dudley Carleton, as follows:

“Above Westminster the Thames is quite frozen over and the Archbishop came from Lambeth on Twelfthday over the ice to the court.  Many fantastical experiments are daily put in practice, as certain youths burnt a gallon of wine upon the ice and made all the passengers partakers.  But the best is of an honest woman (they say) that had a great longing to have her husband get her with child upon the Thames”.

Further records indicate that the Thames  froze  over  in London nearly forty  times between 1142 and 1895 (see also November 24th posting).

John Chamberlain

John Chamberlain, who lived from 1553/4-1628, and was baptised and buried in the church of St Olave Jewry in the City of London, is best known now as the author of a large number of letters written between 1597-1626, that “constitute the first considerable body … in English history and literature that the modern reader can easily follow”.

Most of the nearly 500 that still survive were written to Sir Dudley Carleton while he   was serving as an ambassador in Venice and The Hague, and were evidently intended to keep the ambitious diplomat abroad  informed  of events – especially those befalling “the better sort of people” – at home  (incidentally, Carleton went on to become Secretary of State).  The letters contain descriptions of such  important events in Elizabethan and Jacobean history as the trial of the Earls of Essex and Southampton in 1601, the Gunpowder Plot in 1605, the trial  of the Earl and Countess of Somerset in 1615, and the execution of Sir Walter Ralegh in 1618.  They also contain much court, City and country tittle-tattle (“who’s in, who’s out”), picked up, no doubt,  in St Paul’s Cathedral, which at the time had a reputation as  the fount of all such – it appears that  Chamberlain was an inveterate “Paul’s walker”!

 

Francis Bacon is made Lord Chancellor (1618)

On this day in 1618, Francis Bacon was made Lord Chancellor of England by James I.

Bacon was something of a Renaissance Man, a “natural philosopher” (what we would now call a scientist) and philosopher as well as a lawyer and statesman.  He was one of those instrumental in the creation of the colonies in the Americas, and set out his egalitarian vision of how things should be there in his book “New Atlantis” (see also July 4th posting).

Statue of Bacon

He  is commemorated by a statue in Gray’s Inn, where he received his legal training. Both he and his father Nicholas, as sometime Lords Keeper of the Great Seal, once lived in York House, not far from  Whitehall.   Francis  also once  lived in Canonbury House in Islington (see here).

Gray’s Inn is visited on our “Historic Smithfield, Clerkenwell and Holborn” standard walk and on our “Legal London” themed special.  The site of York House is visited on our “St Paul’s to Westminster Abbey” standard walk and “Legal London” themed special.

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

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

The  attempted arrest of the “five members” (John Rushworth, 1642)

A nineteenth-century painting in the Houses of Parliament of the attempted arrest of the five members (Charles West Cope)

On this day in 1642, King Charles I and his henchmen entered the Houses of Parliament and attempted to arrest five Members of Parliament, namely, John Hampden (c.1595–1643) (*), Arthur Haselrig (1601–1661), Denzil Holles (1599–1680), John Pym (1584–1643) and William Strode (1598–1645).  It is said that when the King demanded to be told the whereabouts  of the MPs, the Speaker of the House, William Lenthall, retorted:

“May it please your Majesty, I have neither eyes to see nor tongue to speak in this place but as the House is pleased to direct me, whose servant I am here”.

The event was essentially the last in a series that eventually led to the Civil War between on the one hand the Royalists under Charles, and on the other the Parliamentarians under Cromwell (*).

It is ceremonially re-enacted each year during the State Opening of Parliament, when the Crown’s  representative, “Black Rod”, is despatched from the Lords to the Commons, there to have the doors slammed shut in his face.

The – modern – Houses of Parliament  are visited, although not entered,  on our “St Paul’s to Westminster Abbey” standard walk, and also on our “Medieval London”, “Tudor and Stuart London”, “Legal London” and “Rebellious London” themed specials.

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

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

A seventeenth-century portrait of John Hampden (Robert Walker)

(*) Hampden was Cromwell’s cousin, and one of his ablest military commanders during the early part of the war.  He died  of wounds sustained at the Battle of Chalgrove Field  in 1643.

Cromwell cancels Christmas (John Evelyn, 1657)

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On this day in 1657, during  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”.

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

The church of St Margaret Westminster, where the warden was fined for celebrating Christmas in 1647, is visited on our “St Paul’s to Westminster Abbey” standard walk, and on our “Tudor and Stuart London” and “Rebellious London” themed specials.

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

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